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 Having attended two large music festivals in the past two months I now realize why I left them behind along with my youth: Sweat and crowds don’t play well with me. It’s hard to see the appeal of standing on aching feet all day in upward of 100-degree temperatures alongside 10,000 sweaty concertgoers.

Then the bands begin their merry tune, and I remember why the heat and crowds are worth it. There is nothing quite like the communal experience of seeing your favorite band perform live. It’s so loud you can hear the drum playing on your brain, the bass rattling your bones, and the electric guitar shredding its way into your soul.

So yeah, it’s worth it.

I spent nine hours running around Vans Warped Tour in Charlotte, North Carolina, trying to get as many pictures and videos as I could. It was an exhausting day. I was apprehensive about attending because the last time I was there I was the tender age of 18. Now pushing 28, I worried I’d stick out like a sore thumb among all the little emo kids. I’d be akin to the dorky dad walking around an amusement park with a fanny pack and my socks pulled up to my knees.

Thankfully, I was very wrong. Vans Warped Tour has changed for the better. The mix of attendees was way more eclectic and varied than I ever remember. So if you’re thinking about going but are fretting that you’re too old or not part of the “emo scene,” then put those fears aside and go Bernie dance [see below] your way into the mosh pit. Side note: They also have slip ‘n slides now to help you cool off, and no one is ever too cool for a slip ‘n slide.

Additionally, they had quite a few bands from my teenage years, namely The Ataris, GWAR, and Hawthorne Heights.

I could go on and explain the best way to prepare for attending Vans Warped Tour, but the tips I previously made for attending a heavy metal music festival also apply here. I also could go on and wax poetic about how great each band was or get all nostalgic talking about seeing The Ataris play, but I won’t bore you.

Instead, check out this short video I put together of what Vans Warped Tour is like, as well as these pictures. I highly recommend going. There are quite a few dates left across the country, and I can promise you, even with the heat and crowds, it’ll be a day well spent. Rock on.

For dates and tickets, visit

Here is a list of the bands I saw perform, along with their websites. I think you’ll find at least one or two in here you’ll like.

Memphis May Fire
The Ataris
Fit for a King
Hands Like Houses
Valient Thorr
Our Last Night
I Prevail

Check out our interviews with Warped Tour vets Memphis May Fire and We Came As Romans

Warped Tour the ataris
The Ataris
Warped Tour Beartooth crowd surfer
crowd surfer
Warped Tour Beartooth
gwar warped tour
gwar crowd at warped tour
Crowd getting sprayed with GWAR blood
i prevail warped tour
I Prevail
i prevail warped tour at sunset
The sun sets at Warped Tour
the storm approaches at warped tour in Charlotte
The storm approaches
valiant thorr at warped tour in Charlotte
Valiant Thorr
valiant thorr at warped tour in Charlotte lead singer
Valiant Thorr
tipped over Monster at Warped Tour in Charlotte
How I felt by the end of the day

*Photos and video by Brian Ledtke


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