I spent just about every summer as a teen/adult at the Van’s Warped Tour and I did just that again Monday, July 30th in Charlotte, NC. After so many years attending warped I have a pretty good system for how to survive the day. Starting with getting there really early to get a good spot in line (after having donated my canned foods- help charity guys!), covering every possible spot on me in sunscreen (about 20 times throughout the day haha), drinking as much water as I can, and going in with a good idea of who I wanted to see and what I wanted to do.
First stop was the FEND tent to get my wristbands for the Waterparks Meet & Greet later in the day. Then we were rushing off to the main stage of the amphitheater to get a good spot for Waterparks. While waiting for their set, we got to see Riley perform. I had not heard of him before and I loved his set! For me, this is one of the best parts of Warped. I get to see the bands I love and then also get to see a new artist I might not have otherwise.
Once Riley was done, it was time for Waterparks. I have seen them three times in the last year, and they are definitely one of my favorite bands. I have been lucky to meet a lot of bands/artist over the years but those three guys have to be some of the nicest that I have ever met. I’ve now met them three times and each time they were gracious (even when others were being obnoxious and downright rude to them), kind and just flat out awesome guys.
After meeting Waterparks again it was time to head over to the Owly.FM stage to see another of my favorite bands, Sleep On It. This made my second time seeing the band and both times I have missed seeing their drummer Luka sadly. This day Luka had gotten really sick and had to be taken to the hospital to get checked out so the Sleep On It guys were winging it with an acoustic set. Right before their set started it started pouring, but that wasn’t changing their enthusiasm or ours.
The whole set was loose and had a lot of crowd participation by way of song requests (“Memorial Day” still wasn’t going to happen though, haha) which made it feel insanely special. This performance was special and unique — it goes to show just how amazing Sleep On It is, considering the week they had (bus breaking down, and two sick members, plus it being day 19 out of 20 in a row for them) and still put on a hell of a show.
Before the set was over, Zech was telling the crowd how everyone is equal and we should be able to live how we want, love who we want, no matter what “our dusty fucking cheeto of a President says”. This is another reason why I love this band: they are open and honest about how they feel and what they believe.
As soon as SOI’s set was over it was time for With Confidence. Again, I had seen them before so I knew it was going to be awesome and they definitely didn’t let me down. Getting to hear my favorite song by them live, “Here For Nothing”, was amazing! Also, randomly learned that one of my favorite places in Charlotte is Jayden’s favorite place in the US apparently ( a bar that lets you bring dogs and you get to drink and pet dogs- it’s like heaven).
After With Confidence, it was time to hit up a merch tent, a must-do for me to get another shirt, Sleep On It. The next time you’re at a SOI show say hi (and buy some stuff!!) to Alex Fucking Smith. He’s a cool dude and a great writer. You should definitely check out his tour journals, The Merch Life — you won’t be sorry!
My next stop was one I truly had no idea what to expect from: Awsten Knight’s TEI class. You really never know what to expect from him. The only thing I knew going in was it would be entertaining no matter what we did, and it was! Awsten had not planned anything for the class so we randomly ended up talking about dreams- he started by reading some of his that were typed out (while barely conscious apparently) on his phone and then invited others up to tell some crazy ones they have had. I was laughing the whole time. It was a great way to take a break in the middle of a very long stormy and humid day.
It was back to the main stage for us after the TEI because Knuckle Puck and Real Friends were up next. Both are bands that I have wanted to see for quite a while but hadn’t been able to. They were both so good!! If you haven’t seen them live, don’t wait as long as I did!
The highlight here for me was Real Friends, though. Their singer, Dan Lambton, gave a great speech about mental health and self-care. He was saying how we as humans use a bandage if we get cut open and self- care is just as important and that we all should be open about talking about mental health and doing what we need to take care of ourselves. As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, hearing others being open and honest about what they are going through is so inspiring.
Cassadee Pope was up next. I’m going to repeat that because it’s HUGE. Cassadee Pope was up next, y’all. I have been a fan since her Hey Monday days and have followed her journey from HM to The Voice and now on to her solo country career, but had never seen her perform. I was bound and determined to make it happen this day and I am so glad I did! She performed nice mix of her solo material, Hey Monday songs, and some covers. Her voice is unbelievably amazing. If you can see her live, do it! I got to meet her a little bit later at the FEND tent and she was so sweet.
After Cassadee Pope, The Maine took the stage. I love The Maine. I have seen them before at Warped so I knew it was going to be a great show. I was only able to stay for a few songs because we needed to get to the Cassadee Pope Meet and Greet. What I did get to see of their set was absolutely amazing though. They are not a small band by any means but I think they need to get much more credit and acknowledgment than they already do. They are amazing.
After The Maine and meeting Cassadee, it was back to the Main Stage for State Champs. I am a huge State Champs fan and having seen them before, was excited to catch their performance again. The amount of energy and passion this State Champs plays with is insane. They are a band that I see every time they come to town if at all possible.
Following State Champs was Less Than Jake. I have seen them multiple times at Warped but they ALWAYS put on a good show. From complaining with us that the venue was charging $13 for a beer (which is insane), to having some guy crowd surf to the stage so everyone could see his kick-ass mustache, to having the horn players from Reel Big Fish come on stage to play and introducing them with “not only are they good looking, they are good at blowing things”.
Following Less Than Jake was Issues. We stayed for a couple of songs but decided to head out early as we had to meet up with Jake from Sleep On It to give stuff we had for him and then do an hour-long drive back home.
On our way out we passed by State Champs’ merch tent where I was surprised to find Derek hanging out. I immediately turned around and went back and got a picture with him and talked for a few minutes. Again, even after such a grueling few weeks, he was so nice and as I watched him with each person (there were maybe 6 of us wanting to talk to him then) he was so funny and engaging with each of us, which was awesome.
By the end of the night I was physically and emotionally exhausted, but in the best way possible. Warped Tour was my childhood and to know this was the last full cross-country run broke my heart a little bit. It has been a constant in my life and now that is changing. I am holding out hope that I will one day again go to a Warped Tour based on the very specific wording that has been used describing this year’s final run. Fingers Crossed.
*All photos credited to Tiffany Brakefield
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TAGS: Van’s Warped Tour | Waterparks | Sleep On It | With Confidence | Alex Fucking Smith | Knuckle Puck | Real Friends | Cassadee Pope | The Maine | State Champs | Less Than Jake | Reel Big Fish | Issues
Tiffany Brakefiled – @TiffanyHope013
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