June 29th the day of Vans Warped Tour 2018 here in Las Vegas. This was my first and last warped tour sadly but such a blast. They are discontinuing the tour after this year. This time around it was hosted in downtown event center amid the 105-degree Vegas summer heat.
I never park super close because getting out of there ends up being a nightmare and if means paying $5.00 more for parking then I will do it. My personal go to spot is the lot behind Backstage Bar and Billiards off 6th and Carson. It’s 2 -3 blocks from the entrance to Downtown Event Center and is very easy to get in and out of. It’s also a great spot to have a Lyft or Uber pick you up since your driver can avoid the traffic getting to where you are and then to your eventual destination.
I arrived around 1145 AM. A barrage of clipboard armed volunteers and band members with E.P.s lined the way to the entrance. Once you got to the entrance area you were directed by security to go through an extensive maze of railings set up with stopping points.
There were about 10 lines once you got past the inflated arch to gain entry. I was wanded twice by security. My camel back was not searched due to the rush to get people in. They ran out of Over 21 wrist bands right before I got past the 2nd want and then I had to wait in a huddle of people to show my ID and receive one.
Although I understand the need to get people in, security rules are there for a reason. That to me is a huge security and safety risk for attendees. Although sometimes getting searched and not begin allowed to bring certain things in is inconvenient those rules are in place to protect the attendees, staff, vendors and artists at these events.
Once I walked in Lost In Atlantis was playing on the Sail University stage. Where I released my first scream of the festival before making my way to find the blow-up board everyone kept requesting photos of. I finally found it and then ran into Robert the vocalist for Dirt Halo.
A good portion of the event staff I approached didn’t know where certain things were when I asked. At NASCAR events volunteers and additional staff are given maps and trained on where things are beforehand. It would behoove venue staff to have similar required training prior to large events like these.
I ran into at least 5 couples from Canada who told me warped tour doesn’t come to Canada, but they fly out every year. Apparently, Canada loves warped tour just a heads up. while scoping out where everything was.
After exploring the grounds in between a few sets, I made my way over to MyChildren MyBride to rage. The last time they were in town I missed out and was super stoked to have the opportunity to see them live. In between headbanging to every song, I ran into Jeff Pretz from local band Mynas .
Next, I headed over to watch fellow Chicagoans Harm’s Way rage on the other Monster Stage. The lead singer looked like a tattooed-up John Cena. Like ladies …that man is fine. A decent miniature pit opened. It was mixed with punk, indie and metal fans alike.
One guy was doing what every metal-head does on occasion in pits. Running into the rim before slam dancing once again in the center. Some fellow people in the pit didn’t take kindly to this, one of which punched him in the face. There was a gash on the metal-heads face from the dude’s gaudy rings.
This whole scenario almost caused an all-out brawl. Security jumped over and rushed
around the guard rails from in front of the stage to control the situation. Punching anyone in the face, let alone doing so with rings on is a douche move to say the least. Whether or not the dude deserved to be punched, rings like that don’t belong in the pit and you don’t go for the face unless it’s an accident or necessary. This was some very poor pit etiquette.
During the remainder of the set I said hello and snagged a hug from Jackson the bassist for local band Never Ending Last Words.
Water stations were lacking. The staff pointed to the one water station where the lines were ridiculously long. It would have made more sense to have 4 water stations set up next to the bars instead of just the one. the path way between stage areas was very condensed and should have been much wider to allow for easier flow of traffic. it was maybe 3 or 4 people wide at a time going any one direction.
It was faster to got to one of the bars where I still stood in line for quite a bit of time to get ice and water. Cups of ice were $2.00, and bottles of water were $4.00 apiece. Mixed drinks were $17.00 for a big gulp size cup. Although I’m still in a bit of shock that they charge for water, they are charging for ice too when its 105 degrees outside? You are asking people to pay for something other venues give out for free when it is that hot outside? You aren’t making enough money on the tickets, vendor fees and booze already? So, the broke people must scrounge up enough to stay hydrated or risk their health in the heat.
Not only that but they also charged people for a set list, the set list was not communicated via the app before or during the beginning of the event like it was told to fans that it would be. Instead you had to find the board that half the staff didn’t know the location to on the grounds and/or buy a paper copy of the set list for $2.00
I was out in the height of the heat for an hour, sweating out water faster than I could drink it to the point where I was light headed and dizzy and rushing to get to shade and water. The early signs of heat exhaustion are no joke.
My friends arrived later than me, Ivan arriving first a little before 4 where I was double
fisting cups of ice water and cooling off. Charlie and Kevin got there around 430 / 5 pm. We sat in the tent drinking and chatting it up with CrackerMan Drummer Jon Papineau and Guitarist Kristain Roloff.
Don Broco with Charlie, Kevin and Ivan before running into and jamming next to Ryan Patrick & Tony Carboney of local turned nationally touring band Otherwise. Although I have not really spoken to them face to face I have been to many of their shows here in Vegas to support another local band Honor Amongst Thieves.
My buddy Ivan and I felt extremely old in that crowd. It was filled with young girls acting like this was the heaviest band in the world …head banging and jumping up and down. I felt like I was at a boy band concert of some sort. The mosh pit consisted of people skip/jump/running in a circle, no one was really pushing each other like a metal pit. Somehow my sunglasses lens fell out and I did not notice it until the set was over luckily, they were cheap $5 sunglasses and it popped back in with little effort.
Ivan and I made our way over to Chelsea Grin for some epic band bucket list cross offs. They killed the stage. There was a very legit mosh pit happening during their set. As I said you know what would make this better … a beach ball to Ivan …one miraculously appeared in the crowd. This little girl appeared on stage and was jamming out hardcore. it was the cutest thing on the planet. Shout out to this band for encouraging little girls to rage out.
Next on the to do list was to see Hail the Sun with Charlie and Kevin. A little softer than my normal music pallet but epic. The tour drummer stepped aside to allow the lead singer Donovan Melero – Beatz to hop back on the drums and awe us with his hardcore ability to multitask.
During all this my buddy Ivan went into the “pit” with about 4 or 5 other people and managed to fuck up his ankle when he fell. After their set was over we took him (limping) over to the medical tent to make sure everything was okay. I gave one of the EMT’s his name for their incident report and they went over and talked to him and freaked him out by calling him by his name. Meanwhile I took photos and gave him shit until he stood back up.
My friends and I parted ways before In Hearts Wake took the stage to end out the night for me. The lead singer started singing The Lonely Islands parody song “I’m On a Boat” while pulling out an inflated raft. He was carried by the crowd from the stage while singing and kneeling in the raft to collect the Australian flag from the back of the crowd. It made for a fantastic memory to close out the festival with.
All and all this festival had some ups and downs for me but was an unforgettable experience. I missed Wage War but crossed off most of the bands on my list.