Van’s Warped Tour which was started in the 1990’s by Kevin Layman, a brilliant innovator and brand marketer, now in its 21st year Van’s Warp Tour has become the largest and longest running traveling music festival in the world. Consisting of over 200 tour buses and a convoy of tractor trailers, that run together from town to town. These guys can literally set up and play anywhere, from an established venue to large parking lot or even country farm field, they have turned the exercise of setting up and breaking down stage sets and vendor booths to an art form. It is truly amazing what the crews can do. With over 100 bands playing on anywhere from 8 to 11 stages per events for 9 hours of constant live music entertainment.
One impressive feature of the Van’s Warped Tour events are the low ticket prices, and this is big deal considering that the average age a Warped fan is between 15 and 25. They have been able to keep tickets prices so reasonable by partnering with over 60 sponsors that include booths for good causes, charities, record labels, Trojan condoms, the U.S. Army, various clothing vendors and the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation among others. Another brilliant innovation that sets the Warped Tour apart from other large music festivals around the world is the options for parents accompanying their kids to attend for free. They even provide a parents only relaxation tent where the parents can good to hang out, cool off and enjoy a drink or food from any of the many food truck and vendors.
ZTPMAG had the opportunity to cover the Cincinnati stop, which almost didn’t happen due to heavy rains the week leading up to the event which left Cincinnati’s Riverbend Music Centers main amphitheater half way into the Ohio River. But as we know the show must go on and it did. A last minute decision was made to relocate the main stage events from the amphitheater to a set of portable stages set up in the south parking. Did we mention they can setup and play anywhere? A family friendly music festival for all ages, if you haven’t been to a Van’s Warped Tour event, what the hell are you waiting for. It is an incredibly unique experience for the entire family.
So this was our first time covering a Warped Tour event and to be blunt, it was dizzying at first. Someone may even compare it to Ozzfest with ADHD, in a very good way. Concert goers of all shapes, sizes, ages and colors coming together to rock the hell out not unlike other festivals but the difference here is most of the fans were 21 and under and quite a few had parents in tow.
Now you may think that is a jab but it’s not. As music lovers when we see new bands being showered with affection from a new crowd it makes us very, very happy. Music is changing, genres are blending and the fans in the 50’s weren’t the same as the fans were when many of us were kids in the 70’s or 80’s and the fans today are equally different yet they are all linked by their love for music. People say rock is dead, music has lost its way or “kids these days don’t know what music is”. Once I sat at a Black Veil Brides show and during the set-ups they were playing bands like Ozzy, AC/DC, and Pantera, some of the young crowd had no idea what they were listening to others were singing along. I had a strange thought come over me, I imagined younger people getting over the honeymoon they have with their first music crush and looking for something more.
Basically no matter how someone is introduced to a genre of music they will listen, get hooked and start to venture deeper into the roots of the music they love and warped tour to me is the genesis of music for so many. We were honored to get a front row view of that.