So Long and Goodnight: Warped Tour’s Last Cross-Country Run
This summer, a musical era spanning over 20 years will come to an end. On November 17th, 2017, it was announced that the 2018 Vans Warped Tour will be the final year that the tour will run in its current format. Beginning in 1995, the Vans Warped Tour was a summer alternative music festival that saw bands like Fall Out Boy and Blink 182 climb the ladder to success in parking lots across the country. This summer, the last traveling music festival will be hosting its final cross-country run.
The announcement of Warped Tour’s final cross-country run was made back in November 2017 through founder Kevin Lyman’s Twitter account, as well as a full statement released on the Vans Warped Tour website. In his statement on the Warped Tour website, Lyman notes that, “What has always made me proud was when I read that Warped was the most diverse show of the summer where you could find Eminem and Ice-T on the same stages as Sevendust, Pennywise, and 7 Seconds.”
When asked about the end of the traditional Warped tour run, Evan Eggers ‘18 said, “I think it was a surprise to most fans of the Warped community who didn’t have access to the data Kevin Lyman did. It was becoming more obvious that the Warped Tour demographic was growing older, but when it came to live entertainment, most people didn’t think about the threat that came from the digital world to the younger demographic, and that younger audiences would choose to stay home.”
Music management department chair Keith Hatschek agreed with this notion, stating that, “Streaming sites give fans choices. People can find a substitute [for live music] through other avenues.”
Streaming sites is only one of the many contributors to the demise of the long-standing Warped Tour format. AltPress contributor Ryan Smythe notes that, “If I had to guess, the organizers focused more on retaining their aging base rather than getting new young people interested.”
In an interview with Billboard, Warped founder Kevin Lyman recalled that, “So that [younger] demo changed, but then I talked to people after the tour and bands did great on merchandise, they had great crowds — everyone had good crowds in front of the stage. But that casual fan that’s learning how to go to a music festival — they were not there last summer… It was a really great show, sponsors were happy, but our attendance was down.”
Though the rise of various trending music festivals such as Beyond Wonderland and longer standing festivals such as Coachella could have contributed to Warped Tour’s decline, Hatschek notes that it is “more accurate to say there’s more variety for music festivals”. Hatschek continued to say that potential contributors could also be “that not only are there more summer festivals, but publicity of violence at major concerts probably gave pause to parents”.
Regardless of the contributing factors that led to the end of Warped Tour’s long-standing format, it is evident that it will leave behind a hole in the alternative music scene that will be difficult to fill. “Warped is not going away soon, and that’s a fact,” stated a still optimistic Evan Eggers. “As Kevin Lyman has said, the Warped festival banner isn’t going away either. It is only adapting to the economic environment.”
Keith Hatschek reflected on the meaning of Warped Tour as a whole, saying that, “There’s two aspects to Warped that made it special: the curation of music…and the welcoming community [that] offered young bands and their fans a chance to be themselves for a day. I don’t know if anything else will fill the same niche.”