The end of the punk rock summer camp: The final Vans Warped Tour

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On July 15th and 17th, the Vans Warped Tour stopped – for one last time – in Hartford, Connecticut and in Toronto, Canada. Since 1995, punk rock, hardcore and alternative music fans filled up the grounds of the venues to see bands and artist give play, get some new merch and meet their favourite groups. Over the last years, many Canadians, especially Montrealers, have been traveling to Hartford for the Warped Tour as Montreal wasn’t a stop on the tour since 2015. On July 17th, Canadians were also finally able to attend the VWT in the country. Thanks to Kevin Lyman, the president and Warped Tour founder, a stop was added to the last edition of the VTW, the first time since 2014.

With its small stages and with over 4 acts playing at the same time across the venues, fans get to see big and small acts from up close, and can easily find their way to the front row if they want to. Most bands also hang out at their merch tent for Meet and Greets during the day. If they don’t feel like lining up under the sun for the daily meet and greet, fans can easily run into them in the crowd, watching another band’s set. The proximity one gets at Warped Tour doesn’t compare with any other concert or festival, and will be greatly missed.

This summer, Warped Tour veterans were part of the lineup, symbolic of where they came from. For most of them, Warped Tour “gave them the boost that helped make their careers and dreams come true”, as Brownsound from Sum 41 says. This year, bands like Simple Plan, Reel Big Fish, Chelsea Grin, Bowling For Soup, All Time Low, Mayday Parade and others are headlining the tour. As for Sum 41, Warped Tour was what gave them the chance to get exposure for the first time in the United States and Canada. These bands are back for one last time, thanking Kevin Lyman and pleasing crowds with their 30 minutes, hits-only sets. In Toronto, which was sold out, homies Silverstein, Sum 41 and Simple Plan had the biggest crowds. In both Hartford and Toronto, the energy from bands and fans was incredible, enjoying for one last time the largest traveling music festival in the United States.

As per usual, the smaller stages showcased up and coming bands. This year, British acts particularly stand out, with Don Broco and Youngblud, who have been amongst the favourite newbies in North America. Both being already known to the scene in the UK, the VWT is a great opportunity to discover bands before they blow up here!

The uniqueness of the experience delivered by Vans Warped Tour will leave a hole in the punk rock, alternative and ska scene. Time only will tell what Lyman has in mind for the future of Warped; he hinted a large celebration for the 25th anniversary of the tour next year.

Adieu, Vans Warped tour!​

Review & photos – Maëlle Ramsay

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