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.
Midway through the summer, I took some time off to see my family in Maryland. While I was there, I decided I’d start drafting this diary; I’d be so proactive and efficient and impress everyone with how speedy and amazing I was. Boy, was I wrong. I couldn’t get the words to come out right. I’m already not the best at writing and the pressure of finalizing a feature about a seven week tour after only experiencing two weeks so far was holding me back. It’s now the middle of August and I’ve been home for over a week. I’ve had my time to relax and reflect, and now I am 100% ready to share my experience. Let’s start at the beginning.
I had only met the ladies in Bad Cop/ Bad Cop three times before I joined them on the road. The first time was this past February, at our friend Marty’s birthday extravaganza at VLHS. So many friends were there that night and VLHS has always felt like home, but I still remember how extremely nervous I got when my boyfriend casually introduced me to his friend, Stacey Dee. I looked at him in shock. But his smug smile said it all, “Yep, I know her. We’re friends.” While I’m still pretty new to the DIY punk community in Southern California, there didn’t seem to be much greater than that. Bad Cop/ Bad Cop was one of the best bands I had discovered as I was getting into punk. Add the fact that four bad-ass women were making it big in the music scene and spreading positivity and feminism everywhere it was needed, made them even cooler. And now, here I was talking to one of the singers and guitarists, who is apparently friends with my boyfriend.
I took photos of all the bands that night and a day after I shared them, they plastered the internet. Everyone had seen them, and if they hadn’t changed their profile picture already, they at least posted a couple on their Facebook timeline. This was huge for me! I was shocked that so many people were even interested in seeing my work,. I was getting compliments left and right on my photos from that show! The following month, I got a call from Stacey asking to use some of those photos on their upcoming album, Warriors. One week later, the band asked me to do two weeks with them on Warped Tour.
I really couldn’t believe how everything was working out for me! I had worked so hard for so long and now, I was reaching so many goals all at once! I was packing and planning for months before we left!
On Tuesday, June 13th, we met at Stacey’s house. I said goodbye to my boyfriend (who was sweet enough to call out of work and see me off that morning) and loaded my bags into the biggest trailer/ bus combo I’ve ever seen. In two days, we would be in Seattle.
We drove all day and explored our wonderful little Bandwagon. We had a full size refrigerator and freezer, a microwave, a counter top, a bathroom with a shower and frickin’ cable! Most HOMES these days don’t even have cable and were riding along the 5 freeway watching Family Feud!
That same night, I met the members of Barb Wire Dolls; unfortunately, it was because their bus had broken down. They were on the same freeway, only about 30 miles north of us, when they called. So at around 10 PM, we pulled off at a Loves Trunk Stop in Corny, CA to load some of the Barb Wire Dolls’ stuff in our trailer. I felt so bad for them, but the band didn’t seem fazed. Isis and Iriel kept their composure and offered us some bananas and cigarettes (the dinner of rockstars, I believe). After we made sure they were situated, we pulled back onto the road. Some point after 1 AM, when all the shows on TV ended and turned into infomercials, we hoisted ourselves up into our respective bunks and went to sleep without a word.
I learned a lot of important things about this group pretty early on. Before the tour even began, I was told about the time Devito snuck a shrimp in Jennie’s pocket. I learned how the best way to get in the “rockstar mood” was to blast the song “I like to Cha Cha” and/or “Our House” by Flo Rida. On Thursday morning, we arrived at the venue in Seattle for check-in day. It was mostly just meetings for the tour managers (or TM), so the girls got some guitars out of the trailer and started playing “Our House” acoustic. We all agreed it’d be much better if Devito came in on a kazoo. We discussed our admiration over how Andres from Lysolgang seems to collect percussion instruments from the prize counter at arcades and then legitimately uses them in the middle of songs.
This was the day I realized that 1) I love Seattle and 2) this summer was going to be way cool. We also got our laminates, which were colorful and holographic and had our photos on the back. Mine now hangs proudly on the rear view mirror of my car. Despite the Seattle rain, everyone braved the weather to pick out some new Vans shoes! They must’ve known that this tour was going to ruin all of the shoes we brought with us and we’d probably need some new ones by the end.
The first show day was Friday June 16th in Seattle, which also happened to be the day Bad Cop’s new album Warriors was released!
Devito started the summer slinging merch for both Bad Cop and The Adolescents. Friday morning, Tony Reflex came over to our tent and dropped off a single suitcase of shirts and CDs. Through my jitters, I managed to introduce myself to the legend. Tony maintained a good attitude and an infectious smile throughout the entire summer. I was so relieved to discover this well known punk icon was so humbled and down to earth. The band doesn’t party much any more, but you could always find Tony watching a different band almost everyday and always smiling through the whole thing!
Bad Cop/ Bad Cop played in the afternoon and as I was waiting back stage for them to set up., the nerves were stating to get to me. I rarely shoot live shows in daylight so I wasn’t sure how it’d play out. But I was so determined to KILL this set and remind these girls why they brought me here. Not surprisingly though, as soon as I heard the intro to “Seriously” and I started shooting, all anxiety blew away and I crushed it. Near the end of a set, a guy in a banana suit started a mini pit. Everyone was jumping, dancing, and having a great time. It made me so proud to be a part of this team!
I hung out with Devito at merch for most of the day and met a couple of his North West friends, including Tahoe Jeff (from the band Four Lights) who apparently recognized me from La Escalera Fest as “The Girl Taking Pictures And Talking to Kendra.” Devito is the best person to have around when I introduce myself as a photographer because he’s very good at talking me up and showing off my photos on the back of Warriors, since I’m not conceited enough to do it for myself.
After a bit, I went back to the bus to edit photos, but since I spent so much time creating new presets for the tour, I missed about every other band that day. I emerged from my cave just in time to catch the poppy/ electric/ Depeche-Mode-Like jam band that is William Control. The Bad Cop girls were jamming out at the Skull Candy stage and as soon as I went to look, I got sucked into it as well. Those guys have some serious moves too! Throwing the microphone ten feet in the air, high jumps, and 360 spins like it was nothing, they had a keyboard player who would throw his board into the audience and surf on it! Plus the vocalist, William, is from Seattle and had his young son sitting in front of the bass drum for their set and he was living it up. That boy is going to be a rad performer in a couple years! I’m calling it now.
We left Seattle that night at midnight and headed down to Salem, OR. This was the first super bumpy ride we experienced and I started to regret choosing the top bunk. The third bunk on the bus is tall enough that I can’t see over it without climbing on something else first. The only thing keeping me from falling off during the night was a curtain that snaps on either side of the bunk. Luckily, I had yet to fall off, but I often kicked all my blankets down and had to ask Myra (drummer) to hand them back to me in the middle of the night.
The venue in Salem was not as convenient as the last. Buses were parked across the street from the venue and it was a pretty long walk through loose gravel to get to the stages. We set up merch in the morning and Jennie drew amazing chalk donuts with the set times all around the lot. The coolest thing about this venue was that merch was set up right across from the Hard Rock Stage, so Devito was able to see Bad Cop and Municipal Waste and Doll Skin every other band on our stage today.
Devito loves Valient Thorr — he calls them Lynyrd Skynyrd on crack. And he wasn’t wrong to call them that; they fucking rip. I love watching them and picking up on the bizarre things Herbie says between songs:
“When I’m sitting in the back stretching and getting ready to rock, I listen to all the bands: the ones I already know, the ones I don’t know and a minute ago I heard the lyric ‘witches smoke weed’ and I’m like yeah, witches do smoke weed and that’s rad.”
I grabbed a couple cans of Monster brand water and headed on stage while Bad Cop was setting up. Yesterday was the first time I heard a lot of the new songs so I was really excited to hear them played live again! And today, I can sing along at least a little bit more than yesterday. Hopefully by the end of the week, I’ll have them all down.
As always, the girls killed it. Out of all the bands on this tour, very few perform together the way that Bad Cop does. As other people walk by during their set, I can see them just get sucked in to the music and stick around until the end.
After their set, the band loaded up gear and headed to their merch booth to meet some fans. I was hanging around during the signing as well, taking photos here and there but mostly just making bad jokes with Devito. I saw from the corner of my eye two young girls, one wearing a gay pride flag as a cape, both seemed to be freaking out at the sight of their idols. The younger sister complimented Linh on her holographic unicorn sunglasses and Linh just took them off and handed them to her which not only made her day, but a;so made my heart melt at how adorable it was. Later in the day, the same girls came back to our merch tent and asked if they could help out. Of course I said yes and I taught them the ropes of accepting people’s money. Devito liked that too because he had a chance to hang out with Chris from Boss’ Daughter, who hooked it up (again) with a box of “Bad Cop/ Good Weed” joints. About an hour later Devito returned to merch and told me he was so high “his eyeballs were itchy.”
We went to the Warped Tour BBQ that night because we heard about a vegan mac and cheese eating contest where five people from the tour competed to eat five bowls of mac and cheese first. Will from Creeper won by a landslide and received a giant stuffed cow from Peta. Kevin Lyman, who was also in the competition, didn’t even seem to be trying, but afterwards he turned around and donated his untouched bowls to me, Linh, and Myra. Two days into Warped Tour and I’m already eating Kevin Lyman’s mac and cheese!
After the party, some of the guys from Strung Out came to hang out on our bus. While joking around, Jennie made the astounding discovery that Devito, Brent, and I had a dynamic almost parallel to that of the Belcher children. Brent is Tina because he is usually pretty serious and his slow, monotone way of talking makes it difficult to tell when he’s telling a joke. Devito is Gene because, if you replace Gene’s love of food for Devito’s love of Rainier, they’re basically the same. Which leaves me in the role of Louise since I’m the youngest out of all of them and tend to have an off-balance sense of humor that’s dripping in sarcasm. I really liked the analogy.
When we left that night, I don’t think anyone really knew where we were going. All we knew was that we had three days off to get from Oregon to New Mexico and we’ll probably stop by Walmart in the morning.
An ongoing anthology of tour diaries.