tl;dr Warped Tour was great, and holds a very special place in my heart.
This year, I wasn’t gonna be home for the last Warped Tour in Minnesota, so we decided to find a way to attend one while we were on our cross-country RV trip, and we ended up in Dallas. Turns out that if you drive an RV into the lot when the buses and Bandwagons are pulling in, and you act like you know what you’re doing, security just waves you on in! We had a blast, watching bands and hanging out with people that I’ve met over the years.
My first time attending Warped Tour was in 1997 in St. Paul. To be honest, I don’t even recall how I found out about the tour, where I got tickets, who drove me there, or what I ate that day. But, I do remember seeing Reel Big Fish and getting their autographs. At the time, they were absolutely my favorite band, right up there with the Suicide Machines and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, both of which also played that year.
The next year, 1998, my ska band (Flipsyde) entered the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands. Back then, they had the bands that got the most online votes play a show in town (ours was at Bandana Square), and local judges declared a winner that would go on to play the Ernie Ball stage at Warped. We didn’t win, but we still attended. Fun fact: that was the year that Ozzfest and Warped merged (in Somerset, WI), which was memorable, even though I didn’t catch a single Ozzfest band.
In 1999, there was no Warped Tour in Minneapolis. I remember emailing Kevin Lyman about getting into a different Warped Tour, since there was none in Minnesota, and he told me to bring my ID and we could get in. My bandmates and I decided to drive to St. Louis that year, because that’s what young people on summer vacation do! To this day, Kevin remains easy to spot, if you know what to look for: straw fedora and sunglasses. I managed to find him and he went and got us backstage passes. I remember going up to Travis Barker after his set with Blink 182 and asking “So, do you still go by ‘The Baron Von Tito’?” because I think I was trying to somehow impress him by knowing about his old ska band, The Aquabats. Woof. He told me, coldly, “My name has always been Travis”, and that was the last and only time I’ve ever interacted with him.
On our way home from St. Louis, we got a call asking if we’d like to play the Warped Tour in Chicago. We said yes, before even consulting the rest of our band (who were back in Minneapolis). So, 1999 in Tinley Park, IL on the local stage was my first time playing the Warped Tour. After our set, my bass player told me that none other than Travis Barker had stopped to watch us play for a quick minute. Incidentally, he watched us play a song that included a drum fill lifted directly from an Aquabats song. I wonder if he stopped to ponder if I was the idiot from St. Louis, or if he recognized his fill being butchered by some local band.
The following years went like this:
2000: Played with Flipsyde. Metrodome parking lot on the Ernie Ball stage. Fun fact: Lifter Puller (Craig from The Hold Steady’s old band) also played our stage.
2001: Played with Flipsyde. Somerset, WI on the Ernie Ball stage.
2002: Played with Flipsyde. Harriett Island on the Drive-Thru Records stage. Fun fact: Motion City Soundtrack also played our stage.
2003: Played with Somerset. Somerset, WI on the Ernie Ball stage.
2004: Played with Somerset. Metrodome on the Smart Punk stage.
2005: Played with Somerset. Metrodome on the Kevin Says stage.
In 2006, I travelled with the Warped Tour for the first time, drum teching for Motion City Soundtrack. This was the year that I got to know a lot of the crew that is still around. It was my first time making money while traveling, and the beginning of what I’d consider to be my professional career, both as a tech and a drummer.
2008: Worked for MCS who did half the tour
2010: Worked for MCS who did half the tour. Fun fact: It was on this tour that I got the drumming gig with Saves The Day.
2013: Played with MCS who did the whole tour. Fun fact: I filled in on drums for The Wonder Years for one of the shows!