Warped Tour kicks off its 20th year tomorrow in Houston. Over those years, the tour has brought countless people amazing memories, and just as you'll never forget the first album you bought or the first music video you saw, you'll never forget your first Warped! 

Check out some Warped memories from our editorial team and share your own!


I've written about my first Warped Tour experience at length before, but my feelings on that day virtually never change. At 15, I had barely been to local shows, but my older brother got a postcard in the mail courtesy of some band's mailing list that advertised the Warped Tour, and we thought it sounded incredible so we convinced our mom to drive us into Chicago, where we were dropped off at the United Center. Of course, the show wasn't inside; it was outside, in Parking Lot J. (The random shit you remember, right?) I remember being in awe of the spectacle of it all, while also hungrily consuming whatever information (and merch) I could find at every booth. I met Blink-182 at their tent and told them I was looking forward to seeing them play later that day, but it wasn't meant to be: A gnarly thunderstorm swooped in and dumped what felt like thousands of gallons of rain on top of us from about 2 p.m. until about 8 p.m., causing all the side stages to shut down after only a few bands played. (This was a safety precaution, due to the side stages not having roof coverings, something Sugar Ray's Mark McGrath learned the hard way, as a bolt of lightning stuck their stage during their set—and I saw it happen.)

Scott Heisel, Warped Tour 1997My brother and I then took cover under an abandoned merch tent to avoid the bad weather for the next few hours as a string of bands I was less-than-interested in played on the main stage. We lamented not being able to see the almighty Descendents, as they were initially scheduled for the second stage until their set was scrubbed. We weren't alone; a lot of people had driven from all over the Midwest to see Descendents, since they were only on a small portion of the tour, and, if memory serves correctly, Chicago was going to be their last day. Many audience members griped to staff, but what could be done? Then, about 20 minutes into Pennywise's main stage set, we heard something unusual: Black Flag. My brother and I darted out from under the tent and witnessed all four members of the Descendents onstage hammering through a handful of Flag classics using Pennywise's gear. (My memory tells me that Bill was on vocals and Milo was on drums, which seems impossible as I type it—maybe I just invented that part of the story to make it sound even more insane.) Then, Bill and Milo switched spots back (I think; again, I could be making that part up, but it is vividly in my memory) and the Descendents plowed through a handful of originals, including “I'm The One,” before wishing the crowd well and getting the hell out of that torrential downpour. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes—nor had the Chicago Tribune not reported about it. That 10-minute experience told me all I needed to know about Warped Tour: This is a family, and everyone here is on the same team. I've never missed a year of Warped since, and I absolutely love attending, but I will never, ever forget my first. —Scott Heisel




Former staffers Todd Hutlock, Anne Steiner and I traveled to Pittsburgh to man the AP booth at what was then called the IC Light Amphitheatre. (Now known as the Trib Total Media Amphitheatre —corporate-identity history ed.)  What I remember vividly about that day was how someone thought setting up a mini-record store in 99-degree heat was a good idea (Brave New World Records, represent!) and how we had back-to-back signings with AFI and MxPx at our booth. Less than 100 people showed up to have their stuff signed and press the flesh with Messrs. Burgan, Carson, Havok and Puget. However, Bremerton, Washington's finest punk trio were signing an hour after AFI, and the line started real early. After their fans came in, AFI sat in the booth for seven more minutes doing nothing while a several-hundred-strong crowd of ardent Magnified Plaid fans gathered in front of the AP booth, five feet away from the table. It looked positively uncomfortable—not because the MxPx horde were particularly scary or brandishing torches and pitchforks—but because this mass of humanity looked positively blasé in front of the band, like a silent press conference run solely by telepathy. To lighten the mood, I wisecrackingly sang the crucial line from “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (“Here we are now/Entertain us…”) at the band, and Havok laughed the loudest. He smiled and said, “Bad luck has always been the best luck for our band,” prior to leaving the tent. Jason Pettigrew


My first Warped Tour was in 2003, at the Nissan Pavilion in the northern Virginia suburbs. More than a decade of Warped Tours since have blurred my memory a bit, but, still, I recall how profoundly life-changing and influential an experience it was for my 15-year-old self. More than a single moment, it was a time period, a golden age of pop punk where the scene was spilling into the mainstream in a major way, but still felt “underground” and communal. I obsessed over the lineup beforehand, and that summer I first witnessed Brand New, Yellowcard, Rancid, Andrew W.K., the Used, the Ataris, the Starting Line, Tsunami Bomb and countless others who would influence my taste for years to come. To this day, it remains my favorite Warped lineup of all time. —Philip Obenschain


I took the Warped plunge at Darien Lake (near Buffalo, New York) in 2005. It included access to the Six Flags water park, but my crew didn't have all day to splash around. I remember running like Harrison Ford in The Fugitive just to catch Hopesfall play. (I bumped into them later and also had a member of the Blackout Pact feed me pizza scraps.) I guess the significance of those moments was how accessible bands are at Warped and how personal your experience can become. That's what I took away from it. The defining set was the Dillinger Escape Plan, who played through a thunderstorm. (See, we didn't need slides to get wet.) It was raw and dangerous, with lightning thrown from the sky and objects hurled by a jacked man with a mic. Greg Puciato & Co. paraded through a bunch of Calculating Infinity and Miss Machine cuts before anyone in charge could say “Hey, this doesn't look safe.” —Brian Kraus


Warped Tour 2005. Oh man. I was 13 years old, and it was my first time going. I was, of course, so stoked to finally be going, but what made it even more badass was Travis Barker was going to be there with the Transplants. Blink-182 were, are and will always be my favorite band, and this Warped Tour show came about five months after Blink announced their indefinite hiatus. I was completely hooked on the Transplants’ latest release at the time, Haunted Cities, so it only made my excitement grow to finally see them perform. This was before most kids that age had fancy phones or cameras so I was armed with my yellow Kodak disposable camera (I’m pretty sure I used the entire roll of film on the band). A few minutes after the set, realizing I may never get the chance to meet one of my idols again, I crawled under a tent and snuck backstage. I ran up to Travis and had a quick chat with him before turning into a teenage fanboy and asking for an autograph and picture. After getting the autograph, I was so bummed to find out my camera was all out of film, but that still ended up being one of the best memories of my life. —Nick Major


Cassie Whitt, Gerard Way, Mikey Way - Warped Tour 2005Following five hours and several huge headliners (Fall Out Boy, the Starting Line, Underoath and Senses Fail), I had been jostled and wedged firmly into the second row of a sun-and-dirt covered anthill of humans in front of Warped’s main stage. Without the benefits of having a barricade to steady yourself, I learned that day, second row is the worst position you can be in in a rowdy crowd. It’s like drowning in arms while wearing a straightjacket. As my favorite band My Chemical Romance played and I saw them up-close for the first time, my heart could barely take not being able to flail without constriction. Perhaps that’s why, when their set ended and I asked a security guard to remove me from the crowd, he said, “Oh, no. You’re going to first aid,” and swept me under the stage where I nearly collapsed in front of My Chemical Romance’s post-set cigarette circle. I watched them at a miserable distance with an icy towel around my shoulders at the first-aid tent where the medic declared I had a heat stroke. My first Warped ended abruptly after that when the medics, convinced I wouldn’t survive the rest of the day, forced me onto a golf cart back to the parking lot to meet my mom and go home. Miraculously, though, I was able to meet Gerard and Mikey Way (while the Transplants played nearby) before I left the medics’ care. I didn’t mind being kicked out so much after that. —Cassie Whitt



My first Warped Tour was 2006, which was a great year for the post-hardcore genre. My favorite band at the time, From First To Last, were playing the main stage, and the bill was full of other bands I loved, like Senses Fail, Saves The Day, Aiden, Silverstein and Every Time I Die. Needless to say, I was super-pissed when FFTL dropped off the tour before making it to my date (Detroit). Although the band said they left for Sonny Moore’s vocal problems, NOFX’s Fat Mike, who had been giving the “emo” bands a lot of shit that year, had a different opinion about it. (“From First to Last came on the tour like total rock stars, and everyone alienated them,” he told MTV. “And they were gone in a week or two.”) But none of this prevented my first Warped experience from being amazing and full of highlights. I remember Saves The Day’s Chris Conley had bright-ass pink hair, and the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus played a small tent, which I thought was weird at the time, because they had a massive hit single on the radio with “Face Down.” The band that absolutely stole the show for me was Silverstein. My then-girlfriend was caught off guard, because I had assured her they “weren’t a hard band.” The crowd then erupted into one of the craziest pits I’ve ever seen. —Matt Crane
Brittany Moseley, Warped Tour 2006The thing I remember most about my first Warped Tour isn't any of the bands (although I saw quite a few that day); it's what I wore. After begging my mother for three years to take me to Warped, she finally agreed in 2006. Of course by that time I was 17 and could drive myself, so I'm not sure I really swayed her opinion all that much. Regardless, I was finally going to punk-rock summer camp, and I wasn't about to show up lookin' uncool. After spending a week figuring out my outfit, I managed to settle on the following: my favorite blue jeans (which I had artfully ripped and decorated with patches and pins), a black Anti-Flag T-shirt proclaiming “War sucks. Let’s party!”, red Converse Chuck Taylors and an armful of bracelets. It was a pretty bomb-ass look, but not a great outfit for an all-day outdoor summer festival. Blue jeans and a black T-shirt in the middle of July? I don't know what I was thinking. Okay, that's a lie. I totally know what I was thinking: Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for style. And boy did I sacrifice. Sweat. So much sweat. So how was the music? Pretty fucking great for a first timer like myself: The Academy Is…, AFI, Aiden, Anti-Flag, Cartel, the Early November, Gym Class Heroes, Hellogoodbye, Motion City Soundtrack, Rise Against, Senses Fail and Silverstein. And those are just the bands I saw. I was miserably uncomfortable and my T-shirt was soaked through with sweat by noon, but I was finally at Warped Tour, surrounded by people who were passionate about the same music I was. They just happened to be dressed for the weather. Brittany Moseley


My first Warped Tour experience was defined the same way any young, rebellious, punk-rock-loving adolescent could ever hope for: by almost drowning. On the morning of Aug. 2, 2007, my best friend Reilly and I piled into my car and drove down to the Flats area of Cleveland. We were dressed to the nines in Etnies, cargo shorts and neon-tinged band shirts. (It was 2007, after all.) As we walked from the entrance to the merch tents, I vividly remember Meg & Dia playing their cover of “No Rain” by Blind Melon (file under: ironic foreshadowing). In a matter of seconds, the entire sky turned dark gray and the heavens opened up. Gusts of wind sent shirts, sticker, fliers and even tents sailing across the TJ Horansky, Cleveland Warped Storm 2007festival grounds. I took cover with my girlfriend under a giant bridge, but it did very little to help because the rain was blowing in sideways from both ends. In one of the most profound moments of my teenage concert-going years, just when I thought all hope was gone and I would surely drown under that bridge, some dude ran butt-naked right in front of our faces, yelling, “WE’RE GOING STREAKING!” In that moment, I knew all was not lost. The rain eventually stopped, and Reilly’s mom brought us a fresh change of clothes. A lot of the attendees went home after the monsoon, but we were not deterred. As a beautiful sunset began to set over Cleveland, we nestled in with about 30 other people and watched All Time Low play acoustic guitars on the tiny Smartpunk Stage because all of their other gear got ruined in the rain. I even ended up making it on to the front page of The Cleveland Plain Dealer the next day! (That’s me, bottom right.) It was the type of perfect moment that makes Warped Tour so special to me and to thousands of other fans across the globe.

In the above fan-made YouTube video, the storm starts at about 1:39, but at the three-minute mark is when pure pandemonium ensues. You can see the surrounding buildings literally disappear. (My favorite part is the defiant pair of rock hands at about 3:30.)  At about 4:21, you can also see that the side screen at main stage is simply gone. —TJ Horansky


AP #312, our 2014 Warped Tour issue celebrates 20 years with stories like this from many of your favorite artists! Pick it up now.