Horrifying Warped Tour Stories That Aren't Worth The Mosh Pit
While some mourned the loss of the Warped Tour in 2018, many others said good riddance to the festival and all the shocking and unsavory events that have transpired over the last 23 years. Ranging from the bizarre to the truly dangerous and disturbing, Warped Tour horror stories have become almost as synonymous with the music festival as, well, music.
The Warped Tour helped to establish a number of now-mainstream acts, catapulting careers and giving worldwide exposure to performers who had never previously played a high-profile stage. The roster of Warped alumni is a long and surprisingly diverse one, including the Black Eyed Peas, Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, Katy Perry, My Chemical Romance, Yelawolf, and will.i.am. Don't let these innocuous acts fool you, however, some terrifying stuff has gone down at Warped over the years.
- Photo: David Edgar / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
In 2015, Slaves Was Accused Of Selling Illicit Substances From Their Merch Booth
There have been rumors of some Warped Tour bands buying and selling illicit substances. While it's certainly not shocking that a hardcore band would partake in such substances while on tour, the way one band allegedly went about it can only be described as brazen.
In July 2015, the band Slaves reportedly bought and/or sold drugs right from their merch table. Slaves denied the claim, declaring, "There were NOT drugs involved nor was anyone in our band looking to buy, or sell" in a publicly issued statement.
This defense did not save Slaves from getting voted off Warped Island: In an assembly reminiscent of a town hall meeting, festival-goers booted Slaves from the tour.
- Photo: Paul Hudson / Flickr / CC-BY 2.0
Slaves Was Rumored To Have Dumped Sewage Out Of Their Tour Bus Window
Rumors abounded in July 2015 that the band Slaves dumped the sewage tank from their tour bus. The band denied the allegations, saying, "We did NOT empty our non existent sewage tank from our bus all over."
They made it quite clear: "We are not continuing Warped Tour because we were voted off because the opinions of certain people who believe that since Jonny drank, despite his success getting clean, will lead to his relapse."
- Photo: Nicole Kibert / WIkimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 2.0
PUP Remembered Sleeping In Walmart Parking Lots In 100-Degree Heat
The Warped Tour's summer dates are notoriously scheduled during the hottest months of the year. This creates an uncomfortable environment for musicians and festival-goers alike.
The band PUP remembered their 2015 Warped Tour as "a really difficult experience." They continued:
There were a lot of overnight drives and sleeping for three hours in Wal-Mart parking lots, and being in 100-degree heat for eight hours a day.
We also did the Vans Warped Tour in a van, which is insane, considering most bands are in buses. We did that for a month, and it was very, very rough. People don’t understand [how much work the Warped Tour is] - it is basically like a mobile Hot Topic.
- Photo: Markus Felix / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0
A 2008 Hot Dog Eating Contest Devolved Into Nausea
Josh James, guitarist for the band Stick to Your Guns, recounted an unforgettable moment from his 2008 Warped Tour experience. It didn't involve wild partying or debauched and depraved behavior. No, James's memory was forever scarred by a hot dog eating contest.
"I entered a hot dog eating contest at Warped in 2008 in Marysville and my team was killing it, but as I finished my 28th hot dog, the first 27 came back up" James remembered. "We were disqualified for puking... throwing up and laughing hurts, bad."
- Photo: Obsidian-Fox1 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 3.0
Warped Tour Founder Kevin Lyman Is Okay With The Lack Of Female Representation
The Warped Tour seemed to have exemplified what one publication called a "woman problem." The vast majority of participating bands consisted of white males, a narrow demographic that did not grow and evolve with the tour's success. One telling exchange between tour founder Kevin Lyman and Megan Seling, a journalist from Wondering Sound, illustrates that the lack of response to the "woman problem" started at the top:
"There's really not a lack of women," [Lyman] says, interrupting me before I've finished asking the first question. "If you've got 20 bands that have women in them out of 120 bands, that's one out of six bands."
"You think that's OK?" I ask, surprised that he would be so comfortable with such a one-sided ratio.
"That's absolutely OK," he says.
- Photo: @jazzfuneralband / Instagram
A Musician Was Almost The Victim Of A Hate Crime
Not only was traveling with the Warped Tour mostly without glamour, but it could also be downright scary. Paul Adler and his band were on the road with the tour in 2010 when they ran out of money. Adler gave the remainder to band members so they could get home to Washington, DC, while he and an indie label owner shuffled off to Cincinnati on a Greyhound bus.
When the bus stopped in Knoxville for half an hour, Adler decided to grab a drink:
I thought myself miraculously lucky when I found a bar right next door [to the bus station], but when I walked into the dank, dusky honky-tonk, I found myself in a scene akin to a classic movie. Every drunken day-shift worker put down his drink and stared right at me. These guys were white-bread, and I’m the kind of half-Indian who gets dark in the summer - on top of that, my tattoos were exposed and my beard was in full effect.
As soon as I got my $1 Bud, this yokel sidled up to me and slurred, "Hey, brother, you better get off that Allah, man - it's all about Jeeeezuss!"
"Oh. Oh no. No, I don’t like Allah. I love Jesus. I swear," The man put down his beer and started to stand up; several of his peers did the same. I grabbed my Budweiser and made for the door, full beer in hand.
Luckily, Adler made it back to the bus with no issues, but says, "I didn’t tour much after that."