For 24 years, punk rock summer camp brought misfits, strays, and losers together for a whirlwind of loud music and zero judgement. Like all things we find enjoyable, Warped Tour is ending. Gone is one of the biggest staples in alternative music. But Warped didn’t go down without one last hurrah in Chicago. 21,000 people showed up to the sold out Tinley Park day of Warped Tour.
In all my years at Warped Tour, it has never rained at the Chicago date. I guess the universe has been storing all that rain because it absolutely downpoured all day. On top of that, it was a freezing 63 degrees, so conditions were beyond unideal. However, Warped Tour stops for nothing and no one, so everyone braved the weather to see their favorite bands.
Punk rock summer camp would not be complete without a little My Chemical Romance. Early in the day, As It Is rocked out with their new MCR inspired look. This blast from the past induced nostalgia in all of us. Later on, Palaye Royale led the audience in a sing along of the MCR classic “Teenagers”. Although, there was no MCR reunion on Warped Tour, this was the next best thing.
As per usual, the foreign bands blew everyone out of the water. Simple Plan and Tonight Alive adorned the mainstage. Simple Plan gave the people what they wanted and played hit after hit. The audience was suddenly transported to the early 2000s again. Jenna McDougall and the rest of Tonight Alive spread their positivity and brought the sun out of hiding.
Over on the Owly.fm stage, was a band that I didn’t know much about, but they ultimately put on the best set of the day. At no point during Chase Atlantic’s set did I know what was going on. There instrumentals sounded like a rock group, but then there were elements of rap. And then there was also a saxophone? Theoretically, Chase Atlantic shouldn’t work, let alone be a band. But they were incredible. The crowd was losing their minds. Frontman Mitchell Cave had energy that was unparalleled. There are not enough words to describe their set, but Chase Atlantic was epic to say the least.
Chicago is a hub of Pop Punk. Hometown heroes Sleep On It put on a stellar performance. Crowdsurfing almost started before the band took the stage. Their music was good, but what was really special was the looks on their faces as they played Warped Tour for the last time in their hometown. Watching Sleep On It was one of the most emotional parts of the day.
In addition to these bands, I also saw Broadside, Story Untold, and Doll Skin. These bands are very much keeping the spirit of punk rock alive. As the scene moves forward, it will be interesting to see where these bands take us.
State Champs and Beartooth had some of the largest crowds of the day. Maybe this was because it was raining and they played on the only indoor stage, or maybe everyone secretly loves two of my favorite bands just as much as I do. I have seen State Champs play Warped tour three times, and every year their set gets better. It has been cool to see them grow over the years. Beartooth is no stranger to the Warped Tour stage. They’ve been on the tour countless times, but this was more than a regular show. Beartooth left its heart and soul on that stage. Hearing hundreds of people sing along to “In Between” live is a moment I will never forget.
After being cold, wet, and tired, we closed out our night with Waterparks. By this time, all anyone could think about was going home; we were done. But Waterparks resurrected our near lifeless bodies. They played a mix of old and new songs. The band’s upbeat quirkiness made them an excellent closer.
As we trudged through the muddy parking lot, it was hard to believe Warped Tour was actually over. I immediately wanted the day to restart. This was hands down the best Warped Tour I ever went to.
Although Warped Tour is over, it is important to remember music is not ending. Alternative music survived before Warped, and it will survive after it. That’s not to say punk music’s light won’t be a little dimmer.
Go out and support local music and any musician you love.That’s how we get to have cool things like Warped Tour. Nothing will ever replace this tour, but maybe we’ll get to have something like it again. But until then, so long Warped, and thank you for giving us some of the best memories.
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