Last night, the lineup for the final Warped Tour was announced, and if you were hoping its final year would return to the festival's roots at all, well, sorry. As we should all expect from Warped Tour by now, the lineup is pretty awful.
There are a few good bands, but most of them are hardly playing any dates of the tour. Taking Back Sunday are on just one day (Ventura, CA), but if you want to see them this year, just catch their co-headlining tour with Coheed & Cambria. Frank Turner is on three days (Indianapolis, IN; Darien Center, NY; and Scranton, PA), and he's got a way cooler tour with Lucero and The Menzingers anyway. If you're into Warped Tour at all, you might care that Sum 41 are playing, but they're also just on one date (Toronto), and you can see them playing Does This Look Infected? on tour this year if you want. Less Than Jake is another classic one, but again, just a few dates.
There are a couple good smaller, newer hardcore bands, like Harms Way who are on all dates (and just put out a solid new album) and Knocked Loose who are on four dates. And I guess for the nostalgia factor, maybe frequent Warped Tourers Simple Plan and Reel Big Fish (both on all dates) are kind of a sell. But that's really about it.
Again, it really should not be a surprise that Warped Tour are going out on a bad note, but it wouldn't have been completely crazy of them to bring back the charm of the early years. The first year had Quicksand, Deftones, No Doubt, L7, Tilt, Sick Of It All, CIV, and more, and that's kind of amazing. Even as the fest got bigger, they still booked bands that allowed you to call it a "punk" festival like Bad Religion, The Bouncing Souls, Rancid, Flogging Molly, NOFX, etc, and there's not really anything like that this year. Even last year had stuff to please the old school fans like GWAR, Sick Of It All, TSOL, The Adolescents, Candiria, Hatebreed, Strung Out, etc, but no such luck for the final year. Then again, I wonder how many good bands were offered a slot and turned it down. With Riot Fest and The Fest doing a way better job at keeping punk (and diversity) alive, I wouldn't be surprised if bands just don't want to be associated with Warped.
And if you were wondering, no, Warped Tour's final lineup does not aim to fix the gender imbalance that it's famous for, and no, founder Kevin Lyman has not spared us from piece-of-shit Ronnie Radke and his band Falling In Reverse, who are playing about two weeks of the tour this year. In case you need a reminder, here's an excerpt of Dan Ozzi's interview with Lyman for Noisey last year:
The bad things get spotlighted, certainly, and obviously it all comes down to you because you’re the founder. But one artist that always seemed like a strange case on the Warped Tour, because they’re one of the tour’s biggest draws, was Falling In Reverse. That frontman, Ronnie Radke, was flying out of the tour for court dates for a murder trial in which he was ultimately indicted and he was invited back. And then he later pleaded no contest to hitting his girlfriend and was invited back to the tour then too. What was the motivation there?
That’s a conversation you should probably have with people like [Epitaph Records founder] Brett Gurewitz, and not Kevin Lyman, you know? And he was also accused of a rape or an attack on someone, do you remember that? In Salt Lake City? And the girl recanted the whole story. And to be honest, the person driving the van that was one of my production people who’d been with me 20 years, said they were trying to help this girl actually get home, who was actually overdosing on drugs. None of this is randomly like, “We’re gonna endanger people.”
I don’t mean to imply that. I just mean, with his record, was he the best choice to put in front of an audience of teenage women?
You know, he doesn’t interact with the women in the crowd. He does his show and leaves.
I think we’re going down a weird path because maybe there’s a separate thing there but I think you should be interviewing a whole segment of people—he’s on a record label, he has a management company, who manages women, and continues to manage him, correct?
Right, but just because he’s managed by women doesn’t excuse of him of impropriety.
No, no, no, I’m just saying it’s all the way around, and you’ve got to look at the other side of somebody like Ronnie—he does the most charity work out on Warped Tour with the kids that come from our Make-A-Wish program and our Living The Dream programs. I don’t think anyone’s reported that side of him.
Yeah, I mean, there’s enough bad stuff to overshadow it.
Yeah, but that’s what we focus on it. Like we said, you focus on the bad. And we watch that guy spend hours sitting with kids in wheelchairs that have terminal diseases and illnesses and he makes a special lunch for him, he hangs out with them, he brings them out on stage, he lets them sing songs with him. And I don’t know, it’s not a perfect world, you know? It really isn’t.
As for the gender diversity, head to Warped Tour's band page to see lots of pics of lots of dudes. There are a few women on the tour, like Tim Armstrong-affiliated ska punks The Interrupters, Phoenix hard rockers Doll Skin, and the outspoken feminist metalcore band Sharptooth, and no disrespect to those bands, but that doesn't exactly make for "diversity" on a bill of 50+ bands.
But hey, the bright side is it's over. (Warped is planning a 25th anniversary celebration for 2019 but this year is the last tour.) Punk is in a great place right now and other music festivals and tours are taking the initiative to represent the genre beyond its bro-y, overproduced side. Good riddance to this very popular one that refuses to do that.