I woke up early this morning. Like most days, I did my usual morning meditation and wandered to my laptop to check in with social media. I drank a cup of coffee, answered emails, Tweeted, Facebooked, Instagrammed (are these words?) and perused various social media websites. For me, this habitual routine is like clockwork. Same shit, different day.
Today, however, feels a little different. Nostalgia is kicking in hard and heavy this morning. It is that time of year. These last few weeks, my social media-sphere has been abuzz with posts about the Vans Warped Tour. As I write this blog, it is the 26th of July. July has always been an important month in my life as a musician. The past six summers of my life were spent grinding it out on my favorite traveling rock n’ roll circus show: The Vans Warped Tour. My timelines are full of musings about set times, information about meet and greets and band signings. Fans are posting Instagram photos of their favorite bands. #warpedtour2013.
The memories begin to flood back into my brain space. I must say, these memories are absolutely glorious. I begin to think about the long, late night drives across the interstates of America. I think about the early morning wake up calls. I recall the sheer liberation of living out of a suitcase on a tour bus, meeting new friends, the BBQ’s, the camaraderie, the heat, sweat and hum of the bus generators. These are a few of my favorite things.
I experienced my first stint on the Warped Tour when I was 18 years old. It was in a 12 passenger van. As per usual, I was the only female present and we were driving ourselves. A typical day went something like this: Arrive at the venue at 8AM, unpack, promote our set time, play our show, sell merchandise and hit the road around 9PM to begin the drive to the next destination only to arrive in a new state and do it all again. (Notice the words “shower” and “sleep” were not mentioned in this equation.) We did this day after day. I would come home after being on the road for a month and collapse. It was awesome. I loved the work and reveled in the challenge.
Over the course of the next few years, I was lucky enough to do the Warped Tour on a bus. I always traveled with my manager and friend, Zach Neil, his bands and stage crew. We had catering. We could take refuge in the AC on a record breaking 108 degree day in Camden, NJ. Best of all, we actually had bunks to sleep in. (That said, I never did much sleeping. I was the one barely making a 3AM bus call. I fondly remember chasing our moving bus out of the parking lot so they wouldn’t leave without me. Whoops.) Life was good. I would wake up in the morning after three hours of sleep, trudge my way to catering for a cup of coffee and start hanging posters for my set time. After a long day of music and hard work, we’d head to the BBQ where we would drink, dance and have way, way, way, (way) too much fun. I can honestly say that these days were some of the best of my life so far.
Aside from the fun and games, the amount of work that goes into bringing the Vans Warped Tour to life everyday is astonishing. There is something so very special about this particular tour. It is a community. It is a lifestyle. It is a summer camp of sorts. With Kevin Lyman and his crew at the helm, the bands, the bus drivers, press people, the catering company (TA DA! CATERING RULES. UNLIMITED COFFEE IN THE AM. THANK YOU) are all integral pieces of this well oiled machine. Despite heat waves and drama, the fans flock by the thousands. It is a piece of music history and quite frankly, a piece of me. I grew up on this tour. It made me grow up. It made me physically tough, mentally flexible and a better performer. It kicked my ass and made a hypothetical man out of me. (I’m a girl…I swear.)
I usually try to incorporate a life lesson or piece of advice in my blogs. I am in no way qualified to do this kind of thing. Let’s get real here, folks. I am 24 years old and very well may be in the midst of a self-proclaimed “Quarter Life Crisis”. I screw up on a daily basis and fall down on most every sidewalk/staircase in Manhattan. But one thing I know is how to express gratitude. I have been so fortunate to experience the Warped Tour as a performer. I am grateful to have even been on one show much less six consecutive summers. As much as I am bummed about not being there this year, I am looking forward to the day I am a part of that tour bus caravan barreling down the highway once more. Have fun at the show!
P.S. Please tell REEL BIG FISH that I am still obsessed with them. Thanks.