(The title of this post is a reference to "Homecoming" by Green Day.)
The day after Indiana, we were in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio- having spent four years living in Cleveland for school, this was my "second-hometown" show! I had a feeling when I woke up that it was going to be a good day, and it was. I ran in to so many friends, and I hit goal early which meant I had time to go shoot Good Charlotte again.
Blossom Music Center has a few big hills, which meant my legs got a good workout that day, but I was in such a good mood I didn't care. Cleveland will always be special to me!
While it would normally be time to finish up for the day at 6pm, I was given the go-ahead to keep outreaching, and by 8:15pm, I'd hit 551 activations and given out the same number of wristbands- the record (to date) for the tour! Then, I checked out a screening of the documentary Long Way to the Top for a bit- but ducked out early to meet up with my friend Raeann, who'd come to visit.
The next day we were in Cincinatti. The venue itself wasn't that exciting- most of the festival was on a black top, with two stages in an amphitheater- but what was exciting was that we got to tear down early to hit up the water park next door! Warped Tour is HARD WORK- it drains you physically and mentally- so the chance to goof off for a bit before bus call was welcomed. I've never been one for rollercoasters but I could spend hours jumping in a pool and riding water slides.
I didn't spend that long at the park, though- I wanted to catch Waterparks' set. (The irony of leaving a water park to go photograph Waterparks is not lost on me.) They were playing in the amphitheater; while it's cool seeing bands play on a bigger stage, amphitheaters can be tough to shoot because it's often so dark- so, I did my best (and boosted my ISO) to get the shots.
The following day found us in Auburn Hills (Detroit), Mich. The lines were so long! I loved that I was able to keep talking to people for hours- they just kept coming!- and I also loved that Something More was telling everyone they'd be playing on the Full Sail University Stage that day. I've known them for a few years and have seen them play a few times; they'd been working in catering during the day and selling CDs to kids in line, and this was the first time they would get to perform on Warped Tour. I felt like a proud mom photographing Something More at a Warped Tour show!
All summer my teammates had been talking about Jeffree Star Cosmetics' Velour Liquid Lipsticks. I never wore lipstick on the tour because why bother when it's just going to rub off? But, when his booth returned at the Michigan show, I was persuaded to pick up the shade Masochist (a dark pink) and I'm so glad I did: it stayed on FOREVER. It was so nice feeling a little more put-together!
I was able to shoot Good Charlotte again that day, and on my third time doing so, I felt like I had a better handle of how they were going to move around on stage and where I should position myself. It was still a tough shoot, though- the pit was packed!
That day also marked the release of Capsize's new album A Reintroduction: The Essence of All That Surrounds Me, so they were joined by a few special guests on stage.
After Michigan, we were in Tinley Park (Chicago), Ill.. This was another venue where kids weren't allowed to line up at the entrance until a predetermined time, so the earlybirds were found in a parking lot down the road. It was a crazy day but I also had the pleasure of meeting my very incredible friend Ashley in person for the first time (we'd been internet friends for ages, thanks to bands like Vanna and No Bragging Rights).
After an 8am morning meeting, we would reach the line of kids by 8:10 or so. Sometimes there would be less than a dozen kids there, sometimes we'd be greeted by hundreds; in Shakopee, Minn. I met a group that had been there since 2:30am!
Every day in lines we were joined by bands promoting their music and selling CDs. Some were local bands from each city, some followed the tour for a few days, but there were a few, like our new friends Vanity Strikes, who followed the entire tour. In Shakopee, after shooting Less Than Jake, I took a few photos of Vanity Strikes. You might think a bright, sunny day is the best lighting for portraits, but overcast days are usually better: harsh sunlight creates a lot of contrast and shadows, but I made it work!
I was able to spend most of that day shooting, and because there were so many bands I wanted to catch, I ended up bouncing around to catch all of them. Every Time I Die is one of those bands that's so heavy, they just make me feel alive; Tonight Alive was as empowering as ever; and I wouldn't miss a chance to shoot Like Pacific.
The catering on Warped Tour was pretty fantastic, and in Shakopee we got one of my favorite lunches: tacos! They even made vegan queso, which was pretty great.
Waterparks are one of my favorite discoveries from this summer. Their music is so catchy and they're pretty funny on stage, so I shot them whenever I could. I also caught Yellowcard, Good Charlotte, and Assuming We Survive, who were a blast to shoot: they jumped around a lot and really interacted with the crowd!
While I'd seen Capsize before this summer, it took watching them on Warped to really become a fan. Old Wounds is another band I'd heard of, but hadn't previously gotten in to, but one of the coolest things about being a part of such a big tour was being able to discover bands just by catching bits of their set- Wage War is one of those. I'd seen and photographed Sleeping With Sirens before, but their songs got stuck in my head every day, and when I got to photograph them, I had so much fun: they're such good performers!
At the end of the day in Shakopee, I caught Sum 41, then rushed to the tent to help make packets to pass out. A few minutes in to that, though, a volunteer who'd come to help out informed me that there was a Ben & Jerry's stand at the venue selling their non-dairy (vegan) ice cream, so I took a quick ice cream break before going to shoot Real Friends (I've got a huge sweet tooth, and the PB & cookies flavor hits the spot!). To finish off the night, I photographed The Heirs, another band that would wake up early each morning to promote their music in the lines with us.
We had the following day off in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. I was pleasantly surprised to find vegan pizza in "America's Dairyland": a few of my fellow activists from peta2 and our friends at FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement) headed over to Dells Pizza Lab and got pies LOADED with veggies and Daiya vegan cheese.
In Milwaukee, I got lucky that Good Charlotte was playing at the end of the day- after doing outreach from our tent all day, I ran over to shoot their set... and was surprised that Issues was still finishing up beforehand. After tearing things down, passing out leaflets, and eating a quick dinner, I caught Sum 41 again.
I didn't expect Maryland Heights, Mo. to be unbearably hot and humid, but it was. Rather than shooting, I took a break that evening to hang out with my friend Renee, who'd hopped on the tour to help Sum 41 with merch. I met Renee on her first tour- five years ago- and it's so cool to see how hard she's worked to get cool opportunities!
While the crowd in Bonner Springs, Kan. was tough, I actually really liked the venue. It felt secluded from everything, and I loved that the layout seemed to make sense (there was plenty of quiet space to talk to people, which made having conversations in outreach easy). I also loved that my friend Elizabeth Porch brought a few dozen vegan chocolate chip cookies for my teammates and I! Homemade treats are such a great surprise when you're on the road. I shot Good Charlotte one last time, and after we all packed up, I shot Tonight Alive. A few of my friends were there to watch Tonight Alive's set, and we all agreed that Jenna has an amazing voice, and that they're one of the best bands on the tour.
For the scenery and the food, Denver is one of my favorite places to visit, so it was great to have a day off there. Several of us headed to WaterCourse Foods, where I had vegan wings (one of my top three in the country), mac and cheeze, and a very impressive milkshake. Another one of my favorite places is Salt Lake City, where we headed for a show the day after the day off in Denver. It was a smaller show, but the following show in Denver was pretty big. I worked our merch table that day, and it was busy from doors open till the last band of the day.
We had another small show in Albuquerque, after which we headed to a beautiful hotel in Litchfield Park, Ariz. (near Phoenix) for two consecutive days off! I tried to keep busy by editing photos, running to Walmart, getting lunch at Green (and soft-serve at Nami), and swimming in the pool. While in Arizona we also had the annual Vans Warped Tour Charity Bowling Tournament! It was fun to go out and hang out with everyone outside of the shows.
The show in Phoenix started a few hours later than normal, which meant that when I went to shoot The New Low at the end of the night, it was dark- and much harder to get the shot! I think it made for some cool images though.
After Phoenix we were on to San Diego. It was another tough crowd but I was excited to watch Set Your Goals at the end of the night once we were packed up. The last time I saw them was in 2011, when they opened for New Found Glory on the Pop Punk's Not Dead Tour- one of the first shows I shot with a photo pit. Time flies! I also shot Safe To Say that evening.
We went up the California coast to Mountain View, which is near San Jose and San Francisco. I ran in to a few friends there- like Alie Krohn, who shoots for Circles & Soundwaves- and had the pleasure of working with a really amazing street teamer named Phoebe. It was her second year volunteering with peta2 at Warped Tour, and she works hard as an activist year-round. I love meeting young activists: Phoebe was only 17!
Once things were done for the night, I shot Falling In Reverse's set- but unfortunately only grabbed a few shots before my camera got splashed with water (luckily, it was fine after drying out overnight!).
From there we headed back down to Pomona (near Los Angeles), which ended up being one of my favorite shows of the tour! Because it was the only LA-area show this year, the crowd was huge, which means lines were long: I would be working from the tent all afternoon and hit my goal of 250 activations at 11:59am, before I even went inside for lunch. I had so much fun using the megaphone to outreach and stayed out a few minutes late to hit 450- earning another day off (I was the only one to hit that goal of 200 extra activations- earning a day off- twice in the tour!). I was also really happy to run in to my friend Gaëlle Pitrel. Gaëlle is from France and we met a few years ago when she visited for Warped Tour; she's been in L.A. most of this year interning for SideOneDummy Records. After leafleting, I went to shoot Capsize's set- they were playing during the golden hour, right before sunset, so the lighting was just perfect.
That night I was able to meet up with my friend Mallory Turner, and my friend Mike Frazier, who was in town on his tour! Some friends on Warped introduced me to friends of theirs; it is always so great to meet new people.
After Pomona we had a day off in Las Vegas. To be perfectly honest I've never been a big fan of Vegas- I don't drink, I don't like clubbing, and I don't like gambling, so it's just not my scene. We were celebrating Denisse's birthday though, and she loves Vegas; our bus had parked outside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, where we'd be spending the night, but we began the festivities with a trip to the Stratosphere with Erik and Audrey to begin the festivities. While I don't love the nightlife, I couldn't resist taking in the beautiful view (and I loved getting cinnamon buns at Cinnaholic and donuts from Ronald's Donuts with my friend Craig, who moved to Vegas last year).
The Las Vegas show was another one with a later start. The venue was particularly interesting because part of the show was outside but part of it was inside at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Normally after work was done for the day I'd go and shoot a set, but this time I put on my bathing suit and jumped in to the Hard Rock's gorgeous pool (there was sand on the bottom, like we were at the beach or something).
We had another day off after Vegas, this time in Twin Falls, Idaho. When I woke up we were somewhere in Utah; I raised the blinds a bit in the front lounge and was amazed by the view. It was so different from what I'm used to; I enjoyed looking out the window while drinking my coffee. Our bus was parked right next to a Target and a Sally Beauty Supply (where I stocked up on hair dye); Denisse and I grabbed dinner (pad thai and spring rolls) at the Thai place conveniently in the same parking lot.
When I woke up and walked off the bus in Nampa, Idaho, there was a tractor parked right next to us. To no surprise, I met a lot of farm kids that day. I once again had the privilege of working with an amazing street teamer, Rory, who was shy at first but throughout the day, started to really excel at approaching people and talking to them about animal rights!
Geoff from Waterparks had broken his hand a few days prior so he wasn't able to perform that day- which lead their vocalist/ guitarist Awsten and drummer Otto to play by themselves.
When we got to Auburn (Seattle), Wash., it really hit me that the tour was coming to a close, and I was pretty bummed. But, I made the most of my outreach in lines before spending most of the day taking photos. There were a few bands I wanted to catch before the tour ended; before lunch I made sure to catch The Summer Set, SayWeCanFly, Young Guns, and Coldrain. I ended up running back and forth between stages quite a lot, but it was so worth it to get the photos.
In between shooting Sykes and With Confidence, I grabbed photos of my teammates outreaching and of the Tonight Alive signing we hosted at the peta2 tent.
While he still wasn't able to play guitar (thanks to the broken hand), this time Geoff watched most of Waterparks' set from the crowd, and joined the band on stage to sing his part in "Crave." Since it was a Friday, the entire band participated in "Floral Fridays", a weekly tradition involving mandatory floral shirts.
After Waterparks I caught Yellowcard one last time; on my way to shoot Safe To Say I ran in to Jordan from Like Pacific again, and had to snap him goofing off. I also took a quick photo of my friend Elizabeth- who was out on the tour for To Write Love On Her Arms.
In between sets, I met up with Geoff to take a few photos of him. My favorite is the last one: I lied down on the ground and had him bend over and yell in my face.
Right after my shoot with Geoff, I ran to catch Capsize: they'd been bumped up to the Monster Energy North Stage! I took a few photos from stage, but when I saw their singer Daniel hop off the stage and into the crowd, I ran right back to get up close. Following them I caught Cruel Hand, Cane Hill, and Broadside, who'd also been bumped up to a bigger stage.
Every so often there will be a complete wildcard on Warped Tour; this year Waka Flocka Flame played a few shows, so I was pretty excited to get to shoot him.
To finish the day, I shot Against The Current (Chrissy Costanza is such a powerful frontwoman; I got to listen to their set a few times over the summer) and Knuckle Puck.
After dinner that night, I shot Like Pacific's set. I'm so proud of how hard they worked this summer and so glad they were the last band I shot on Warped Tour 2016.
That night was Warped Tour Prom. Instead of bringing a date, I decided to spend the night mingling with everyone I knew, which ended up being a good choice.
The final Warped Tour show this year was in Portland, Ore. After 41 shows, it was hard to believe that the summer was over. I'm glad I had a few days in Portland before flying to Orlando, where I was the Tour Administrator for PETA's I, Orca exhibit; the time allowed me to really take in everything I'd done and experienced over the summer.
I'm proud of myself for achieving a longtime goal of getting a job on the Vans Warped Tour. I'm proud of myself and my teammates for making such a difference to help animals. I'm proud of all of the bands on the tour for working so hard to grow as musicians and make new fans. I'm proud of the photographs I took and the friends I made.
Warped Tour was a LOT of work. I don't think there was a single day where I wasn't physically and mentally exhausted. But it was all worth it; every bit of work had a purpose, both small (fill this jug with water so we can be hydrated) and large (fill this jug with water so we can be hydrated and therefore be better activists to save animals).
From I, Orca, I headed to Buffalo, N.Y. to train peta2 volunteers at Safe in Sound, an EDM tour. I've since done outreach at a few other shows around the east coast, and I've photographed and reviewed a handful of shows. I've started a new job at a coffee and juice bar, and I'm planning some more travel before the end of the year; other than that, who knows what's next?
I enjoyed my summer on Warped Tour, and I really hope I am able to do it again next year. If you are working towards a goal in your life- whether your goal is also getting on Warped Tour or whether it's completely unrelated- I hope following my journey has inspired you to keep working towards it.