All photos and video by Chalisa Singh
You know that feeling you get on Christmas Eve when you can't fall asleep because you are too excited for the actual day to come? Well, that's the feeling I get every year the day before Vans Warped Tour (VWT).
Just to backtrack a bit, if you have no clue as to what the VWT is, let me paint a picture for you. Vans Warped Tour is a summer-long music festival that runs every year from June to August. This festival focuses more on the rock scene and is home to all the punk-rock kids and metal-core heads. Although, as the years go on, Warped has been more friendly to more pop/indie/edm/hip-hop acts, making the festival a little more diverse. Touring the United States since 1995, over 100 bands and artists hop on this tour every summer along with many different organizations to give fans a day full of music and fun. How it works is there are a number of different stages such as the Journeys’ Stage, the Mutant Stage, the Full Sail University Stage, the Monster Energy Stage, etc. And to make sure you don't miss any of your favorite bands, the Vans Warped Tour schedule tells you what times and locations they will play at. Every year you hope and pray your favorite bands do not play at the same time. No one wants to be in the situation where they have to decide between two of their most beloved bands.
The music is not the only aspect of the festival, though. With every Warped set up, there are also a variety of different tents with amazing non-profit organizations such as Feed Our Children Now!, To Write Love On Her Arms, Hope For The Day, Living The Dream Foundation, Music Saves Lives, and many more that support and promote important matters. There are merch tents where artists may even do signings and meet & greets. You will also find a number of tents with fun activities to do, free giveaways, and unique handmade accessories. And of course, you have the water station to refill your bottles to stay hydrated along with a number of food options.
Now that you have the gist of what VWT is, let’s dig into the more sentimental side of things. The Tour is more than just a place to let loose, have fun, and rock out to music all day long. It is a home and safe place to a massive demographic of people. The roar of the crowd, the blaring of the music, and the passion and connection between the fans and the artists are unlike any other festival.
Personally, Vans Warped Tour saved my life and I’m sure thousands of others feel the same way. Walking into Warped Tour, you feel a strong sense of community. Whatever it may be that you are going through, when you walk through the gates of VWT, you are no longer going through it alone. I can’t even begin to describe the immense support everyone has for each other at this festival. Especially with its heavy involvement with non-profit organizations, this tour connects a deep love for music with a powerful mission to impact lives. I love when I’m watching a set and hear the singer take time to speak out about important matters and remind the crowd they are not alone and they will be okay. These bands don’t come out on stage acting as if they are bigger than anyone else. They make their fans feel as if they are one with them, that they too have had their bad days, but that it is possible to overcome whatever demon you are dealing with. These artists don’t just sing their greatest hits, they inspire every individual to chase their dreams and to not let anything get in the way of doing so.
Since going as a fan since 2010 to now capturing the festival through my lens, I have felt and witnessed the attachment fans have with these bands hundreds of times and it never gets old. There is a quote by Dave Grohl that says: “That’s one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.” I don’t think anything else describes a concert more perfectly than this quote. Yeah sure, musicians make music for fun but music’s main purpose is to bring healing and to connect with millions of people. Everyone belting their favorite lyrics to their favorite song at Warped Tour is screaming those words with a different story. They are belting it with pain, with joy, with tears, with passion, or with relief and that is something I find so beautiful. Vans Warped Tour unites the music scene and inspires people to live for something greater than themselves.
Fast forwarding to Vans Warped Tour '17, I had the amazing opportunity to capture the festival with Live Nation’s The Noise. I was able to watch and capture so many talented acts at my hometown show in Columbia, Maryland. I caught Sammy Adams, American Authors, Dance Gavin Dance, Memphis May Fire, Neck Deep, Our Last Night, Save Ferris, Counterparts, Hatebreed, and several others. All these artists were amazing, bringing full energy to the stage and were incredibly engaging with the crowd no matter how hot the sun was. Trevor Wentworth of Our Last Night jumped into the crowd a few good times keeping them awake. Monique Powell of Save Ferris slayed the stage with her vibrant red hair and groovy dance moves. Sammy Adams hyped the crowd with his most popular song, “All Night Longer.” American Authors brought the mellow vibes with their indie sound, and Hatebreed and Dance Gavin Dance’s crowd was not shy when it came to crowd surfing and moshing. What I love most about this festival is it is very welcoming of all ages. I love walking by a crowd and seeing a 50-year-old dad rocking out with his nine-year-old son.
All of this would not be possible without the mastermind who orchestrated this incredible event. So here is a huge thank you to Kevin Lyman for bringing this idea he had to life and allowing the music scene to come together for a day full of non-stop fun. And remember: you are never too old for the Vans Warped Tour.