Back in the day, I’d say 99.9% of tweens and teens who stepped foot inside Hot Topic wanted one thing out of summer, and that was to go to Warped Tour.
I was no different.
Going from the boy band ways of the backstreets to MTV pop punk meant spending way too much time imagining a world in which I could see Good Charlotte, New Found Glory, and The Starting Line. A radio show would be my initial introduction, and not too long after would The Used pop my legit show cherry. If I could survive The Used, in their prime, at a place like Soma in San Diego I could surely survive a summer at the Warped Tour, right? It would be two years before I found out that one does not go to a SoCal date of Warped Tour in jeans.
High school had just ended and my obsession with Fall Out Boy was at an all-time high so they were number one on my list to see that day in 2005. Unfortunately, they closed that day, and I had to tell my friend to tell the girls we came with a little white lie to see them. Could we have gotten out of that crowd? Yes. Did I want to? Absolutely not. They waited around. Which they thankfully did because, after that, Warped Tour was a necessity every summer for about a decade.
Yes, the lines were long, the food insanely overpriced, and sometimes it was so fucking hot you couldn’t care to leave the itty bitty amount of shade you happened to find behind a truck. With all that said though, there were so many moments during those days underneath the summer sun with bands like Taking Back Sunday, All Time Low, and Paramore that I would not trade for the world.
While concerts were a pretty typical thing for me back in the day year-round, Warped Tour felt almost like Thanksgiving or Christmas in many ways because not only were you seeing a handful of your favorite bands in one day, but you were also running into people who made up your local scene. Whether you greeted them with a quick hello as you rushed by to get to the All American Rejects or you sat down with them and ate some of the best fucking eggrolls on earth, they were like magical moments in 80+ degree weather.
Today, those moments are now just memories to look back on and while so many are near and dear to me, it was my final Warped Tour moment that stands out. Again, The Used was the first show I went to where I wasn’t in a seat but in a sea of people, and in 2018 when Warped did their final cross country run (they did a few dates the following year for the 25th anniversary but I skipped all that) – The Used was the final band to play the last time I went. Also, just like my first Warped, by the time the final band played – those I went with were in the car waiting.
So as I stood in this larger sea of people that ranged from a new generation of Hot Topic shoppers to 30-somethings hearing the anthems of their youth under a blanket of stars, I felt this emotional wave crash over me. It was as if “A Box Full of Sharp Objects” was playing as the credits of that part of my life started to roll.
Fast forward to my present and you’ll see concerts aren’t as much of a must-have as they once were for me due to raging back problems, a lackluster bank account, and innate fears due to living in America. However, if Warped Tour announced a 30th anniversary run down the line I may be inclined to go, but would I want to ruin that picture-perfect goodbye I had once upon a time? Not too sure.
Warped Tour meant the world to so many for even more reasons, but for me it was about the music and the friends I went with, gaining my footing nervously doing interviews backstage, and most importantly – those fucking eggrolls.