Two of our writers decided to write two separate opinion pieces in response to yesterday’s Warped Tour incident. You can read MJ’s below and Nick’s here.
I can’t even recall when my first Warped Tour was, but I can tell you the many years that I’ve attended, there was always an acute pinpoint where I was excited. There was one year where Coheed & Cambria and Paramore were both on the bill. Talk about a time conflict. I remember when Every Time I Die‘s Gutter Phenomenon had just come out in 2005. I must have listened to “Bored Stiff” about ten times on the car ride over to Homidel in anticipation just to see their set. Yes, Homidel – this was before I realized that it was way easier to take the river line that went down to what is now known as the Susquenhana Bank Center. Much to my delight, I got introduced to many other bands that day – this was pretty much the status quo for every year. It was a meeting place for my friends who wore torn jeans and Chucks or Vans like it was the standard Warped uniform. We wore it proud, but why the hell did we wear jeans? It was hot!
I’m on the other side of the curtain now, armed with a note pad and Canon camera, giving a perspective as press. You get to see everything from the other side of the coin – the old elder on top of a mountain, if you will, capturing snapshots of amazing moments of emotion. Recently, there has been some controversy, specifically with one particular act, Front Porch Step, and the alleged inappropriate behavior that existed between one Jack Mcelfresh and under aged females. The amazing part of being press is that you get to see the other side just with an adjustment of aperture, finished pictures and edits. Musicians have this undeniable presence that commands young fan’s attentions. This is why many kids in the scene plan their summers and count the minutes to enter through whatever double doors into the park to see their favorite bands in their particular cities. Unfortunately, there are cases where these powers are not used for good.
On the Nashville date on the Warped Tour, Front Porch Step was allowed to play in the Acoustic Basement. The fact that young kids were in a tent with a person accused of such crimes is enough to keep any attentive parent up at night, not to mention those who have been unfortunately subjugated to any sort of sexual abuse. All types of oblivious is an understatement. Immediately, and with good reason, many fans, bands and contemporaries reacted very strongly to the news and the almost defiant video that is circulating via social media. I, myself, was upset at the sudden appearance, but more appalled at the packed tent as well. Perhaps the fans don’t understand the urgency of the situation- perhaps they stopped caring. I would have rather an empty tent and kids go get a sampler over at the Victory tent. In order for the scene to get better, those who participate must dictate what is not acceptable or tolerated. Did founder Kevin Lyman take a hit? Sure. Warped Tour is billed as a safe environment for a demographic that is comprised of mostly teen kids. To have an alleged musician perform without warning is a major lapse of judgement and duplicitous. The statement after was haphazard as the I Love Lucy scene where the assembly line breaks down. (this scene for you those in the back) Safe – say it with me now. In all my anger, I remembered the kid that would get giddy to take a picture of the big schedule every day. That kid was me and could be now reading this.
This is why I will not be boycotting Warped Tour this year. There is no doubt that this choice to let Front Porch Step has breached the very foundation that Warped Tour was bound on. With all due respect, Kevin Lyman has built a great, enduring tour, but I can’t recall a time where I ran home and bragged about seeing him. Warped Tour is about the bands that play and the fans that cheer them on. Bands like Silverstein, Senses Fail, and August Burns Red have put out amazing albums very recently. In our defiance on how women are treated in the scene, these upstanding guys should be met with crowd surfing and sweat, not silence. There are female fronted bands on this bill like Juliet Simms, Shiragirl, and Sumo Cyco. An amazing statement is to make sure their crowd spaces are full this year. Make sure you celebrate them in a way that even more female bands are booked next year and that females in general are respected and not taken advantage of. Sure, you can not go and save your money, but don’t we own our scene? We owe it to ourselves to change the narrative a bit and make something positive within the dark shadow that’s been cast on the tour. The very constructs of booking and past history will have to be looked at going forward, but we can all elevate what’s needed to be seen.
I’m probably the unpopular opinion here, out on an island. This editorial is not one of condoning, it’s my version of a boycott. I refuse to let the actions of one person destroy a safe haven for many, thus taking the scene back. I will be in Camden on July 10th writing about some of my favorite artists, taking pictures and portraits of fans and bands alike. Bands that deserve the coverage. Play your favorite albums on the way there, check out some bands that you may not know, and make some new friends. If you choose not to go or to cover a future date, I could not blame you and don’t fault you at all. Warped Tour was created by Kevin Lyman, but Warped Tour is whatever we want it to be because it needs us to survive. Let’s shake the etch-a-sketch and rewrite the definition again.