The Warped Tour is ending. I am incredibly bummed.
In 2012, I got to go to my first Warped Tour with X96. Let me tell you, the best way to go to your first Warped Tour is with X96. I met every band I wanted to, including Taking Back Sunday, All Time Low, Sleeping With Sirens, Anti Flag, Mayday Parade, Of Mice & Men, New Found Glory, blessthefall, The Ghost Inside, Yellowcard, and You Me At Six (who are my favorite band and the first band tattoo I got and pictured below is true happiness), and a bunch of other bands. I had one of the best days out of my entire time at X96 (I’ve been here almost 7 years).
(True, absolute happiness. I don’t even remember what happened the following 20 minutes after this photo was taken.)
From that day forward, I was 100% motivated to find a way to be on the Vans Warped Tour.
Fall of 2013, I met a tour photographer who’d been touring for almost a decade and got his start by following the Warped Tour and volunteering (we’re still friends, a million thank yous to Brandon). We chatted a bunch via text and he got me really inspired to try following the tour. Conveniently enough, all of the West Coast dates of Vans Warped Tour 2014 lined up in a big loop. I found a friend to go with me, and started emailing every possible sponsor, non-profit, and record label on the tour asking to volunteer. I sent a lot of emails, and I mean a lot.
(These are actually all of my emails. Every single one.)
And a while after emailing all those people, we got some sponsors!
And so our adventure began, I traveled to Albuquerque on my own, with my friend meeting up with me in Vegas. I can’t even tell you how nervous I was the entire 10 hours of driving there. Was this even going to work? Was it worth it? Will everyone hate me? Like first day of school jitters, but first day of putting myself on the Warped Tour jitters.
(Behind that sweet face was sheer anxiety.)
You know what? Everyone on the Warped Tour is f***king awesome.
My concerns were unwarranted. My first day out, I ran into a friend from SLC who showed me around, and I already knew like 10 people out there (which is a lot when you’re by yourself). Everyone there was so cool and nice and looked out for us. Our volunteer sponsors were all incredible and we had a great time with everyone. Minus a few small bumps, this trip was awesome. We helped out the sponsors at their booths, sold merch, watched a ton of bands, and drove all over the western US having a total blast.
My new friends from Natural High took me to see Cute Is What We Aim for and Echosmith.
2 days in, my friend Megan met up with me for the rest of the trip.
We even got to see LINKIN PARK play at the Ventura date for the 20th Anniversary of the tour!!
And all of these amazing people became our friends on the fine Warped Tour that summer <3
It was all exhausting and wonderful and I felt this immense sense of accomplishment for actually pulling it off. It wasn’t easy, but I loved every second.
And then for some reason in 2016, I did all of this again!
The planning all went great. We already knew people from the first time, so we had an easier time getting volunteer sponsors. We had a game plan from last time. All was well until about a month before….
… Then everything went wrong. I had plans fall through with like 4 different people, so I ended up by myself for most of the trip (which, being alone when things aren’t great while traveling just sucks). I was sideswiped on the freeway in the middle of nowhere by some lady that was texting and driving. The A/C was being real iffy in my car, and in case you were wondering, the heat clocked in at 115′ in Vegas and Phoenix, so I’d pretty much actually die if it went out. The list goes on… Everything was falling apart and I was feeling crushed.
I didn’t know if I was being challenged by the universe to see if I could make it through or too stupid to see the signs and go home. I almost did go home.
I made this big, long, angry Facebook post about how everything just totally sucked. I had a bunch of friends leave nice comments saying to hang in there, but someone else actually got me to keep going.
Jon Smith, yes that Jon Smith, motivated me big time with this:
And this song by The Maine, whom I love, came on when this all hit me while I was in Arizona, and between this song and what Jon said, I knew I had to stay.
Jon was right. The Warped Tour, especially when you’re putting yourself out there, is hard. The Maine were my soundtrack for the rest of the trip.
So I looked for the good and stayed.
My awesome friends were with me for the first few days.
And my friends from the first time I went were still there and were still awesome to me.
I went to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios while the tour went to San Francisco.
(The tour does this loop where they do a date in LA/San Diego, then they go up to San Francisco, then they come back to LA. So, why would I drive an extra 16 hours when I could just go to Universal for the day?)
I had this freaking CHURRO FRUITY PEBBLES SUNDAE from a food truck I saw on Buzzfeed when I was in Pomona!
I got to see The Maine and Yellowcard every. single. day.
(This was even Yellowcard’s last time on the Warped Tour. Both them and The Maine were on the tour both years I was there.)
So as hard as it was, it really worked out. The trip wasn’t all bad.
The friends I made doing this are incredible. They supported me and pulled me through, even when I didn’t think I was going to make it. Every single thing that happened, good or bad, was experience that I gained. I can say that I put myself on the West Coast dates of the Vans Warped Tour not once, but TWICE. I love the Warped Tour, for all it is, so so so much. I will never ever regret doing any of this. And next year will be the last time I get to see the Warped Tour here in Salt Lake City.
Thank you so much to X96 for getting me into this in the first place, Jake for letting me leave for two weeks in our busy season twice, Jon for getting my head on straight, The Maine and Yellowcard for all the good tunes that pulled me through, Henri, Dylan, Brandon, Ryan, Terry, Danny, Josh, Mike, Danielle, Kyle, Brittany, Melanie, Jake T., Alex, Geoff, Jasmine, Codi, Hannah P., Stacey, Jessie, Sierra, Karlee, Ally, Jenay, Courtney, Hannah C., Megan, Sam, Larene, Tommy, Joelle, Tysen at Everest, the random people that let us Couchsurf at their houses, my cars for actually making it through this, and anyone else who supported me while I did this crazy thing.
I’m sad that I’ll never get to do it again, but happy that I did it at all.
(Or maybe I’ll still do it one more time.)
Alisha has been at Broadway Media and X96 since 2011 in the promotions department. She loves pop punk, cats, soccer, and producing concerts. You can follow her on Twitter: @_alisha_ann and Instagram: @thecoconutfellfarfromthetree
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