Good riddance, Warped Tour. Earlier this week, Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman announced that the annual summer-long music event would end after 2018—which is a big deal. Having launched in 1995, Warped Tour is still the longest-running North American touring music festival in existence. Lyman’s reasons for shutting the festival down, including declining ticket sales, an increasingly divided punk music scene, and downright exhaustion, make a lot of sense. But that doesn’t mean we’re not torn up about the fact that the hot, sweaty, neon-tinged summer festival of our dreams is about to disappear.
Lyman, fortunately, plans to go out with a bang. During an in-depth interview with Billboard, Lyman said he still plans to celebrate Warped Tour’s 25th anniversary in 2019. Plus, after a two-year hiatus, Warped Tour will make its triumphant return to Canada (specifically Toronto) on July 17. And with 2018 being Warped Tour’s last official year, some old festival favourites could come out of the woodwork for one last summer of fun. Fans are already clamouring for a My Chemical Romance reunion, but maybe even OG Warped Tour acts like No Doubt will return to bring their festival careers full circle.
No matter what happens in 2018, living in a post-Warped Tour world will be difficult. So let’s look back on all the positive things the festival gave us so we have something to cling on to once it goes away forever.
What came first, the tour or the fashion? Warped Tour is associated so closely with images of brightly dyed hair, studded belts, sparkly wristbands and heavy eyeliner (an essential) that we’re honestly not sure. One thing we do know for sure is that those photos of us wearing skull-patterned tank tops and neon Converse will continue to make us laugh and cry for years down the road.
Many have described Warped Tour as being the ultimate “punk rock summer camp,” and it’s a description that seems pretty apt based on festival attendees’ anecdotes about moshing, crowd surfing, and impromptu sing-alongs. And while Warped Tour has apparently become considerably less rowdy in recent years, the festival has long been praised for its positive, welcoming, and safe atmosphere. After all, what other festival would think of setting up a dedicated area just for parents?
While Lyman has invited hip-hop musicians like Eminem and Ice-T as well as mainstream pop acts like Katy Perry to perform at the festival, Warped Tour will unquestionably be remembered for being a summer-long celebration of all things punk. Canada certainly has its share of punk acts, and many of them—from Simple Plan and Sum 41 to Billy Talent and Green Day—either got their start or built a strong fan base at the festival. Just think: without Warped Tour, we might not have American Idiot or American Idiot: The Musical.
Warped Tour not only helped launch the careers of mainstream music legends like No Doubt, Eminem, and Paramore (and, most recently, Bebe Rexha) but it also introduced the public to underground artists that eventually became festival mainstays, including Less Than Jake, The Maine, Bad Religion, and Pennywise. The fact that dozens of musicians took off after having performed at Warped Tour makes attending the festival all the more exciting, since you could (hypothetically) witness the rise of a future superstar firsthand.
This one’s in honour of Fall Out Boy. As Lyman explains in his official Warped Tour farewell statement, Warped Tour evolved with and helped shape the rise of pop punk, emo, and alt-rock. Shirts (and body parts) were signed, lyrics were screamed, and friendships were made. For many hardcore music fans, Warped Tour summers were the best summers, and the festival provided a place where alt kids, punk kids, and misfits could finally be themselves. So long, Warped Tour—you will be missed.