Words & Photos by Alan Snodgrass
The last day of the last Warped Tour ever (allegedly) ended a little differently than anticipated, both for the attendees as well as the festival organizers. At 9:20 pm, well after every single other stage had closed down, Kevin Lyman stepped in front of the crowd packing the Shoreline Amphitheatre parking lot to announce that NOFX was not at the venue after several canceled flights had delayed their departure from Canada where they had played the previous night.
Lyman then went on to buy time while explaining the remarkable lengths that he was going through to get the band on that stage as quickly as possible, which included chartering a private jet as well as arranging a police escort ,of the sort you would not typically associate with this band, from a local landing strip.
When the 25th anniversary of Warped Tour was announced, it came as no surprise that Mountain View was on the short list after its long run of sold-out events. Two days? Bring it on! As such, Saturday kicked off much like any other Warped Tour … a huge line queued up to get in when doors opened, thankfully, 90 minutes before their noon announced time, which minimized the time in line and gave folks a chance to catch the opening acts, including Plague Vendor’s insane noon set on the Monster Energy Stage that found front man Brandon Blaine performing one of the best sets of the entire weekend from the middle of the pit where he spurred some early afternoon action.
For the regular Warped Tour attendee, the set-up at the Shoreline Amphitheatre would have looked familiar with one big change: the parking lot stage was massive compared to previous years, having been condensed from two to one but with a spinning turntable that allowed for quick set changes. Otherwise it was tents, attractions (notably the Warped Tour Museum), and more bands than could possibly be seen in a single day, including plenty of Warped Tour veterans like Less Than Jake and Simple Plan as well as many first (and allegedly last)-timers. And as always, there was a dizzying array of musical styles, from Travie McCoy to Street Drum Corp to Twiztid (whoop), there was something for pretty much everyone.
Artist collaborations have long been a staple of the Warped Tour, and thankfully, that is not something that was lost when the touring ended. Shiragirl invited out some guest vocalists (including Beebs) for a medley that paid tribute to the women of Warped which included songs by No Doubt and Katy Perry. Also, Street Drum Corps joined The Used for their main stage set. But the big news of the day was Machine Gun Kelly joining Yungblud (who, sporting a short dress, would have easily beat out Fat Mike in a “who wore it best” contest) for “I Think I’m Okay,” during which they both crowd surfed out to the Monster Energy Lounge and back. Unforgettable for those who dared to skip out on The Used.
While the main stage had plenty of room for the big crowds (aside from a criminally poorly attended OFF! set), the Full Sail and Black Craft stages (housed side-by-side under the Shoreline big top) was where one would go for a bit more intimacy as well and high-danger crowd surfing among the fixed seats. Here, bands like Lagwagon (who, along with Teenage Bottlerocket, braved the searing sun), Tsunami Bomb, Four Year Strong, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, The Aquabats, Fishbone, and Doll Skin all got up close and personal with their enthusiastic fans.
Back to Sunday night … Kevin Lyman is trying to hold the audience’s attention in front the tatters of Jawbreaker’s drum set (a chunk of which had been tossed from the stage when they wrapped their set) as NOFX is literally passing over the festival on a chartered flight.
After 25 years, this isn’t Lyman’s first rodeo; shit happens and you adapt. And that’s exactly what he did. In addition to his on-stage reminiscing about the years on tour with NOFX, he arranged to have various members from the day’s bands, as well as members of the audience (including some dude appropriately named Twitch… if you were there, you know), to start the NOFX set … without NOFX … amounting to a glorious shit-show of the best possible kind. Watching The Used’s Bert McCracken dodge a mic being wildly spun by Yungblud, who first took an epic flyer off the drum riser, was nearly worth the price of admission for the patient crowd, which erupted when NOFX stormed the stage during the middle of “The Brews.”
Even with the curfew pushed back to 10:30 p.m., NOFX had a rushed set with Fat Mike chomping at the bit to get started while Eric Melvin searched for a tuner for his guitar. Even so, they were able to tear through an 11-song ripper of a set (including a few songs that had already been covered by the Warped Tour all-star band) that, while far from perfect, was impressive if not for the fact that the band literally ran from a van onto the stage after 10 hours of air travel (which may or may not have included excessive alcohol consumption). Unfortunately for Mike’s bass, he forgot that he wasn’t wireless and a toss of his bass to his tech landed on the stage with a thud and a broken neck. Cheers to the fans for sticking around for what would prove to be the end of Warped Tour on a most memorable note.