An Open Love Letter to Warped Tour

The infamous set times wall, circa 2009.

A lot of people have asked me to write about Warped. A lot. They all say they want to experience it, but for one reason or another can’t make it out, so I should revisit my past rounds and tell them.

Well, it’s complicated.

In a literal sense, Warped Tour is a traveling crew of “alternative” bands, ranging from pop-punk easycore to heavy metal and screamo. There are five stages that play all day, with each band getting a half hour set. Merch booths get set up all over the venue for people to buy stuff from their bands or other startup companies. Essentially, it’s a music festival.

But it’s so much more than that. It’s punk rock Christmas. It’s the misfit circus. It’s where a bunch of kids with weird hair and scary piercings can come together and see the bands they’ve been worshipping through their earplugs for years. It’s a place for new bands to get their start and old bands to have a few last huzzahs. It’s where you can mosh with reckless abandon, dance until you can’t feel your legs, crowdsurf until you hit the barrier over and over and over again. It’s where you get your shoe signed by your favorite singer, get to give the hot bassist a hug, and talk cymbal brands with the drummer you’ve been following on twitter for years. It’s just one day, but it’s a place where you can’t get judged or beat up for being different.

You want some memories? Crowdsurfing to Family Force 5 in 2008 when all they had barely released their first full-length. Listening to Pat Brown of Sing It Loud call out the douchebags in the back for heckling the scene kids and giving one of the best in-set speeches I’ve ever heard. Holding up both guys from Breathe Carolina as they rode through the crowd on a surfboard. Meeting the guy of my dreams in the crowd for Every Avenue and getting his number when we were front row for There for Tomorrow. Screaming the lyrics for each Simple Plan song at the barrier so loudly that I didn’t have a voice for two days. Flipping out and getting an autograph from the lead singer of Cash Cash after finding him just walking around the venue. Getting shoved down in the Pennywise mosh and having sixteen hands pull me up and make sure I was okay.

It’s a community. It’s people who care about each other without even knowing names, hometowns, favorite bands. It’s the fact that you’re there and having a good time that matters. If you can go, go. If you can’t, I’ll be tweeting about it all day over at @hallformusic.

See you in the pit.

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