Smoke, Sun, & Sweat: an Ode to Warped

As I sit here amongst my crazy friends and awesome, yet intermediately dysfunctional family, I reflect on the things that mean most to me, the things I am most thankful for. Multiple things cross my mind: our health, our safety, my pets, drumline, band. . .music. . . Warped Tour. Of all the concerts I've gone to, Warped Tour will always be my favorite. I've gone to The Vans Warped Tour the last four years in Mountain View and will go next year, which as most of you probably know by now, will be the last year.

For the last 23 years, Kevin Lyman has brought more than 1,700 bands and 90 non-profts on The Vans Warped Tour to upwards 11 million people world-wide, and witnessed it change as he did it. It was announced last week that 2018 will be the last cross-country run of the Vans Warped Tour. As saddened as I am, I must take time to express my thanks and to share with you all everything that Warped Tour has taught me and done for me.

As stated in Kevin Lyman's full statement regarding the festivals approaching death, Warped Tour was the place to see and feel the ever-changing industry. It crossed paths with the creation of pop-punk and the phase of emo. I watched Warped Tour changed just as fast as it watched me change. In 2014, a depressed, eyeliner-wearing Aly busted through the gates of Shoreline Amphitheater and was exposed to whole new world. Aly saw people with tattoos and colored hair. Aly smelled weed for the first time. Aly saw people with gauges and dreadlocks. Aly saw people mostly naked. Aly learned what Tripp Pants and Bondage Skirts were. For the first time, for those brief 8 hours, Aly felt like she fit in. Warped Tour continued to be a safe haven for Aly, and the only reason she looked forward to summer. Something about getting bruised from head to toe, and smoked on, and sun burnt, and rubbed by sweaty, shirtless dudes, was enthralling. Absolutely amazing. The best thing ever. The next year, Aly approached the familiar gates of Shorline Amphitheater in a cut-up t-shirt that said “Party With The Devil” on the front of it and had been purchased at the Attila tent the year before. Aly was on for another round of smoke, sun, and sweat and feeling safer than ever, she crowd surfed for the first time that day. Aly also took a Think TEI work shop from Chris Fronzak and realized what she wanted to do for the rest of her life – Aly spent the rest of that moshpit filled, garlic fry scented day feeling elevated, like she knew something everyone else didn't – the key to lifelong badassery. Her Vans High Sk8ts trudged along that parking lot ground and her shoulders went straight back as she glided from one stage to the next ready to break some ankles and throw some punches.

Another moment that sticks out incredibly to her is in 2017 when she watched New Years Day perform. The way Ash Costello took the stage and faced the audience half-head on struck a chord with her. Watching Ashley work the stage and sing with such poise, such confidence. Aly felt the ground shake below her as Ashley's overwhelming energy filled the angst y air around her.

For the next two years Warped Tour was home now confident, self-assured, music loving Aly.

Warped Tour is more than just a concert to me. Warped Tour served as a school, a home, a community and so much more for me. Warped Tour exposed me to people from all walks of life and music I love and hole dear and music I never want to listen to again. I've made so many beautiful friends at Warped Tour and met some of the people who changed my life. Who saved my life. I will always remember waking up at the crack of dawn and staggering out into the car while my dad drove two hours through commute traffic so I can have “the best day of life” once again, and I will never forgot leaving Warped Tour as the last band plays, under the sunset sky surrounded by disintegrating tents and stages and making my out to the car while still feeling the bass drum in my chest and bass line in my veins, then waking up 40 minutes later as we pulled into the Denny's parking for another night of shitty pancakes and hot chocolate and barefooted bathroom visits.

For myself and millions, The Vans Warped Tour is something that will never be forgotten and like the monstrous, red, blow-up schedule, will live on in infamy. I cannot express my thanks enough to Kevin Lyman for thinking the festival up. It will be missed, but alas, all good things must come to an end. And keep in mind that when one door closes, another one opens, so perhaps this end is just the beginning of some more, music-fueled, lifelong badassery.


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