The end of an era: Saying goodbye to the Vans Warped Tour

Kristen Burgess, Staff Writer

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Kristen Burgess
Fans mosh and prepare for band Neck Deep to take the stage at the Charlotte 2017 show.

The punk rock music festival that has been traveling around the country every summer for over 20 years will make its final lap in 2018.

Producer Kevin Lyman announced on November 15, “Today, with many mixed feelings, I am here to announce that next year will be the final, full cross-country run of the Vans Warped Tour. I sit here reflecting on the tour’s incredible history, what the final run means for our community, and look forward to what’s to come as we commemorate the tour’s history 25th anniversary in 2019.”

The idea for Warped came to Lyman while he was working for Lollapalooza in 1995. When he wanted to branch out, he decided to create a show that combines music and action sports like skateboarding. In just the first year, soon-to-be big names like Sublime and No Doubt were immediately on board.

Over the years, the Vans Warped Tour has served as not only a festival, but a place for a community of music aficionados to come together despite their differences.

Lyman listed a slew of reasons to why he was having trouble continuing the show. Among them were an evolving summer festival industry, a shrinking pool of bands that fit the genre, and declining ticket sales among the event’s most popular demographic, teenagers. But this is not all.

In the wake of a Harvey Weinstein scandal that continues to shake Hollywood and unveil more sexual assault cases from the prominent figures of the entertainment industry, allegations against performers from Warped leave fans wondering how to feel about a generational event which has always branded itself as the safe place to go. Lead singer of Blood on the Dance Floor (BOTDF) Dahvie Vanity is among the list of performers to be outed about their sexual misconduct.

Dahvie performed the entirety of the Warped tour in 2010, just after a falling out with Jeffree Star, who took to Twitter to complain about the singer’s behavior. Ashely Costello, vocal to band New Years Day, was also on the tour with Dahvie and reflected through a blog post about those allegations.

She said, “I have never met a bigger bully in my life. I have never felt so uncomfortable.”

In January, allegations against Front Porch Step’s Jake McElfresh also received attention amongst the scene community. Alternative Press reports “a bevy of musicians and fans that took umbrage” after McElfresh performed his set at a Nashville Warped date this summer.

In years past, the lineup for the tour has focused on up-and-coming bands, giving less developed artists a chance to spread the word about their music and gain a larger fan base.

Lyman says, “I don’t want to say a ‘mature’ lineup, but bands that I think could use one more big push of Warped Tour to help further their careers.”

No official setlist for the tour has been released, but Lyman hopes to bring back some major Warped icons of ages past. The festival has appealed to several diverse audiences, showcasing acts from screamo Christian bands to Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry and everything in between.