A Beginner’s Guide To Warped Tour : One Newbie To Another
Where you’d usually find my intern blog under the cut, this week I have something a little off-topic and a little more broad-spectrum. Of course, my job is still going strong (can you say Bieber Fever?) and all the advice I can reap from it will come neatly-packaged this time next week. Until then, I have a confession to make.
I’ll let the cat out of the bag. Until two weeks ago, I’d never been to Warped Tour. I KNOW. Criminal for any music fan, no? I like to think I have a somewhat passable excuse, what with living on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and all of that, but the pilgrimage to Kevin Lyman’s mighty parking lot extravaganza had always been a dream. So a little over a fortnight ago, having worked tortuously for hours and hours to buy a plane ticket, myself and two friends boarded the long flight to sunny Los Angeles. It was an incredible week, mostly made of pinch-me moments and some serious sunburn. The one thing that struck me is how different Warped is to other festivals. I spent a good amount of time running around and trying to pick things up quick so as not to waste this once-in-a-life-time-but-let’s-face-it-I’ll-go-back-next-year opportunity. If you’re patiently waiting for your pre-sale tickets to come in the post, let me fill you in on what I learnt:
Water. Bring a bottle of water and make sure the first thing you do is find the Kleen Kanteen filling station. The wonderful people there provide free distilled water all day, and it’s usually pretty cold. Coming from a country where free water at shows and festivals isn’t a privilege, it’s a right, it’s a blessing to see an organisation carrying this on overseas. Water can make the difference between you having the time of your life and you spending the day in the first aid tent. Drink more than you think you need, especially if you’re in a stupid-hot town (Las Vegas reached 108 degrees when I was there. At this point, abandon water and just stick your face in a bowl of ice)
Jump the line. You want to get to Warped early, with good reason. With the line-up changing every day, your favourite band could be playing at 11:30. Nobody wants to be stuck out in the parking lot while they listen to everybody else having the time of their lives. Feed Our Children NOW! offer you a jump-the-line wristband for $5, or 3 canned items. If you bought pre-sale tickets you automatically qualify for skipping the line. You get to help a great cause, and it’s well worth it.
Finding your spot. This year, 90% of the bands I wanted to see were playing on main stage (New Found Glory straight after Yellowcard? Hello, dream line-up). Not fancying the pit in the insane heat, I was ecstatic to find out that there’s a riser that puts you a foot and a half above the rest of the crowd sat square in front of the main stage every . Pop to the Kia Soul tent and either ‘like’ their page on Facebook, or get a temporary tattoo, for a wristband that will let you up on to the riser for the rest of the day. You can thank me later.
Know what bands you want to see before. Categorise them by importance. When you’re staring at the big blow up board, you’re going to want to know which times to write down. Snap a picture on your phone if you can.
Volunteer! This is the tip most relevant to readers of IATTG, and the one thing I have yet to do. I wanted to soak up all of Warped Tour without working for my first time there. But if you’re looking for hands-on industry experience, nearly every vendor/label/non-profit will want volunteers to help them throughout the day. You’ll meet people who work in music and, if you make a good impression, they could be invaluable to your future. Keep watch on individual vendors/labels/nonprofits’ websites and Twitters in the weeks leading up to the start of Warped Tour to see how you can help out. I know I’m going to next year!
If you’re a seasoned vet (or, just a more observant newcomer) and you have any tips you want to add to the list, feel free to hit me up via the contact page or send us a tweet at @IATTG. Happy 4th of July!