The 18th annual Warped Tour is bouncing back
Published: June 20, 2012
Three years ago, Warped was a summer festival tour in transition. The traveling festival devoted to all styles of modern rock had celebrated its 15th year in 2009 and had become the longest running festival tour in U.S. history, but even the tour’s organizer, Kevin Lyman, admits there was good reason to wonder if Warped was close to having run its course.
“Brett Gurewitz [of Bad Religion and head of Epitaph Records] told me one day, ‘I didn’t know if you could do it. I thought it was over,'" Lyman
recalled in an early June phone interview. “And two years ago he walked up to me and said ‘You totally did it.’”
In 2010, Lyman began to reinvent Warped Tour, hoping to revitalize the tour and keep it relevant and successful for the future. Today, it appears he's succeeded.
What Lyman realized was that some acts that had been mainstays — groups like Bad Religion and NOFX — were no longer right for Warped. Those groups had grown older, as had their fans. But the early Warped following hadn’t stayed with the tour as they aged.
“Hey, the average 45-year-old doesn’t want to stand in a parking lot for nine hours through "Pierce The Veil" to see Bad Religion,” Lyman said.
In a nutshell, Lyman determined that the Warped tour draws two major age groups — kids from 13 to 19 (which makes up about 70 percent of the audience) and young adults around 24 to 30.
The 90-plus acts that will play all or portions of this summer’s tour — which began June 16 in Salt Lake City and wraps up August 5 in Portland, Oregon — skew towards one or the other fan base. For those entering their teens and high school years, the lineup features such buzz-worthy emerging acts as Ballyhoo, Breathe Carolina, Machine Gun Kelly, Miss May I, Skinny Lister, and We Are The In Crowd. For the slightly older young adult fans, the bill includes established bands such as Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, The Used, Yellowcard, Senses Fail, and Anti-Flag.
“They’re not the kids anymore,” Lyman said of the latter acts. “They’re the legends of Warped Tour.”
What Lyman has retained — and perhaps even bolstered — is the musical diversity of the lineup, something that has long been a hallmark of the Warped tour.
The tour still features its original core genres of punk and ska with acts like Streetlight Manifesto, I Am Avalanche, and New Found Glory. But fans can also find several varieties of metal (Vampires Everywhere!, Every Time I Die), hardcore (They All Float, Falling In Reverse), reggae/rock (Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds, Ballyhoo), and hip-hop (the Constellations and Machine Gun Kelly). This year’s tour also has a new “Acoustic Basement” tent for un-plugged performance and a new “Silent Disco” tent for electronic acts.
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