On the Cincinnati date of Warped Tour 2015, we went “undercover” to find out exactly what goes on in Reverse Daycare, Warped Tour's parents-only tent. We weren't exactly expecting scandal, but we still left surprised and happy with what we found. Here's our story of what happened when we dove into the parents' tent at Warped Tour.
It’s Warped Tour in Cincinnati, and Riverbend Music Center looks the same as it did when I went to my first Warped five years ago. As a 14-year-old, Warped was one of my first real concerts after Justin Bieber (which doesn’t count) and the 2010 AP Tour (which totally counts). Unlike many parents who take up residence at Warped Tour’s Reverse Daycare for the duration of the event, my reluctant mother set me loose in the massive venue and hoped for the best.
The sun is beating down, fans wearing Black Veil Brides and Pierce The Veil shirts are out in full force and I can only imagine they’ve dragged their parents with them. Warped Tour has always provided for this, both by letting parents enter for free and through a tent reserved for them, the Reverse Daycare. It has always been an enigma, and I’m excited to see what wonders lie within.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t several dozen lawn chairs crammed into the small tent. The Breakfast Club is playing (with captions, since you can’t hear a thing over the music), one of the air conditioners is broken and they’ve temporarily run out of water. The parents—almost exclusively moms—look more exhausted than irritated.
My sunburnt comrade Kelsey immerses herself in Warped Tour parent culture.
Parents only get 30 minutes inside the tent, so I’m looking for one who wouldn’t be too angry if I stole a few minutes of their time for their interview.
Giving kids an environment in which they can feel accepted into a community, all while their parents feel comfortable and safe, lets the music do its job the right way.
Angela Lane is all smiles, sitting right under the remaining air conditioner. “I brought your magazines from Hot Topic to get autographed!” she excitedly shows me, after I tell her I work at Alternative Press. She’s in good spirits even though her day is hardly over. “I've been here since 7 o'clock this morning. We wanted to make sure we were the first in line,” she says.
Her son, his girlfriend and one of their friends are attending Warped today. “[Their ages are] 15, 15 and 14. So we're starting them off young. [Laughs.] Before them, my two adult children—they came as well when they were younger. It's been a family tradition,” she says. “They used to come and see Paramore, and now we're coming to see Black Veil Brides.”
Lane is armed with a handwritten list of all the priority signings and shows the kids want to attend, but she insists that she’ll be enjoying the day just as much.
“Normally parents my age wouldn't listen to these kinds of things, but when you have children who grow up listening to it and you hear it throughout the day, it just kind of grows on you. I like Black Veil Brides. My son has his hair cut and dresses like [Andy Biersack], even does the black eyeliner! I like Pierce the Veil, and we're actually getting ready to go listen to SayWeCanFly over at the Acoustic Basement.”
Angela Lane’s plan of attack for the day, featuring We Came As Romans, blessthefall, PVRIS and others.
Kim Smith and Dawn Parks are much more like the parents I expected to meet. It’s their first time at Warped–they each have a teenage daughter in tow—and they’re just taking it all in.
“Some of the bands we can handle, but it's the screaming ones that… are too much for me,” says Parks. Earlier, they saw New Years Day. “They look just like KISS!” says Parks.
“We looked up the lyrics and sang along to them. And embarrassed our girls,” Smith adds, laughing.
The two are happy to have a respite in the parents’ tent, especially since they have driven for three hours, and Parks is on crutches from a foot injury.
The sentiment I’m constantly hearing is how safe the parents feel leaving their kids to fend for themselves.
Parents like these tear down the trope of emo kids who slam their doors in the face of parents who “just don’t understand.”
“It feels like it’s a safe place to let the girls go do their thing while we’re still here,” says Parks.
So far as I could tell, the hot weather and cramped tent wasn’t getting anyone down, especially Heather Gabriel, who is wearing a Sleeping With Sirens shirt. Her 16-year-old daughter and her two friends are out while Gabriel takes a break after seeing Pierce The Veil.
“I listen to a lot of [this music],” she tells me. “I love Pierce The Veil, All Time Low, Sleeping With Sirens. I even like some of Black Veil Brides–it's a little bit harder than I like.”
Her excitement reminds me of how I felt my first time at Warped. “It’s the first time that either my daughter or I have ever been to a music festival, so I didn't even know what to expect. I love it… I’m sure we’ll come next year,” says Gabriel.
Talking to parents who are so involved in the scene is heartening. People like Heather Gabriel and Angela Lane have immersed themselves in the music that their kids love. Even parents like Kim Smith and Dawn Parks, who didn’t listen to the music themselves, could easily name the artists their kids were here to see.
Parents like these tear down the trope of emo kids who slam their doors in the face of parents who “just don’t understand.” These parents care enough to recognize how important it is to their kids to see the bands that they love and often even make an effort to understand it and learn it to love it themselves.
Warped Tour has done a really incredible thing by facilitating that spirit. The demographic of Warped music is often one of younger people who feel like outcasts. To give kids an environment in which they can feel accepted into a community, while their parents feel comfortable and safe, lets the music do its job the right way. It’s one of the many reasons Warped Tour is able to have the legacy that it does. It’s not the amenities of the parents’ tent that matter so much as those parents who would keep coming back even if the Reverse Daycare didn’t exist.