It appears, though, that where my previous years of attending Mayhem Fest at Ak-Chin Pavilion went wrong, Warped Tour appeared to be doing it right. I remember attending Mayhem Fest around 2009 or so and Ak-Chin Pavilion wouldn’t even let you bring caps in on your water bottles. I had to lug around a gallon container without a lid, which resulted in sloshing half my water supply onto the ground, where it boiled instantly. One of the years I attended, I became so faint from the heat that I actually blacked out and collapsed on the ground. If someone hadn’t picked me up and tried to help me, I probably would have become a nicely toasted human, free food for anyone who wasn’t able to afford an outrageously priced hot dog. The saddest part, though, is that the paramedics at Mayhem Fest apparently were not allowed to help people who were passing out from the heat. I was dragged to the shade of a rather small Mesquite tree and told to just “relax” until I felt better. They wouldn’t even give me any water.
Warped Tour, on the other hand, had paramedics driving around on neat little carts with tiny ambulance sirens. They had free hydration stations where you could refill your containers with cold water. They had vendors selling ice for a dollar out of wheelbarrows. They actually seemed to care about the fact that it was fucking hot outside and this could potentially be detrimental for its attendees. We even got to keep the caps on our water this time.
Warped Tour also had one hell of a crowd, maybe because it was (supposedly) the last Warped Tour they were doing. I was honestly pleasantly surprised when I finally found the stage where Twiztid was performing and saw how large the crowd was – and it certainly wasn’t all juggalos. I skirted around the outside of the crowd before squeezing my way in somewhere near the front-end of the stage. After about three songs, I was happy when the woman in front of me turned to her friend and said, “I’ve never heard these guys before! They’re really good!” They were really good, too – not just in general, but during this show as well. Despite the fact that Madrox had decided for some reason to perform in a long-sleeve shirt and that they clearly seemed to be adverse to Arizona’s beautiful climate, they had amazing energy on the stage. The crowd was also more than willing to be energetic with them, hitting the hypes with them, jumping up and down when they did, and screaming the lyrics to the songs they knew. Even the people that I could tell may have never heard of Twiztid before or weren’t as familiar with them were getting into the performance and it brought an instant smile to my face. For those who were just being introduced to Twiztid, the crowd and Twiztid’s performance onstage was an excellent way for them to see how juggalos could get down. We were an enthused audience even as we slowly turned into human puddles and, while I can’t speak for anyone else, dying from heat stroke in front of Twiztid’s stage would have been an acceptable form of death for me.
They were slated to do autographs at their merch booth a couple hours later and the line for autographs was enormous. To be fair, I have no idea if other artists there were doing autographs or if it was something Twiztid decided to do on their own, but I did not see lines outside of other merch booths like I did at Twiztid’s. It snaked around about four or five other booths nearby. I have to give kudos to Madrox and Monoxide as well. Even though they had to rush around from performance to press tent to god knows what else to autographs, they still showed up to the booth excited, upbeat, and ready to sign some shit. It was also genuinely heart-warming to see Twiztid greet every fan in line as if they were their only and most important fan.
After that, I took a break from the show to chill in the Cox Lounge, which is a small blue ramada with couches and fake grass for carpet that was somewhat hidden behind the hydration station. It was also filled with some, uh, interesting people. There was a group of people that had decided they were going to air out their feet and I made the mistake of interacting with them, which naturally forced me into a bizarre and socially awkward conversation that I was desperate to leave. I had to choose between going back out into the sun or listening to these people talk to me about… whatever it was they were talking about. I honestly had no clue and was just nodding along politely until I finally decided I would battle with the sun again instead and left.
I was able to catch Whitney Peyton’s set, where she seemed to be doing something different than usual. She had a live band with her, which sounded great and really jived with the vibe of the event. Even though you could tell people were getting tired from being outside all day, Whitney Peyton did everything she could to pump them up. Her stage unleashed a rainstorm of confetti and she had girls running through the crowd spraying the audience with silly string, which was a lot different than the other crowds that mostly just bounced beach balls around. It was easy to tell that she took her sets seriously and that she wanted to make the most of her performances.
To add to all that, I also want to give a shout-out to a booth I visited at the show as well. It was an organization called Heart Support that was founded by the metal community to help people struggling with addiction, depression, anxiety, and more. On their site at heartsupport.com, you can anonymously relay your struggles and receive encouragement in return from others, so it’s a great place to head to if you’re feeling down, need a pick-me-up, or just want to know that you’re not alone in your troubles. What was really great about their booth was that they had brought a large board with them filled with whiteboard segments where you could write encouraging messages to people. One of the women there (I believe her name was Rachel) even took the time to talk to me about what I wrote and ended our conversation with a giant hug and the sentiment that she was glad I was there.
Her kind words created a feeling of peace for me that were probably the reason I didn’t chuck this one kid over a railing when I went back to the Cox Lounge in order to call into the Loco Rundown and give some feedback about the show. This kid looked like he was probably 15 years old and decided that he was going to talk extremely loud for no reason. His first interaction was to scream, “Do you have a lighter?!” followed by him shrieking how he was going to “light one up soon” and exclaiming over and over again how his phone was dying and he needed to call his friends. Realistically, I’m probably exaggerating a tad bit, but I was so tired and hot and sweaty that all I could hear when this kid started talking was bird-like screeching. I almost felt like Kratos in the new God of War game because I just wanted to shout, “BOY!” and then hurl him into The Lake of Nine. Instead, I chopped it up with The Loco Rundown and then peaced out to my quiet, air-conditioned home without a murder charge on my hands.
Overall, I was pleased with my first (and last) experience at Warped Tour. At the end of it all, though, I did realize one thing. After walking around to every booth, grooving with the music, and examining the diverse crowd of people there… I realized that it must be extremely, extremely difficult to be goth in Arizona.
Check out my other reviews, hit me up on Facebook if you want a write-up for your next show, and remember to keep it winded, ninjas!