by Natalie Dest
The widespread music industry’s last remaining touring festival is saying its final goodbyes to fans across the country. Van’s Warped Tour founder, Kevin Lyman, announced in November of 2017 that this summer’s version of the long-running punk festival will be the last.
According to Lyman, who created the tour back in 1995, numerous factors such as an evolving summer festival industry, a shrinking pool of bands and the slow decline of ticket sales amongst the teenage demographic, led him to declare the tour’s 24th year is its final one.
“Before Warped, I was on three years of Lollapalooza, so [it’s been] 26 straight summers out on the road,” Lyman told Billboard. “Not that I’m completely going anywhere, but traveling around the country with a tour this size in the landscape that we’re in is, to be honest, I’m just tired.”
However, Warped still has one final summer worth of dates on the road ahead. Because of this, Lyman was hoping some Warped icons would be willing to hop on to make the last hurrah an extra special one.
“You’re gonna see a big mix of bands I felt really embraces the Warped Tour lifestyle,” Lyman stated. “I don’t want to say a ‘mature lineup,’ but bands I think could use one more big push of Warped Tour to help further their careers.”
Warped built its brand of a “punk-rock summer camp” by bringing out scene staples like NOFX and Bad Religion time and time again. But it was also an early champion of bands such as the notorious Blink-182, No Doubt and Paramore, punkers that were eventually embraced and rose quickly in the pop-punk world.
Outside of punk entirely, Warped’s past lineups were full of pre-superstardom acts who found an early home amongst the skate shows and merch tents such as Katy Perry, Eminem, Kid Rock, Black Eyed Peas, G-Eazy and Bebe Rexha, all whom were rarely favorited by critics, but they no doubt shaped today’s music culture and fame.
However, this year, fans are seeing small-town bands, amongst this year’s well-named, become included in the festivals last round, such as Sleep On It, Grayscale, With Confidence, Broadside and As It Is, hoping to get their names further in the industry.
Although 2018 is the tours’ final year across North America, the Warped name won’t be going away, at least not until it celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2019. Thanks are due to the four-part series celebrating the tour’s 24-year-long run, scheduled to be released next spring to coincide with the anniversary.
A collaboration between Anthem Films, Dola Media Group and Warped, the series is being presented as a four-part series that looks back at the history and vast influence of the tour, which has hosted virtually every punk-rock act included in the past three decades. Paramore’s Hayley Williams and Warped native has said she practically “grew up” on the tour.
“The documentary that we’re putting together is really about the legacy of the tour,” director DJay Brawner told Variety. “Of course, this year being the final year it’s important for us to capture moments from the culmination, but what we’re really trying to put together is a story about how the tour started and grew over the last 24 years, with all of it culminating with the final day and what that means for this team of people, the future of the brand and everything in between.”
As for Lyman, on concluding the tour, he admits to having mixed feelings now that the end is near, although he has many high hopes for what the series and the tour’s legacy might bring about. “Personally,” Lyman says he hopes “it inspires someone to step up and do it better than I did.”
You can check the lineup for the Van’s Warped Tour final year on their Twitter and Instagram at @VansWarpedTour.