Warped tour played a huge role in my teenage years, and I never even had the opportunity to attend. Each year my friends and I would wait eagerly to analyse the lineup, soak up exclusive backstage content and follow band’s social media profiles to gawk into a life where the singalongs never stopped.
Living in Sydney, Warped Tour was but a mere dream, experienced through our computer screens – when the tour rolled through Australia in 2013 I wasn’t allowed to go because you know, parents.
There’s no denying the central, all encompassing place in the scene it holds. Bands aspire to play, life long friendships are formed amongst acts, legends are made and fans flock to merch tents in the hopes of meeting their idols.
It’s a cultural marker that has transcended generations of alternative music.
When the end of the 25 year running tour was announced late last year, fans of pop punk, metalcore and everything in between were sent into a state of disarray.
Would this mean the death of the scene? Has rock music dropped in popularity to the point where an enduring conglomerate like Warped Tour cannot continue to exist?
Warped Tour is an essential part of scene fandom. Whether it was Soupy making a statement on feminism or Katy Perry taking to the stage with All Time Low, it’s mark on the scene will reverberate forever.
There will never be anything like it again – and that’s a good thing.
The scene has changed so much in the last 25 years – in Warped Tour’s early days, skate punk and ska helmed its mainstage with bands like NOFX, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Pennywise reigning as leaders. Since then, genres and trends have come and gone with some maintaining ongoing popularity.
As of 2018, the scene has become incredibly varied. Metalcore, post-hardcore, pop punk and emo have taken on so many different meanings over time. Whilst Warped Tour has proven the biggest supporter of those genres overtime – let’s face it, many bands shaped their sound and aesthetic accordingly to appease to the tastes of prevailing popular Warped bands.
So many dime a dozen sing-scream-sing metalcore bands have come and gone and so many backwards cap wearing pop punkers have left little impact.
With the tour ending, hopefully, bands will see less pressure to fit a particular, “marketable” brief and explore new, uncharted territory, whilst maintaining the ethos of the scene.
Bands who found their early success on Warped like The Wonder Years and Bring Me The Horizon have now found massive appreciation outside the scene, much like acts like blink-182 and Sum 41 did in the early 00s, opening up the floodgates for pop punk to take over the mainstream pop world.
The Wonder Years are a critical indie success and Bring Me The Horizon can headline Glastonbury alongside CHVRCHES, phasing nobody. This has, in turn, opened up a wide variety of opportunities for Warped bands to not only explore their limits but play to different audiences.
Pop punk bands in its newer wave like The Story So Far and Real Friends gained respect from the worlds of hardcore and underground emo, touring with acts like Modern Baseball.
It did seem like many of the “new-age” Warped bands had outgrown its boundaries. The end of the tour will probably mean more epic tour packages heading across countries featuring a diverse range of acts.
A huge part of Warped Tour’s appeal in its later years was nostalgia, and its focus on throwback acts. In 2015, Metro Station took to the main stage whilst in 2017, acts like Never Shout Never and Hawthorne Heights took prominence. Not to discredit those acts, however, it is easy to feel as though the tour was riding on nostalgia value, rather than the excitement of new, up and coming bands. There’s plenty going on in the scene right now sparking excitement – whilst its great to celebrate our old faves, nurturing future icons is imperative.
It’s hard not to feel like I missed out on a total rite of passage having never attended Warped Tour. Although I’m devastated I’ll never get the chance to finger point along to The Story So Far during the tour or bounce along to whatever band Rise Records is hyping, I’m excited to see what comes next. It doesn’t mean the scene is dead – it’s just changing