Last year, when Warped Tour founder and organizer Kevin Lyman announced that the year’s cross-country tour would be its last, supporters flocked from far and wide to take part in the end of an era. The sun had set on the festival that had helped put musical acts such as blink-182, Katy Perry, and Green Day on the map, and it was a bittersweet moment for all. Fans of Warped Tour were excited, to say the least when it was announced that Warped would get to see the 25th anniversary with shows announced in Atlantic City and Mountain View, with a ceremony to be held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In our time at the final performance in Mountain View, we got to see just how much of an impact the festival has had on all who have loved it so dearly over the last 25 years.
Last year, lines stretched countless blocks from the venue as fans lined up from the early hours of the morning to get as much of the day as possible. This year was no different. The staff at the Shoreline Amphitheatre had their work cut out for them as the overwhelming volume of the crowd proved a handful, but after the crowd was inside the show went off without a hitch.
At Warped Tour, we are slaves to the wall. The big inflatable schedule that has been notorious at every stop on the Warped Tour stood tall in the middle of the Shoreline Amphitheatre parking lot that had been closed off for the festival. In keeping with the tradition of the festival, all set times of the bands were kept secret until fans first entered the venue and looked at the wall.
The extravagant lineup was complimented with a modest three physical stages as opposed to the much higher number that Warped Tours past have featured. To fit as many bands into the day as possible by cutting down on time in between sets, the main stage revolved, allowing crew members to set up the next band behind the current performers during their show, and the amphitheater stage was split into two halves, with one half setting up while the act on the other half performed.
Plague Vendor started the festival by incorporating some old school punk favorites that are so often lost when bands transition to bigger platforms. Lead singer Brandon Blaine started his set in the middle of the audience and rallied the audience into a mosh pit around him, interacting with them constantly throughout the set. Performing in the house while he let his band mates have the stage, it was clear from the get-go that after 25 years Warped Tour hadn’t forgotten its roots.
Travie McCoy opened the main stage for the weekend with the Gym Class Heroes song “Cupid’s Chokehold” and really got the audience involved. His active performance style was exciting to watch as he ran across the large stage countless times throughout his set. Shortly into his set he gave a heartfelt speech on playing Warped Tour through his teenage years and congratulated Kevin Lyman and company on making it through 25 years, a trend that would prove to be imitated by virtually every other band that followed that weekend. His set was the throwback Mountain View needed as he played every hit from his tenure with Gym Class Hero’s from “Cookie Jar” to “Stereo Heart” balanced with a healthy mix of his own solo work.
The audience in front of the main stage was packed later on in the day as We the Kings was set to perform. Opening with an electrifying presentation of “Skyway Avenue” they quickly got the crowd to jump along to their beat. In putting together a reunion show of a 25-year-old festival, there are bound to be some omissions in the lineup. We the Kings helped fill in the gaps as they covered Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle.” Earlier in the week, the band announced that they would be playing one of their songs twice during their set. This came to fruition late in the set when the band announced “We want you guys to be a part of We the Kings” because you’ve always been a part of our fucking lives” before playing their hit “Check Yes Juliet” twice, once as a band and once with the band playing the instrumentals while the audience sang along with the vocals.
Several years ago, Monique Powell had the distinction of being the first woman to play Warped Tour in full as frontwoman of Save Ferris. It seemed appropriate that this act be included as a part of the final Warped Tour performance. Her bubbly personality on full display as she ran onstage to begin her set with “Spam.” Her performance was far from one dimensional as she began to address the audience and get a little political, stating when she got on stage, she “thought everyone would be screaming ‘send her back’, well I don’t wanna go back. I want to stay here with my Warped Tour friends.” Her performing for the day was far from over as she later returned during Goldfinger’s set to help perform a cover of Blur’s “Song 2.”
The rest of the day went on with terrific flow and attitude. Anti-Flag’s set prompted the most crowd surfing and circle-pit activity from the second they started their show with their song “Die for your Government.” After that, the artists on the main stage set each other up in a very poetic way. The most tenured band in Warped Tour history, Less than Jake, performed directly before the second most, Simple Plan, and the last two bands of the day to play the stage were two acts famously known for having lead singers who hold doctoral degrees, Bad Religion and The Offspring, performed in succession respectfully.
While Warped Tour has always been famous for highlighting bands in a 30-minute set, the format of this year’s festival called for a more traditional timeframe for some acts later in the day. This set up Saturday’s headliner, The Offspring, for a fitting sendoff to day one of the historic festival. Starting their set with “Americana”, the group began their set with a cluster of early hits that reminded the audience of the music that was famous when Warped Tour was just beginning. The Offspring may be far from the most famous musical acts to play Warped Tour, but lead singer Dexter Holland took a beat to talk about famous musicians who had never played on it, telling a story about a conversation he had with AC/DC’s Angus Young about how one of the musician’s biggest regrets of his career was never having played the tour before launching into a cover of their song “Whole Lotta Rosie.” The band showed that time had not halted their punk roots, announcing close to the end of their set “I think they’re telling us we’re done... let’s play two more anyway. Fuck the man! They immediately played “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid” and then ended with “Self Esteem”, a classic that predates Warped Tour itself, and as they walked off stage, Money Python’s “always look on the bright side of life” blasted through the speakers as if to say “don’t be sorry Warped Tour is ending, but be happy that it happened.”