I’ve gone to at least one Warped Tour date every year since 1998 and I had an amazing time at each show; there were no bad days. Read below to learn about my top ten favorite dates of the Vans Warped Tour with five stand out acts for each date. As always, when one creates 100 percent subjective opinion lists, there are always a diverse array of supporters and haters. I’ll explain my rationale/rules for this list justifying my position before I offend you with my choices:
- I may have missed your favorite band’s set on the particular date that I mentioned. My bad.
- Your favorite band may not have played on the date that I was at. My bad.
- I may not like your favorite band live OR your favorite band may not have brought it the day that I saw ‘em. My bad.
- In an effort to NOT write 1000 words about each year, I will only highlight five bands per date that I list, and I will only be listing ONE date per year (even if I went to more than one date that year).
- I will only list each band once even if they killed it in 1998 AND 2014. So there are fifty different bands here. That’s plenty.
- June 24, 2012 in Ventura, CA at Ventura Country Playgrounds –
While I thoroughly enjoyed watching Bayside and I Am The Avalanche on smaller stages, 2012 stuck out as a year that I camped out by the two main stages for most of the day. All Time Low, Pierce The Veil, and Yellowcard definitely all brought their blends of magic in thirty-minute intervals that day.
- June 22, 2014 in Ventura, CA at Ventura County Playgrounds –
Warped Tour is certainly not a stranger to special guests, but 2014’s Ventura Warped date put the bold in special as multi-platinum megastars Linkin Park got their very own stage. And they DEFINITELY brought it that day and had members from A Day To Remember, Yellowcard, Issues, and many other bands cameo on songs. But for some reason, I Fight Dragon’s set on the much smaller Ernie Ball Stage is the one that stood out the most. Finch, Saves The Day, and State Champs helped round out a non-stop energetic day as well.
- August4, 2001 in NYC at Randall’s Island –
Both Good Charlotte and Jimmy Eat World were at this point minutes from global superstardom (and they definitely held their respective forts down), but Fenix TX, Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, and The Vandals found interesting and hilarious ways to stand out as well. Seriously. Those three bands EXCELED at stage banter.
- July 16, 1999 in NYC at Randall’s Island –
Let me breathe for a second: This show was almost exactly twenty years ago. Holy shit to THAT and the line-up featuring blink-182, Bouncing Souls, Less Than Jake, The Living End & Pennywise. Fun fact: Travis Barker was sick this day so drummers like Josh Freese of The Vandals (and eventually GUNS ‘N ROSES), Brooks Wackerman of The Suicidal Tendencies (and eventually Avenged Sevenfold), Byron McMackin of Pennywise, and Damon DeLaPaz of Fenix TX definitely filled in for him with gusto. It was definitely something to see!
- August 10, 2002 in NYC at Randall’s Island –
Many labels have come and gone in our lifetimes, but how many labels can say that they had their own stage at Warped Tour? Drive-Thru Records sure can and as a spectator in 2002, it was the definition of a badass one-stop shop! Home Grown, New Found Glory, RX Bandits, Thursday, & The Used all shined that day as well.
- July6, 2005 in Pomona, CA at Fairplex –
It’s widely known that 2005 was the biggest year for Warped in its two-plus-decade-history, and HUGE acts like The All-American Rejects, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, The Offspring, and The Starting Line proved just that. TRL and Warped became synonymous that year, and it was wild seeing so many platinum selling performers playing 30-minute sets.
- July 26, 2006 at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, OH–
My old band The City Drive played three dates on the Smartpunk Stage (remember that?) in 2006, but Cincinnati was the stand-out city by far, and NOT because of our post-show Skyline Chili. AFI, Billy Talent, Motion City Soundtrack, Rise Against, & Underoath made for an extremely musically diverse day that truly made our scrappy group feel like “one of the boys”. I’ll always have a soft spot for the Midwest.
- July 26, 2008 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY –
This is the first and only time that I went to Warped with my little sister Emily, and the first and only time I ever saw a concert in Nassau Coliseum’s parking lot. Fun fact: My very first concert was inside Nassau Coliseum with my family for The Who’s Quadrophenia tour on November 15, 1996. Against Me!, Ludo, Reel Big Fish, Relient K, and Story of the Year ensured that 2008’s run would be one for the books as well.
- July 21, 2000 in NYC at Randall’s Island –
Two words: Green Day. This post needs no further explanation, but Anti-Flag, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, MxPx, and The Suicide Machinesdefinitely helped Green Daystart the century’s Warped Tour runs with a fucking bang.
- August1, 1998 in NYC at Randall’s Island –
They say that no time is like your first time, and 1998 definitely came out swinging. As a seventeen-year-old with a limited budget, I couldn’t believe that I was seeing so many incredible bands in one day for such a low price. Noteworthy sets from The Aquabats, Bad Religion, Mad Caddies, NOFX, and Rancid cemented the institution known as Warped Tour as a personal summer paradise, and the year 1998 as one of the most enriching and important years in my entire life.
As you may or may not know, Warped is no longer doing a full cross-country run, but it is having a few 25th-anniversary shows in Cleveland, Atlantic City, and Mountain View. A bunch of the bands mentioned above are playing and so many others that I haven’t are as well. Do your best to attend and enjoy this playlist featuring the fifty different bands that I mentioned:
I’m always down to hear what you like and don’t like about the cut of my jib, the bands listed above, and iambic pentameter. You know where to find me. Shalom.