I just got back from my first Van’s Warped Tour experience and have to say that this is clearly one of the best run festivals I have ever attended. Whether you’ve been to a dozen or this is your first one, I think you’ll find a few useful tidbits in our Farmer’s Dozen of Warped Tour Tips.
(Based on feedback I’ve received so far, these tips are geared more to the Vans Warped Tour newbies, rather than veterans, but read through the list and judge for yourself.)
- Download the official Warped Tour App – You’ll receive helpful notifications at the event, FAQs, links to every band on the line-up, and plenty of useful news. For instance, I just learned that PVRIS was added to this Sunday’s Warped Tour lineup in Hartford!
- Buy yourself a Vans Warped Tour T-shirt at the event. There are a lot of bargains at the festival, but I was shocked to see that I could pick-up an event T-shirt from Vans for $10 – yup that’s 10 American Dollars! And, better yet, the shirt came with a free Vans hat, and it was pretty damn nice. Did I say it was only $10?
- Find the large inflatable schedule and take a photo on your phone. It’s better than toting around the cheap paper version they sell for $2 on-site, and it costs $2 less. This my friends is not only smart, it’s a prudent, money saving investment. (Update: Bethanie on a Vans Warped Tour site did note that the paper schedule has the layout, too. That could be handy and might make the paper version a better choice for you)
- Watch what is going on stage behind the bands. The Warped Tour is like a huge family reunion, and relatives like to hang out with each other (sometimes). At Warped, you constantly see other band members and family members enjoying the show from the side or back of the stage.
- Save $5 until the end of the night. After all of the merch tents are packed up and on their way back to the trucks, a few folks roll carts out selling CD samplers with the music of fifty bands. It’s an official Vans Warped Tour product and it’s a huge bargain.
- Color a Birthday Card – This was one of my favorite discoveries. Skully Serves sets up a booth where you can color a birthday card for homeless children. This is fully approved by RARAs Farm as a permissible reason to drift away from the music for fifteen minutes.
- Get to every stage at least once. It’s tempting for Pop Punk fans to stay at the Journey’s stages, and for Metal heads to camp out at the Monster Stages, but you need to remember that many of those bands started at the smaller stages. Nothing cooler than seeing a future superstar with just a few dozen friends, and there are some pretty damn talented bands on those stages this year.
- Set your alarm clock early. The shows start at 11:00, and with the schedule changes every day, the first band on the Main Stages could be your favorite. On the day we were there, Yellowcard was packing up by 12:30… Also, be prepared to wait in line up to 30 minutes when you first arrive.
- Pack a bottle of water and a sandwich. Drink your water, and then save the bottle because there is a nice Cool Gear refill station that serves filtered water free for the entire day. Bring a few bucks to tip the folks working there and at the other booths with freebies. You are also allowed to bring your own handmade snack or sandwich. Food is not cheap, so take advantage of this “free” lunch.
- Invite your parents. OK, that’s a stretch, but if you need a bargaining chip to get permission to attend, this is the event to bring them. They get in free if you buy a ticket, there’s an air conditioned tent for parental units only and they actually have a policy that the bands cannot curse on stage – and it works fairly well.
- Bring sharpies (and something to have signed). Each band has a merch tent and about half of the artists were doing signings the day I was there. I have never seen as many accessible artists at any event I have ever attended. Take advantage of it.
- Stop by the TruthOrange booth. They play fun games and it’s a nice way to meet a few strangers, listen to a DJ and have a laugh or two, and maybe even win a prize. I saw them playing SImon Sez and Musical Chairs (with a hula hoop).
- (Farmer’s Dozen Bonus) Make a $1. If you are willing to sit through a 4 minute video focused on the unethical treatment of animals and the food you eat, the folks in the big blue bus will hand you legal US tender (and a handful of promotional info).
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