After 24 years of bringing punk around the country, Vans Warped Tour is coming to an end

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By Brian Harris, Staff Writer

Yes, the impossible has happened. The tour is coming to an end.

Now before any hardcore Warped Tour fans start freaking out, there’s still one final hurrah for the long-running concert tour, with 2018 stops planned out all next summer.  But for many, this is a devastating moment, a tradition 24 years strong for fans all around the world.

And while the news is devastating to many, the question seems to be why?  Why would a foundation of the punk rock scene just up and vanish?  Well, the answers lie in Billboard’s incredibly revealing interview with Tour founder Kevin Lyman.

“…to be honest, I’m just tired,” says Lyman, “Before Warped I was on three years of Lollapalooza, so [it’s been] 26 straight summers out on the road.”  One can easily see how under those kinds of conditions, Lyman would strongly consider an exit from the “Warped” world.  It’s exhausting, and at his age (56), wanting to throw in the towel and take time to relax makes sense.

His headline over at the official Warped Tour website states: “Today, with many mixed feelings, I am here to announce that next year will be the final, full cross-country run of the Vans Warped Tour.”  That phrase: “mixed feelings” says it all. The tour has come to a bittersweet end for all involved with a lot of thought and emotional investment.

Another key factor is very clearly ticket sales, in the Billboard interview, Lyman, on the subject of ticket sales, says: “We were doing fine, but we had a pretty big dip last year. It was that younger end of the demo. It was an interesting tour — the bands didn’t feel the dip because the fans that were there were super engaged… it was a really great show, sponsors were happy, but our attendance was down.”

He mentions the younger fans in particular here, in regards to the sales drop: “So that [younger] demo changed, but then I talked to people after the tour and bands did great on merchandise, they had great crowds — everyone had good crowds in front of the stage. But that casual fan that’s learning how to go to a music festival — they were not there last summer.”  And this casual fan might be costing the hardcore fan dearly here.

But his most interesting and insightful response in the interview came at the end, when Billboard author Chris Payne asks him what Lyman’s going to do now once Warped Tour is over?  Lyman’s answer was:  “My biggest thing about stopping this thing is, how are we gonna continue all the non-profits that I’ve been involved with, whether it’s the blood drive, the canned food drives. So a lot of my future initiatives I hope will include me working in that direction — HeadCount, registering people to vote, things like that.”

It seems that his biggest concerns lie in his charity work, and that the most important element of Warped Tour to Lyman was the charity aspects of it.  And so, in that respect, I can only hope for the best for Lyman.  Hopefully, through these nonprofits, the Warped Tour’s legacy will live on.

Though the Warped Tour is ending, it is clear that Lyman  and those involved in the tour want to continue the legacy of music changing the world for the better and bringing communities together to do good.

Photo Courtesy: Esquire Magazine

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