Vans Warped Tour: A Summer Tradition

The Vans Warped Tour has been travelling across the continental United States for the past twenty-two summers, making punk rock accessible for fans of all ages.  This year I had the pleasure of attending the Vans Warped Tour’s stop in San Diego, California (which in German means “a whale’s vagina).  While this was not my first time attending the Vans Warped Tour, it was my first time attending as press.

This Vans Warped Tour stop was located in the parking lot on the East side of Qualcomm Stadium and featured seven stages:  Journeys Left Foot, Journeys Right Foot, Poseidon, Cyclops, Monster Energy North, Monster Energy South and Full Sail University.  Shortly after announcing all of the bands who would be playing this year’s Vans Warped Tour, a “Stage Guide” was added to the website.  The “Stage Guide” definitely helped to relieve much of the stress associated with planning a day at the Vans Warped Tour, however, it would be nice if set times were also posted online, even if it was day of.

Each year, the Vans Warped Tour tries to improve the experience for fans, and this year was no different; past improvements have included a hydration station provided by Cool Gear, where fans can fill water bottles with filtered water for free, and shade tents.  This year the Vans Warped Tour worked with the venues and promoters to offer lower priced water.  In the past bottles of water were going for $5 each, or more.  This year bottled water was $3, bottles of Powerade were $4, and cans of Monster Energy Drink were $5.

The Vans Warped Tour is a great place to see some of your favorite bands, and to discover new bands.  Some of the new bands I discovered on the Poseidon and Cyclops stages were:  Assuming We Survive, Against the Current, Ballyhoo!, Teenage Bottlerocket and The Interrupters.  Another great thing about the Vans Warped Tour is that while it’s primarily a punk-music based festival, it is not exclusively punk rock.  For example, Ballyhoo! is a pop-punk/reggae band, Against the Current is a pop/rock band and Teenage Bottlerocket is a punk rock band.

The new band which really stood out from the rest on this year’s Vans Warped Tour, was The Interrupters.  The Interrupters are a ska-punk band from Los Angeles, CA.  The band released their sophomore album Say It Out Loud, which was produced by Tim Armstrong, earlier this year on Hellcat Records.  The Interrupters are made up of lead vocalist Aimee Interrupter and brothers Kevin Bivona on guitar, Justin Bivona on bass, and Jesse Bivona on drums.  About half way through the set, the band informed the crowd that Aimee Interrupter had been advised not to perform, due to a recent cold she had contracted.  Obviously, this advice was ignored, and although this was my first time seeing them live, I thought Aimee and the rest of the Interrupters sounded great!

When it was announced earlier this year that Masked Intruder would be playing the Vans Warped Tour, I knew I had to go.  Masked Intruder can be easily classified as a pop-punk band from Wisconsin; however, that does not give them nearly enough credit.  Each member of the band wears a brightly colored ski mask during the entire performance, and they never reveal their true identities.  The band consists of Intruder Blue, Intruder Green, Intruder Yellow, Intruder Red and Officer Bradford.  Officer Bradford does not play an instrument, but is instead present to keep these “criminals” in check.  If you have seen Masked Intruder, then you know the level of antics they are capable of, and how much fun they are to see.  If you have not seen Masked Intruder, you are missing out and should see them the next time they pass through your area.  I could give more details about what makes their performance so entertaining, but I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises.

The main stages at the Vans Warped Tour typically feature a mix of Vans Warped Tour veteran bands and “mainstream” acts, and this year was no exception.  The main stages were sponsored by Journeys shoes this year, and aptly named the “Journeys Left Foot Stage” and “Journeys Right Foot Stage”.  While there are no headliners at the Vans Warped Tour, these stages featured:  Yellowcard, Issues, Falling In Reverse, The Maine, Tonight Alive, Sleeping With Sirens, Sum 41 and more!

Some highlights from these stages included Yellowcard walking out to Queen’s “We Are The Champions” while holding up the first place trophy they won the night before at the 9th Annual Vans Warped Tour Charity Bowling Tournament.  It is worth noting that Yellowcard will be embarking on their farewell tour this fall, so if you want to see them live this may be your last opportunity.  Issues took us back to the late 90s and early 2000s with their Pokémon themed stage setup.  Fans were delighted as they sang along with Issues vocalists Tyler Carter and Michael Bohn during the bands rendition of the original Pokémon TV show’s theme song.  Sum 41 was the last band to play on this particular evening, and despite the stage being a little dark, due to a lack of adequate lighting, it was great to see them performing at the Vans Warped Tour again.  Sum 41 recently welcomed back guitarist Dave “Brownsound” Baksh, so for many fans this was probably their first opportunity to see him live on stage.

The Vans Warped Tour is as much a part of summer as ice cream, lemonade, and pool parties.  Over the past twenty-two years it has grown into a summer tradition, and if you are a fan of punk rock, attendance is a must.  Many fans in attendance have attended previous years, but new fans are always welcome too.  For many bands, playing the Vans Warped Tour is a rite of passage, and you never know which surprise guests will show up!

Until next year, enjoy some photos from this year’s Vans Warped Tour.

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All photos by: Martin Shook


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