Great music, great weather and the beach is a good recipe for a good time. It is also a great way to describe the 25th anniversary of the Vans Warped Tour. I got the chance to see it down in Atlantic City, New Jersey with just about 30,000 other people. I took the two and a half hour drive down with my friend James. We met his friend from college, Jason, there as we had tickets for both days of the event. The gates opened up at 11, with a massive line that stretched at least a mile long on the boardwalk. There was also the option of donating either $3 or three non-perishable food items to get a band to go right to the gates, something that Warped Tour has done for several years.
It was a really hot weekend, with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees the entire time. It was made even worse when you were watching sets and packed in with everyone else. Hydration was key and the tour provided several free water refill stations. Those were a saving grace, even if the water from them was warm. The ocean was the best way to cool down from the heat. For the 21-year olds we also had the option of a Rum Runner from a bar setup by one of the hotels. They were just several fruits mixed with rum and loaded with ice. The only issue was that it was $15. Silver lining is that the ice at least helped prevent overheating.
I had never seen a concert on a beach before, so this was a very new experience for me, but I was ready to enjoy every moment. There were four different stages set up, two small stages right next to each other right when you walk into the event with band tents around it. The Monster Energy stage was right next to a large half-pipe for skateboarding and a wrestling ring, then finally the massive main stage all the way in the back. It was incredible how large it looked; the stage was impossible to miss. There was a large open area on the beach for the crowds to gather once the big acts got on stage surrounded by some guard rails with steps on the back for people to see over the massive crowd that would later pack the front of the stage.
There was plenty of great acts but a few of them really stood out, of them being the main headliners, A Day to Remember on the first day and Blink-182 on the second day. Of the bands I didn’t know going in, the biggest surprises were The Ones You Forgot, a small local band shortly after the gates opened on day one and The Menzingers, a semi popular Philadelphia based band who got to shine on the second day. The Menzingers had their set on the main stage and showed why they deserve that spot, they were electric. They started off their 10-song set list with “Tellin’ Lies,” the song that started off their most recent album and played four more songs off it. They played mostly upbeat punk rock that the crowd was easily able to get into. There was plenty of foot tapping and light head banging during their time on stage.
The best act of the first day was by far A Day to Remember, even though their act got shortened. Around 5:30 on the first day a small storm rolled in and the tour was forced to delay and had everyone clear out. Kevin Lyman, the founder of Van’s Warped Tour came out and promised that the show would go on. He assured the crowd that he was being told by the authorities that they needed to delay.
“I’ve never canceled a show before, and I don’t want to cancel shows,” he said to the disgruntled crowd. He would keep true to his word as hour later, gates reopened, and everyone rushed back in. My friends and I ended up hopping over the rails of the boardwalk down to the beach and sprinted over the sand dunes to get as close as possible. The delay worked in our favor since we ended up being about five rows from the front of center stage.
While A Day to Remember was on stage they asked a very unique action from the crowd after the fourth song. Lead singer Jeremy McKinnon wanted to see what he called “crowd surfing on top of a crowd surfer.” While he was giving a warning that people probably should not attempt it, there were a few different groups of people trying it. Four ended up doing it successfully with the crowd erupting. For the most part it was an hour long mosh pit and I must have gotten kicked in the head by crowd surfers at least five times. By the time the show was over, the entire beach reeked of body odor from 30,000 people moshing in 90-degree heat, I was sweating buckets but it was also one of the best hours of my life. The atmosphere was exhilarating, especially in the area I was in.
As one of the headliners on the second day, The Offspring went on and really got the crowd going. By the time they got on, the area for the main stage got packed and the closer you got to the stage, the tighter it was to move around. They had the crowd going crazy during their 15-song set, which included a cover of AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie” halfway through. The band seemed to have been having a great time in between songs with a little bit of banter.
They played plenty of high tempo, typical punk rock as they played most of their classics like “Americana,” “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid,” “Why Don’t You Get a Job” and ended it with “Self Esteem.” It was an awesome warm up to get everyone set for Blink-182.
It was a long time coming but it was worth the wait because Blink-182 was awesome. They came out to Samuel L Jackson’s Biblical monologue from “Pulp Fiction.” Since it was the 20th anniversary of “Enema of the State” they played the album all the way through. Once they played that they went right to hits from other albums like “Feeling This,” “The Rock Show” and “Dammit.” They also played a song that came off their newest album, “Generational Divide.” The atmosphere while they were on stage was great, people trying to dance in the massive crowd, singing their hearts out, throwing around several beach balls and tons of crowd surfers.