Warped Up for the Summer

Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail performing at Vans Warped Tour in 2015 at the Pomona Fairgrounds. June Martinez/SAConScene

Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail performing at Vans Warped Tour in 2015 at the Pomona Fairgrounds. June Martinez/SAConScene

With the end of the spring semester just weeks away and the temperatures rising outside, it is clear that summer is drawing near, which means beach hangs, late nights, and of course, the peak of music festival season.

In the alternative music scene, the word “summer” is synonymous with the Warped Tour. The tour is the longest running music festival in the nation. The Vans Warped Tour attracts hundreds of thousands of people every summer. The nickname given to the festival by attendees is the “Punk Rock Summer Camp.”

At the reigns of the production is Kevin Lyman. Lyman, 56, is a Cal Poly Pomona alumnus and is also the brains behind The Vans Warped Tour responsible for making sure every aspect of the tour runs smoothly. Lyman can be found riding his bike through the venues, talking to fans in line, or assisting with anything that needs to be done on the tour. But with Lyman having worked 21 summers in the heat and year-round to book venues, bands, and the tiniest of details, one can only wonder how much longer the tour will be around.

“The Warped Tour will end when I decide not to do it anymore. It’s getting harder to do physically and financially,” Lyman said.

Tickets for the Vans Warped Tour run anywhere between $25 and $40 dollars, and with the price of everything else rising (stage equipment rentals, tour buses for bands, gas prices, etc.), it is clear that keeping ticket prices down is getting harder to do.

Mattie Montgomery of For Today performing at Vans Warped Tour in 2014 at the Pomona Fairgrounds. June Martinez/SAConScene

Lyman’s Warped Tour crew is almost as infamous as the tour itself, having an entire show on cable titled “Warped Roadies” that aired a couple years back on the Fuse channel.

“We [Warped Tour] meet most of our crew through bands, brands, and our internship program. We offer people who really stand out from our internship programs entry level positions on the tour,” Lyman said.

Lyman is more than just a show booker, festival thrower, and punk rock icon, he is also responsible for giving some of the biggest names in the pop world their big break. Lyman has been credited by some with helping launch the careers of artists like “Ain’t It Fun”-band Paramore and “I Kissed a Girl”-standout Katy Perry, who were at one point on the Warped Tour stages. The tour has also featured artists like Eminem, Ice-T, and G-Eazy in years past.

“These artists just — I hate to say — but they just had this ‘it’ factor about them. They were able to transfer their talent to their live show, and to me, that’s very important. Some of these artists just have this innate quality about them,” Lyman said.

Throughout the tour’s 21-year history, there have been acts Lyman regrets having on the tour. The group deemed “Scene Queens” by the alternative music world in the early 2000s, The Millionaires, were brought on the tour in 2009.

“They [The Millionares] weren’t ready to be on the tour,” Lyman said.

The group wasn’t ready for the summer heat, the long days of traveling, or transferring their studio work into a live performance.

Telle Smith of The Word Alive performing at Vans Warped Tour in 2014 at the Pomona Fairgrounds. June Martinez/SAConScene

Beyond booking talent and catering for the bands on the tour, Lyman is also responsible for making sure to host safe events for his attendees.

In a world where political unrest is extremely evident and where tragic and heart-wrenching incidents, like the bombing in the proximity of an Ariana Grande concert happened in Manchester, England, Lyman is well aware of the risks that are associated with a large gathering of people.

“It’s one of my biggest fears. For the last 35 years, it has been one of my biggest fears and something that is always in the back of my mind,” he said.

While the Vans Warped Tour has security at every venue, Lyman and his crew also have a unique edge on being able to spot any potential issues.

“We have a different way of trying to combat this. One of the ways is allowing parents to come to the tour for free. Parents see things, having more eyes around is helpful,” Lyman said.

The tour allows younger concertgoers to bring one of their parents for free into the venue, offering a “Reverse Day Care.”

The Vans Warped Tour begins on June 16. For more information regarding the tour, line up, or dates visit www.vanswarpedtour.com.