On average during this summer, I haven’t woken up before 10:30 am. In its entirety, I don’t think I’ve woken up before 5 in the morning at all. But for Warped Tour, we do crazy things, and I’m not the only one. All across Nashville and surrounding areas, people were waking up as early as 4 o’clock (that I know of) to get in line for the renowned festival. The process for me consisted of showering, eating, and checking, double checking, and triple checking our supplies. After we reached our first destination, where we would be carpooling (recommended!) to the fairgrounds.
We had spent the entire week planning for rain, and with high hopes we expected light showers at the most, so the sprinkling that accompanied our walk at 9 a.m. to the line left us completely unfazed. The two hour wait until gates opened? That was a little more disheartening. Nonetheless, I watched eagerly as the first small, off-the-tour bands started walking the line to sell CDs. The first to approach was Danny from Vanity Strikes, who found his way to us by the matching t-shirt my girlfriend wore. The second took more effort on my part: I had to flag down a member of The Residence to get a listen, but it was worth it.
Then word travelled down the line: we were moving to the tunnels and the stadium to hide from potential storms while the Tour finished setting up. The chaos that ensued from that point until we lined up at the gates was fast paced and muggy. By the time we approached the divide between the outside world and Warped Tour, there was no doubt that the rain was going to be a problem. That didn’t stop bands from going out and promoting themselves, like Koo Koo Kanga Roo who carried four foot replicas of their face on poles.
Gates opened nearly an hour early to make concessions for the incoming weather, and I quickly and frantically found my way around the fairgrounds trying to keep my program from getting wet. My girlfriend and I pick up some flyers and a sign to promote The Nearly Deads as we checked signings and confirmed set times. I went from Keep A Breast to Neck Deep to Music Saves only to end up with Hope For The Day to purchase a wristband for the signing. They were all very nice people and you should look at all the organizations at Warped Tour dedicated to making a difference in the community.
But as I made my way back to return the sign I was informed that the Nearly Deads had gone on early, just before I arrived! I bolted over there to enjoy the show, making it before the first song was over. Although cut short and without either of the songs I was hoping for, they put on a wonderful, entertaining show. The crowd was even bigger than last year. It’s really exciting to see the evolution of the faces around me as The Nearly Deads get more popular.
Because I didn’t want to be up close for Our Last Night, I spent 6$ on a huge snow cone and sat off to the side, so my girlfriend could still see and I could still see. Not fifteen minutes after a warning from my father and seconds before the band walked on stage, the fairgrounds were evacuated. Slowly and stubbornly we made our way up to the banquet hall, a nearby building, for shelter. We made it before the rain began, but others were not so lucky.
As I relinquished the weight from my feet and began eating my sandwich, people began to walk in with soaked clothes. Some seemed unshaken, simply taking their shirts off to dry and laughing it off. Others walked in shame across the room with makeup and hair dye dripping down their skin. I knew I could have laughed it off, but I couldn’t help the pity I felt toward them. I wanted to reassure them and help, but I had nothing but tissues to offer. Instead I turned my head and tried to be as respectful as possible.
We were stuck in the building for as long as the rain held us, and it was quickly obvious to everyone that we needed pick me ups and fast. At first, people started to whoop and holler for morale, but that was both annoying and not very effective. So instead they organized a giant game of ninja, which turned into duck duck goose and ended in a giant production of the Campfire Song Song. It took nearly half an hour to squeeze out of there, and I am embarrassed to admit someone had the bright idea of condom balloons. Yes. That happened.
It was raining as we walked back down to the entrance, and I got stuck with two bags under my poncho, while my girlfriend stood hopelessly in the downpour. We made it back to the bridge, halfway through the venue, before we were turned around again. It was obvious that we weren’t seeing Our Last Night, and the PVRIS signing had been canceled. Things looked increasingly dim, especially after the second evacuation was canceled halfway up the trek.
All of the set times were changed, most of the signings were abandoned, and the rain kept coming. Mud began to form in the frequent grass pathways, and while I was safe with my combat boots from water and dirt, my girlfriend complained ceaselessly about the struggle. Using the bands that were currently playing, we devised a rough estimate of when every band would be playing. Cutting the bands out that we couldn’t see, we were left with five things: PVRIS, Our Last Night’s signing, Neck Deep, Neck Deep’s signing and Memphis May Fire.
I have never been more frozen than when Lynn Gunn walked right in front of me to prepare for PVRIS’ set. Part of me wanted to launch forward and tell her how much I admired her and how I wanted to interview her band, but two parts of me were scared, intimidated, and knew she was in a hurry. The water had sent everyone into an anxious, scattered haze and I didn’t want to be that fan. My girlfriend saw her as she rounded the corner and we just looked at each other. That did not just happen.
Pumped by her appearance, we found a spot in the crowd to see PVRIS. Notable mention to The Beautiful Bodies, whose amazing sound I could hear from the nearest stage! I’ve been to a lot of concerts by now, and I’ve seen lots of live videos. I have never been so impressed by a band’s live performance, and never before have had I thought a band actually sounded better live. But the members all brought so much energy, and I was surprised at Lynn’s vocal flexibility- hearing her live growl was a religious experience. I knew then I was sold for life.
As my girlfriend parted for her Our Last Night signing, I waited hesitantly with a small group for Lynn to return from the stage. I couldn’t tell if the others were nervous, but I didn’t want to annoy her, take too long, or interrupt her day. My face was scrunched up in worry, and when she walked out I didn’t know how to react. I waited patiently, spoke to her as a journalist and then waited for everyone else to go before talking to her as a fan. She is one of the most genuine, kind, beautiful people I have met in the scene. Afterwards, I briefly spoke to The Beautiful Bodies, who are also amazingly sweet people.
Waiting for Neck Deep, I reflected on last year, when I only knew one song that brought me to tears. This year I knew all but one of the songs played, and I was surprised when even my girlfriend who doesn’t like them mentioned she thought they were great live. They are so energetic and interactive. So many people were crowd surfing and reaching for Ben Barlow. I was blown away that the fans were able to sing Laura Whiteside’s part during “A Part of Me”. It was surreal. The members themselves were also really kind when I went to the signing.
In the hour between the signing and Memphis May Fire’s performance, the pull of exhaustion got heavy and I felt the headache sink in. My boots were caked in mud, my feet were already beginning to bruise (as I’d learn later) and the ground was wet. It was miserable, but I knew that I had to wait it out. I caught the last part of Blessthefall’s set and was amazed at how Beau managed to control two crowds, the one in front of him and the one waiting for Memphis May Fire’s arrival. And honestly, even from the back of the crowd Memphis May Fire put on a great show. Matty Mullins’ clean vocals are absolutely pristine, and the band as a whole gave a wonderful performance despite the long day and late performance. I was very tempted to do some crowd surfing of my own, because it was such a strong impressive pit, but I opted out of it.
The drive home was done in two parts, the second being where I had to drive. After only eating a sandwich all day, I have never been and will never be so incredible ecstatic to have Wendy’s. Still better than buying food from Warped. All in all it was a really good experience, and if anything, the rain was just a memorable inconvenience. Sleep, however, was inevitable.
No matter the date, drop a comment about your 2015 Warped Tour experience!
all photo credits to Lauren if not specified