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 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 :)


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,