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. 

 

 

 

Mid-WARPED in the Midwest: Warped Update #6

Hey friends, happy Monday! Today I write you from a bottom bunk on the bus of Denver friends Air Dubai. I've known (and occasionally worked for) this band over the past 7 years, so having them out on warped as well has been a true joy. Today is our second to last off-day of tour, and the IFD crew has chosen to head back to Chicago to enjoy a bit more downtime at home. Since I wouldn't have the same luxury of going home or spending time with friends and family like they all do, I chose to jump ship for the day to spend some time with these guys in Indianapolis, IN instead. Another chunk of the tour party is at The AP Awards tonight in Cleveland, OH since some acts are performing or presenting. Usually most of the tour lands in the same city on a day off, but today was truly a free-for-all. Come tomorrow morning we will all meet back up to begin our final stretch of shows in Columbia, MD. 

Dodgeball Trading cards: Brian

Dodgeball Trading cards: me

Dodgeball Trading cards: Packy

This past week in the Midwest has been tons of fun! After our adventurous attempt at dodgeball, we headed to Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and Shakopee, MN. Cincinnati's venue is directly on the Ohio River, the divider between Ohio and Kentucky. While the venue looks out directly into Kentucky, there's a water park on the Ohio side of things that all tour staff were allowed into - quickly making the day more fun. Cleveland's venue is a beautiful wooded area with an all wood amphitheater nestled at the bottom of a grassy hill, and Detroit takes place in the parking lot of The Palace at Auburn Hills, the basketball and hockey venue for the Detroit Red Wings and Pistons. All crazy different, huh? That's what makes me love Warped Tour: we bring the same bands and the same vendors to each show, yet the venue and the kids are so drastically different that no day is the same, making day-to-day monotony a non-issue. 

The beautiful amphitheater at the Blossom Music Center in Cleveland, OH. 

Since I Fight Dragons is from Chicago, this stretch of Midwest dates are some of our busiest of tour. Their fan base is much more dense in this part of the US, and the fans here tend to have been following the band for longer, which I think makes shows more fun. Detroit, Chicago, and Shakopee were by far the biggest shows of the entire tour, and how fun they were! Family, friends, and diehard fans made the sets spectacular for everyone. More fans knew words, had customized shirts, and we easily had more kids looking to be flag or shield bearer this past week compared to any other dates. It is so much more fun for me (and [i’d hopefully assume]) the band as well to have these much more excited crowds. Fans are fun every show, but when the majority of the audience is full of die-hards? It just makes things that much better. Chicago’s venue is out at Tinley Park, about an hour south of Chicago, but it’s HUGE. The venue is sprawling and we had about 20,000 kids there that day - it was sold out to the extreme. Our stage was in a place with great walkthrough traffic, and luckily the band’s set time didn’t conflict with the set of Warped surprise guest #2 - A Day To Remember. I'd always heard their Warped crowds were legendary, but I couldn't imagine the whole place shutting down like it did for Linkin Park on a daily basis. But sure enough, the venue got strangely quiet about 10minutes before they played, and stayed that way until they were done. They are certainly a great band live, but it was amazing to see that nearly every kid at the show enjoyed their music and were willing to watch. Fun how music can be so different, yet so connecting all at the same time. 

post-show jam session time with Jon from Air Dubai, and the lovely Camila from Wax/Watsky

Overall it was a fantastic day at home complete with traditional Chicago Deep Dish pizza, former Dragon-fighter Bill joining the band on stage, and the delivery of the test pressings of the album! THAT’S RIGHT, YA HEARD ME! We finally got our hands on some glorious neon, fluorescent green vinyl pressings of "The Near Future", and they look amazing...I got all giddy watching Brian unpackage the first one. It's been very surreal watching Project ATMA come to life this summer right before my eyes. This has been a long process for both the band and fans, but how worthwhile it is! I cannot wait to see fans react in September. Brian and Packy are listening to them on their home systems today to check and make sure there are no issues with the pressings, and as long as it's good, then they'll continue on with the rest of the orders. This adventure is finally nearing the end. I’m excited, and overwhelmingly proud of the band for seeing this through. 

Tomorrow we head into our last week of tour: a 10-day run down the east coast, back up the midwest, ending in our last day off before the grand finale shows in Salt Lake City, and Denver. 

I’ll update again soon, but for now, adios! 

- Maddie

Time to get WARPED: Warped Tour 2014 - Update 1

I cannot believe how quickly time is flying. It's day 4 of tour and our first day off in little tiny Amarillo, TX. These first three days have whizzed by, but I was in desperate need for some time off. Tour has been a whirlwind to say the least, but i'm excited to finally get some time to sit down and reflect on what's all happened thus far.

I left Denver bright and early last Wednesday, June 11th. That same day, I turned 22. My family and roommates all took the time to try and help me celebrate my big day before I left for the summer with wonderful gifts, fun adventures, and delicious food, but it all felt so surreal... I didn't really have time to focus on my birthday because of how hectic it had been preparing for tour, and that's just the way it goes sometimes. There's always another one next year, right? 21 was a huge year of life for me full of lots of growth, questions, and time spent getting to know myself better. I can only hope that this time out on the road and these next 365 days will be as good as the past year has been.

I touched down at 1:30pm local time in Houston, Texas with Tony, my Tour Manager, and Travis, Sound Engineer Extraordinaire. We spent the day running errands, picking up the band as they arrived, continually searching for our lost luggage (which finally showed up sometime around 11pm that day), and settling in to our hotel.

Tour check-in was on Thursday and everything went fairly smooth. Everyone's paperwork was good to go, all of our shipments had arrived without issue, and I got to take all the sweet time I wanted on my pre-tour merchandise inventory (completed by a dinner of Papa John's and a plastic cup full of cheap Cabernet Sauvignon). Thursday was also the day we got to meet our tour bus. I know this sounds silly, but this was a HUGE deal. The band and I have never lived on a tour bus before, so this first chance to step into our home for the next two months was met with curiosity and some anxiousness. My major concern was being able to easily access my stuff (since my luggage would be living in the bay underneath the bus), but I learned the the bus has plenty of little drawers we can use to hold daily necessities, and the bunks are long enough for me to leave my computer bag and day bag at the end and still sleep comfortably. We all picked our bunks and had the N64 hooked up in the back lounge within ten minutes of boarding; it's safe to say we are all quickly feeling right at "home". The bus is super nice and the bunks are comfortable, but sleeping while moving is still something I'm still adjusting to. I've never had motion sickness issues, but then again i've never attempted to sleep in anything bigger than a car while driving except our sprinter. I've been getting small headaches the past few days once we start moving, but they're nothing intolerable and I fall asleep within minutes of getting into bed. I have a feeling i'll adjust within the next few weeks and be just fine, but for now, I'm trying to hit the hay pretty quick before/after departure to just avoid any issues altogether.  

I think what's astounded me the most so far has been how drastically different it has felt coming into Warped tour simply knowing the basics of how this tour runs in comparison to last time. In 2012 none of us had ever worked Warped Tour before, didn't know anyone, and were essentially flying by the seat of our pants. This time we know the drill. We've been to these venues before, met the people, and understand the daily routine. It's comforting to realize just how familiar this setup is despite who is there, or what city you're in. The only huge difference between this tour and last is our living situation, and that has drastically improved every single aspect of life imaginable. I'll probably do another post about it tomorrow, but you can't even imagine how easy little things like doing my nightly inventory, or loading in/out of the venue is compared to last time. And the near guarantee that I'll get a shower every day? I AM IN HEAVEN. 

This year, the tour started in Texas. Our three dates here have a reputation for being some of the most treacherous of the entire tour, and they have certainly lived up to the expectations. Whether that's crazy weather or insane heat, the Texas shows are always hard, and this year was no exception. Houston was awful. I cannot tell you another time I've sweat that much in all my life. I was beading sweat off my face within five minutes of stepping off the bus our first morning and it only continued the rest of the day. San Antonio's humidity was a little less and more manageable, and yesterday in Dallas was the coolest day so far thanks to a heavy breeze that seemed set on destroying my tent. Every day is exhausting and very physically demanding, but I'm hoping that all of my lifting and hauling will keep me in decent shape this summer. If not, I was invited to start doing stretching and Pilates with Chris, the drummer from Bayside, so there's that. haha. It feels great to be surrounded by so many people I know and love, and to feel comfortable in cities where I don't know a single soul. I'm excited for this to keep going, and see what all the summer has in store for me. 

 

That's all for now, folks! Follow along on Twitter for more daily updates, but for now, 

xoxoxo