It's that time of year again; Vans Warped Tour has taken over. Now in it's 18th year, VWT has become America's longest running festival concert tour. VWT broke the mold when it first came onto the scene in 1995. It combined an array of music with athletes and their active lifestyles, which henceforth created an environment where music and sports could co-mingle. It also established a platform where companies and non-profit organizations could spread the word on their brands and causes through music and sports. VWT created what is considered "the blueprint for concert tour sponsorship integration" and it's now used for numerous other tours. Due to it's ever growing popularity over the years, VWT has now amassed a big enough following to help bands, athletes, non-profit organizations and companies share their talents and products with over half a million people every summer.
This year's tour boasts a number of sponsors including Kia Motors, Monster, Tilly's, The House Of Marley and of course, the brand that helped start it all, Vans. All of the aforementioned sponsors not only play an important role in supporting the tour itself, but also in supporting an active lifestyle. They provide the means to be active, the energy to stay active and the gear to be active in. The House Of Marley, which is sponsoring one of the stages this year, provides quality headphones and audio systems that are both earth friendly and people friendly. Marley uses natural, renewable materials in their products and packaging, and with every purchase, a percentage of the money goes to 1Love.org. So, not only does Marley support music lovers by providing a superior product, but it also supports the world by giving back.
1Love, which is also on the tour, is a worldwide movement that focuses on doing good in honor of the late, great Bob Marley. They align with select charities and sponsors in order to positively affect the world; with their three main focuses being to educate the youth, to preserve the planet and to promote peace. Another movement that is well represented at this year's VWT is To Write Love On Her Arms. TWLOHA is a non-profit movement dedicated to providing hope and help for those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. Since they first started in 2006, TWLOHA has donated over a million dollars directly into treatment and recovery. Through years of hard work they've been able to touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
Although it may seem like the organizations present at VWT don't have anything to do with skating or music, there are a number of them that do. They impact the lives of many VWT attendees by providing ramps, rails and more. (No pun intended.) One of them, the All Girl Skate Jam, is dedicated to helping female skaters mold and display their talents in a male dominated sport. AGSJ was the first professional all girls skateboarding contest ever held, and it's "the original brand for all girls, all ages and all abilities." Since AGSJ joined the scene, they've continued to grow end expand into a brand that provides everything from skate camps, to apparel, to books.
The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus on the other hand is non-profit organization dedicated to teaching and enabling people with a passion for music. It's a state-of-the-art mobile audio and HD video recording facility. People who board the bus can learn how to write, record, produce and shoot music videos. The bus is in it's 15th year on tour, and it's one of many organizations supported by VWT bands.
One of the bands supporting the Lennon Bus on it's journey this summer is none other than the pride of Aberdeen, MD, Ballyhoo! These guys may be first time VWT performers, but they are in no way, shape or form new to the concept of rocking out. In the past couple of months alone, Ballyhoo! have played the 311 Caribbean Cruise with 311, The Dirty Heads and Passafire, as well as the 10th anniversary of Bamboozle, with bands like Incubus and the Foo Fighters. The guys have had seemingly nothing but success since signing with LAW Records last fall. In fact, their latest album, "Daydreams", even debuted at #1 on the iTunes Reggae Charts. Ballyhoo! clearly understands that working hard and rocking hard are a successful combination.
As far as the tour goes, Howi and J.R. said that the band's "still getting into the groove of the day to day routine" but they're excited to be "making new fans. Every day's an adventure." VWT did a great job of trying to include all different kinds of music this year, which "brings out different crowds of kids" explained J.R. And "the House Of Marley Stage is really eclectic. You get reggae, hip hop, funk and reggae rock; it's a different kind of stage for Warped Tour" said Howi; "we're excited."
Sharing The House Of Marley Stage with Ballyhoo! this year is the genre mixing, rule breaking, reggae rock band, Tomorrows Bad Seeds. The smooth vocals of lead singer Moi, coupled with a heavier reggae sound and a live performance that boasts an energy unexplainable by words, has landed the band a spot on VWT yet again. This year's run on the tour is perhaps made extra special by the fact that the band released their third album, "The Great Escape", just days before the tour started. Fans who attend VWT will not only able to pick up the new CD, but will also be some of the first people to hear the band perform their new songs live.
"The Great Escape" definitely has a different sound than the band's previous albums, but as Moi put it, "we're a product of our environment and influenced by a vast genre of music that we in turn fuse together... I personally think it's a step in a more original sound of our own; letting music live and flow free as it should." The CD has everything from catchy tunes like "One Way", to songs with thoughtful and progressive lyrics, like "Regime". (Which aside from having a deeper meaning, also seems to give a nod to Civil Clothing.) So whether TBS fans come to support them on the tour as old fans or as new fans is irrelevant. The combination of musicianship and showmanship that they possess won't disappoint.
This year's VWT is full of talent and has a little bit of something for everyone. From the reggae sounds of The Green, to the pop punk sounds of New Found Glory, to the alternative sounds of The Used, no VWT attendee will go unsatisfied. There are more than enough stages, ramps and booths to keep everyone entertained. So in the words of VWT band, Streetlight Manifesto, "f*ck it. Thank you. I love you all."
Article and pictures by Amanda Graziano.
For more information on the tour and all of the bands playing visit www.vanswarpedtour.com.
For full photo albums please visit www.facebook.com/ANTPhotography.LikeMe. (I plan to start posting pictures some time next week.)