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. 




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

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,