In a city known for its music, Philadelphia’s pop punk scene has made quite the name for itself. The City of Brotherly Love was said to have the “Best Pop Punk Scene in the Country” in 2014, according to Noisey.
For those pop-punk hopefuls, many had their hearts set on the same thing — landing a spot on the world-renowned Vans Warped Tour. The summer of 2018 will be their last chance. On Nov. 15, Vans Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman announced in an exclusive interview with Billboard that this coming year will be the tour’s final cross country run. This year will mark the 24th year of the Vans Warped Tour.
The tour started in 1995 at the hands of Lyman, who had previously worked on Lollapalooza. Branding itself as a “punk rock summer camp,” the Vans Warped tour helped launch the careers of many — from Philadelphia’s own The Wonder Years, who played the tour in 2011, 2013 and 2015, to acts like Katy Perry, Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance. According to Pollstar, the tour came through Philadelphia one year, but came to the neighboring town of Camden, New Jersey every summer since 2000.
“I have been proud to work with so many artists who have grown to be some of the largest stars in the world. Countless bands have played in hot parking lots and through summer storms for you at some point,” Lyman said in an official statement.
For some local artists, playing the Warped Tour was a dream. Drexel music industry sophomore Jack McCann started their own band, Snakeboy, in the beginning of 2017, with the hopes of being able to play the tour one day.
“I always dreamt of playing Warped when I was younger,” McCann said.
McCann attended the tour from 2012 through 2015, and still hopes they’ll be able to land Snakeboy a spot on the final run.
For others, the tour seemed like nothing more than a “hot, sweaty nightmare.” Brian Walker, songwriter and co-founder of the Philadelphia DIY Collaborative, never understood the hype about playing the tour. The collaborative, run by Walker, offers Philadelphia area musicians a place to network and collaborate with one another.
“The idea of playing in a sweaty outdoor venue with the high possibility of being forgotten doesn’t appeal to me,” Walker said.
Daniel Drago, another Philadelphia area musician, noted that his local childhood record store would have a competition to pick which bands played the local stage at Warped Tour. Though he argued his band neither fit the “punk aesthetic,” nor did they ever have their hearts set on playing Warped Tour, Drago said his teenage band still performed in the competition. “Our goal became to play with some of the bands we met, and to work harder at getting gigs in our hometown.”
As the tour prepares for its final year, many have started to wonder what will come next for punk artists and fans alike. Since many would spend their summers on the tour, those bands and artists are left without a tour over the summer.
With Philadelphia hosting a variety of live music venues, from The Fillmore in Fishtown to the historic Tower Theatre in Upper Darby, the ending of the Vans Warped Tour could mean a start of a new era for summer tours. The tour usually hosted around 50 artists per year, meaning many of the genres’ top bands spent their summers on the tour. Now, these bands have the opportunity to go out on their own tours, pick their own support acts and thus help launch the careers of smaller bands.
Sarah Cowell, vocalist of Philadelphia band For Everest, stated that the reason the tour always came through the surrounding areas like Camden and Scranton is due to a “lack of infrastructure within the city.”
Now, with the tour ending, many of those large-scale bands will need to book a summer tour, most likely at a smaller venue than the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, NJ, where the tour has played since the late ’90s. With more than 20 venues, Philadelphia is a viable option. The more summer tours that come through the city’s venues and clubs, the more opportunities there will be for local acts to land opening or headlining spots on shows and tours.
“Now that all these bands are out their summer tour, small clubs all the way up to the bigger 1000-3000 capacity rooms will get more business … I would bet we’ll see a lot more bands coming into Philly clubs and venues over the summer, which will help push them into bigger venues faster,” said Cowell.
“It’s [Warped Tour] a bigger corporate production these days and I think it ending will help summer venues by forcing all the bands on Warped Tour to create their own summer tour packages. This could bleed into DIY if those tours pick locals, or take out smaller bands with them,” continued Cowell.
McCann also agreed, hoping that the ending of Warped Tour will spark more summer tours, giving more small and local artists opportunities to get on bigger packages.
Even though the 24-year-long musical era is coming to an end, Philadelphia area artists plan on continuing to dominate the music scene.