Schlepping through the Southern sun with a merchandise tent and a Monster water, I began a typical day as tour manager for Philly-based pop-punk band Rivers Monroe on the Vans Warped Tour. The sun may still have been stretching its morning beams, but for the Warped crew, early hours are work hours: time to build stages, load gear, pitch merch tents, cover fences with posters, and, if the time allows for it, dance! Everyone is sweaty. Everyone is dirty. Everyone is exhausted…and everyone is having the time of their lives.
Rivers Monroe and I joined the tour on the 4th of July, and it has been an absolute pleasure to be a part of the Vans Warped Tour 2015 family for the past few weeks. There is a sense of respect that is shared between the artists, the crew, and the attendees at Warped. We are all there to support alternative music, whether that be in the form of a punk rock band with roaring vocals such as Black Veil Brides, or a passionate artist with danceable grooves such as Mod Sun. Rivers Monroe have been working their hardest to reach the potential fans that wander through the music-loving crowd at Warped, and in addition to helping them make the most out of their time on this incredibly powerful and career-breaking tour, I made it my mission to dance with EVERYONE!
I released my debut album, Love and Haight, last year, and I am currently filming a video for the song “Dance With Me.” Yes, this song is the slow, acoustic jam on the album, but don’t worry…the video will be full of fun, spontaneous dancing! And, who better to dance with than your friends?
Meet our neighbors: Stacked Like Pancakes! On our first day of Warped, we haphazardly set up shop next to this lively ska band, and they quickly became our friends and mentors. Having already experienced the confusion of jumping onto Warped mid-run, they were our guiding light when it came to finding the essentials, such as the Ernie Ball stage. They killed it every day with their set, and when I asked them to dance, they immediately started skanking. We absolutely loved getting to know these people, and we can’t wait to see what they do next!
One of the reasons that we love artists is the fact that they have a point of view. With over 100 bands on the Vans Warped Tour, the artistic views reach in every direction, but a lot of the bands have a really powerful story that they are sharing through their music. One of the musicians that I have most enjoyed meeting and listening to is Buttons. He uses his music to share his struggles with addiction and spread empowerment to his fans. Transit also has an impacting set where they encourage Warped attendees to help themselves through the resources provided at the show. Music has the power to change lives, and Warped takes that idea even further by proving that the music industry as a whole can change lives through touring events such as Warped.
A lot of the tents at Warped promote a cause or a charity. I’ve loved visiting the different booths and learning about the impact that the Vans Warped Tour and its attendees are having on the world (I even convinced some people from To Write Love on Her Arms and Uprise to dance with me!). Rivers Monroe teamed up with A Rose of Thanks to help raise awareness and support for our country’s female troops and, through that, they had the opportunity to honor a veteran at one of their shows. They’ve also been signing at the Music Saves Lives tent a few times a week, meeting fans and supporting the organization.
Last week, the tour had a “day off” where the bands and the crew were free do as they pleased: sleep, do laundry, sleep, find showers, sleep, take inventory of merch, and, most importantly, sleep. The Warped community, however, made its way to Gettysburg early that morning to clear the battlegrounds and plant trees in memory of the soldiers who lost their lives in battle. Of course, not everyone had the energy that morning for manual labor, but the turnout from the Vans Warped Tour was truly inspiring. It all starts at the top with Kevin Lyman’s mission to make the tour a force for good, but it’s the community that he has created that bonds these people together throughout the summer and sends them off into the alternative music industry with a sense of respect and of responsibility. Warped makes it fun and easy to get behind your passion, whether that be music, recycling, anti-smoking, or veganism. On a large scale, the tour gives back to the community through MusiCares, and it encourages music lovers to do the same in their own lives.
Aside from all these good deeds, we need to take inventory of my dance partners. So far, I’ve danced with over 40 artists, including members of Never Shout Never, PVRIS, Jule Vera, The Kenneths, The Ready Set, Mayday Parade, Mallory Knox, Koo Koo Kanga Roo, New Years Day, The Karma Killers, Baby Baby, Youth In Revolt, Transit, Candy Hearts, The Drama Club, Take A Breath, Rivers Monroe, The Dirty Nil, Seaway, The Nearly Deads, It Lives It Breathes, New Beat Fund, and Metro Station (That’s right; I shook it with Metro Station!). I bombarded most of these artists with my camera and my dance moves while they were wandering around backstage, but some of them didn’t cross my path until the APMAs. The Alternative Press Music Awards further demonstrated to me how vast and inclusive the Warped community has become. At the Vans Warped Tour after-party, there were musicians from Warped Tours long ago that simply came out to see old friends and congratulate them on their musical successes. Old or new, established or up-and-coming, every artist at the party was welcomed and celebrated.
Now, one of my responsibilities as TM was to coordinate press coverage for Rivers Monroe. At first, this task seemed tedious…until I realized that it involved hanging out in the press room with all of the other artists on Warped! One day, I happened to meet Family Force 5 as we were all waiting for an interview that had been delayed by more than half an hour. Before I knew it, I was behind the Unicorn stage, holding a bright orange bear costume, preparing to dance on stage with the band! FF5 was an absolute pleasure to get to know, and their live set was one of most engaging at Warped this year.
Now that I have returned home from the tour, I am feeling both grateful and gregarious. I am thankful for the opportunity to have woken up at Warped everyday, completely engrossed in the pop-punk / alt rock music scene. I only hope that I can return to the Vans Warped Tour next summer so that I can continue making new friends, fans, mentors, and dance partners!
Who would YOU want to dance with at next years’ Warped Tour? Tell us in the comments below!