For the last 25 years, Van’s Warped Tour has been hosting its “punk rock summer camp” filled with sweaty mosh pits, angsty lyrics, and eclectic-colored hair for as far as the eye can see. The festival — which has been making cross-country treks with some of the most notable names in punk, metal, emo, hip-hop and ska each summer — announced its 2019 shows would ultimately be their last.
Throughout the decades, we saw artists get their start on the Ernie Ball Battle of Bands stage, teenage garage bands turn into full-blown punk legends, and lifelong relationships form within the niche community the festival was able to create.
As we say goodbye to the festival that encapsulated our youth, here are some of our favorite moments from the final farewell show in Mountain View, CA…
No stage necessary
Bands are nothing without their fans. And what’s a better way to give back to your fans than getting them as close to the music as possible? We saw several artists throughout the weekend ditch the comfort of the stage and dive into the commotion of the crowd. Vocalist Brandon Blaine of Plague Vendor sang their punk-driven riffs as a circle pit enclosed around him. Drummer Pat Thetic and bassist Chris Barker of Anti-Flag took their gear into the madness as they played their beloved 90s anthems. The up close and personal sets made for some of the most memorable moments of the weekend.
Hear from some of the Vans Warped Tour vets over the years including founder, Kevin Lyman, Ernie Ball CEO, Sterling Ball and Ernie Ball Experiential Director, Ryan McLain who were there from the beginning with our notable Battle of the Bands mobile stage.
Nostalgia meets new wave
Warped Tour has been home for many artists over the years, with veteran groups like Less Than Jake and The Vandals being featured on lineups from 1997 all the way to 2019. But the weekend also introduced some new faces to the quarter-century old festival. UK-native YUNGBLUD — whose sound draws influence from ska and hip-hop — made his Warped debut on Sunday. His high energy performance was topped off with a special appearance from collaborator and hip-hop artist Machine Gun Kelly. The duo sang their song “I Think I’m OKAY” to close out the set — as YUNGBLUD gave the ultimate hello and goodbye all in the same instance.
The show must go on
After unforeseen travel delays, NOFX — who was set to close out the night — was running late for their scheduled set time. As their set quickly approached and the band was still no where in sight, the production crew began to improvise. Behind the rotating stage, hidden from the crowd, was a whirlwind of madness being perfectly executed in true Warped Tour fashion. John Feldmann was memorizing songs as the crew taped NOFX lyrics to the stage and members of Sum 41, Thrice, Circa Survive and more were grabbing their gear in preparation for the ultimate cover band that was about to take place.
Sum 41, with the help of The Starting Line vocalist Kenny Vasoli, kicked things off with a light-speed rendition of “Stickin’ in My Eye,” while Thrice continued the momentum with their cover of “Linoleum.” But things really began to kick into full gear once John Feldmann of Goldfinger started to sing “Bob,” joined by Atreyu on backing band with Yungblud, Hyro the Hero and others causing commotion on stage.
While all hope seemed to be lost for the headliner’s arrival, thanks to the help of a private jet and a police escort, NOFX finally arrived 30 minutes into the impromptu performances. Upon their arrival, fans were treated with a show only fitting for a final farewell. You can see the complete footage of the madness here.
As with any event, nothing ever goes seamlessly. But the closing set of the infamous festival perfectly encapsulates everything Warped Tour has taught us over the years: what it means to band together, create lasting memories with music, and ultimately how to have one hell of a good time.