As they say, all good things must come to an end, and sometimes, a little piece of you dies alongside.
Founder Kevin Lyman announced this week that Van's Warped Tour, the punk-alt festival that has been running rampant across the U.S. and Canada each year since 1995, will be making its final run in 2018.
Though it is not known what the future holds, Lyman did hint at the potential for a large-scale memorial celebration in 2019, on the 25th anniversary of the festival. In a lengthy statement, Lyman said, "It will be bittersweet each morning when I see the sun rise and then watch it set knowing that this will be the last time I get to witness it from that exact spot".
In an interview
with Billboard, Lyman cited several reasons for deciding to shutter the event, including declining ticket sales, a lack of bands to participate and an evolving summer music festival culture that he feels like Warped Tour isn't a part of anymore. Additionally, Lyman has been working the festival scene going on 26 years, including a 3 year stint with Lollapalooza, and as he described it, he's "just tired".
Warped Tour long ago established its identity as the "punk-rock summer camp", and there's probably not more of an apt description. Youth culture has always been a huge identifying factor for the festival, and as many people, myself included, can attest, Warped Tour was a scene we grew up in.
While we were too old to be playing games at the kid's table all summer long, yet too young to be a part of the adult world, we found a home in the eclectic sights and sounds that the tour provided. The tour picked up Vans Footwear as its primary sponsor in the first year, fusing the skate and punk cultures together, and immortalizing the festival's identity as a place for the kids who identified as outsiders. That the festival played for several years only 15 minutes from my house in New Jersey also made it part of the local culture. Small towns prided themselves as being a stop on the tour, and the tour brought not only business to them, but accessibility to a scene and culture that small-town kids could only see online or on the cover of Alternative Press.
Additionally, to say that Warped was a launching point for artists is an understatement. Far too many bands to count have played the tour, and more than a few of them got their big break with it. Katy Perry
counts it as a turning point for her, bands like Blink-182
, No Doubt
all went from well-known to virtual superstardom because of the tour. And even smaller bands, who might not have blown up as big, at least got a chance unlike any other to tour the country and expose themselves to new and untapped audiences.
This is all not to say that Warped Tour hasn't had its fair share of controversies. The festival has been cited on several occasions for its misogynistic culture, one that featured nearly all-male artists and issues of sexual assaults. In 2015, Lyman and the tour came under fire for allowing Jake Mcelfresh of Front Porch Step, who was an alleged sexual predator, to perform on several dates. While such issues weren't a direct contributing factor to the downfall of the tour, it was a sign of the changing times and culture for many artists and fans.
Regardless, many have chosen to look back on the 20 plus years of the tour with fondness. Tributes have come in from regular touring artists such as Every Time I Die, Good Charlotte and All Time Low. Lyman closed his press release with a heartfelt message, saying, "I truly look forward to seeing as many of you as possible during this final cross country run, and getting to thank you for your support on this wild adventure. Until then, take care and be safe."