I was on the first six weeks of Warped Tour 2010. I came to be on the tour because, at the time, I was a solo artist with a newly-released EP, signed to a small, Boston-based independent record label. The label reached out to Warped’s production team to secure a merch spot on the tour, with a daily rate of about $300/day. The label, District Kills Records, was founded and owned by a good friend of mine, Michael Hogan; he had purchased two vans and, along with me, had brought eight members of the label’s three respective bands, including mine; we also had two merch girls out with us, one of whom we had to send home mid-tour after she’d decided it was prudent to sleep with several bands (read: entire bands) on the tour, the other of whom proved to be a valuable asset and eventually moved on to a job as a stage assistant. We were on the tour full-time as a collective, representing the record label in a capacity that involved merch sales, but not performance spots. That being said, when a band is on Warped in a non-performing capacity (volunteering, record sales, etc)—and there are usually more than a few each year—they usually find a way to perform; two of the bands in our consort, including mine, ended up performing several acoustic sets at the tents of various clothing companies. Though we were certifiably on the tour, we had to shake the stigma of illegitimacy and differentiate ourselves from the bands who merely “worked the lines” every day and followed the tour, working through channels far removed from what would’ve been considered “official.”
Warped proved to be quite the ordeal for our little group and by the end of our stint on the festival, only one van and six of the original ten people were left. We were forced to discontinue our involvement with the tour after the Atlanta date for want of a transportation fund, our gas card having expired the morning after the date itself. The owner of the label and I then proceeded to board a Greyhound and make the 11-hour-long trip to Cincinnati to attend the next date of the tour and sure-up the list of contacts we’d acquired in our time on Warped. Though seemingly “worth it” at the time, the 15-hour bus ride back to our meeting point in Washington, DC was a veritable death march, to say the very least.
Warped was grueling, it was harrowing, but it was a totally unique and incredible life experience for me, and I wouldn’t change a second of it. I got to see the entire country, I met myriad people, strange and interesting as they were, I came disconcertingly close to dying on more than one occasion, and our group narrowly escaped arrest more times than any of us would like to admit. If you are thinking about trying to get on the Warped Tour and you consider yourself sufficient in both the requisite providence and facilities, logistic and monetary, to emerge successful—that is to say, with money in your pocket, food in your stomach, and tangible results in terms of the advancement of whatever career you’re currently pursuing—then I definitely suggest you do everything in your power to secure a spot on this wonderful traveling shitshow.
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