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Vans Warped Tour 2018

‘Vans Warped Tour’ Founder Reveals Wish List For The Tour’s Final Run


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Vans Warped Tour‘ founder Kevin Lyman has given an interview to Billboard.com regarding the upcoming final year of the tour. It’s a fairly in-depth look into the ‘Vans Warped Tour‘ and the business behind it, with Lyman candidly speaking about the tour only making money from tickets once during its two decade plus existence and more.

When asked if declining ticket sales/attendance factored into the decision to call it quits, Lyman did confirm that the festival experienced a rather big dip last year, as Boxscore reports seem to have shown. He said of that:

“We were doing fine, but we had a pretty big dip last year. It was that younger end of the demo. It was an interesting tour — the bands didn’t feel the dip because the fans that were there were super engaged… Everyone’s lining up at 11 o’clock and they don’t want to miss a band.

So that [younger] demo changed, but then I talked to people after the tour and bands did great on merchandise, they had great crowds — everyone had good crowds in front of the stage. But that casual fan that’s learning how to go to a music festival — they were not there last summer… It was a really great show, sponsors were happy, but our attendance was down.”

He later continued:

“…To be honest, this past summer, the 14 to 17-year-olds disappeared. I kept thinking, “Is it the Warped Tour? Is it the bands I booked?” Well no, I booked all the bands that should become the next Sleeping With Sirens or Pierce The Veil. I booked Neck Deep and Knocked Loose and I Prevail and Beartooth — all doing really well as bands. But when our demo jumped, our average age jumped almost three years last year, up to 19. So then you’re sitting there at night on the bus going, “Where are the kids?”

This year, The Atlantic ran a great story wondering if kids just don’t want to go out… You talk to people across the country and they say, ‘Yeah, my kids don’t want to go out anymore. They just stay in their room. They want to stay in their room and they want to watch Netflix.’

So I think as an industry, we’re gonna be facing some big challenges. And then some people go, ‘Well, kids are into hip-hop right now.’ And I go, ‘Well, the younger end of that is not going to shows.’ But if we don’t get kids out of their rooms and going to shows, they’ll turn into 18-to-21-year-olds soon… If you don’t have the DNA of going to concerts by then, it just doesn’t become a part of your lifestyle.”

When asked about what it was like dealing with sexual harassment issues on the tour, Lyman replied:

“Well, that sexual harassment didn’t happen on Warped Tour. If you go through every one of those stories, it didn’t happen on Warped Tour. The Jonny Craig thing [see here] did happen on Warped Tour, and I addressed it the same way. We sent him away. And then all of a sudden, I’ve gotta have town hall meetings with it. But if you really go through all that stuff, things happen prior to the tour or things… it’s part of the culture.

Warped Tour, the thing is, it’s funny because the way we used to deal with any problem was if we found out an artist was disrespecting a woman, they were usually brought back behind a tour bus by some people on the tour, and given a few options in life. Your life was not being threatened, but you were educated out there.

There’s artists that come to me and go, “You know what? I was young. I didn’t know I was offending the women… I didn’t know that until one of the bands that I respected growing up pulled me aside and told me this is unacceptable.” The Front Porch Step thing, to be honest — he wasn’t on the tour, but then we brought him to that one show.

I was still going under the premise of asking professionals, thinking it was the right thing to do. I still looked to professionals, because I’m not a trained therapist or psychologist. So the way we addressed it was, I supplemented the organization A Voice For the Innocent to come out and be a part of my tour. They’ve grown into a large organization that’s helping all these kids year ‘round now.”

When asked about who he’d like to get on the tour for it’s final run next year, he provided a rough wish list of sorts:

“We’ve gotta have Less Than Jake and Every Time I Die. Because I always tell the bands, “Why don’t you pattern your life after Less Than Jake?” They’ve now been around a quarter of a decade themselves, you know? They don’t overthink it. They go out and play. They’ve managed how to navigate a career as a ska band. What’s wrong with that?

So I’m gonna support those guys. Or Every Time I Die is one of those rare bands that put out their biggest record after 10 years… Somehow, they’ve managed to figure out how to move forward. That’s the kind of stuff I want to tour with this summer.

I’d like to have The Maine and Mayday Parade and those kind of bands because they’ve shown how to navigate a tricky system. The Maine is an indie band. Those are they type of bands I’m looking to be out with. Would I love to have Pennywise, NOFX, and Bad Religion at some shows? Absolutely. Let’s see if we can figure it out.

It’d be lovely to have Eminem come back. Ice-T, maybe — he’d be fun to have out for some shows. It would be fun to have more recent bands like Fall Out Boy come back and play. It’d be super fun. All those bands from that era were welcome. Maybe Katy Perry wants to get back to her roots! That’d be awesome, huh? We’d have a spot for her. Thirty minutes, you know? [Laughs.]

She exemplified the person that I so loved working with on tour. She worked so hard. She was kind. Also, she’s been an exemplary citizen with all her work for MusiCares and other charities. Maybe in a small way, Warped Tour helped with that.

It would be cool if Blink-182 played Warped Tour again. I’ve never really sat on my laurels for what I’ve done. But I look back and there’s been a lot of people across that platform: Deftones, My Chemical Romance — they all broke around that period. Avenged Sevenfold, really — probably outside of Metallica or those bands that were pre-Warped Tour, [they were] the biggest metal band of the last 15 years to break. Avenged Sevenfold, man. They were cool. They showed up with a smoke machine on Warped Tour. Playing at 3 p.m. with a smoke machine, you know they were gonna be big at one point.”

Every Time I Die themselves look to have already thrown in their hat for a spot on the tour. For a lot more from Lyman on the tour and his future plans, head to Billboard.com.

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