Vans Warped Tour 2016: Punk Rock 101

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Sean Mackin of Yellow Card showing Atlanta just how punk a violin can be.

Vans Warped tour is one of the most iconic, annual traveling rock festivals in the world. Founded in the summer of 1995 by Kevin Lyman, this festival never ceases to bring out crowds as far as the eye can see. This powerhouse festival features almost a hundred bands between eight stages throughout the summer months, and for anyone who hasn’t been before, this makes seeing every band on your wish list is no easy feat.

The tour utilizes the stages that are present at the venue, but they also bring their own traveling stages. The set up for Warped Tour 2016 at Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta, Georgia made seeing all the bands on your wish list simple, yet difficult at the same time. The Lakewood Amphitheater stage was split into two stages, known as the Poseidon and Cyclops stages. Besides these two, Warped Tour had utilized one of the parking lots to set up six more stages that were surrounded by a sea of vendors and merchandise tents.

Two stages that were jam packed with big names were the Journey’s Left and Right foot stages. These stages were graced by the performances of Falling in Reverse, Less than Jake, New Found Glory, Pepper, Sum 41, Yellow Card, We the Kings, and Mayday Parade. And that’s just barely scratching the surface of the performances in Atlanta. There were also three other stages known as Monster Energy North, Monster Energy South, and Full Sail University Stage. These stages saw names such as Crown the Empire, Ice Nine Kills, The Word Alive, Vanna, Chelsea Grin, and Gideon.

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We The Kings performing on the Journey’s Left Foot stage.

Vans Warped Tour is very different from other festivals due to the fact it is a traveling rock festival and it’s only in town for a day. For Warped Tour at Lakewood Amphitheater, the gates opened at 11am and things started winding down around 8pm. That’s roughly 9 hours of non-stop rock n’ roll pumping through your veins in the blistering heat as you thrash about with your friends in a mosh pit. With that being said, becoming a Warped Tour Veteran is no easy feat; these individuals deserve the purple heart of concert hopping.

Between constantly switching mosh pits since everyone’s set only lasts about thirty minutes, navigating between lines for meet and greets, lines for the bathroom, lines for water refill, and more lines for games that have free merch as prizes, I am here to give everyone a little Punk Rock 101 in hopes of preparing you lovely concert hoppers for next year’s tour.

Punk Rock 101 consists of five simple lessons. Lesson number one is make sure you get a full night’s sleep the night before. The sweltering heat that you’ll endure all day on top of moshing is going to drain your batteries quicker than you would think. Lesson two, you can never drink enough water. There are free water filling stations throughout the festival and camelbaks are allowed inside as well as a factory sealed water bottle.

The third lesson of Punk Rock 101 goes hand-in-hand with lesson two, and that’s food. The vendors inside the venue were, as always, expensive. In my opinion, eating a big breakfast before going is a good idea. Some people advise against this, due to the heat and possible nausea, but it’s going to save you a couple bucks. Just don’t eat so much that you feel weighed down. Lesson four is a hard one for most concert hoppers to take but, here it goes…You won’t be able to see all the bands you want to, and that’s okay. This is partially due to Vans Warped Tour scheduling, some bands won’t be joining the lineup until half-way through the summer due to scheduling conflicts. This was the case for myself wanting to see Good Charlotte and 3OH!3, but after it was all said and done I was more than happy moshing my heart out to everyone else’s performances that day.

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Pepper performing on the Journeys Left Foot Stage for Vans Warped Tour 2016 at Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta, Georgia.

There were three performances that were the highlight of the entire day, and those were Pepper, Yellow Card and We The Kings. I had never heard of Pepper until I found myself front and center in their mosh pit at the Journey’s Left Foot stage, and this is definitely a band to check out if you have never heard of them. This pop punk trio from Hawaii really knows how to throw down a sick performance and get everyone singing along with their punk island vibes.

We The Kings brought everyone to their feet when they took to the Journey’s Left Foot stage as they announced they were recording the performance to be used in a tour recap video with their brand new single, “Sad Song”, that can be found on their Instagram. As they started performing “Check Yes, Juliet”, it was almost like everyone at Warped Tour stopped what they were doing to rush the stage and start singing along. They are without a doubt a group of pop punk icons that always put on one hell of a performance.

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Travis Clark leading everyone in a sing-a-long of “Check Yes, Juliet” at Lakewood Amphitheater.

Yellow Card’s performance was nonetheless bittersweet and marked a milestone for the band, and also Warped Tour as a whole. Yellow Card recently announced the band will be saying farewell as they make a final world tour after Vans Warped Tour comes to an end. Yellow Card is without a doubt one of the most iconic pop-punk names out there, as their 2003 hit single “Ocean Avenue” took the world by storm and still remains in almost everyone’s playlists to this day. Yellow Card toured the world for almost two decades, and spent almost a decade touring with Vans Warped Tour. It is sad to see such an amazing band, a band that can bring any crowd to their feet, close their guitar cases for the last time, but they have definitely left their mark on Vans Warped Tour. Not only that, they’ve left their mark on the punk scene as a whole. I know I wasn’t the only one shedding tears as they left the stage after absolutely shredding “Ocean Avenue” for one final Warped Tour in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Ryan Key of Yellow Card singing Ocean Avenue at Vans Warped Tour in Atlanta, Georgia.

Vans Warped Tour 2016 came to a close on August 13th and put yet another historical summer in the books. Though we have said farewell to Yellow Card, this now leaves us wondering who could be on the line up for the summer of 2017. As we all study up on our Punk Rock 101, we anxiously wait to see what next year’s tour has in store for us.

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