Looking Back at The Best and Worst Lineups Seen In Warped Tour's 17 Years Of Existence

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The Good

1996. When the tour had its inaugural year in 1995, you had bands like Face to Face, L7 and Quicksand performing around large-scale half-pipes filled with skaters and bikers galore. In its second year, this expanded -- both with the number of bands and with the "extreme sports" angle. Bands like NOFX, Beck, and Possum Dixon were on the 1996 bill. This was also the year that Pennywise played the tour for the first time, and they would continue to play the tour for many years after. Guitarist Fletcher Dragge once said that there's never a bad Pennywise show because the band always ends its sets with "Bro Hymn." Warped was always the perfect place to see that, too -- a large crowd of fans onstage singing their hearts out to one of the band's most poignant songs. Years later, the first handful of Warped Tours would be known more for their financial woes than much else, but the groundwork was still laid. And 1996 sure proved itself as a measuring stick for many years to come.

1998. Reverend Horton Heat, Bad Religion, The Aquabats, 22 Jacks, Deftones and Hatebreed -- and all in one day? You bet. Can't argue with that kind of diversity, given how popular ska, pop-punk and metal-tinged hardcore was at the time. The key to understanding why Warped felt more welcoming during these years is in how the majority of the acts appealed to such  broad age ranges. You didn't have to be 16 years old to get into Dance Hall Crashers or Rocket from the Crypt. Though pop-punk had become a mainstream identity in 1994 with Green Day's Dookie and The Offspring's Smash, there was still a very apparent punk aesthetic at this year's festival. When the pop aesthetic became more influential (especially in the wake of Blink-182's commercial success later in the '90s), things became more divided. It wasn't the Warped Tour's fault, necessarily. Personally, I blame all the teenagers who bought New Found Glory t-shirts instead of seeking out Social Distortion vinyl.

2005. This year actually featured a very good balance of bands that had been around (and weren't going anywhere) and bands on the cusp of breaking through. In many ways, it was a return to form. My Chemical Romance, Strung Out, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Thrice, The Dropkick Murphys and Circa Survive all together? Pretty cool.

2010. After a few years of up and down lineups in the 2000s (see below), 2010 had a lineup in the spirit of what drew a lot of different people to it in the first place. With Andrew W.K., Every Time I Die and Enter Shikari mixed with The All-American Rejects Alkaline Trio and so much more, this year proved a surprising treat.
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Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs