I learned a lot this summer. Most of it was useless information, like how I apparently like cauliflower now and how my behavior reminds people of a baby panda. On the other hand, I also learned a lot about touring. I learned how tough it can be and everything that goes on behind the scenes of the festival I’ve been attending since I was twelve.
It’s no secret that we love Bad Cop / Bad Cop here at Bad Copy, so I was absolutely stoked to spend the summer with them on Vans Warped Tour! The following are highlights from my tour diary this summer.
Warped Tour was a seven week adventure and even with the two weeks I took in the middle, it’s hard to condense all those memories into words. When I came back from that break, it started to feel more and more like work. There were days where everyone was homesick and tired and days where it was raining so hard we had to pack up early. Because of this (and the fact that it’s November and I’m still writing about the first chunk) this tour diary only covers the beginning of our journey. You won’t hear about the day we all sang on stage with Anti-Flag, or when we went to a waterpark or drank Faygo with Kendra and Mat. Maybe it’ll come up in the memoir I write thirty years from now.
Anyways, here’s the final chapter.
On June 24, the festival hit Salt Lake City, UT. It was breezy and overcast and not too crowded and I spent most of the day in the bus editing the photos I fell behind on. When I finally emerged, I was greeted by both Devito and Brian (of Decent Criminal) at the merch booth. As we watched Alestorm rock out to a crowd of metal-heads clad in kilts and pirate accessories, we came up with some brilliant pirate themed jokes. Our plan was to approach the Alestorm merch booth with a new pirate joke everyday for the rest of the tour (this only lasted a couple days before we forgot about it.)
The next day, I went to Denver, CO for the first time and fell in love. Granted, all of our time there was spent in a parking lot next to the Six Flags and I didn’t really explore much. The weather was perfect and I met some friends of Bad Cop’s who live there. One of everyone’s favorite bands, Doll Skin, played the final set of their week long run on the tour and later, Bad Cop / Bad Cop invited them onstage during “Nightmare” to sing and dance along with them! With extra time at the end of their set, Bad Cop played one of my favorite songs, “Yeah”, and the whole crowd was super into it. I hung around after their set as they tended to a signing line that wrapped around the tent and everyone turned into literal heart-eye emojis because Stacey’s friend brought her baby. The following day was a much needed off-day, so we took our time packing up as Municipal Waste ended the night with the best thrash metal you’ll ever hear.
On June 27th I was introduced to another new state, Tennessee. Bad Cop / Bad Cop played early in the day and as I was heading on stage for their set, I was stopped by Sick Of It All’s tour manager, Noodlez. He had seen my photos online and asked me if I would be able to meet up with the SOIA and take some photos for a Thai magazine called Blast. So of course I said yes and now one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken is printed in a foreign magazine being shipped to me now!
Later on, I ran into one of my friends from my hometown who’s in a hardcore band called Sharptooth. It turns out they had an off day from their tour in Nashville the same day we were there and were able to spend their day at Warped. Their vocalist, Lauren, actually went onstage with Chris 2 of Anti-Flag and did guest vocals during War On Women’s set, which was super exciting for me, even though the crowd didn’t seem to realize how cool it was. That night we trekked up a ridiculous hill to an 80’s themed barbeque, to which I wore pajamas and carried a 42oz tub of cheese balls.
Due to a cancelation in Louisiana, June 28th was another day off. After eating an excessive amount of fried corn nuggets from a truck stop in Alabama, we got back on the bus and continued traveling East. We were all pretty heartbroken over the news that our Alma Mater, VLHS, would be shutting down. VLHS was a DIY spot in Pomona that held such a special place in each of our hearts. It was hard to know that, because we were away on tour, we would never have the chance to go back there again. One of the venue’s founders released a podcast about what had happened, so we all just listened and mourned and relived some of the beautiful memories we had of VLHS.
Later that night in Pensacola, Bad Cop played a club show with Creeper, The White Noise, Strung Out, Sonic Boom Six, and Jenarchy. After weeks of 12+ hour days in the heat, a regular club show felt like nothing! We got settled in the upstairs greenroom that reminded me of my grandpa’s basement and then Jennie, Linh, and I ventured out to find some soup.
There was a chance for rain the following day in Georgia so everyone’s set time was cut down to 25 minutes and then, because our stage had lost power, Bad Cop’s set was cut down even more. Our stage was the first one you saw coming in from the main entrance so a lot of people came to check them out. It was so dry at 12:30 that afternoon, that the mosh pit during their set caused dust clouds. Buut a couple hours later, it started to rain. At first it was just a drizzle but then it picked up. I was at the merch booth with Devito at the time and we frantically tried to zip up the sides on the tent. Even with an enclosed tent, the rain flooded the ground and filled up the bottom. Our shoes were filled with water but we were more concerned about patching the holes in the bottom of the merch bins so nothing got ruined.
The next day, it happened again. It was June 30th, my last day on the tour before I flew home to Maryland for a little bit. Devito, Dan (merch for Strung Out), and I were playing our favorite game – sneaking up on random people and putting stickers on their back without them noticing. Note: this later turned into “The Trash Game” where we planted a string of trash taped together in the middle of the walkway and watch until someone steps on the tape, dragging an assortment of water cans and snack wrappers with them. Our sticker game was interrupted by a sudden downpour of rain and lightning that shut the event down and had kids soaking wet and running to shelter. Since we were a little more prepared this time around, we secured the merch super quick and then hotboxed our tent with some guys from Municipal Waste.
The festival kept re-opening and shutting back down due to the lightning. The Adolescents played three songs, more lightning. They finished their set, and more lightning! Warped officially opened back up in time for Anti-Flag to play while it was still raining on the crowd. Then, I headed back to the bus to pack all my things since I would be leaving soon. When my friend came to pick me up, I showed her around the bus and took her side stage to see a couple bands. Then I said my goodbyes and went back with my friend to take a long shower and sleep in a bed before flying to Maryland. On my way out, Devito presented me with my very own Bad Cop / Bad Cop badge enamel pin, stating that I am worthy now that I’ve joined the crew. This moment meant more to me than receiving any diploma ever could.
I never thought I’d want to go to Warped Tour again, and this summer I went more than thirty times. The friendships I made this summer made all the long days worth it and if I were to do it again, I wouldn’t want to change a thing. I will forever be so grateful for the women of Bad Cop / Bad Cop for inviting me on this journey and I can’t wait for my next adventure with them! And if you’ve read this far: thank you. I’m sorry it took me five months to finish.
An ongoing anthology of tour diaries.