I’ve never experienced anything like this before, and I doubt you have either. The sheer awesomeness of what the entire Vans Warped Tour universe accomplishes on a daily basis is almost overwhelming. We start each morning by constructing a miniature city, and then we populate it with 6-20,000 people for 10 hours. We give people a place to call home for a day, a place where they can go to truly express themselves as they are and be surrounded by like minded folks. And we bond with each other. We joke, laugh, dance, drink, sing, and bust our asses- and we do all of it together. Just last night, a couple that met on a previous Vans Warped Tour got married and had their first dance to a live acoustic performance by Pierce the Veil. That camaraderie, that affection is the recurring theme here, and it comes from the top all the way down to the bottom.
At the top of our city sits our proverbial mayor, Kevin Lyman, who founded Vans Warped Tour in 1995. We need more Kevin Lymans in the world. The man exudes acceptance, tolerance, and love. He encourages fun, and pushes us to be the best we can on a daily basis. For 20 years he’s groomed and grown with Vans Warped Tour, inevitably becoming the shining beacon of what this tour really stands for. That love is infectious. You don’t know a single stranger on this tour. Each and every face greets you with a smile and a peace sign. I’ve made friends simply by going to breakfast at the same time each day. There’s no real “status” here. The rich eat with the poor, and the artists, sponsors, production members, and crew treat each other as equals. We’re engaging in the art of human evolution, and the results are positive.
Do I miss my home? Do I miss my friends, my family, my beloved Hogan? Of course I do. Just a few hours ago, my bus-mates and I were discussing the topic of home. Invariably we conceded that those things were dear to us, and sorely missed. But I have to assert that it is inexorably worth it to me to be where I am right now. I’ve had early morning chats with Matt Halpern. I’ve screamed along with Motion City Soundtrack whilst standing mere inches behind them onstage. I’ve slept in a historic luxury resort at night and abused the lounge pools by day. The universe has smiled kindly upon me for allowing me these grand opportunities, and for that I’m grateful. It’s even allowed me the opportunity to see family and friends in far off locations, which leads me full circle. My loved ones helped mold me into this place I currently find myself. Yes I miss all of you, but beyond that- I’m grateful for every single one of you. Your support has lifted my spirits, and your positivity has given me love. Without you standing by me, even thousands of miles away, none of this would be possible for me.
Now don’t discount the hard work that goes into what we do here. Our asses are busted daily. I work from 8 am until 7:30 pm, and I’m lucky to be relieved for lunch in the middle. Pomona made me sweat and sting like a barefoot jackrabbit on a hot greasy skillet in the middle of a hot Texas summer afternoon, and I lost 3 shirts and two head bands to the valiant cause. Tomorrow’s date in Arizona has a projected temperature of 111. But when I look around, I can’t help but appreciate what I have, and I know I’m not the only one who feels the same way. A typical day ends with a warm buzz and an 1130 pm bus call, followed by a few more rounds and laughs before we lull ourselves to sleep behind the dulcet tones of tour-bus-on-asphalt. There’s not much rest for us, but every single second is worth it to give these most deserving fans this show.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the most important aspect of what happens here at Vans Warped Tour. The fans make every single moment possible. They come early and burst through the gates at warp speed, scoping out every square inch in order to maximize each day. These kids will help you build your tent, carry your bags, or just compliment you because they feel so alive and happy just being within our holy confines. In Mountain View, CA I met a really nice group of teenagers who came back every hour or two to see if I needed snacks, water, or a toke of their doobie. That very same day, one of Sumerian’s Street Team members, Cameron, showed up early and stayed late to help me set up and tear down my tent. I keep finding myself enamored with their passion and dedication. I’ve been told fan is short for fanatic, but I think that assessment has missed the mark. These people aren’t insane, nor are they out of control. They simply give a shit about something. It cannot be put any simpler. These kids care about what happens here, and that care runs deeper than any superficial feeling money, possessions, or job titles could provide. I’m out here because of this caring. This entire industry would be dead, and Vans Warped Tour would have closed its bus doors for good years ago, had these caring, out-going people ceased to be present. This entire experience is an immense honor, and a complete blast wrapped up into one big tasty life burrito.
Looking Ahead to Next Week’s “The Warped Perspective”
- Sam does the great Southwest with grit, determination, and SPF 75 sun block.
- Six days without respite or reprieve.
- A brief, yet exciting jaunt through the Lone Star State.
- The story of a boy, his dog, and his closest friends.