I was 13 years old the first time I begged my parents to let me go to Warped Tour. It was the summer between 7th and 8th grade and I listened to Simple Plan before every swim meet to calm my nerves. That first year Good Charlotte, Simple Plan, Motion City Soundtrack and Yellowcard were on the bill and my tiny heart swelled with joy. All I wanted was to go. Of course, my parents said no. With good reason. But I was crushed. I had to listen to the other Erin from my grade talk about her day running around the Invesco Field parking lot in Denver, Colorado seeing all my favorite bands. I was determined to make it happen someday.
The line-ups just kept getting better and better, replacing old bands with new ones as my music tastes changed. When I was in high school I was ready to frequent all night dance parties in my Glamour Kills. I used to think that I could have been Andrew McMahon’s punk-rock princess. I was looking for a garage band king and just like the guys in Blink-182 fell in love at the rock show I knew I could find love at Warped Tour. Even it was only a new band to fan girl over.
By the time I was about to go off to college I completely wrote off going to Warped Tour. It didn’t feel like my scene anymore, and the bands I used to long to see were either disbanded or didn’t tour with Warped anymore. I moved on. It would just be that one thing I always wished I could have done but never did.
The opportunity came up this summer for me to go to Warped Tour. Not just go to Warped but photograph the sets too. I knew I owed it to my fifteen year old self to take the opportunity. I only knew a few bands on the line-up but I decided to just go. And go I did.
I think the train I took to get to Nassau Coliseum on Long Island was actually fixed with a flux capacitor because I swear when I got there the year was 2008 and I was seventeen again. Waves of nostalgia crashed over me all day bringing me back to the mix cds I used to make in middle school and high school. Younger girls were wearing the outfits and brands I used to wear. I saw merch guys I recognized from when I used to go to those band’s shows when they would come through my town. This world was not my world any more, but I fell right into step like I had never left.
Nostalgia is a funny thing, and we seem to be obsessed with it. I don’t know if it a “90’s kid” thing or a “I’m in my 20s” thing or just a human thing in general but we are obsessed with nostalgia. My heart warms and I smile every time I see a cassette tape. I remember the days when you didn’t have to dial an area code. I used to live by “be kind, rewind.” I even feel nostalgia toward the 80s and I wasn’t even alive then. I have gone to see bands in concert in my 20s just because I liked them when I was younger (Aaron Carter and My Chemical Romance to give you some examples) and because I felt like I owed it to my younger self to belatedly experience the things I didn’t get to experience when I was so invested in them.
Warped Tour seems like something that feeds off nostalgia. Sure they have tons of relevant bands on the bill that people still regularly listen to. I was definitely not the only person there reminiscing though. I saw parents of younger kids step out of the parents area for a set or two of the more well established bands. Twenty-somethings ran around excitedly chatting about the first time they saw the band the were rushing off to see. And Warped Tour isn’t the only music festival that feeds off that longing for the past. They all do. Look at any music festival line-up and there are always those bands that seem to be there just for that nod to the days of yore. And that is not to say that they aren’t great bands and they have lost their relevancy. They are just the throwback band, and everyone loves a good throw back.
So what were my nostalgia highlights at this year’s Warped Tour? Aside from just being at Warped Tour I had a few. And I enjoyed every single one of them.
When I was 12 I discovered the English band Busted. I don’t even remember how I came across them, but I did, and I immediately fell in love. To this day I will loudly correct anyone that calls “Year 3000” a Jonas Brothers song. Charlie Simpson from Busted was one of my first serious celebrity crushes (Tom Delonge still holds that title but Charlie is definitely in the top 5). I am not kidding when I say that one of the only reasons I went to Warped this year was to see Charlie’s solo acoustic set. He didn’t even play any Busted songs (he is kinda the reason they broke up) but I just wanted to hear his voice and see the gap in his teeth he never got fixed. I think I hyperventilated a bit I was so excited to meet him after.
Motion City Soundtrack
The first time a boy ever made me a mix cd was in 8th grade. His name was Robert and I thought he was the coolest guy in the whole world. I still have that mix almost ten years later because it was very well crafted for someone so young. “The Future Freaks Me Out” was on that mix and while I was familiar with MCS, that was when I really started listening to them. That song has so much attached to it from graduating high school, singing it with my best friends in the dorms, to playing it on repeat the month I graduated from college. I’ve always wanted to hear it live. And now I have.
Forever The Sickest Kids
One of their songs was a free download about a million years ago on iTunes. I was never a huge FTSK fan but they toured with most of the bands I loved in high school so they always seemed to be around. They were always a band that I was surprised I had never seen live. They were one of those bands whose songs I knew all the words to but I never really knew why. Well, now I can say I have seen them live. And that I could successfully sing along to almost their entire set although I don’t ever remember actively listening to them.
So let me preface this by saying I grew up in the 303. I was born and raised in the Boulder area of Colorado. Because of this the band 3OH!3 speaks to me on a deeper level. “Yous a punkb**** if you don’t know bout Boulder” was something I could seriously relate to. Back in high school when the band was just starting out, it was the thing to do to go to 3OH!3 shows. But I never went to one. I knew every word to all their songs and I scoffed when they sold out with “Don’t Trust Me.” Before I knew it they were huge in Japan and touring around the world and I moved on. So I wandered over to where they were playing at Warped and entered the photo pit. I felt like the last unicorn or something since I was one of the only people I knew from high school that had never seen them live. And well, I represented Colorado as best I could with probably too much enthusiasm.
Nostalgia is fun. Even though who I am now doesn’t really fall into the Warped Tour crowd any more, I was able to appreciate the day so much purely based on my tastes and interests from a decade ago. And you know what? I would do something like that again in a heartbeat. I finally had my summer and the Warped Tour. Although I still have yet to find love at a rock show.
All photos taken by Erin Browne.