The Vans Warped Tour, the annual traveling, punk-rooted music festival started in 1995, will come to an end after next summer, according to a statement released today by founder Kevin Lyman. The statement read in part:
"Today, with many mixed feelings, I am here to announce that next year will be the final, full cross-country run of the Vans Warped Tour. I sit here reflecting on the tour’s incredible history, what the final run means for our community, and look forward to what’s to come as we commemorate the tour’s historic 25th anniversary in 2019."
The Warped Tour has grown and evolved drastically over its 22-year tenure. What began as a summer-long showcase of primarily punk and ska bands like NOFX, Sick of It All, and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, branched out to become a multi-million dollar operation that incorporates more than 70 punk, hip-hop, metalcore, and pop acts, and boasts an annual attendance around 500,000. Numerous artists who have joined the Tour in the early stages of their careers have gone on to achieve mainstream success, including Eminem, the Black Eyed Peas, and Katy Perry. “I’m happy that my first tour was Warped Tour. I really got my bearings there,” Perry once told USA Today.
The Tour also inspired a reality show, Warped Roadies, on Fuse TV in 2012, which gave viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the Tour through the eyes of the tour managers and road crew that ran it.
Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman operates 4Fini, Inc., a South Pasadena, California, event production and brand strategy firm, which lists itself on its website as “leaders at integrating brands into an authentic youth experience.” In addition to Warped Tour, the firm also works with Taste of Chaos Festival and It’s Not Dead Festival and has teamed with brands like Monster Energy, Volcom, and Hot Topic.
Controversies have followed the Tour since its inception. In its early years, the concept of a massive traveling tour angered some in the punk community who believed it was mass marketing the genre and taking away business from local scenes and venues. The Tour has also engaged in some questionable partnerships, including the inclusion of Army recruitment tents and the pro-life organization Rock for Life. “We couldn't get the pro-choice groups out until we had a pro-life group out here. That's been the thing to stir it up a little bit. That's what punk rock was always about,” Lyman told Billboard earlier this year.
In recent years, the Tour has faced some public backlash surrounding its performers. In 2015, Lyman was criticized for allowing Jake McElfresh, who performs under the name Front Porch Step, to play the Tour’s Nashville date after McElfresh was outed for allegedly used social media to solicit nude photos from underage fans. "If he was a legitimate danger to anyone, he simply would not have been here,” Lyman said to Alternative Press at the time.
The Tour also stirred a debate this summer when a video circulated online depicting Leonard Graves Phillips, frontman of the punk band the Dickies, calling a female audience member a “fat cunt” and leading the crowd in a chant of “blow me.”
"Though the tour and the world have changed since ’95, the same feeling of having the ‘best summer ever’ will live on through the bands, the production teams, and the fans that come through at every stop," Lyman said in the statement.