Vans Warped Tour amazes teens this summer

Craig Owens from D.R.U.G.S sings at the 2011 Vans Warped Tour. Photo by Gabbi Forrest

The Vans Warped Tour: one of the most well-known punk rock music festivals in the world. Every summer, as it tours its way around the US and parts of Canada, it makes a stop in Marysville. Even though it’s out in the middle of burnt grass field and a bunch of cows, thousands of teens make the pilgrimage to Warped Tour every year.

However, Warped Tour isn’t like any other concert. The festival is usually held in a venue parking lot, with eight stages and up to 100 bands. There’s no set genre of music played at Warped Tour, it’ll range from A Day to Remember to Katy Perry to Big D and the Kids Tables to Gym Class Heroes.

This year was my fourth year at Warped Tour, but it was definitely a year unlike any other. During the 2010 tour, they held a contest called the Vans Warped Tour Haul, where people submitted videos showing off what they got at Warped Tour, and the video with the most votes won two VIP passes to the following year’s Warped Tour. My friend Amy Lu and I decided to make a video, but by the time our date came, we had about two days left to enter. We made our video in one shot in my bedroom, stuttering and laughing the entire time. We posted the link on all of our social networking sites, asking people to watch and vote. The contest ended, and to our surprise we saw posts from the Vans Warped Tour Facebook and Twitter, announcing the winner: us!

As the summer of 2011 came close, we were counting down until Warped Tour. Amy had entered another contest called Warped Reporter for a backstage pass, so we gave it to our friend Brett. The three of us made our way to Sleep Train Amphitheatre out in the middle of nowhere, where kids were already lining up. The Will Call tent, which we thought would have our tickets, didn’t. And by the time the Guest List tent was set up an we got through the horrendous line, pre-sale ticket holders were already entering. Amy and I got “Escort Needed” wristbands put on us, and immediately we had a feeling this was wrong. First, we were supposed to get VIP passes, and secondly, we didn’t have any escort.

We met up with Brett, who had managed to get herself and two friends “Vendor” wristbands, and free entry if they helped out at a non-profit tent. The “Vendor” wristbands don’t allow you anywhere backstage, but Brett could enter and exit though the vendor gate, which she did when we told her we got the wrong wristbands. She went to the Guest List tent, and came back with “No Escort Needed” wristbands for Amy and me.

We spent the rest of the day backstage, sneaking Brett back with us or getting someone passing by to escort us in. We met lots of awesome musicians, like Travie McCoy, The Devil Wears Prada, and a few members from D.R.U.G.S and Big D and the Kids Table, and even got a few friends backstage to meet some of their favorite singers.

The bands this year put on incredible performances, even though the weather was in the 100s. D.R.U.G.S. was one of my favorite bands I saw this year. Their crowd was excited and into the music, and the band played all of their best songs. Craig Owens even jumped into the crowd to sing, and the guitarist walked down the barricade while he was playing and talked to some kids. However, A Day to Remember probably put on the best show of the day. A huge majority of the Warped Tour-goers came for ADTR, as they were one of the biggest bands on the tour. The crowd was enormous and packed, and when 7 p.m. rolled around and ADTR hit the stage, the crowd went crazy. There were huge blow up speakers on either side of the stage, and an inflatable version of the band member’s heads on top of the stage. They played most of their big songs, and a few slow songs and ones from older albums. They threw toilet paper into the crowd, and a guy in a monkey suit was onstage shooting t-shirts from a t-shirt gun. But no matter what they played, the crowd was moving and singing along.

But believe it or not, it gets better. Kevin Lyman, the creator of Warped Tour, happened to be wandering backstage when we were sitting around waiting for a band. Brett suggested we talk to him about the whole VIP pass confusion, and we did. And he lead us back to the production office, and printed all three of us, including Brett, our own VIP passes. The rest of the day was amazing. We even gave our “No Escort Needed” wristbands to friends so they could go backstage. All in all, it was an incredible experience. The only bad part? I have no idea how I’m going to top this next year.