Less Than Jake's JR: Warped Tour's ending
Photo by Lisa Johnson Rock Photographer.

On June 21, the end of an era began: Warped Tour, America’s longest-running touring festival, began its final cross-country campaign.

READ MORE: 12 musicians talk about a time when THEY felt starstruck

With thousands of miles logged and some infiltration into other countries, Warped Tour olidified the communities surrounding many subgenres of punk and metal for over two decades, making both careers and the hearts of music fans soar in the process.

To celebrate Warped Tour’s last run, we asked respected musicians within this scene to share in their own words, how Warped Tour has impacted them personally.

This week, Less Than Jake’s Pete “JR” Wasilewski shares gratitude about his band’s stint as a near-perennial staple of Warped’s highly mobile, punk-rock cavalcade.

It’s a complicated bunch of emotions I feel about Warped ending. Sadness because it’s surely the nail in the coffin of my youth; anger because a group of Russian bot-esque crybabies (who weren’t going to attend regardless to the response to their gripes) complained about their somewhat over-exaggerated “safe space” fears, while also bitching how they would have booked the bands.

But mostly it’s a hell of a lot of pride in what was created and our small part in helping spread the original intent of the festival: inclusion.

If it wasn’t for that tour, Less Than Jake would not be who we are. Kevin Lyman allowed us to be ourselves when on other tours we would do, headlining acts tried to mute us through sound limits or limiting what we did onstage during our set.

Kevin never said no. He always encouraged us to do more. The proudest I ever was of us was when we were throwing a party one night, he dragged a bunch of bands new to the tour over to it and said, “See? This is what Warped Tour is.”

There will never be anything like Warped again. The real heros were the people behind the scenes. They were up at the crack of dawn every day setting up a city that, logistically, should not have been there from where it traveled from the day before. But somehow, every day by 11 a.m., that city opened its gates to a throng of humanity, most of whom probably didn’t drink enough water or get enough sleep from the night before.

And off it went. Every day. Rain or wind storm or lightning bolts or shine. Those people who made it happen every day are the ones I will miss the most. It was my pleasure to go out and say hello even if we weren’t on it that year.

They are my family, and I’m proud to be a part of that family. So thank you to them and to Kevin. I spent more than half my life on Warped, and it helped shape who I am.