There’s an old aphorism that goes “history is what’s happening right now.” But when you are hanging out with your friends at Warped Tour, all the focus is on the moment. Jumping in the pit and getting your crowdsurf on. Trying to capture a band’s set on your phone. Stopping by band tables and buying merch. Seeking sunblock and installing earplugs. Wondering what you just stepped in.
We’re sure there were some things you missed, but it’s no problem. For their exhibit Forever Warped: 25 Years Of Vans Warped Tour, the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame sought out artifacts from the tour’s quarter-century history, ranging from its most early days to the historic attendance records of recent years. Rock Hall Curator Amanda Pecsenye has been working with Kevin Lyman, the Warped team and a roll call of bands who have graced the grounds the tour has camped out on.
“It’s really exciting to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the longest-running cross-country concert tour,” Pecsenye says. “Even though it’s wrapped up its cross-country run, it’s still wrapping up its legacy. But also, I think the exhibit is going to educate people that maybe were too young to attend a Warped Tour or be familiar with what it is.”
The Rock Hall had previously installed a Warped Tour exhibit in 2007, which gave them a head start acquiring artifacts for this summer’s major tour retrospective. Lyman worked closely as a liaison with the Hall and various musicians to get items beyond the original exhibit from 12 years ago, as well as things from his personal collection.
Size-wise, the largest item in the collection is a tabletop from the backstage area that was autographed by both bands and crew members during the 2006 run of the tour. There will also be a portion of a time capsule created in 2007 that will include crew documents, a supportive rope that held up an on-site tent and one boot owned by Valient Himself, singer of Valient Thorr. (“The other boot got thrown into the crowd,” Pecsenye says. “He never got it back.”)
The Rock Hall are going all the way back with the guitar No Doubt’s Tom Dumont played on Warped’s maiden voyage in 1995 before Vans signed on as the major sponsor. Expect plenty of guitars from members of Fall Out Boy, New Found Glory, Pierce The Veil, Reel Big Fish and many others.
Fans of Warped will be able to see such artifacts as stagewear and custom pieces from Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara, Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley and proto-punk feminist icon Joan Jett. Katy Perry donated a guitar and a dress she wore on her first-ever tour in 2008. Oh, and when we say “custom,” we’re not talking pristine, Lady Gaga swag at the Met Gala, friends: Pecsenye reveals the grungiest item on display will be a pair of pajamas worn by Bad Religion bassist Jay Bentley every day during his band’s 1998 Warped stint. To this day, they remain unlaundered.
Read more: 10 most memorable Warped Tour lineups
“Everybody we reached out to [wanted] to preserve the legacy of Warped Tour,” Pecsenye says. “There are artists who aren’t necessarily savers or archivists that don’t document their career for posterity. But this exhibit has been an exception: Almost everyone we reached out to was so excited to celebrate the legacy of Warped Tour, saying things like, ‘Kevin Lyman asked me to do this. I’m happy to help.’ People were so enthusiastic about participating.”
The June 8 opening day of Forever Warped is being heralded with a mini-festival event at the Rock Hall starring such notables as Simple Plan, Hawthorne Heights, We The Kings, Meg & Dia, Emery and Chali 2na with Cut Chemist. This summer, the Rock Hall is making Cleveland, Ohio, the punk-rock capital of America, and it’s the coolest road trip you’ll ever take.
The Rock Hall will be streaming tomorrow’s Cleveland show with performances, interviews and more here beginning at 4 p.m. EST. You can also visit rockhall.com for more information on how they’re keeping the Warped vibes coming, post-shows.