Vans Warped Tour Says Goodbye in its Last Ever San Diego Show

Late last fall, Kevin Lyman announced that 2018 would be the last year for the annual cross-country run of Vans Warped Tour. Presented by Journeys, the much-loved "punk rock summer camp,” blending music and action sports was founded by Lyman in 1995, and has been one of the most successful and longest-running traveling festivals for diehard rock and punk rock fans.

This summer's 24th and final edition of Warped Tour kicked off in SoCal at the Pomona Fairplex in Pomona on June 21, 2018, with a sold-out show (17,000 capacity crowd), and will commemorate its farewell performance on Aug. 5 in West Palm Beach, FL after trekking across 25 states for a total of 38 dates - including a highly-anticipated stop in Toronto on July 17.

Music Connection Magazine met up with Warped Tour at SDCCU (formerly Qualcomm) Stadium parking lot in its last ever San Diego show on Friday, June 22. Having sold 11,000 advance tickets by June 5 (last year’s attendance was 8,000), it came as no surprise when thousands of multigenerational fans converged on the sunny year-round outdoor playground, exhilarated by the opportunity to see 55 talented and high-energy acts performing on six Warped stages (Journeys Left Foot, Journeys Right Foot, Mutant Red Dawn, Mutant White Lightning, owly.fm, and Full Sail).

Warped Tour’s 2018 summer lineup is very diverse, showcasing a multitude of artists spread across the musical spectrum. The stage assignments were a mixture of old favorites and new discoveries equally dispersed, encouraging people to bounce from stage to stage, giving all the bands a chance to be heard. “There’s no elitism on Warped Tour,” Lyman said. “You just have to be a great live performer.”

The Journeys Left and Right Foot stages were home to a lot of the tour's most anticipated bands - 30H!3, All Time Low, Simple Plan, Black Veil Brides, Four Year Strong, Knuckle Puck, The Main, Movements, Real Friends, Reel Big Fish, State Champs, Tonight Alive,The Used and more. Warped Tour veterans We The Kings and Mayday Parade are ecstatic to be playing on the Warped stage one last time.

Vans Warped enlisted some of today’s most sought-after heavy and hardcore artists to perform on the newly named Mutant Red Dawn and Mutant White Lightning stages. Celebrated acts like The Amity Affliction, Chelsea Grin, Mychildren Mybride, Twiztid, Wage War, Every Time I Die, Harm's Way, and Motionless in White.

The owly.fm and Full Sail Stages brought all sorts of talent. From bands like As It is, Assuming We Survive, Doll Skin, Don Broco, Grayscale, Kaiser Solzie, Trash Boat, and more. Get the complete stage by stage lineup for the 2018 Warped Tour here.

Although there was quite a list of phenomenal performances (there was hardly a stage that didn't have a huge crowd), we wanted to highlight a few of the standout bands in San Diego.

First up, Baltimore, Maryland's hardcore punk band, Sharptooth (signed to Pure Noise Records). Things went off the hook when the sounds of Sharptooth hit the Mutant Red Dawn stage. Led by Lauren Kashan who brought the headbanging hair flying sounds to the scene, whipped the crowd into a frenzy with passion and endless energy; this band was just badass brutal.

Boston's Ice Nine Kills brought all kinds of heavy. Led by Spencer Charnas, the haunting metalcore band (signed to Fearless Records), have the attitude, the look, the sound, etc. The crowd surfing (to include Charnas who could write the how-to book, "Crowd Surfing Done Right") was intense, and if you were anywhere near the enormous mosh-pit, you were going in. INK pretty much killed the Mutant Red Dawn stage in the best way possible.

Bringing the mayhem to the Mutant White Lightning stage, the New Jersey metalcore band, Senses Fail (signed to Pure Noise Records) showed why they are still one of the top metalcore acts. They never cease to amaze the audience; they went crazy for every song that these guys played. The festival veterans (this will be their seventh tour) are spending the last Warped summer playing all but three dates. A definite must-see.

It's impossible not to have a blast when metalcore band, Issues (signed to Rise Records) brings the fury. Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, the group is the epitome of intensity and grit. They got the blood of the massive crowd pumping on Journeys Left Foot stage; mosh pits were aplenty for the entirety of their energetic 30-minute set. Issues are one of the bands everyone needs to see before leaving for the day.

Over the last 24 years, Vans Warped Tour was a home for many up and coming bands, many of whom attribute their success to the recognition they garnered while on tour. Performers like the once little-known San Diego band, Blink182. Other notable alumni who have rocked the summer festival over the years are legendary acts My Chemical Romance, No Doubt, Sublime, Katy Perry, Avenged Sevenfold, Green Day, Kid Rock, Yellowcard, Paramore, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Weezer, and countless others. One of the most significant takeaways from Warped (besides artist signings, merch booths, food vendors, and charitable foundations), was leaving at the end of the day having discovered new amazing acts.

Vans Warped Tour will leave behind quite a legacy; many great moments and people gracing the stage. From June to August, music fans from across the country (an average of 600,000 each summer) have come together to listen to the music that they love from late morning to sunset. Consistently setting itself apart by booking bands that appealed to its core audience—15 to 25-year-olds—Warped harnessed sound kids loved, at the same time bringing together those who felt alienated and frustrated; an opportunity to share struggles—a sense of family.

The Philanthropic and educational work that Lyman has provided through Warped Tour is multi-faceted; merchandising, collecting canned goods, holding blood drives, and providing support services for mental health and substance abuse, in addition to working with groups devoted to suicide awareness, and animal rights advocacy. Lyman said he will do as much as he can, going forward, to help Warped’s nonprofit partners. “We’ve got some plans in place,” he said. “We’re not walking away from them.” Check out the full list of the 2018 participating charitable organizations if you would like to get involved.

Vans Warped has been a fantastic journey and an iconic part of North American summers for decades. What the future holds for the rite of passage festival is unclear. Although the touring aspect of Warped Tour is set to end, there will be a stand-alone “celebration” for the festival’s 25th anniversary in 2019. “I think I’ve done everything I can do with the Warped Tour. I don’t have anything else to prove with it," Lyman, now 57, asserts. "But the door is open for someone else to do their own Warped Tour. We haven’t done it perfectly, but maybe somebody can create that Utopian ideal."

You can check out more information on Vans Warped Tour by going to vanswarpedtour.com. Stay up to date by following Vans Warped Tour on just about any social media platform, as well as downloading the Vans Warped Tour app.