The Warped Tour 2016 Survival Guide

Written by Shannon Shumaker

Summer has officially started, and along with it, The 2016 Vans Warped Tour kicks off this week. This year, the nearly two-month long tour is taking things “back-to-basics,” as founder Kevin Lyman has put it. Not only has the tour cut down on stages, with only seven stages as opposed to last year’s nine with an additional acoustic tent and comedy tent, but this year will also see the return of many Warped Tour veterans such as Good Charlotte, New Found Glory, Less Than Jake and Sum 41 alongside newcomers and soon to be breakout bands. This year’s traveling festival is unlike years prior, promising to bring back many older fans as well as Warped Tour first-timers.

Because this all-day festival can be a bit daunting, especially to those who have not attended before, we’ve created a survival guide for the 22nd edition of Warped Tour, so you can spend less time stressing and more time enjoying great music this summer!

WHAT TO WEAR:

The first thing many Warped Tour veterans and newbies think about is what they’ll wear to the festival, and with good reason. This isn’t necessarily a matter of choosing your favorite outfit, but something that will be comfortable all day. You’re planning on spending around ten hours outside in the heat (and any other unpredictable weather) and the last thing you want is to be uncomfortable.

An easy, smart outfit for Warped Tour should consist of:

  • A lightweight shirt or tank top, preferably of a lighter color. Black looks cool and all, but you won’t be feeling very cool with the sun beating down on you all day.
     
  • Shorts or pants that you are comfortable wearing all day.
     
  • Tennis shoes, or any sort of shoes that you are comfortable wearing for long periods of time. Flip flops won’t cut it this time around - you’re going to be on your feet all day long! (Plus if you plan on doing anything other than standing around, you’re going to lose sandals pretty fast.)

WHAT TO BRING:

You don’t want to pack too much for Warped Tour, but you also don’t want to be completely unprepared. Each year, I always see at least one person who decided to show up with nothing but the shirt on their back, and by the end of the day, they’re usually hiding from the sun, watching a band from the shade, and severely regretting not bringing sunscreen or anything else along with them.

However, there are a few items that are not allowed inside of the festival. According to Warped Tour’s website, these include chains (ex: wallet chains), alcohol, recording devices, firearms, weapons, knives etc. and any illegal substances. We recommend either bringing a small lightweight backpack with the following (or designating one of your friends to be the responsible pack mule):

  • Lots of sunscreen
     
  • A water bottle or camelback. Camelbacks are a godsend - they’re fairly lightweight and the venues normally have a water refill station, so you can spend less money on water and more money on merch!
     
  • A small snack. Food at the venue tends to be a bit pricey, so if you’re trying not to spend a lot, or want to save money for merch, this is ideal.
     
  • Some paper and a sharpie to write down set and signing times. The sharpie will also come in handy if you run into any artists and want them to sign something.
     
  • Your fully charged cell phone and (if needed) a portable cell phone charger. Service at the venue can sometimes be spotty with so many people in one place, so your phone’s battery may drain quicker than usual. This is especially crucial if you’re coming with a group or need to meet up with friends and/or family after the show.
     
  • A poncho. I know sounds a little bit ridiculous, but you’ll be thanking me when it starts pouring out of nowhere and you can’t find a tent to stand under. A poncho at Walmart literally only costs $1 and it is totally worth it, not to mention, still packaged it won’t take up much room in a backpack.
     
  • Your parents. Warped Tour offers one free ticket for a parent to accompanies a minor that has purchased a ticket to a 2016 Warped Tour show. Younger concert-goers or warped tour newbies, this is a great way to convince your parents to let you go! 

AT THE SHOW: The Prelude Press staff's personal tips

  • Warped Tour has already released a stage guide mapping out which bands are playing on which stages this year. This can help you plan out your day a little easier! In the time between now and your date, familiarize yourself with this list and the bands on it.
     
  • I always recommend showing up to the festival early. Not only do the set times vary each day, with at least one big artist always playing first, but some bands will also be walking through the line with their set times, which can give you a head start on planning your day. (Plus you can say hi and snap a photo.) Additionally, the first bands usually don’t begin to play until about half an hour after gates open, so if you’re there early, it’ll give you plenty of time to check out set times and plan out your day.
     
  • Once you’re in the venue, walk through it and get a feel for where things are. Find the stages’ locations and figure out where the merch booths are early in the day, that way you’re not struggling to find it later or scrambling to make it to a stage that you haven’t been to yet when a band you love is about to go on.

    Not only that, but many passes for signings and meet and greets are limited and given out on a first come, first serve basis. It is worth it to scope out merch booths and signing times early in the day!
     
  • Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and getting something to eat. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it can be easy to forget between running to stages to catch your favorite artists, waiting in line for signings, or taking a TEI class in the middle of the day. The last thing you want is to pay a visit to the medical tent because of heat exhaustion on what is supposed to be the best day of the summer.
     
  • Put on sunscreen. Keep putting on sunscreen. Think you have enough sunscreen on? You don’t. I’m serious, I somehow manage to get burnt every single year, and it’s awful. You should be reapplying sunscreen in between bands, whenever you get a chance. You’ll thank me for it later.
     
  • Where you watch the show from is also key. If you want to focus on one stage, that's fine but if you're at the barricade you will get crushed by crowd surfers all day! Be prepared. If you want to bounce around from stage to stage, stand a little further back so you can come and go as you please. Also remember that bands aren't going to wait for you to show up to start playing and most of them only have 30 minutes to play, so if you're 10-15 minutes late, you've already missed half the set
     
  • Figure out a schedule, but don’t plan on sticking to it 100% of the day! Sometimes, you’ll be walking past a stage and hear a band you didn’t plan on seeing, but who really catches your attention. This is one of the best things about Warped Tour - discovering great new music!

GET TO KNOW THE NON-PROFITS, PARTNERS, SPONSORS AND WORKSHOPS:

Warped Tour is not only a great place to check out new music, but the festival’s sponsors, non-profits and workshops are specifically catered to their fans.

This year, one of the best partners on Warped Tour is A Voice For The Innocent. This organization is a community of support for those affected by rape and sexual abuse and is not only serving as a resource for Warped Tour’s concert-goers, but will also be training and teaching artists on the tour how to better serve their community. There will be outreach at every show and A Voice For The Innocent will provide resources for those affected by sexual assault or harassment. Learn more at http://www.avoicefortheinnocent.org/

Feed Our Children NOW! Accepts donations of 3 canned goods (Cannot be dented or expired cans), a $5 donation or a used cell phone in exchange for early entry into the festival. Fans can bring their donation to the Feed Our Children NOW! tent, located by the main entrance gates near the Express Entry flag, to receive an Express Entry wristband. Not only do you get in early, but all donations go to feed hungry children in each city and fund their youth empowerment programs.

Want to get backstage? The nonprofit organization Music Saves Lives offers a backstage wristband for the first 100 fans daily that redeem their Music Saves Lives Blood Donation Voucher at the Music Saves Lives tent. In order to get your MSL Blood Donation Voucher you will need to donate blood or have someone donate blood on your behalf at a Music Saves Lives sponsored blood drive. To get involved, go to http://musicsaveslives.org/

This year, The Entertainment Institute is also bringing you classes from more artists and industry professionals than ever! TEI will offer daily, 40-minute backstage learning sessions, courtesy of experts, or "Gurus.” Classes this year are taught by a ton of great Warped artists such as Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory, Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die, Garret Rapp of The Color Morale and many, many more. Check out all of the Warped Tour workshops at http://www.thinktei.com/warpedtour

LAST BUT NOT LEAST:

Have fun, watch your favorite bands and discover new music! One of my favorite things to do to get excited for Warped Tour is listen to all of the band’s I’m not familiar with. You never know if you’re going to fall in love with one of them! Listen to our Warped Tour playlist to get a head start! 

We also recently compiled a list of some of the best artists to check out before your date this year, but don’t just take our word for it! Ask your friends who to check out! Keep an eye on the Warped Tour social media accounts to see which bands are really killing it this year. Usually, if there’s a lot of hype around them, or if someone recommends them, they’re worth checking out.

Have any tips? Want to share your own Warped Tour stories? Comment below!