5 Stages of Getting Over Vans Warped Tour

posted by Alyssa Buffenstein on July 10, 2014

via Warped Tour

Before I could drive a car, my mom used to drop me off at the mall every Friday night so I could meet up with all the other middle school mall rats, buy black nail polish at Hot Topic, and congregate in the food court until 9 o'clock when it closed. Then, I would find my pink-and-purple-haired self a ride home so I could listen to my iPod nano and brood in my room, which was wallpapered with pages torn from Alternative Press Magazine

When temperatures began to rise and skinny jeans were cut into skinny shorts, I sent out MySpace bulletins to let my friends know that I couldn't wait for the summer and the Vans Warped Tour. For five years, summer meant spending one month anticipating my favorite day of the year, one day seeing all my favorite bands, and one month depressed that it was over. Warped Tour was my introduction not only to the punk, ska, and hardcore scenes it (loosely) showcases, but also my introduction to the festival world as a whole. 

But I turned 20 last year. I've been driving myself to shows and music festivals for four years, my hair has been its natural color for two, and I think this is the year I finally say no to Warped Tour. As bummed out as my inner 16-year-old is to be missing out on punk rock summer camp, I've realized that I'm just no longer part of Warped's demographic. While it's been years since my scene kid glory days when I had to look no further than the Fueled by Ramen roster for my next musical obsession, I could still find a few pop-punk or ska bands to throw down to at Warped Tour, even in 2013. 

Now, I feel a little bit like Stan Marsh from that episode of South Park when he turns ten, and suddenly all the music he used to like sounds like shit. I can't pinpoint it to anything but age, but when I made the decision to not drop $45 to get a sunburn while watching The Story So Far, I wasn't really upset. Still, 25% of my life's summer vacations have included at least one trip to Warped, and I'd be lying if I told you that I won't feel some nostalgia when the tour comes my way. If you're like me and you feel like the lineup devolves a little more each year, it might be time to look inward. Is it really Warped Tour that's getting worse, or is it you that's getting over Warped Tour?


When Warped Tour was once your number one summer essential, moving on can be a long, emotional process. So, for all the other ex-scene kids out there, I've re-written the five stages of grief to help you graduate from the Warped Tour scene and to move on to your next intense, potentially-regrettable phase of music fandom. 

1. Denial

When you're a Warped Tour person, your friends don't ask you "are you going to Warped Tour this year?" - instead, they ask "how many dates are you going to this year?" Like the die-hard camping enthusiasts of Bonnaroo or the dedicated fashion cliques of Coachella, Warped Tour can become a yearly pilgrimage, regardless of the lineup. It can be difficult to admit to yourself that you don't really want to go. So you tell yourself that you'll buy your ticket when you get paid - next paycheck, okay, maybe the next one. 

Then you look at the lineup. You might think, Oh, it's been a while since I've seen 3oh!3, or Yeah, I'm sure Cute is What We Aim For still play 'The Curse of Curves,' or I would see Mayday Parade for a 16th time. These are normal thoughts to have when your inner 16-year-old sees a picture of a swoopy-haired boy in a summer scarf, but eventually you'll stop having them.

You might also be in denial that you're too old for Warped Tour. The fix for this type of denial is even easier - just think about the fact that there is a reverse day care at every stop of the tour, and parents get in free. There are, consistently, enough parent chaperones in attendance that they fill up an air conditioned tent while their kids wait in line to meet Jeffree Star. Remember how weird you felt when your mom made you take yourself to the pediatrician's office? Once you reach a certain age, going to Warped Tour feels pretty much just like that. 

via Funniest Memes

2. Anger

Once you face the fact that Warped Tour is no longer your scene, you'll probably start to feel angry, for more reasons than one. Maybe you're angry with yourself for devoting five summers of your life to something so juvenile, or that your old room at your parents' house is now little more than a time capsule from the years 2007-2009. You might get angry at today's youth, for liking music that is definitely worse than the stuff you liked when you were a tween. Angry that Kevin Lyman isn't the true tastemaker you once thought he was, or angry at Fall Out Boy for being off hiatus for over a year and still not headlining Warped Tour with a set comprising only Take This to Your Grave.

Why isn't the lineup better? Why can't I time travel back to 2008? Why does growing up hurt so much? Is pop-punk dead? I don't have the answers to these hard-hitting questions, but I can tell you that anger is a perfectly normal part of getting over Warped Tour, and it's okay to feel that way. Just remember that Warped Tour is and always has been a youth culture event, and as you enter adulthood, it's only natural to feel angry at time itself for stealing away your youth. 

3. Bargaining 

After you've come to terms with your decidedly un-Warped summer and dealt with your existential angst, it's time to move on to the next stage of getting over Warped Tour: Bargaining. 

You might find yourself negotiating with your conscience, a higher power, or maybe even Kevin Lyman himself (but don't be that guy). Just one more year, this year'll be fun! If only Ronnie Radke had never gone to jail@KevinLyman, I'll buy a ticket to Warped Tour if you bring back Blink 182. None of these shouts into the void are going to make you have any more fun at Warped Tour if you've outgrown it, so write them down in a diary, put them in a text post on tumblr, or text them to your old scene friends, and move on to step 4.  


4. Depression

Unofficially, I like to call step 4 the "listening to old Warped Tour compilations and crying" step. Whether you're thinking about how painful it will be to do something else while Warped Tour rages on in the parking lot of your local amphitheater, or you've missed your state's show already, it's inevitable that getting over Warped Tour will make you feel a little depressed. 

Just remember that this depression has almost everything to do with nostalgia, and for that, there is a cure. When your Warped-stalgia kicks in, the best thing to do is relive the tour in your mind, because actually attending the tour as a young adult is not the same experience as attending as a naive, wide-eyed teenager. Plus, you're already three steps into the grieving process - don't give up yet!

To get the full effect, you'll want to start with Goldfinger, Sublime (pre-Rome), and Reel Big Fish from the first-ever 1996 tour compilation. Listen as the scene's sound evolves from the old-school stylings of Descendents and Bad Religion, to the pop-inclinations of New Found Glory, Good Charlotte, and Paramore, to the even-poppier pop-punk of The Wonder Years, Title Fight, and We Are the In Crowd, finally finishing with the 2014 compilation featuring Real Friends, The Summer Set, and Mixtapes


Once you've saturated your ears with all the (pop)punk, metal(core), and (post)hardcore they can handle, you might actually feel more depressed - either because you still miss Warped Tour or you're disappointed in what the scene has become. Unfortunately, if this happens, you're just going to have to wait it out. But ideally, your trip down memory lane will have alleviated your summertime sadness, and you can move on to step 5.

5. Acceptance

Congratulations! You've finally made it. You are over Warped Tour. But what now? What is life post-Warped Tour? If you haven't already, you're going to want to venture out into the larger world of music and music festivals, because your 20s need a soundtrack just as much as your teens did. Now is the time to rise from the wreckage of traveling stages and signing lines to be reborn into an adult festivalgoer.

You don't have to totally abandon your punk-rock sensibilities as you move on, though; there are plenty of alternative music festivals you can make your new "thing." Instead of waiting for a festival tour to come to you, take a yearly trip to Chicago for Riot Fest, or Gainesville for The Fest. If it's the studded belts and multi-colored mohawks you miss about Warped Tour, make Punk Rock Bowling your new most-anticipated event of each year. 

If you're in Europe, there are literally tens of alternative music festivals you can hit up in the summer (which is probably why it took so long to start Warped Tour Europe). Rock am Ring/Rock im Park, Punk Rock Holiday, Groezrock, Hit the Deck, Monster Bash... you get the idea. 

Mark Hoppus may have fallen in love with that girl at the rock show, but that doesn't make it any less weird to see him still singing about her over twenty years later. Don't force a relationship that's dead. Keep Warped Tour a fond memory of your teenage years, and take advantage of your 20s as a time to spend entire weekends around music you like, people you love, and beer you are finally old enough to purchase. 

via Devin Mickell /

See Also:

Beatport Partners with Vans Warped Tour
8 Punk and Alternative Festivals to Check Out in 2014
Mosh Pit Etiquette for Music Festivals