Yes, this is yet another Warped Tour story written by a white guy in his mid-thirties. Relax; I’ll spare you the twenty-five-hundred word rumination on the demise of the Warped Tour as it enters the home stretch of its twenty-fourth — and final — jaunt around North America. It’s not the same as it used to be and I’ve long been wildly out of touch with most of what’s popular there and, ultimately, none of that matters. Yours truly’s first excursion to Warped Tour took place a three-hour drive from my house at the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton, MA, in 1997; a show that featured Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Pennywise and Blink-182 and Suicide Machines and Limp Bizkit and a sunburn the likes of which I’m still recovering from. I’ve made a total of eight trips to various different renditions of the Kevin Lyman-helmed annual punk rock summer camp over the years, and there’s no denying that the sheer scale and the popular music trends of the day have morphed a few times. And you can certainly make the argument that the corporate sponsorship bleedover has long since become “too much,” though I’d also present the case that a touring festival of this magnitude wouldn’t have lasted nearly a quarter-century without it.
What hasn’t changed since those early days, however, are the consumers that compose the core that turns out year-after-year; Warped Tour remains a rallying place for the misfits and weirdos and the punks and the metal kids and the hardcore kids to immerse themselves in a total sensory overload of punishing heat and loud music and art and food and more. Warped Tour could run for a hundred more years (much to Lyman’s chagrin) and that part would remain constant.
The touring lineup for Warped’s final run left more than a little to be desired in “the comment sections” of the internet, but you’d never know it from the gigantic crowd that showed up last Sunday in Hartford. The amphitheater portion of the Meadows Music Theatre – er, Dodge Music Theatre or Comcast Theatre or Xfinity Theatre or whatever we’re calling it nowadays – was packed to the gills all day, taking in main stage split in two to accommodate the Journeys Left Foot and Right Foot stages. It was far and away the most crowded I’ve seen in the four Warped Tour’s I’ve ventured to Hartford for. Truthfully, I was primarily there for The Interrupters. Fresh off the release of their third – and best – album, Fight The Good Fight (Hellcat Records), the quartet (with Reel Big Fish’s Billy Kottage filling in on keys and horns) are, without question, the most “old school Warped Tour” band of the newer school generation. A couple years back, they drew a decent crowd on the indoor stage at the 2016 Warped Tour; this year they had a huge, vocal fanbase out in full force and even whipped up a circle pit or two. Maybe the kids are alright after all.
We took in a handful of other events at the daylong festival. 3OH!3 played the Journeys Left Foot Stage just before The Interrupters, though we missed the “photo pit” portion of their frantic thirty-minute set. Epitaph Records’ duo This Wild Life manned the Right Foot stage immediately thereafter, and were a refreshing uptempo acoustic emo change of pace. Falling In Reverse played directly after The Interrupters and…well…made yours truly feel even older than he felt last time he saw Ronnie Radke and crew at Warped a few years ago. Also…there was a pretty sketchy wrestling ring set up on the midway of the festival grounds with several three-way matches (including the one pictured above with a guy in what we think is a crawfish jumpsuit) providing a different sort of entertainment for those who didn’t mind baking in the sun and basking in the glow of the Fried Dough food truck.
For our full photo gallery featuring primarily Interrupters shots, head below!