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Where the Punks Come out to Play
The Warped Tour Comes to Salt Lake City

by Autumn Thatcher
photos by Dave Tada

Hot girls and guys brave triple digit temperatures to see their favorite bands at the Warped Tour.  

Though the temperature was smolderingly hot on Saturday, the Utah punks dressed up in as much black as they could handle and headed to the Utah Fairgrounds for the eleventh annual Vans Warped Tour. A once killer idea with an uncertain future, the Vans Warped Tour has evolved into one of the most successful music festivals across the nation and now caters to several thousand music-hungry teenagers who wait all year for the chance to rock out to some of their favorite bands for a very reasonable price.

  “The Warped Tour is like a high school lunch except here, everyone sits at the loser table. We’re all a bunch of nerds.”  

This year’s Warped Tour featured over 80 bands that graced a variety of stages for around 15 minutes at a time. Bigger names such as Billy Idol and My Chemical Romance were scheduled to play on the North Stage, while smaller and lesser-known bands such as Dr. Neptune barely had a stage to play on at all. The beauty of the Warped Tour, however, is that the smaller bands still have a chance of performing in front of a large crowd because everyone is out to listen. Harsh judgments and cruel comments tend to be subdued, as the fans give every performer a chance. Sweating bodies, fainting girls and dusty faces did little to dishearten the enthusiasm of the fans when their bands took the stage. My Chemical Romance helped raise the temperature a few degrees higher with an intense performance that left the audience jumping and screaming for more.

Though the Warped Tour primarily focuses on the musical performances, its atmosphere is more like a fair than a concert. Hundreds of merchandise tents littered the fairgrounds, while a large moon bounce-type-tunnel was constructed for over-heated attendees to run through and get drenched with water. Skaters were invited to bring out their boards and ride in the ultra mini skate park, while vegans and vegetarians had the chance to support People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals by signing petitions and picking up some anti-meat stickers. The younger teens got to fulfill their rebellious fantasies by receiving airbrushed tattoos, while art fans visited the Punk Rock Museum and admired photographs taken of historical figures in music. Lovers picked up minty tingle condoms from Trojan and video game lords visited the Play Station 2 tent to check out the latest and greatest titles.

With so much to do, it became obvious why, after 11 years, the Warped Tour is up and running stronger than ever. “The tour remains solid because there is so much diversity, and the ticket prices are low” explained Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz. Returning for their second year with the Warped Tour, Fall Out Boy played the main stage in Salt Lake City. Their experience revealed that the tour is just as exciting for the bands involved as it is for the fans. “The Warped Tour is like a high school lunch except here, everyone sits at the loser table. We’re all a bunch of nerds,” said Wentz. Both Wentz and lead vocalist, Patrick Stumph, admit that playing at the Warped Tour is hard work, but is well worth it.

“Last year we played on one of the smaller stages for 15 days, and this year we are playing the whole tour, it’s like we jumped from the freshman team to the Junior Varsity” said Wentz. Though the band members are stoked to be playing a bigger stage this year, they are hoping to return again next year with an even larger fan base.

The opportunity for a band to grow is perhaps the most appealing concept of the Warped Tour to new bands. The band members work hard, sweat a ton and sleep little all summer long, but in the end, they have helped solidify their audience, and often come back the next year as a bigger name.

With this in mind, it becomes increasingly obvious that the Vans Warped Tour creator, Kevin Lyman, aims to please and in a bit of rock-and-roll irony, makes the corporate sponsor dollars work for the punks. With enough sights and sounds to keep even the most ADHD punk rocker amused, Lyman has quenched the thirst of the fans just enough to bring them back next year, and has placed the bands involved on a musical pedestal that will help push them along in their own personal careers.

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