Poorly Planned Vans Warped Tour Has Clumsy Kick Off

Less Than Jake were one of the many Warped Tour vets on hand for the tour kickoff in Dallas Friday.
Less Than Jake were one of the many Warped Tour vets on hand for the tour kickoff in Dallas Friday.
Mike Brooks

Vans Warped Tour
With Yellowcard, New Found Glory and more
Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas
Friday, June 24, 2016

The thousands of fans at the Vans Warped Tour 2016 kick off this weekend may have left with more heatstroke and fewer musical memories than they anticipated. The 95-degree heat, cloudless day, and Kafkaesque difficulty of getting to shade and water had unlucky patrons getting sunburns, passing out and rolling around in wheelchairs.

For some, like Taylor Crosson, 22, who came as a guest of the local band Newhaven, a fantasy morphed into a hellscape over the course of the afternoon. The Dallas post-hardcore band with a theatrical flourish won a contest to open the first day of the Warped Tour. Their post on Facebook announcing the news read, “WE'RE PLAYING WARPED TOUR WHAT EVEN IS LIFE.” Their dream, according to Brian Lindsey, the drummer in the band and Crosson’s boyfriend, would be to go on the tour, and eventually get played on the radio.

Fans had to do anything they could to get a little bit of shade at a blazing Gexa.
Fans had to do anything they could to get a little bit of shade at a blazing Gexa.
Mike Brooks

Crosson and the band had to leave, though, around 4:00 pm, when her phone died and she almost passed out from standing in the sun to watch Real Friends play on one of the main stages. “It’s not the best planned festival,” she admitted via Facebook Messenger.

With only one water station and one open shade tent for a sea of steamy, sunburnt fans, getting access to food and water could mean braving a maze of human lines and crowds and tent walls. To get to the unmarked water fill-up station, festival goers had to stand in a crowded line in the hot, glaring sun.
One of the water station workers looked frantic while filling up orange jugs with ice. The ice filler, Vanessa, who didn't want to give her last name, thought they weren't prepared for the event at all.

“We didn't think we would come out to a sun like this,” she said with big, scared eyes. “We thought people would stay home.” When asked if this kind of heat and sun-exposure could be dangerous, she said simply, "Eventually it will. Fights break out." 

Crowd surfing is a rite of passage at Warped Tour.
Crowd surfing is a rite of passage at Warped Tour.
Mike Brooks

In spite of the organizational disaster, the Warped Tour has one main thing working in its favor: the attendees stay the same age. The fans stay young, while the tour doesn't change.

The new guard played Journey’s Right Foot Stage. On the Left Foot, the old guard reigned. Sarcasm and self-deprecating humor played here. Less Than Jake introduced one of their songs by saying, “This song is awesome. It's called, ‘Good Enough.’” At the end of that song, they quipped, “We've sounded way worse.” And then a medic with two Gatorades in hand wheeled a chair into the first aid tent backstage.

It was perhaps a blessing that Dallas was the tour kickoff for this year's 45-date festival run; the heat was brutal enough on Friday, but it's still only June. Had it been later in the summer, the heatstroke issues may well have been even more dire. Warped Tour might have been lucky this time around, but if things don't improve they may pay the price. It's not the only big festival around anymore. The kids will just find another place to go.

It wasn't all blue skies at Gexa.
It wasn't all blue skies at Gexa.
Mike Brooks
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