Fond Fare-WARPED: Warped Update #8

my farewell sunrise from Denver the day i left for tour

Warped Tour started and ended with a sunrise. From the sunrise on my front porch the morning of my birthday, to this morning's warm orange salute, my cross-country adventures have come to a close once more. It's August 5th, and I just got home from an early morning run to drop off a friend off at the airport for his final flight home. Warped Tour is over and done, another summer on the books. These past eight weeks have been exhausting, but they have also been some of the most fun I have ever had. Since I last updated you, we've gone all the way from Virginia down through Atlanta, Florida, and skirted through the midwest (North Carolina, Nashville, Milwaukee, Kansas, Salt Lake City) and made it back to my beautiful and beloved state of Colorado. This past week was a rush to say the least, but I think it also led to some of the most fun I had all tour. 

Georgia was a hot mess - literally. It was a scorcher of nearly 100 degrees out, but by the middle of the day (as always, during our set) the rain began to come down and Warped suddenly went from hot and happy to shut down and under tornado warnings. IFD was on stage as all this took place, and although we got DRENCHED, no one was hurt for which I am sooo thankful. The kids eventually returned from the required waiting in Tornado shelters, but not in as huge crowds as they originally were. That's the bummer about weather and Warped: some days you win, and some days you lose, you just have to hope that the fans will stick it through with you and make the most of whatever comes your way. The rain followed us south to Florida and drenched us in Saint Petersburg before we could even open the doors for the day! Luckily the rain cleared for the rest of the afternoon, and after two disgusting days of unrelenting "wet" the rest of the week was warm and dry.

my view of the band trapped onstage in GA

the band's view of me trapped in tent in GA

Florida's shows are at some of my favorite venues of the whole tour. St. Petersburg's show takes place at Vinoy Park - a gorgeous grassy park that sits directly on the coastline. There were Protomen crab fishing, dolphins swimming next to We Are the In Crowd's merch tent, and our team went out for a big, delicious seafood dinner downtown to celebrate Hari's birthday! Miami the next day was just as fun as the whole crew was decked out in grey shirts made to celebrate Less Than Jake's 365th day of Warped Tour! The band has literally spent a year of their lives playing this tour, and so we all donned some custom-made shirts to help commemorate the occasion. Did I mention there was an Alligator pond behind my bus?! SCARY! Orlando led to more adventures as a friend of one of the bands brought a boat out on the lake just behind our bus parking, and spent his day driving artists around on the lake to relax. Orlando was one of the first times my whole stage family was all done for the day early with no rush to leave, and so we got to just sit on the dock and enjoy one another's company...it was surreal to just have time to sit and relax, made even more special knowing it'd all be coming to a close so soon. The rest of the week was just as fun, with a special early screening of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in North Carolina, some fun old Warped Tour family reunions in Milwaukee, and a spectacular stage family BBQ courtesy of Teenage Bottlerocket on our last day off in Laramie, WY. 

dock hangs with my stage family in Orlando. Photo credit: Joel McDonald

Yes. We had a day off in Laramie, WY when we only had two shows left, and the tour ended in Denver. Sounds absolutely maddening, eh? I thought i'd be going crazy that whole day, being so close to home I could taste it while knowing I couldn't go back just quite yet. Thankfully our bus mates, Teenage Bottlerocket, are actually from Wyoming and their bassist Miguel opened his home to not only our bus but to all of our tour friends. We ended having a full-day barbecue complete with a horseshoe competition! Courage My Love brought their trusty Margarita machine, we grilled some dogs and veggie burgers, and to all of our surprise, Australian band The City Shakeup totally cleaned up shop and beat every last American at horsehoes. We played some card games and watched movies until it was time to go...the day was an absolute blast beginning to end. Over the past two months all of the bands on our stage had become very close, and to be able to just spend time with one another, relaxing and enjoying their company just before we all had to part ways was absolutely perfect - I couldn't have asked for any better. 

horseshoe tournament!

card games in WY.

Yesterday was a complete and total whirlwind beginning to end. My amazing roommate Laurel agreed to pick up my favorite local breakfast burritos (Santiago's!) for all of my stage family. I saw countless familiar faces, family, and friends throughout the day, but most importantly, I was back a mile above sea level - finally breathing that crisp mountain air. The day came and went all too quickly with some goodbyes missed, and others just barely caught. I was so terribly sad to see everyone go, but like I keep saying, Tour family really is family, and I knew that the universe would have us all crossing paths again soon. I spent a good hour or so cleaning out the bus and getting all my belongings off. I arrived on Warped with one suitcase, and left on our last day with an entire hand-truck FULL of stuff. How does that even happen?! We barely fit it all in my car, and at nearly 11:00pm at night, I bid farewell to my final parking lot of the summer, my bus, and headed home. To my real home. 

This summer on Warped was honestly nothing like I expected. I'd done Warped before, and so I thought that there was no way this summer could be much different. To my shock and surprise, I feel like the two Warped Tour's I have gone on were unlike one another in more ways than they were similar. I was doing a lot of different jobs this summer that I wasn't last time, and although I wasn't expecting it, I was happy to take on new responsibilities and challenges. Although I feel like I got to spend less time with the band I was working for, I made many new, diverse friends compared to my first summer, probably because I was no longer afraid of being the "new kid on the block". My living situation was a huge upgrade and really helped keep my stamina up (not to mention my mental health), which for the record reallyyyy changes your perception of this entire tour. I've always been told that if you can do Warped Tour, you can do anything...the people who said that to me were talking about touring in particular, but every year I come back from this adventure feeling just a little bit more at peace with myself - a better, newer "me" more in line with my heart, my head and my thoughts. I feel more ready for what lies ahead, and more sure that I can handle just about anything because hell, I just got home from 2 months of Warped.

me. Roseburg, OR. photo cred: Brain Mazzaferri

I hope you all keep following along with me and this new chapter in my life, but for all of you who were here just for Warped, I'll see ya next summer :)

-M

A Day in the Life of Warped: Mini Update #7

Ernie Ball Stage Family (bands, crew, stage crew) 2014.

Many of you who have been following along with this blog might have realized by now that there are TONS of people on this tour. Our little Dragon-fighting team is one of hundreds of bands out on this 50-day adventure, and we are amongst the smaller teams. Out of the ~1000 people working on Warped Tour (no exaggeration) nearly every person's job is entirely different, even if their titles are similar. I thought it might be time for me to do a small "Day In the Life" so that during this 10-day run without a day off (read: blogging) you guys won't miss me too much, and might be able to get a slightly better idea of what Warped life is truly like. Every person's day runs a little differently than the next out at Warped Tour. The way I see it, there are five different basic groups of people on Warped: production team, stage crew, artist team/merchies, non-profits, and artists themselves. 

Let's start with the production team, as they are some of the first up and out every day. The entire Warped Tour is planned and produced by a set team of about 20 people, all working for Kevin Lyman's 4Fini Production company. The show's production manager, tour manager, security team, crew chief, and Kevin himself are always out and about first thing in the morning as the stages and production vehicles begin to roll into the venue first thing in the morning (~6/7am). They're the ones who design the layout of our venue each day, get the stages in place, and keep the show running no matter what mother nature throws at us. They're usually accompanied by the Ta-Da! Catering Crew, the traveling food geniuses who cater 3 meals a day for nearly every single person on staff. If you thought remembering to eat each meal was hard, try planning food for thousands of people who all have different dietary needs. The meals are usually quick, delicious, and always nutritious (except on Churro night - YUM!). Without these tong-wielding pirates, we'd all be dead seven days into tour - I guarantee it.

this is sometimes how the production office looks. Yes, that Includes the grill.

Stage Crew/Setup Crew are the next folks on the scene each day. Working directly with the production team, the stage crew are the folks who manage each stage, the gear trailer it's partnered with, as well as the Sound Engineers that make our crazy rock-and-roll circus really make some noise. Arriving usually around the same time as the production team (again, 6/7am), it's up to these folks to get the stage set up, the sound working, and prepare the bands for that day's schedule. Most people don't realize this, but Warped founder Kevin Lyman personally chooses each day's schedule first thing in the morning, guaranteeing a different show each day. This makes it much more fun for fans, as they have no choice but to show up all day, or they could risk missing the bands they want to see most. For crew, this means that you have no idea what your day looks like until the schedule is released around 9/9:30am. It's up to the Stage Crew and Stage Managers to make sure that they're ready to start on time, no matter what the schedule throws at them. Setup crew is in a similar position. Arriving on scene with Production crew, they are in charge of laying out all the tents (both merch and non-profit), as well as building any of the large iron tents needed on site each day. They don't know how or where they'll be building until we arrive, so they have to be on their game to get things up as quickly as possible at both the beginning and end of the day. 

pre-show setup. Can you believe Warped can look this...empty?

and after. That's a little more like it.

The artist's team and Merch people is the category that I fall into - my beloved people! We are the folks who are here to make sure that performance-wise, everything goes over perfect. An artist's team often varies on the band's size (both physical number of people and popularity), genre, and preferred needs. Some bands have enough guitars that they need a guitar tech, others are DJ's and drummers who can handle their own gear. Some bands prefer to travel with their own sound engineer, who can mix their set to sound just the way they like it. Some bands travel with photographers, some with "hype men", nearly all with Tour Managers, but the one constant of Warped is that nearly every band has a merch person. Warped Tour is known for being an opportunity to really connect with bands on an intimate level, and part of that is the readily available tent each band brings out to house their goods, and function as a home base throughout the day. The "mechies" arrive on site every morning around 8am, rolling onto the venue with hand trucks full of shirts, tents, coolers, and lawn chairs. We set up tent by 9, grab breakfast, and then settle in for what can sometimes be a 12hr day in our tent, peddling goods. Selling merch, setting up autograph sessions, interacting with fans, and being the physical representation of your group's presence at the tour - merch is not only your place to connect with existing fans, but your chance to lure new ones in based off what they see walking by. An artist's team is what gets them through the day and handles all business needs, but we all know we're there for the musicians themselves. 

some of America's favorite merchies all losing our minds in the merch village in VIRGINIAAAAAH.

Each band member handles the day-to-day of Warped Tour differently. Since you're not the headliner, and you don't know what time you'll be playing each and every day, Warped Tour for an artist is very different from any other tour they will do. It forces you to be awake, prepared, and available for longer than any other show - this manifests differently for every person. Some band members choose to use these extended days to write new material, or work on existing projects. Some cut hair or start up a parking lot coffee business (because that's their other passion), some choose to get on a consistent workout routine with others, some record in studios in different cities each day, some do interviews, and some will just enjoy their time, go out and partake in the festival. Every day is different, but having so much time to prep and plan allows for musicians to do more than they could ever normally accomplish while out on the road. 

It's insane how different each person's day can be for every single person, but the culmination of all of our different duties and day-to-day activities is what makes Warped Tour what it is. Our routines are as eclectic as the music at the show, and it's this ability for everyone to do what they need to do that makes Warped such a success. You can see why they call this "punk rock summer camp" - there's always something going on, it just depends on what you came to camp to do as to what your day is like. 

 

 

 

OH CANADAAAH: Warped Update #4

Happy belated 4th of July, friends! It's Saturday the 5th and we are slowly making our way off of the island of Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montréal, Quebec. Today was day two of two in Canada and we’re finally heading back to the states. Since I last updated you all, we have driven two thirds of the way across the continental US and made our way through Canada. I’ve gone from Portland, OR to Montréal in 6 days - pretty insane, huh?! When I last left you, we were heading into our dates in Seattle and Portland. Our show in Seattle was the first time I had been in Washington while it was raining. That's insane, I know, but of the three times I've been to the pacific northwest this was the first time it had actually rained. My tent was essentially a puddle all day, and my shoes were SOPPING wet come 7pm breakdown. Portland was much more dry, and a quick day with an early set to give us some time before we began our epic trek from Oregon to St. Louis, MO.

one more of the boys from our adventures in Portland on our last day off. 

one more of the boys from our adventures in Portland on our last day off. 

It took us two 15hr drives (complete with day stops in Salt Lake City, UT and Lincoln, NE), but we survived the 2,000 mile journey without issue. You can imagine that when we finally arrived in St. Louis it felt nice to be off the bus stretching our legs and be back to the grind. St. Louis brought out a pretty big crowd which was a great welcome back from our few days off. Since the band is from Chicago, outside of a few “nerdy” hotspots (and Denver) the midwest is still where I Fight Dragons has their largest fan bases, and you can really feel the difference. Being in St. Louis was just the tip of the iceberg, so I can’t wait to get to Ohio, Chicago, Wisconsin, etc. and have some huge crowds. Our date in Indiana started off a bit rainy and overcast, but our day ended with every single band’s crew team lifting endless amounts of boxes out of trailers and into box trucks. Why, you might ask? Just this little thing called international touring. 

When touring into Canada, they will charge you for any sellable merchandise or promotional goods you bring into the country. This means that most bands only bring what they expect to sell so they don't have to pay for ALL of the merchandise they have in stock. To get the rest of your goods around the border fees, bands will rent box trucks to store their excess merch and rent the remaining free space to other bands so we can all store our Merch in the US and just have it meet us at our next show when we return stateside. All of this workaround requires merchies like myself to essentially re-pack and condense your entire stock down to what you need for Canada, and what's going on the trucks. Warped this year filled at least 3 box trucks, and my condensing took a little over 3 hours. Canada is beautiful and fun to visit, but it is barely worth the trouble it takes to get there. 

the "rockstar toilet" in Indianapolis. 

the "rockstar toilet" in Indianapolis. 

getting my patriotism on in Toronto on the 4th of July.

getting my patriotism on in Toronto on the 4th of July.

Our first stop up north was Toronto. Last time we did Warped, Toronto was the storm of the century. A 2.5hr rain delay complete with insane lightning strikes less than 5 miles away and an unfortunate medical emergency made the day one long, relentless disaster. This time around was 360º different. A beautiful cloud-filled sky greeted us as we arrived in the city after a painless border crossing. We had a great crowd, a mid-day set time, and tons of excited fans there to see us. After the show, Warped threw a 4th of July BBQ for all us Americans complete with a full bar, assorted hand-rubbed BBQ meats by Mr. Kevin Lyman himself, corn on the cob, and classic party music. Our next day in Montréal had some unique quirks, but was just as fun. The venue in French Canada’s capital is on a somewhat skinny island in the middle of the city, so the tour buses park at one end, and the venue is on the other. This means it’s mile and a half load in/load out for shows, but it also means a great workout and some beautiful river views along the way. Tonight was the second night of the Montréal Fireworks Festival, an international firework competition in the city every summer. We caught the show from our bus as we began to leave the city; it was a beautiful sendoff from our host country. 

the beautiful view of Toronto, Ontario from our venue, The Molson Canadian Ampitheatre. 

the beautiful view of Toronto, Ontario from our venue, The Molson Canadian Ampitheatre. 

We're currently en route to the duty free shop right before the border, and I am writing this as I listen to Chad and Packy jam out in the back lounge. Moments like this where I can just enjoy the company of some of the most truly talented individuals I know do what they love are my favorite. These little jam sessions, shared giggles, and back lounge talks are what make my 7am wake ups and mile and a half load ins so very worth while. 

Until next time,

-Maddie

Time-WARPED: Update #3 (NorCal & Oregon Shenanigans)

It's Friday and we've had an amazing day off in Roseburg, Oregon. Last I checked in we were playing the last of our California dates which begin our trek north. The Cali week of shows/first two weeks of tour are always packed with days off since so many folks on the tour are from/based out of the greater LA area. I'm very thankful for all the down time, but it really does always feel like it's finally "really" tour once we leave the west and head out through the Midwest. Maybe it's because I am so comfortable in California and still feel at "home" there, or maybe it's because there's more consistent shows back to back in the Midwest due to the shorter distances between locations. Regardless, it's insane to think we're barely two weeks into the summer…the reality of that will certainly come when we reach Missouri. 

one last photo from my ah-maaaazing train ride down the Californian coast last weekend.

The past two shows have been fairly nice. Our days off in San Diego were wonderfully relaxing, meaning getting back into the grind wasn't too bad Wednesday morning. We played Chula Vista Ampitheatre (the same venue as 2012) and had a fairly decent crowd thanks to a decent stage placement. Since we are on a smaller stage this year compared to our last Warped adventure, it doesn't always get same "caliber" locations in the venue we did in 2012. The Ernie Ball Stage is physically smaller, meaning it’s a bit easier to put in random corners a little off the main path compared to the full-size semi stages. Don't get me wrong, sometimes this smaller stage means we get placed smack in the prime walkways for all kids to see, but sometimes we get a weird back corner that you have to seek out to reach; it all depends on the venue. I don’t think we’ve seen a lesser draw for sets based on our location since most of our fans are at Warped to see us (we’re so lucky!), but what’s been neat this summer to see is that this smaller stage gives us the opportunity to grab more “passive” listeners who stop while walking by, or sitting nearby the stage. While in San Diego, Travis (another Denver local on tour, and the king of monitors) patched me into my first monitor mix. I'm really determined to learn monitors and front of house sound this year, and if i ever get the chance to sneak away for a set or two during tour, i'm hoping I can pick up some tricks and learn more from him. It was wayyy cool to have that kind of sonic experience while watching a set. 

mid-day nap time for someone in the Warheads stage semi truck. #roadiefriday 

me in Monitor-world with Travis during We Are The In Crowd's San Diego set. 

In comparison to San Diego, Sacramento was a quiet day. The crowd felt fairly small compared to some shows and everyone seemed to feel the lull. I was definitely killing time at the table, and even found a guy taking a nap on a drumboat inside one of the gear semi’s for the Warheads stage on the ampitheater. Despite the terribly long day, the after show BBQ was a total blast since it was "Roadie Friday" for all. We danced, played card games, and ran around all night till our 2am bus call.

It might have only been two show days, but today was a great day off. Tony (our tour manager) planned an awesome day trip to local wineries in the Umpqua Valley of Oregon. We tried some amazing wine, spent the afternoon having a picnic lunch overlooking the Pacific and played a mean game of wiffle ball in a campground parking lot. The idea of being in a wooded forest one minute and then seeing a beach to your left the next absolutely blew my mind. That’s not something I'm used to as far as mountains go!

one of the gorgeous vineyards we visited! 

The Pacific Ocean from Coos Bay, Oregon. Breathtaking.

We spent our drive back to the hotel listening to the new IFD record in its entirety. It's the first time the band has listened to the whole thing together since we got the masters in, and all of us experiencing it together as we watched the sun set through the beautiful woods of the Pacific Northwest was surreal. That was a special moment I don't think any of us will forget. The album is truly AMAZING, and I cannot wait for you all to hear it.

Tomorrow we play White River Ampitheater in Washington (complete with a killer view of Mount Rainer), Sunday we hit Portland, and then we begin our two day trek across my beautiful mountains into the Midwest. I'll check in as I can, but stay tuned to FB/Twitter/Instagram for updates. For now, here's your official IFD Warped Team photo for 2014.

Xoxo -M 

Team I Fight Dragons - Warped Tour 2014


Livin' La Vida WARPED: Update #2 (Southwest and SoCal)

Howdy friends! Today i write you from a train car zipping down the Californian coast. This is hands down one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced, and I am elated to be taking in the views. This past week since our last day off has been long and crazy, and our two days off have been much needed.

my view from the New Mexico Warped stop after the insane Sandstorm was done.

This week we completed what is generally the hottest dates of the entire tour. From Amarillo, we played in New Mexico, Arizona, Las Vegas, and then headed west to complete half of our California dates (Pomona, San Francisco, and Ventura). New Mexico is usually not too bad, but this year we changed venues and played Albuquerque for the first time. Aside from the GIGANTIC hill we all had to push our gear up and down all day, the venue seemed nice enough. The layout is very similar to that of Fiddler’s Green in Denver, and all of the merch tents were set up atop the lawn area of the amphitheater. I was super excited about my great view until right around 2:00pm, when a huge dust storm blew into the venue for about 30 minutes. I’ve never actually been caught in a dust storm before, it was impressively strong. At least ten merch tents “bit the dust” and were completely destroyed by the 40+mph winds hitting us - luckily mine was NOT among them! It took bungee cords, stakes, zip ties, and my entire body weight, but despite me being all alone holding down the fort, and the band being smack in the middle of their set, we all managed to fair alright through the weather. 

tour bus land Pomona

me, the Air Dubai boys, and the My Body Sings crew in Pomona - DENVER REPRESENT! 

The rest of the week was hot, but not even half as hot as it was the last time we did Warped Tour. Both Vegas and Arizona barely broke 100 degrees, a HUGE improvement from last tour’s record breaking heat of 130 degrees in Phoenix. As soon as we got to Pomona, I knew that the worst was behind us for the most part, and was elated to be in California. Pomona and Ventura’s are two of my favorites on the entire tour due to their settings. Pomona’s show is in the old Pomona Fairplex, which is filled with very classic “California-in-the-50’s” style buildings with pastel colors and huge neon lights, complimented by perfect rows of palm trees. I love wandering around and just soaking it in, letting my mind wander and imagine being there during it’s prime. Pomona Warped was a little extra special thanks to some Denver visitors. Denver band (and good friends) My Body Sings Electric was out touring California, and happened to be in the Pomona area that same day! It was amazing to have so many folks from Denver's music scene together in a different state, it made me proud to see that we are all getting out here and really "doing it". My other favorite spot, Ventura, needs no explanation. The Ventura fairgrounds are literally directly across the street from the beach! You wake up, walk off the bus, and the water is just right there. I took some time right after breakfast to go sit by the water and watch about half the tour surf the morning breaks. It was a beautiful moment to just be able to sit back and soak it all in. I am so very thankful to be spending my summer surrounded by these beautiful sights, and with such lovely friends at my side. 

the only crappy photo I could get of  Linkin Park thanks to how insane security got during their set. 

These past two days off I spent in both LA and San Diego. I caught a ride down with my manager and mentor JJ to Los Angeles and spent Monday eating at my favorite bakery (Porto’s) and catching dinner with my family. Today, i’m riding the train down (again, this is AMAZING!) back to San Diego to meet up with the rest of my crew. Hopefully I can enjoy some downtime at the pool, catch up on email, and hopefully get to go see “How To Train Your Dragon 2” (The Mazzaferri’s and I are very excited to see this). It feels great to have a few days to feel “human” and just enjoy some downtime. I’m excited for the rest of the tour, but leaving California is always bittersweet. I’ll check in again soon as I can, but for now, adios!

xoxo - M