Warped Tour 2018

Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, NJ

Vans Warped Tour 2018- The Final Tour 
Northwell Health at Jones Beach 
Wantagh, New York 
July 28, 2015 

Vans Warped Tour '18, the final full cross-country tour, rolled onto the oceanfront stadium of Jones Beach on Long Island on a sunny, hot summer Saturday.  Instead of taking over the amphitheater's expansive stage and stadium seats, the enormous caravan of tour buses stood sentry over one portion of the enormous parking lot, with stages, vendor areas, band merch tents and misting stations on the opposite section of the parking field. Parents headed for Reverse Day Care, an air conditioned sanctuary in the oasis of heat after dropping their offspring off on a mile long line that snaked around the entire perimeter of the concert area, winding next to a quickly constructed fence that provided a barrier between the music and the machines. 

When the news posted that it would be the last Warped Tour of this incarnation, fans scrambled to buy tickets and ensure that they wouldn't miss out on what has become a summer institution that has embraced more than 1,700 bands over the last 23 summers. With two decades under its Vans-designed skate shoes, the Warped Tour was created in 1995 by Kevin Lyman in production with Vans and Creative Artist Agency, with the first date in Boise, Idaho and ending that year in Detroit. What started out as a skate, third wave ska and punk tour has grown into the longest running touring music festival in North America. It morphed to include indie, pop, and metal core acts, and in 1998 the festival expanded to international shores as well. Activism is a strong tent pole of Vans Warped Tour and partnerships with organizations like MusiCares. Feed Our Children Now and endeavors involving music lessons on site as well as blood drives through their affiliation with the American Red Cross, are staples of the festival. 

Nearly always outdoors, except for rare circumstances, Vans Warped Tour sports a unique feature, a different layout and schedule for each stop along the way. Fans can stay on top of schedules for their city by following their favorite artists on social media as well as by checking out a huge schedule that is posted that morning at the venue on an enormous inflatable board or by purchasing a paper schedule when they enter the grounds, which becomes the bible of where to be for the rest of the day. With so many active stages operating simultaneously, it is possible to miss the next big thing if you don't possess the schedule. Over the years, the acts to grace these stages is staggering, including the likes of Dick Dale, Dead Jane, Brothers of Brazil, Blink-182, Weezer, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Yellowcard, Greenday, Echosmith, Sublime, Sum 41, Social Distortion, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Incubus, Coheed and Cambria, Paramore, The Offspring, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Rise Against and more.  

Six stages comprised the 2018 Vans Warped Tour at Wantagh this year, all named for the top sponsors including Journey's Left Foot, Journey's Right Foot, Mutant Red Dawn, Mutant White Lighting, Owly.fm Stage and Full Sail Stage.  Spread out with ample space and boasting staggered start times to reduce noise bleed, in the beginning of the day, it was simple to navigate the stages and plethora of diverse vendors.  By late afternoon, the crowd in front of stages and reaching to the adjacent ones found fans standing shoulder to shoulder with very little room between. The crowd clearly turned out to say goodbye to the Warped Tour in amazing numbers, despite the 90 degree, full sun summer day. One of the most fascinating concepts of the festival, and what truly sets it apart from other festivals, is the support of young bands. With local competitions determining the best bands to grace the stages in each market, this is the heart of what Vans Warped Tour is all about and the support given these talented young artists at different stages of their careers is wonderful to see. Some artists have already signed record label deals and are enjoying success and others are waiting for their big break. They all share incredible drive, showmanship and overwhelming passion. 

This year, the impressive lineup brought some acts back to the Warped Tour like Asking Alexandria, The Interrupters, and Set it Off. Other huge draws to the festival were Mayday Parade, Reel Big Fish, Twiztid, Deez Nuts and The Maine. Each brought hearty crowds to their stages, hard core fans reveling in being so close to their favorites and new ones dancing and fist pumping to their newly discovered vibe. One of the highlights of the show was the performance by Tampa, Florida's Set It Off.  With loads of followers for vocalist's Cody Carson's YouTube Channel, the fans turned out for their set and were not disappointed by Carson's crowd surfing prowess.  Another hit was Chase Atlantic, the alternative pop band from Australia, comprised of Christian Anthony and brothers Clinton and Mitchel Cave.  Boston's own Unearth brought the crowd alive with their metal licks and stage antics.  Fans lined up to have their Vans signed by Iggy Pop at 7PM, another wonderful surprise that delighted fans of all ages. 
As always, Vans Warped Tour was a sweaty, energetic rite of summer, filled with pulse pounding music, long lines, youthful abandon.  But this year, we say a sad farewell to the sweet dreams of what incredible known and unknown bands would wait for us next year. 

Photo Credit:  Christine Connallon


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