Warped Tour used to be the festival I waited for all year. I would sit there eagerly awaiting announcements about the band line up; I would babysit like crazy to come up with the cash to go; and I would prep my poor sun hating skin for a full day out in the hot summer heat.
And, yet, I feel like everything Warped stood for has kind of died.
2006 was my first Warped. I was sixteen and finally allowed to attend. Before that, my parents both had denied me flat out, saying, "no" on the principle that it was a drug infested breeding ground for delinquents. I can't really argue with that logic. Anyway, 2006 was my first go at it and I went with two friends and, yes, my dad (I would like to say that my dad is a huge Sabbath and Stones fan so this wasn't as bad as it sounds). We walked through the gates of Nassau Coliseum and there it all was- stages of varying sizes; the discordant yet beautiful sounds of bands all playing at the same time; teens dressed like homeless punks; the giant, inflatable billboard with the set times; hundreds of merchandise tents lined up to create alleys. It was everything I had dreamed about and more. The day was something I'll never forget- I saw Aiden and Joan Jett and everything was just amazing. When we were all singing back the lyrics of "World by Storm" to Will Francis, I had never felt so happy, so a part of something.
I went on to attend 2007 Warped, which was just as good (even though my friend made me watch Paramore over Tiger Army; I'm still bitter about that) and then 2009, which is where I began to see the cracks.
2009 found Aiden, who had once played one of the bigger stages and who, to me, represented the punk movement in our age and everything Warped Tour had once been about (anti-establishment; rebellion; creativity; freedom of expression), on the small, rink dink Ernie Ball stage while poppy acts found themselves on the Main Stage. Wil Francis ranted about it a little and fans moaned and groaned. I thought about it later, as I was driving home. Veterans were being pushed to the side and this new era of bands who would mock women and glorify groupies were being ushered in and hailed (I'm looking at you, Blood on the Dance Floor). There was a definite divide in the bands and it was a little disgusting.
Then the 2011 Warped came along. I went merely because a few bands I liked were playing. I will admit before anyone that I'm starting to outgrow the whole Hot Topic generation that Warped Tour represents and that I don't need a tour to validate my life decisions. But Asking Alexandria was playing and I hadn't been able to catch them on tour before that so, off to Warped I went.
Worst. Decision. EVER.
This was my little brother's first Warped Tour. He was fifteen. We walked through the same gates I did and were immediately assaulted by a dancing Pikachu and lyrics telling me to learn how to give a rim job (one guess as to which what band that is). We moved on. The merch guys were bitter or weren't there. Asking Alexandria had a sign saying they weren't doing a signing because they were going to be drinking. It was a little repulsive, to be honest. Nothing screamed the DIY ethos that previous Warped Tours had embodied. The worst part was, though, that even the fans were being awful to each other. Some kids were arguing in the pit over who was more "punk rock" and others were telling each other they weren't liking the right bands. I felt like I was watching a popularity contest instead of enjoying a festival.
Later, I watched interviews of bands talking about that Warped Tour and all of them talked about how there was a divide between the bands, some bands aligned themselves with others, etc. It didn't surprise me. I could tell just by watching the bands that no one was having a good time.
I wondered if I would have noticed it when I was younger. And then it made me question whether or not the Warped Tour I remembered from when I was a teen was really the Warped that existed.
Warped Tour has been announcing their line up and it's not bands I really care about. Maybe I am getting too old or maybe the scene is becoming stale. I mean, we had to rely on Fall Out Boy, a band that was around when I was thirteen, to pick the scene up again. Hot Topic is selling One Direction and Justin Bieber shirts (I really have nothing against One Direction; they can actually sing and they don't dance around on stage; Justin Bieber on the other hand...). Teens are whining in Motionless in White mosh pits about getting jostled (they'd never survive an AFI pit) and there aren't any real, creative, progressive bands rising up. There are no My Chems or AFIs or Tiger Army's or Green Days.
It's kind of sad.
Warped Tour kind of represents to me a dying scene, one that is desperately trying to cling to life but can't.
Oh, well. I'll just stick to the new stuff that's coming up from across the pond, cling onto my old bands and hope to God that some genius art kid could somehow come up with something as progressive as My Chem.