If you’ve ever been a fan of the alternative scene, you probably know about the Vans Warped Tour. Known as the “punk rock summer camp,” Warped Tour became a haven for kids around the US and parts of Canada who we’re listening to Blink-182 and Mayday Parade instead of Justin Bieber and Britney Spears since its founding in 1995.
The 2018 Vans Warped Tour was announced in March that it was going to be the last time 40+ bands, their crews, and everything else would be doing a cross-country adventure.
Vans Warped Tour makes one last run in 2018
When Warped Tour stopped in Rochester Hills, Michigan’s Meadow Brook Amphitheater for a sold-out day of fun, it wasn’t even 11 am before the construction-littered streets of Oakland University’s campus were packed with bumper to bumper traffic. Walking down the street to get to the opening doors of the venue, cars were blasting everything from hardcore to whatever pop radio was playing, reinforcing the idea that Warped Tour has something for everyone.
By the time I arrived at the venue at 10:45, the line to get through security was already what felt like a mile long. Local bands were pandering their way through the line trying to get groups of teens to listen to their latest release and buy a CD to support their dream. The Maine could be seen walking around with their red sign talking with fans and selling their 2017 album Lovely Little Lonely. The DIY efforts of Warped Tour were being seen by only a few hundreds of fans before doors even opened.
Once through the gates, it became a free for all. Fans were trying to find the set times for what time their favorite bands were playing and trying to understand the layout of where all the stages and tents were.
For many, today was their first and only chance to experience everything Warped Tour has to offer. For others, they’ve been attending since the early 2000s while the tour was just getting off the ground. And no matter how many previous years you attended, everyone was there for one reason — it’s the last chance to experience Warped Tour the way it is.
All day, fans were running around the venue from stage to stage to see every set they possibly could, not even letting the rain showers stop them. Between sets, fans were mingling in the grass, grabbing water by the CoolGear tent, or shopping for merch from their favorite bands. The roar of music was never silenced. From just after 11 when the first band took the stage until after 9 pm, there was never a quiet moment on the Meadow Brook Amphitheater grounds.
We The Kings packed the Journey’s stage that was situated in the amphitheater creating a sea of people in the seats, the pit, and packing the lawn for an incredible, high energy performance before the clock struck noon. For the 25 minutes they were bouncing around the stage, the band played classic hits like “Check Yes Juliet” and songs off their new album. Fans were singing and dancing along creating a sea of musical enjoyment that showcases the true spirit of Warped Tour.
Fans piled into the amphitheater for set after set the entire day. Bands like The Maine brought a sea of diversity, fans old and new, young and old, male and female, for a set so high energy and uplifting it was hard to forget Warped Tour was coming to an end. The band even pulled a fan on stage for their 10-year-old track “Girls Do What They Want,” having them bounce around and scream into the crowd.
The other Journey’s stage was situated outside the amphitheater between the Mutant Red and White stages. This stage was home to other fan favorites like 3Oh!3 and Waterparks that drew massive crowds. Waterparks brought dozens of teenage girls all bursting with energy to listen to their electronic fused punk set. While 3Oh!3’s set was super energetic, the set got cut pretty quickly due to a fan’s injury. Others, like Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake bright the world of ska to unsuspecting victims waiting for the next set and to the handfuls of dads. Mayday Parade, an emo scene favorite, opened the day with tears and nostalgic vibes.
The Owly.fm stage brought out bands that were giving it their all. As It Is were promoting their new sounds and making jokes about their My Chemical Romance appearance. While Patty Walters bounced around on stage for their entire set, they showed their fans, and those who didn’t know them at all, how to open up about their mental health and still live your dream. Another band, Trash Boat, made it through the tour against all odds being stacked against them. Don Broco, one of the Warped crew’s favorite sets of the day, brought the house down. Their incredible stage presence had fans going crazy and bouncing around just as much as the band.
While it’s hard to imagine a summer without the Vans Warped Tour, the 2018 run showed the world just how much the scene has to offer.