The little Summer music festival that refuses to call it quits kicked off year 20 with a warm day in Houston. This city and Warped have a special relationship at this point: the tour either starts or ends here, which means for a lot of folks Summer starts or ends in Houston. It's hard to say which is better: the start means everyone is fresh and has the most energy, but the end means that it's a celebration of another year conquered.
Whether it's a celebration of beginnings or endings, there are certain things that happen every year without fail. Here are 20 of them that we counted this year:
1. No matter what the lineup is, no matter how hot the day is, no matter what day of the week the show takes place on, people will show up.
2. No matter if you were there before the gates opened, showed up mid-afternoon, or are squeezing in a few hours after work, you aren't going to be the only person entering the park at any given moment.
3. If you're willing to skip a few bands to wait in line, there's a good chance you can meet your favorite band and get a picture with them.
4. People will in fact skip seeing music to wait in line to meet a band, even if that means skipping seeing the band they're waiting in line to meet.
5. Less Than Jake is always a solid addition to your schedule; this year they'll play their 365th show on the Warped Tour, so needless to say they've perfected the art of the Warped Tour set.
6. Even if you've already seen a band on the tour recently, go see them again anyway; in the case of Finch, you might actually get to hear a song or two from their second record.
7. For every band you've never heard of, at least ten people are going to show up and sing along. If they're on a big stage, that number goes up to at least 50.
8. The stage layout will always be slightly different, no matter how many times the tour comes to the same venue.
9. People will sit anywhere -- under trees, far away from any of the stages, near garbage containers -- if it means sitting in the shade.
10. People who love animals will try and convince you about the evils of eating meat, and will kill a lot of trees to do so.
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11. Warped Tour isn't afraid to challenge your expectations; this year they put the dance music stage right inside the gates, which meant there was a good chance when you walked in the first thing you heard was not a power chord but a trap beat. This is awesome if you show up when Crizzly is onstage.
12. A circle pit is always a good idea. Yeah, there are signs that say no moshing or crowd-surfing, but a circle pit isn't a mosh or a crowd-surf, it's simply a group of people running in a circle at the same time. Totally different. Totally.
13. There will always be awesome parents willing to take one for the team. Veteran Warped Tour Parents know to head straight to the adult day-care.
14. The festival will always been a marvel of logistics. I can't imagine how big of a pain it must be to keep that many people and objects organized on a given day, let alone place to place.
15. If you keep your ears open, there's a good chance you'll find a new band to fall in love with. This year my new band is Courage My Love, who wasn't even on my radar when I walked in to the fest, but were so good I had to stop and pay attention.
16. There's always one odd stage sponsor. This year, for my money, it was WARHEADS. And hey, if Kia can afford to ship a car around the country, shouldn't WARHEADS be obligated to ship a giant candy as well?
17. It is entirely possible to have a great day at Warped in a few hours, if the schedule works in your favor. Plenty of folks were calling it a day by 3 p.m. with smiles on their faces.
18. There is nothing more frustrating than standing in the sun when you can see a rain shower on the horizon.
19. If you offer people the chance to cover themselves in paint, they will take it.
20. No matter how many times you've told yourself you're never going to Warped again, you will, because it's the best way to spend an afternoon in the summer.
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