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.
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.
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."
A Storm Temporarily Stopped The 2007 Tour In Cleveland
Festival concert-goers are no strangers to bad weather - the weekend rains are part of what made 1969's Woodstock Festival so memorable. In 2007, attendees of the Warped Tour's Cleveland stop endured an hour-long storm, which had people running for cover to escape a torrential downpour and tornado-like gusts of wind.
Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba got a tattoo that says, "Hello, Cleveland," which commemorates the event, his many years on the road, and one of his favorite films, Spinal Tap.
Less Than Jake Stopped Showering For The Summer
Although the Warped Tour ended after a 24-year run, the sights, sounds, and even smells have stuck with attendees, bands, and everyone else behind the scenes who brought the event to life.
Official Warped photographer Lisa Johnson recalled when Less Than Jake decided not to shower for the remainder of the season, saying the memories stuck with her, "deep inside my olfactory receptors."