Van’s Warped Tour: 24 years of music creating a community


The Van’s Warped Tour has played its final note. After 24 years, the community that this music festival created will live on for years to come.

For 24 years, summer and the Van’s Warped Tour were collaborative partners. Although the temperatures might have been hot, the music festival brought its own excitement. While the iconic musical festival has come to its final stop, fans were left with more than just the memories of their favorite bands on stage. This festival created a community that will continue to thrive.

The music

First and foremost, Van’s Warped Tour was a summer music festival. The festival brought together various artists, but the focus was alternative and punk music. Over the years, many bands got their start on the tour. From Fall Out Boy to even Katy Perry, many platinum selling artists started on this summer musical festival.

Less Than Jake, Van’s Warped Tour, photo by Cristine Struble

During this summer final tour, the four stages featured both new, popular and tour legends. For example, Less Than Jake has played every single tour since its inception. While today’s top charts may not feature a jamming trombone player, this band’s live show is epic. The ska punk band has had a long career and stayed true to its sound. If you have never listened to one of their songs, search for it and jam for a bit.

One of the unique aspects to the tour was that the music line-up wasn’t announced until the day of the show. On a large inflatable, the stage list was published. Given this scenario, everyone tended to get to the festival when the doors opened to ensure that fans saw their favorite bands.

Having attended the Orlando show, I was surprised that the popular 3OH!3 had an early slot on the bill. Who doesn’t love their song, “My First Kiss” or “Don’t Trust Me?” Their llyrical playfulness is as infectious as their music’s beats.

The Colorado electronic duo is about to release some new music. At the Orlando stop, their set was jamming. Even with an early afternoon slot, the concert area was packed. As fans sang, danced and celebrated, it created an energy that continued all day long. If you get a chance to see this duo live, jump at the chance. Their music is enticing.

Van’s Warped Tour, 3OH!3, Orlando stop, photo by Cristine Struble

Overall, the Van’s Warped Tour, at the Orlando stop, featured tour veterans with up and coming acts. From the two main stages to the Mutant stages to small pop up stages, there wasn’t a silent moment. Even a quick weather break didn’t silence the cacophony of sound. Everyone was celebrating the community of music fans.

For the music fan, this summer tour gave them the unique opportunity to engage with the performers. Either before or after their sets, the performers would visit their own tents to meet fans, sign autographs and take pictures. This type of personal interaction solidifies their fandom and creates an even stronger sense of community.

The community

Over the years, the Van’s Warped Tour became more than just musicians playing to their fans. The day long festival was an experience. Unlike other festivals, this tour wasn’t a celebrity heavy, fashion parade or a “be seen” festival. It was about celebrating people and their desire for more.

One of the biggest components to this summer tour was activism. While not everyone agrees with all of the platforms, everyone has the right to voice their beliefs. On previous tours, women’s issues, the right to vote and several others all sought to inform concert goers about their platforms.

Van’s Warped Tour, Orlando stop, photo by Cristine Struble

At the Orlando stop, issues such as veganism, voter registration and mental health were topics of discussion. Even one fan took to the main stage to discuss his struggles with addiction issues and mental health struggles. The introduction specifically referenced how the tour’s community helped him to find his voice, his path and his determination to live a better life.

While others may not have the same concerns or the same opinion, this music festival was a safe zone to express her own opinions, thoughts and concerns. It wasn’t that everyone had to agree. More importantly, everyone respected each other and their voices. Especially for younger concert goers, this space was a safe zone for them to express themselves.

Over the years, this music tour appealed to younger concert goers. These fans were finding their path in life and the tour gave them the opportunity to explore topics in a safe way with people like themselves. The feeling of inclusiveness was part of the appeal and the tour’s longevity.

Van’s Warped Tour, photo by Cristine Struble

In this final tour, the concert goers were both young and old. Now, some of the original concert goers brought their own kids to the concert. It seems like this tour has completed a full circle.

Now that the Van’s Warped Tour has packed up the stage, next summer will be a little less upbeat. Hopefully, a special celebration for the 25th anniversary is in the works. While it won’t be a cross-country tour, the anniversary needs a commemoration.

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Even if another note is never played on the Van’s Warped Tour stage, this musical festival has made its mark on the fans. The community that it created will continue in other ways. For all the people, myself included, thanks Van’s Warped Tour for an amazing 24 years.