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. 




BRAIN-WARPED: Warped Update #5

Happy Monday, y’all! It’s currently towards the end of our day off and I’m sitting in our hotel day room in Scranton, PA. I just finished an amazing FaceTime call with my beautiful roommates back home, and had spent the rest of the day playing dodgeball against other Warped bands in the 3rd Annual Glamour Kills Dodgeball tournament (i’ll get to this later). These past 7 days has been a week of rain, fun, and beautiful lush green as we’ve been traveling through the northern part of the East coast and the New England states. 

the boys wearing their finest Canadian Tuxedos at our show in Montréal. 

The last I left you we had just returned stateside from our northern adventures into Canada, and since then we haven’t moved much; we’ve even managed to stay in the same time zone! Can you believe it? Our week started with New York and New Jersey shows, playing our first show back stateside in Holmdel, NJ, and our next in Buffalo, NY. Our date in Buffalo can only be described as a wet, muddy mess. The venue experienced a torrential downpour during the afternoon, which was conveniently in the middle of our set. The venue that day was spread out across a field, a grassy hill overlooking the amphitheater, and a small concourse towards the front of the amphitheater. By the end of the day, all of the grassy areas were essentially a mud pit! The fans couldn’t avoid the gross and ended up having mud fights/mud wrestling through a few sets throughout the afternoon, and the stages had to be constantly wiped off so performers didn’t slip. Luckily, our stage was on the cement concourse, which meant we didn’t have to deal with the mud issue, but playing while it rains like that certainly isn’t easy on performers or fans. The boys braved the elements and played a great set, but we were all dripping wet by the end of it. It was crazy and messy, but the venue was conveniently next to a theme park that gave all tour staff free admission, so no one could really say it was an entirely terrible day. 

me in my crazy weather getup. complete w/IFD poncho.

an Instagram from some fans at Buffalo. M-U-D-D-Y.

Our week continued on, rain-free in Scranton and Boston (both beautiful and wooded venues), and we made our way to Philadelphia, Long Island and Hartford to end the week. Boston was a hometown show for many bands, but we had a longer drive down to Long Island that night so we had to leave the venue much earlier than other nights. Usually hometown shows are where bands get to celebrate with family and friends, but because of this early drive time on the Boston date, the Camden/Philly show the next night became the scene of homecoming parties. Every night if we have time, the tour throws a post-show barbecue for staff and guests. When you think about our days, a fourth meal is pretty necessary since many of us don’t end our work until close to 10pm. Boston natives Bad Rabbits chose to make this barbecue their own and played a complimentary extended set that night. Complete with Michael Jackson AND Rage Against the Machine covers. The whole crew danced the night away at what will hopefully go down as one of the best barbecues in Warped Tour history - everyone’s been raving about it all week!

the sunset over the venue in Boston, MA.

The East coast is always really fun because things are all so close, and many of the bands on the tour are from one of the major cities in the area. This means that more friends, family, spouses, and industry types are out this week than most other times during tour (not more than in California, but close). Everyone is in chipper moods the drives are not very long, and the consistency of time zones really makes folks happy. Thanks to these short drives, the tour is able to do a few more fun things than usual during this stretch, including things like the Glamour Kills Dodgeball tournament that happened today. For the past three years, clothing company Glamour Kills has been hosting a dodgeball tournament on an East coast off-day. Bands from the tour come out to face off against one another in a hilarious showcase of brute force, and exceptional dodging skills. We were invited to partake this year, and although we were out in the first round, it was insane amounts of fun, and we all had a blast! Aussie band Parkway Drive took home the First Place Trophy, followed by We Are The In Crowd in second, and Crown The Empire in 3rd. We all had an amazing time, and I am so happy we were able to participate! I'm pretty proud of our little participation trophy we took home if i do say so myself.

The official 2014 I Fight Dragons Dodgeball team. (rom top to bottom, left to right: Chad (drums), Tony (TM), Packy (guitar), Brian (vocals), me, Ashlee(Chad's GF))

For now we're packing up and leaving Scranton, heading into our week of shows in the midwest. I promise more updates again as soon as possible, and for those of you following along, THANK YOU! This has been my most successful blogging attempt ever, and i'm so excited to be sharing such a fun summer with you all. Until next week,



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

Californiaah: San Fran and Ventura

Finally some new territory for me, Warped days four and five were the two dates in California I’ve been most excited about! I’ve never been farther north in California than Santa Barbara before, so I was super excited to get up to San Francisco and see what NorCal was all about! Ventura was a stop we were playing right on the ocean, which I thought would be a super super cool venue, so I couldn’t wait for these two stops to come already!

We left Pomona about 8:00pm that night, and began our drive north. Since we were driving at night, I didn’t really get much of a chance to watch the scenery change, but when we arrived at the hotel that night around 3am, I could already feel a huge difference in the climate. The next morning when I left the hotel in pants, I was prepared to kick myself: it had been days upon days of 80/90 degree heat, and I was having a really hard time that the weather in the city could be that much different...boy was I in for a surprise. That day was by far the coldest day of the entire tour, and it was very welcome change in climate in retrospect. That day we were playing in one of the parking lots at AT&T Park, the huge MLB Baseball stadium in town, which is right on the bay! It was a gorgeous venue, and gave me a good way to be able to see a little bit of the city. We were set up right in a parking lot alongside the bay, it was BEAUTIFUL - but also freezing because of the breeze! Even in my thickest, fluffiest hoodie, I was shivering in my tent all day long. What a crazy change to experience, I was floored! 


a view of the baseball field across the water


a slightly blurry view of SanFran from the freeway

The architecture and landscape of San Francisco is something I could have never imagined, it was truly gorgeous! Danny is going there in October for the Audio Engineering Convention for a week, and I have a free plane ticket to use, we talked on the phone that night and I think I’m going to go with him and we’re gonna go explore the city on a mini-vacation! I can’t wait to go back and see more of the city than just the parking lot and the view from the highway. I’ve always been a fan or SoCal, I never thought I’d love San Francisco the way I do! I’m really excited to start exploring California more :) 

a little chunk of the massive, sold out SanFran crowd.

The San Fran date felt like a fairly small venue compared to what we’re used to, but the crazy thing was that our day in San Fran was SOLD OUT! 21,000 people were lined up that morning to come in and watch bands play - I had no idea how they’d all fit! The line for the gates went out and around the show in the rest of the parking lot, across a bridge over the water, and down and around the WHOLE baseball field! It was insane! I tried to take some photos for reference, but I don’t know if anything will do it justice to the sheer mass of people there were waiting to get into the show that day. Even though there were tons and tons and tons of people, it was a really fun day. The band played a great set, and much to all of our surprise, we had a HUGE crowd, and a surprisingly large fanbase! The kids really loved the music, and Packy played one of the craziest guitar solos I think I’ve ever seen live, it was a super fun, great day all around, and I have to admit I was a little sad to leave that night, but not too much, since we were headed for our beachside day in Ventura! 

When we got to Ventura that night around 2am, we arrived at a super rickety little motel in the middle of nowhere. Packy wrote a great poem (soon to be song?) about our experience, and you can read it on his blog here. After our short and hilarious stay, we headed towards our venue which was, like I said, right on the ocean! I was super excited to be playing such a beautiful spot, and wasn’t let down once we arrived. Parking literally across the street from the beach, the venue was a big parking lot/field, one of our bigger spots we’ve played so far. The guys were on a stage right by the front gates, and directly in front of the one open “shade” tent for the public, so we played to a fairly big crowd! It was a fun day, and when all was said and done, we packed down, and got ready for the barbecue!

The Warped Tour does a big barbecue almost every night after the show is done for all the bands and their guests, it’s incredible. It’s another production all it’s own, it almost feels like it takes as much planning as the show itself! Set up behind our stage that night, we got in line to grab grub as friends and other bands started piling in as well. That night was the night before our two days off in San Diego, so we had nowhere to be and no time schedule to meet that night, so we were finally able to stay - it was our first of the whole tour! The group was airing small clips of the new TV show Warped Roadies that will be airing on Fuse this fall, and that was fun to watch. It’ll be interesting to finally get home and off the road, and have the opportunity to watch it all over again on TV! I think I signed waivers saying they could film me, so I might be in the background of some shots on and off throughout the season - how funny! 

Overall, our two days oceanside were tons and tons of fun. They will probably be two of my favorites this whole trip to be honest. Between our close proximity to the water, and the gorgeous venues, I think they were great stops for the bands and the public. Our next two days were glorious, long days off in San Diego where I did absolutely nothing important (except laundry!) but it was definitely nice to take a big, long break where we didn’t change cities each day. Our next tour day is San Diego, followed by some HOT dates in Phoenix and Las Cruces, so be sure to stay tuned!