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Mayday Parade Brooks Betts and Derek Sanders

Mayday Parade's Brooks Betts and Derek Sanders jam out at VWT 2012

This year marked the 18th annual Vans Warped Tour, the tour’s second best day ever with 16,767 attendees, and my second time at the event.

My not so glorious return to the tour was spurred by my sister. She’s 6 years younger than me and had never been to a festival. I normally wouldn’t go, but the thought struck me – I was the same age as she is when I went to my first festival, and it’s actually been six years since my last Warped Tour. Despite being totally out of touch with the Warped Tour scene, I figured it was about time to try it again.

To be honest, Warped Tour just seems a bit trendy to me, so it’s not a scene I’m eager to rush out to. If I was going to pick up new music, it wouldn’t be the first place I looked. It’s not bad, just not my thing.

But I can’t be a snob about it – not for a second. One of the fun things about attending Warped Tour is that is trendy and the crowd is young – thousands of girls and boys just out to have a good time, smear some body paint on each other, and dance until they pass out. Not too many snobs here.

Even though I spent all day walking around in the hot Pomona sun, trying to catch a breeze between sets, and playing with my new camera, I really had to experience the festival through my sister, with her proclamations of “I love this song!”, throwing her fists up and shaking to the beat with the rest of the crowd. I think I recognized three songs all day, which dampens my festival experience a bit, but it’s still fun to see my sister and thousands of other fans screaming along to every word.

Some highlights of the day:

  • Food trucks and more food trucks. Oh my glob, I love festival food. What I love even more is how it’s embraced the food truck trend. Hello, gourmet fish tacos and spicy watermelon salad.
  • When did Adam Lazzara get so beardy? Gone is the slim, clean shaven crush of my teens. We now have this bearded fellow who my sister declared looks like Dave Grohl from afar (I reject all forms of this comparison).
  • Dancing asses off. We The Kings and All Time Low throw a fun party during their set – not a single person in the crowd stood still. Except maybe me. I especially liked seeing the kid riding an inflatable dolphin (maybe it was an airplane?) while crowd surfing.
  • Is body painting a thing? I think the last time I attended VWT vendors were airbrushing/spray painting patterns on festival goers. This year, all I see is kids slathered in rainbows of finger paint, with stripes on their faces or “YOLO” smeared on their chests. Slightly hilarious seeing paint cracking off sunburned teenagers to reveal white handprints underneath. That’s a tan line I wouldn’t want.
  • Geeking out on insects. Mayday Parade’s Brooks Betts revealed to my sister and me that he likes to collect bugs. The pride of his collection? “I don’t know if it’s the prettiest bug, but I thought it was the coolest bug,” Betts said. “It looked like a weird mix between like a wasp and a mosquito. I forget what the technical name is but the quotations name that people call them by is just a caterpillar parasite. They’re like wasps, and they look like they would sting the shit out of you, but they actually just get on caterpillars and lay their eggs in them.” [Editor’s note: I just Googled caterpillar parasites. NOPE.]
  • Remember when? Hell, I am not embarrassed –the most fun I had all day was singing along to “Ocean Avenue” and remembering those times in high school where I drove around in my friend’s car along the PCH, blasting Yellowcard and yelling every word. I didn’t have great taste in anything then. Now that you mention it, I’m not sure I have great taste now…
  • Who’s that old dude on the bicycle? Hey Kevin Lyman, it’s cool to still see you riding around in the festival on your bike.

The 2012 tour is still going strong, with dates running through August 5. For a full list of tour dates, band line up, and more, check out the official Vans Warped Tour website.

Until next time, VWT. Maybe in another 6 years.

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