If a punk rocker’s chief goal is to stand out on his or her own terms, then the Warped Tour has been an unequivocal success.
Now older than its average fan, the traveling teen-punk extravaganza has lasted longer than any other festival-style tour of its kind. The 19th annual installment lands Sunday at Canterbury Park Festival Field in Shakopee, offering its hyperactive whir of four music stages, X-sport exhibitions and other sideshow mayhem.
Its lineup and offerings this year might seem a little same-old, same-old, but other details surrounding the Warped fest reiterate how much of an odd phenomenon it remains.
1 More than a quarter million tickets sold locally. That’s the estimated tally from the first 18 years, according to concert promoter Rose Presents. Local attendance has consistently hovered around 15,000 each year.
2 Parents get in free with kids — and receive “day care.” No kidding. One parent can get in free with a kid’s paid ticket. There’s even a special tent for dads and moms dubbed the Reverse Daycare center, with air conditioning, cold drinks and other creature comforts. “Where festivalgoers can drop off their parents,” says promo materials. It’s an amusing reminder that fans who attended the tour’s earliest years are now old enough to be parents of teen, but it’s also a shrewd business move. “Many young fans could not come who wanted to,” Warped founder and virtual CEO Kevin Lyman explained, a problem averted by making the event more inviting to the chauffeurs.
3 Katy Perry, Kid Rock, Eminem, Black Eyed Peas, No Doubt and Beck all did it. Before they sold millions of records, all of those decidedly unpunk acts made unlikely appearances on Warped. “I Kissed a Girl” pop starlet Perry noted her odd presence on the 2008 tour this way to Rolling Stone: “Usually it’s like a hardcore screamo band with a mosh pit spanning the size of an arena [before me], and I’ve got all pink gear and a soft-pink bubblegum guitar.”
4 Minneapolis’ Motion City Soundtrack is back for its ninth year. Now one of the tour’s top headliners, the quintet owes a lot of its success to past Warped outings that date back to 2003. “They were patient and worked their way up, stage by stage,” Lyman recalled, praising MCS’s “good Midwestern work ethic.”
5 Warped’s tour captain reportedly runs a tight ship. Word is Lyman pays particular attention to performers being cool to one another and relatively well-behaved. “He will not let bands be jerks,” said Randy Levy of Rose Presents. “If they mess up, he gives them a choice: Get off the tour or clean the catering area this week.”
6 The biggest Warped Tour date ever was here. A first and last time for both tours, Warped was ambitiously paired with Ozzfest in 1998 at Float-Rite Park (now Somerset Amphitheater) in Somerset, Wis. The head-banger vs. knee-scraper twofer drew a whopping 39,000 fans and earned national media coverage. Warped regulars Rancid and Bad Religion performed opposite Tool, Limp Bizkit and Ozzy.
7 Indie rappers, not punks, have mostly represented Minnesota on Warped. Twin Cities rhyme sayers Atmosphere, P.O.S., Brother Ali, Sean Anonymous, Mod Sun and the late Eyedea all played on the tour.
8 More than 90 bands are playing this year. There are no big names — and probably only a couple that register with anyone older than 30 — but the quantity is as impressive as ever, including ska bands Reel Big Fish and Big D & the Kids Table; Kansas City rap veteran Mac Lethal; slick emo-pop bands the Summer Set and Story of the Sea; polished female twang-folk singer Billy the Kid; howling metal bands the Black Dahlia Murders and Chiodos, plus a solo set by the singer once fired and now back with Chiodos, Craig Owens.
9 It’s one of the greenest tours around. The stereotypes of punk rockers being ne’er-do-wells doesn’t fit here. Organizers go to great lengths to lessen the tour’s environmental impact, from using biodiesel trucks and a solar-powered stage to eco-friendly catering. “If you get really hungry, you can eat the forks,” Motion City guitarist Josh Cain quipped a few years ago about the backstage utensils, manufactured from corn.
10 It does a lot of other good, too. The tour donates to charities in each city it visits, from Hurricane Sandy relief in the New York area to water cleanup efforts in Baltimore. Locally, 25 cents of each ticket goes to Minneapolis-based Camp Heartland for children affected by AIDS/HIV. Go back to the No. 1 fact on this list for proof that’s no chump change.