Dirty Fun at Warped Tour

Punk Rock Summer Camp Hits Montreal

All Time Low performs at the Vans Warped Tour. Photo Audrey Folliot.
Fans check the massive schedule board. Photo Audrey Folliot.

There’s something about Warped that makes even the most insecure feel at home. There in the middle of a gigantic crowd of people, everyone belongs. No matter how many freaks there are, no matter how different their styles are, there is that one thing that unites everyone: loud music.

The water gun fights don’t hurt either.

“Being on tour for two months as a band 24/7 is very demanding on the musicians, but they seem to be able to deal with each other without feeling like punching one another in the face,” said Mike Adams, bassist for Massachusetts pop punkers A Loss for Words.

“And if we ever get in a fight, we just settle things out with a squirt gun. Squirt guns settle pretty much anything,” he said, proudly showing off his weapon of choice.

It’s the band’s first time playing the full two months of Warped, which means a daily routine of waking up early, setting up the merchandise tent and playing two sets for an often mud-caked crowd.

“It’s a long day, but like everybody says, it’s like punk rock summer camp, it’s so fun,” said Adams. “Waking up in a different city every day is amazing.”

For the fans, the day starts waiting to get in the tour grounds at Parc Jean Drapeau. On top of the price of admission, you pay in sweat, as the enormous line inches along under a high summer sun. But it all pays off once you get in, racing to the inflated schedule board holding the key to how to plan your day, punctuated by obsessive water and beer drinking, mosh pits and crowd surfing.

I dressed light, crammed a few necessities into my girly purse, grabbed a bottle of survival-water and headed out the door. After half an hour in that godforsaken line under the sun I finally headed towards the site with some new friends, pass in hand. The three of us spent another half hour running around in search of the elusive media tent, the key to scoring interviews.

“You’re basically camping out every day,” said Brooks Betts, guitarist for Florida rockers Mayday Parade. “You’re very limited as to what you can eat, but the best part is that you have so many people to hang out with.”

Warped is a switch-up from the perpetual nights of a venue tour, here the bands play while the sun is still up—traveling under the cover of darkness to the next stop on their punk rock carnival.

“Even though I tend to prefer venue tours, that’s what we do all the time so Warped is a fun little change up, and for two months, it just feels like summer camp.” -Brooks Betts of Mayday Parade

“Even though I tend to prefer venue tours, that’s what we do all the time so Warped is a fun little change up, and for two months, it just feels like summer camp,” said Betts.

Warped is a festival where everyone fits in, from the hardcore kid all clad in black to the ska kid adorned in checkers, to the crust punk sporting patches and a mohawk. It’s a hotbed for punk archetype, an experience Bretts wouldn’t trade for anything.

“I’ve been in this band for seven years now. Being a musician is not necessarily hard work, you just don’t get to be home a lot which can be kind of a bummer,” he said. “The best part of the whole thing is that you’re doing something you love and you’re getting paid to do it, so it’s a great trade off.”

When I was done meeting band members I spent the rest of my day running around trying to be on time to every show I wanted to see, as well as visiting the merchandise tents. I even managed to bond with one of the clerks, won a water gun, and got into a subsequent water gun fight.

I saw my favourite bands live and my feet have never been so dirty—thanks to stomping around beautiful Parc Jean Drapeau. But after all the sweating, drinking and super-soaking, what’s a little mud at punk rock summer camp?