Final Vans Warped Tour 2018

Like many others I grew up with the Warped Tour being a prominent nostalgic memory, one of them being my very first concert. I got to see some of my favorites over the years like Say Anything, Rise Against, Underoath, Circa Survive and Sum 41 to name only a few. I was punched in the face while quickly figuring out what a “mosh pit” was. Accident, but that still counts right? I locked eyes and touched Cove Reber’s hand from Saosin during their set (as impossible of a goal I thought that was before). I also realized there were more than a handful of Emo people in existence that day. I’ve spent hours obsessing over lineups and thinking of nothing else. Other than the “Buzz Bake Sale” it was one of the only rock events that came near our area.

I would dream about the excitement those photographers must feel in the photo pit getting to be that close to such amazing artists while covering them doing what they love the most. It was even more emotional since this day was the very last day that the Vans Warped Tour will ever have. You could hear the bands voices become shaky when saying goodbye as they each left their gratitude, and shared humbling stories on how this tour shaped them. I feel so thankful to have this opportunity to be there to capture this last chapter. This tour has been shared with millions of fans over the years, myself being one of them. It gave what could be considered at the time “misfits” something to consistently look forward to, and it will be missed completely by all of us.

11:30 a.m. – This Wild Life

We finally make it inside, past the lines of aspiring artists aggressively selling their CD’s and secondary merchants pushing stuff you’re going to end up throwing away before the day is over. I pick up my photo pass and I realized I still had a little bit of time before “Mayday Parade” started and I was able to catch the tail end of This Wild Life performing.

I entered the pit to Kevin Jordan introducing the next song “I’m going to teach you guys a part to sing along with us and it’s very simple. It’s only four words and I promise it’s simple. It goes. . . hey hey Catie Rae ” after he first said “hey” fans of them started cheering. Before everyone joins in Kevin adds “Hell yeah that’s great. louder with me now, watch the uke”.

Next up was a track called “Concrete” and halfway through Kevin picked out a guy in the crowd “My man right here in the button up. Homie, you are singing along so passionately. She hurt you didn’t she?” laughter followed and he added “She ain’t worth it, man”. Lead guitarist and drummer Anthony Del Grosso completely destroyed a solo on drums that hit all of us off guard. Together Kevin and Anthony are a great soft rock duo which later became a lighter unexpected contrast to the following performers.

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12:00 p.m. – Mayday Parade

I left the last set early so I could make my way through to the other side of the stage, every aisle was packed as people tried to find seats before Mayday Parade started. It’s clearly a loved band on this tour when you find yourself unable to get anywhere without having to push your way through. “Just over a month ago, we put out an album called Sunnyland” Derek Sanders said before performing piece of your heart. They ended on a on humbling note before performing their last song jersey. “Thanks for starting the day off with us. Before we do this I wanna tell you real fast, 12 years ago back in 2006 Mayday Parade followed the entire Warped Tour and we walked around outside with CD players all day long. Just trying to get people to listen to our band and give us a chance. To be up here today in front of all you beautiful people is absolutely a dream come true. We love you, enjoy the rest of your day. Be good to each other.”

I left the area to start making it through an impassable amount of people. Right before I left earshot range I heard frontman Derek Sanders mention how great it would be to have Blink-182 return for this final go around. My heart sank a little since well, that would be one of the most badass things that could happen today. I’ve read how the tour had surprise performances throughout this year and a small part of me was convinced this could be one of them. He then laughed and made it clear he was joking but it was a great transition to their cover of “The Rock Show.”

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12:20 p.m. – Broadside

I headed towards the owly.fm stage to catch the first ten mins of Doll Skin and luckily I arrived early enough to see Broadside a pop punk band I wasn’t too familiar with. Niles started with “You’re going to hear it all day but this is the last Vans Warped Tour it’s very fucking flattering to be able to say that and be on this stage and hold a fucking microphone. Thank you Kevin for having us, owly.fm for hosting us, and thank you to my band for being great fucking gents. Let’s get in our feelings this song is called ‘Laps around a picture frame'”

owly.fm easily had the best guards from any of the stages, they would jump around in between catching crowd surfers that would periodically make it over the gate. They slung open water bottles around over the crowd and I’m not even sour one of them soaked my lens. It made for some interesting shots and overall they made the experience so much better for everyone. Niles parted with “I’m not going to ask for too much but enjoy your summer, enjoy the rest of your fucking day, and remember the name Broadside.”

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12:30 p.m. – Doll Skin

An all female band equipped with some pretty badass performers, the energy Doll Skin brought on stage was contagious. Sydney Dolezal introduced the the first song with some advice – “I wanna ask you guys, how many of you there out there have someone here that they are terrified of running into them because might ruin your whole fucking day? I want you to know that you’re not allowed to let them make you sad. Next time you see them, I want you to show them that you’re having the best day of your life no matter who the fuck is here. Today is the best day ever, you deserve to make this the best day of your fucking life. This song is about how you are the ruler of your happiness, you wear the crown in your own life. This song is called ‘Persephone’”

After following with “Puncha Nazi” Sydney was holding back tears through her goodbye – “Thank you so much Warp Tour. I told myself I wouldn’t cry but today is big day. It’s a big day for all of us and all of you. I hope you carry this amazing feeling with you for the rest of your fucking lives.”

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1:00 p.m. – Assuming We Survive

“Holy shit what is up? You guys are on fucking fire” Assuming We Survive took the Full Sail stage. I must say for a band on one of the smaller stages at Warped the crowd was packed. Some of their fans were pretty diehard for them, following along with every song.

Lead singer Adrian Estrella had some of the best interactions I’ve seen all day with their fans. He got off the stage and told everyone to get in real close. “Put your arm around the person next to you. You’re not alone here. On the count of three introduce yourself. Now everybody knows each-other, we are a fucking family. So we just put out a brand new song it’s called Just so you know. I want to see everybody dancing, everybody singing along, we are here to have a good fucking time.”

In between the next songs Adrian reached his mic out to fans singing along, and at one point he took a girls glasses and put them on. He made contact with so many of his fans and even with us working the event. Everyone attending was important to them, and they made sure each one of us felt that.

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1:30 p.m. – Tonight Alive

Now back through across the venue to Journeys right foot stage. The main area in between the stages was so packed there were hardly any paths moving at times. Knowing that if I’m even a little late I won’t be allowed into the press area, I was starting to wish I left the last set earlier. Tonight Alive was about to perform, and I felt like I had to make it to their set. Personally, they remind me of an Australian counterpart to an earlier Paramore so I was relieved to make it within a minute before they started. “I’m ready to give you the best fucking show of your life. Nothing is more important to us than you leaving the Warped Tour feeling the most empowered, feeling the most liberated, feeling the most fucking free you’ve ever felt in your life. So FL make some noise if you wanna be free.” They lead into playing “World Away”.

“Thank you a thousand times. Thank you infinitely.” Jenna said to the crowd. “You always find a way to make every single day and every single moment in every show memorable. Thank you for bringing your love, your realness, rawness, and your beauty every single time we come here. We love you so much and this is unforgettable, truly.” They followed with “Disappear.”

“It feels strange to say that this is the last song we are ever going to play on the Warped Tour but it’s been a life changing experience. 2012 was our first time playing and it gave Tonight Alive a real chance out here in America. We come from Australia and we’ve obsessed about all the bands that were on the lineups in 2000 when we were growing up. So to be here right now, honestly is a dream come true.”

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2:00 p.m. – Issues

This is one of the top bands I couldn’t wait to see live. Before the tour this year Issues was the only band that would normally find their way on my playlist, and I have yet to see them live. “Make some noise if this is the best day of your fucking life” frontman Tyler Carter said before leading the band through some of my favorites “The Worst of Them,” “Coma” and “Flojo”.

One of my favorite things about them was their stage presence. I don’t think there was ever a moment where either Tyler or bassist Skylar Accord weren’t dancing or jumping around. It had a clear effect on the crowd and the energy was higher than any band before them. During their last song “I’m so mad at myself” some girl threw her bra at Tyler. He put it around fellow bandmate AJ’s mic stand and they both laughed.

Perhaps one of the shortest goodbye’s of the day Tyler ended with “Warped Tour, thanks for all of the memories. Rest in peace.”

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2:30 p.m. – Simple Plan

I had mixed feelings about Simple Plan. I mean honestly, they didn’t make it on my “must see” list initially. I had ten mins before I had to leave for the next band so I figured why not go for the first two songs. They started with “I’d Do anything” and I realized this damn song was on so many past Summer Mix CDs that my friends made; it definitely brought back memories.

“I want to say thank you to all of you. You’re what kept Vans Warped Tour alive all of these years”, lead singer Pierre Bouvier said before thanking the crew for all of their hard work this summer. They pulled out water guns during “Addicted” and it was hilarious how many photographers in the photo pit (which was more packed than any other artist all day) switched to their cell phones. They also played “Jump” and “I’m Just a Kid”.

I can’t deny that they had the crowd up and excited for each of their songs. Towards the end I was left feeling a little silly for almost missing them. Whether I used to listen to them or not they have a big nostalgic place in most of our minds and it was really great to see them live.

Pierre added “One of the best fucking crowds in the entire summer right here, right now. I can’t imagine a better end to the Vans Warped Tour.”

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2:50 p.m. – Grayscale

Simple plan, Issues and Tonight Alive attracted so many people to the main stage that to my surprise I didn’t have to worry about being late for Grayscale.

“This is our first and last Warped Tour and we are so thankful to be here. It is so bittersweet”. They performed “Let It Rain,” “Beautiful Things” and “Palette.” For one of the songs, frontman Collin Walsh brought up a fan to the stage to sing part of a chorus.

At the end of their set Collin looked at his band mates and then to the ground while smiling and shaking his head in disbelief. “Guys, seriously this sucks. I don’t understand. I don’t even know what to say. I thought about this a million times. We wanted to do this tour since we were kids. Now we’re here and I guess my message to you is start bands with the people you’re here with. I was with these guys watching Warped Tour and that’s how this all all started. Start bands, play festivals, be nice to people.”

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3:30 p.m. – Don Broco

My entire day was based around seeing Don Broco. This wasn’t my initial goal, in fact I had no idea who they even were before I saw the lineup and started doing some research. Once the first song I heard reached the chorus there was an immediate need for me to see them live. I’m damn obsessed and now I listen to them almost daily. If there was one band I would recommend checking out, it would easily be this one.

They started with “Everybody” and “You Wanna Know” and frontman Rob Damiani pointed out what everybody had on their mind “We all know what today is; it’s the very fucking last Vans Warped tour day ever. We just want to thank you guys for coming and spending some of your time with us. This is the first time we’ve ever even been to Warped Tour and to finish off our final show with you guys means the absolute world. It’s been ridiculous, I’m so amazed. You guys are fucking sick.”

He then lead the crowd in making a circle for their next couple songs “Come Out to L.A.” and “Pretty”. In between his stage famous high kicks guitarist Simon Delaney went out over the barricades past security and performed in a mosh pit. They played “T-shirt Song” last and called out Tyler Carter and Skyler Acord from Issues and they joined in singing with Rob. Dollskin and the crew also joined them on stage to close out the show.

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4:10 p.m. – Palaye Royale

I could only make it for a song or two but I wanted to make it a point to get to Palaye Royale‘s set so I could grab a few pictures. I gave them a quick listen before the tour and I put them on my “must see” list since they stood out from the rest of the bands with their Britpop sound. I made it while they were performing “Mr. Doctor Man.” Lead singer Remington Leith added “Holy shit this has been the longest fucking summer of my entire life. Thank you guys for being here.” I caught the up until the chorus of “You’ll Be Fine” before I had to start making my way across the venue for the next band.

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4:30 p.m. – New Found Glory

“We had be a part of this party. For those of you that don’t know the first time we played Warped Tour we were on the local stage in Pompano Beach, FL. We were just a local band and it means so much to us to be a part of this tour. To be able to play the last show, especially here in West Palm Beach with all of you hometown people.” Jordan Pundik said after taking the stage.

Another heavily packed crowd piled in as close as they could to the stage. New Found Glory played “All Downhill From Here,” “Forget My Name” and “Head on Collision.” Ryan Key from Yellowcard joined them on their set.

They finished on a message that really sums up the Warp Tour perfectly. “All of us Growing up here in South FL, there’s not much shit to do and for us we started playing music so we would have something to do because we didn’t feel like we fit in. Warped Tour is so special because it’s not just about us, or you but about the entire country that doesn’t have a place. Every summer they come to the Warped Tour and they have a family. They have someone that has something in common with them. It was Kevin Lyman realizing that there is a subculture of people that needed something to do with their lives and he put it together for us. So thank you Kevin so much. We will miss this tour. Everybody, you’re always going to find yourself being mad or upset. Times are not always going to be amazing. In those moments do something creative, pick up a guitar and start a band. Get out there and support each-other.”

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5:30 p.m. – Dayseeker

California band, Dayseeker came out and dedicated their first song “vultures” to the victims of sexual abuse. Lead singer Rory Rodriguez thanked the production for “somehow building this shit in only 24 hours, over and over. He then added “This tour has been a fucking blast. I’m ready to be in my bed but I’m sad to see this festival go. I want to thank you all for sending us off the right way and making us feel so welcome.”

They continued with “Asleep in the Sea Part II” and Rory asked the crowd to make noise for every band playing in their city today. “I know we are a newer band to all of you guys here and I mean this from the bottom of my fucking heart, thank you for giving us your time.” He called out some familiar faces in the crowd and dedicated the last two songs of their set to them. A couple members from Chelsea Grin came up and joined them on their last song.

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6:00 p.m. – Chelsea Grin

I was only able to catch the first couple songs from Chelsea Grin: “Dead Rose” and “Playing With Fire.” This deathcore band from Utah didn’t disappoint their fans who somehow were singing along to what I couldn’t really find distinct words through. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a fan of this band for years but with just about all deathcore it’s a little difficult to distinguish. I do know one thing though, it made for some intense circle pits and made the rest of the “moshing” through the day look like nothing more than people bumping into each-other. They performed on the “Mutant Red Dawn” stage surrounded by dirt that was being kicked up and would linger in the air giving an almost apocalyptic feel to this area of the venue. It was fitting that the more hardcore bands played here. Makes me even more disappointed that I missed Kublai Khan on this stage earlier in the day.

Afterwards while making my way back to the main Journeys stage it was a little ironic to see tents for non profits trying to better the world next to piles of garbage left by attendees.

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6:30 p.m. – We the Kings

“This just got very real for me and I think I speak for the rest of the guys in this band.” Travis Clark said. “This is the last time we will ever be on a Warped Tour stage in front of so many beautiful people. When we get on this stage we do everything we possibly can, everything that we do up here is with 110% of our hearts. I know it’s been a long day, and there is even more to come but for the next three mins I want you to go absolutely insane. Whatever you came here to do today now is your chance. This next song is dedicated to Kevin Lyman, it’s called ‘Check Yes, Juliet.’”

The dedication is even more justified knowing that Kevin Lyman first heard of We The Kings when he overheard his daughter listening to that very song. Kevin knew he wanted to sign them on and Travis mentioned how much he appreciate Kevin taking a chance on them in the beginning of their career. Right before the last chorus of the song Travis said “There’s no way I’m going to leave this show without taking something from it. Get your hands up right now and sing this one last time” he continued to sing with the rest with the crowd acapella. Reaching his mic out over the stage he said “Fucking louder” and then changed the last words of the song to “Forever will be, West Palm Beach”. In his last words he made a promise that this won’t be the last time we see them.

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7:00 p.m. – The Interrupters

“Wow, you know what I have to say? From the bottoms of our heart, thank you so much. Thank you Kevin for doing so much for rock throughout the last 25 years. We would not have a voice without it” the Interrupters guitarist, Kevin Bivona, said before they played “A Friend Like Me,” “She’s Kerosine” and “She Got Arrested”. He added his favorite part about the Warped Tour “There is never any room for racism, homophobia, and there’s no room for any bigotry period.” He told the crowd to clap together in unity while the crew and Kevin Lyman joined in with them closer for their last song. After playing a short intro, lead singer Aimee Interrupter shouted “Warp Tour, Welcome to the Family!” The stage crew, Kevin Lyman, and members from other bands like Less Than Jake joined them on stage. Aimee hugged Kevin during the chorus and she leaned the mic towards him to finish a line. She added “Give it up for Kevin Lyman” while pointing at him and leading everyone to cheer.

They added “You know this is an emotional day for everyone but I think more than anything it’s a celebration and honestly we are just overwhelmed with gratitude for being alive at the same time and being able to have this festival. I mean how lucky are we? They are going to be talking about this for hundreds of years.”

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7:30 p.m. – Less Than Jake

Guitarist and singer, Chris Demakes started by saying “West Palm Beach thank you so much for not only supporting Less Than Jake but for supporting the Vans Warped Tour all these years. We still have a career due in part to Kevin Lyman. I watched a lot of bands today and I haven’t seen anyone do this yet. I want to get a chant going right now for Kevin”. Once they started it took no time at all for everyone else to join in. Clearly so many fans were eager to show their love for the great Kevin.

Fourteen combined years of performing on this tour makes Less Than Jake” some serious veterans. Even with the high bar of expectation I had they some how found a way to exceed it making their set more like a party than any other performer that day. From the occasional smoke machines, shooting a couple giant toilet paper rolls over the crowd, to their mascot “evo boy” messing around with them on stage there wasn’t a dull moment once these guys entered. The first time I saw them over a decade or so ago I (embarrassingly) didn’t even know what ska music was. I’m glad they were the first band to introduce me to this genre. I’ve been quite biased with them ever since.

Closing with a song named The Ghosts of me and you, towards the end of the track they paused with “We’ve got 30 seconds left of the last time we are ever going to be on a Warped Tour stage. I want you to lose your goddamn minds West Palm Beach, are you ready?!”

They led everyone to chant again, this time to welcome Pennywise the next and very last band to perform for Warped Tour.

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8:00 p.m. – Pennywise

During the last set of the last Vans Warped Tour, I was starting to understand what so many bands meant by bittersweet. Maybe it was my bloody feet, or that I was too busy running around to eat anything all day but I could only imagine what it was like to play or work an entire summer of these back to back.

Pennywise performed hits like “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and “Broken.” After “Society,” Kevin Lyman joined on stage and said to the crowd “You know I’ve got to tell you, in 1996 the agents didn’t want to talk to me. I did that first tour with Sublime, No Doubt and nobody cared about the Warped Tour but you. I hung out with Pennywise and signed them on, and a few years ago when I started thinking about moving on and doing something else I said the last band to sing the last song would be this band, Pennywise. They are the heart and soul of this tour. I know some people hate me for not being as punk as I was, but in my heart and soul it’s all punk rock. Bands sing the same way to those kids now that these bands sing to you. So the next song is super cool right now because I’m so fucking pissed off at authority, let’s hear it!”

They played their last two songs “Fuck Authority” and “Bro Hymn” while the crew and stage members piled in close to the edge of the stage. They were all embracing one another and saying goodbye to this monumental tour that will continue to play a part in so many of our lives.

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