June 28th, 2018 was the final Arizona Warped Tour. After 24 years it was finally coming to an end. People came out from all over the state to celebrate the final Vans Warped Tour.
The fans were all lined up in the morning eager to get into the venue. Musicians, brands, and charities were walking up and down the lines, talking to anyone that would listen. The sun was beating down but that didn’t take away anyone’s excitement.
The gates opened and early entry was let into the amphitheater at Ak-Chin Pavilion. Bands were walking around selling CD’s and carrying big signs with their set times on them. Fans were getting the chance to interact with some of their favorite musicians while waiting to be let into the rest of the festival grounds. Their were bands walking around with a signs yelling out their set times and taking photos with fans.
After an hour the gates to the rest of the festival grounds were finally opened. Everyone went different directions trying to find the blowup setlist, get tickets to meet their favorite bands, and secure their barricade spots. Some of the bands were even hanging out at their tents meeting the fans that had come in early.
The Entertainment Institute or TEI for short was putting on several classes taught by people on the tour. One of these classes was Life In The Pit, taught by Lisa Johnson, Rock Photographer. Johnson has been photographing Warped Tour since the very first summer back in 1995. She talked to the class about the rules of the pit and then they went to start shooting bands.
The first band that they shot was Trashboat, a very energetic Pop-Punk band from the UK. The lead singer Tobi Duncan knew how to hype up the crowd and get them going. You could see the emotion that Duncan was putting into his performance all over his face.
After Trashboat they shot a female-fronted hardcore band called Sharptooth. In a genre heavily dominated by men, Lauren Kashan is definitely making her mark. The band put on a great performance. Kashan shared a personal story making their set even more intimate than it already was when Kashan jumped off the stage and sang with the fans in the crowd.
The class photographed these two bands and then went to a shady spot to talk about their experiences. Photographing in the pit is very different from shooting in the crowd. Most crowd shots end up out of focus or framed wrong, it’s hard to get a good shot while your being bumped around but in the pit, you can move around, get up close and personal, or stand back. You have a lot more opportunities to create good content in the pit vs the crowd.
The Owly.fm stage had a great line up. One of the bands was Makeout. Makeout is a Pop-Punk band from Providence, Rhode Island but their drummer is from Brisbane, Australia. They put on a very entertaining show. The fans were very into it, yelling the lyrics to their song “Open Minded”.
After Makeout was a band from Bedford, UK called Don Broco. They put on a great live show. Their music is very unique and different. They incorporate things like cowbell and industrial sounds into their songs. They also interact a lot with the crowd. Guitarist Si Delaney went into the middle of the circle during “Pretty” and moshed while playing guitar. Lead singer Rob Damiani also got off the stage and sang with the crowd from the barricade.
Fashion-Art Rock band Palaye Royale from Las Vegas, Nevada was up next. Lead singer Remington Leith had done his makeup so it looked like he had blood running down his face and guitarist Sebastian Danzig was wearing a suit in the Arizona heat. Leith was very energetic and theatrical, emphasizing the lyrics with his movements and expressions. When the band played an unreleased song called “Masochist” the crowd went wild, most fans already knew the lyrics. The band also performed a cover of “Teenagers” by My Chemical Romance, getting the crowd even more energized as they sang along to the iconic lyrics.
Next was Chase Atlantic a genre nonconforming band from Australia. When they walked on to the stage the crowd started buzzing with excitement. Lead singer Mitchell Cave was very energetic, he was jumping all over the stage and having fun with his bandmates. A unique aspect of their music is that they incorporate saxophone into a few songs. Guitarist Clinton Cave traded his guitar for a saxophone mid-set and had to whole crowd dancing.
With Confidence from Sydney, Australia played next. After some technical difficulties due to the heat, they put on a great show. They played a song called “That Something” off of their brand new record Love and Loathing, it had only been released for a little more than two weeks at that point, so everyone was singing along. Everyone in the crowd was jumping or singing along to their whole set.
One of the best things about Warped Tour was that it was so diverse. Those six bands are from different corners of the world, play different genres of music, and have different aesthetics; but they were all playing on the same stage. No matter who you are or what you like, you were bound to find a band on that stage that you liked.
Warped Tour changed many people's lives and will forever have a place in everyone's hearts. Years from now people will be telling their kids about “the summer at the Warped Tour” as Blink-182 would say. It was a place where you could be yourself, listen to the music you love, and interact with some of your favorite artists. Now we wait for other festivals to start popping up. Maybe Kevin Lyman will throw something else together. We’ll just have to wait and see but one thing is for sure, no festival will ever be like Warped Tour.