Since the mid-'90s, the Vans Warped Tour has been an annual staple on the summer festival scene. A traveling circus of big names, has-beens, never-weres and just-might-bes, the tour tends to cater to the punk and pop-punk crowd. As much will be evident when it rolls through NRG Park this Sunday, June 26. Among the noteworthy acts on this year’s Warped bill are Yellowcard, Good Charlotte and Sum 41. These bands are tailor-made for its blend of pop and punk, but that isn’t necessarily the case for some major acts who have played in the past.
Here are ten decidedly non-pop-punk artists you might have forgotten once graced the Warped Tour stage. (Note: This list is in alphabetical order.)
Musically, it’s not much of a fit, but Warped Tour has always welcomed eclectic sorts, and it don’t get more eclectic than Beck. Already a known commodity by the time he took his turn on the Warped Tour stage (to many, he was simply the guy who sang “Loser”), Beck became an outright phenomenon during that summer, fueled by the release of his most commercially successful album, Odelay (released in June 1996).
BLACK EYED PEAS (1999)
Before Fergie. Before “My Humps.” Before they added “the” to their name. Before they became the masters of crafting generic pop drivel tailor-made for intermission at NBA arenas, Black Eyed Peas were a legit indie hip-hop band, one that joined the Warped Tour for its final outing of the 20th century.
CHERRY POPPIN' DADDIES (1998)
The movie Swingers gave us a ton for which to be thankful. It gave us endless quotable lines. It gave us Vince Vaughn (the good version, circa 2003-2006). It gave us nice insight into the Los Angeles nightlife scene you don’t often see in other films. Unfortunately, it also helped revive swing music, which led to the rise of bands like Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the former of which rode out its 15 minutes of fame on Warped Tour in the summer of 1998.
In 1999, Slim Shady was still on the rise. The wisecracking smart-ass from the streets of Detroit released his major-label debut, The Slim Shady LP, in February 1999 and followed that up just a few short months later with a spot on the Warped Tour bill. Less than a year after getting off tour, fueled by the classic The Marshall Mathers LP, he was arguably the biggest pop star on the planet.
GODSMACK/KID ROCK/STAIND (1998)
This one is worth grouping together, if only because it sort of encapsulates the state of mainstream rock music in the late '90s. Basically, the louder you yelled (or, in the case of Kid Rock, rap-rocked), the more successful you were likely to become. The formula worked: These three artists all released major label albums in 1998-99, which combined to sell 17 million copies.
Ice-T has quietly put together one of the most successfully diverse careers in entertainment. Dude has sold millions of records, released an iconic song (“Cop Killer”) that spawned criticism from the President himself, acted in a number of noteworthy films and television shows, and has toured the world. That included a spot on the final Warped Tour of the 20th century, when Ice shared the bill with acts like Dropkick Murphys and Blink-182.
LIMP BIZKIT (1997)
Hate on Limp Bizkit all you want (deservedly so, in many cases), but their debut, Three Dollar Bill, Y’all (released while the band was playing Warped Tour in the summer of 1997), is a solid exercise in white male middle-class catharsis. Tracks like “Stuck” and “Sour” detail how an immature, shortsighted young man of the late '90s would respond to a relationship gone wrong, and the band’s cover of George Michael’s “Faith” remains a fun novelty listen to this day.
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KATY PERRY (2008)
Hey, before you headline the Super Bowl halftime show, you have to start somewhere, and that’s exactly what Perry did in 2008. Perry played Warped Tour in support of One of the Boys, which was released that summer and eventually sold more than 7 million copies. Perry’s sound doesn’t exactly jibe with that of Warped Tour, but the pop star actually credits the traveling festival for the success she’s had over the past decade. “I really got my bearings there,” she told USA Today of her Warped Tour experience.
Per Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, this one almost didn’t come to pass, as Sublime insisted on breaking the festival’s “no dogs or friends” rule. This resulted in Sublime's temporarily being sent home in 1995, only to rejoin later. A year later, the band became superstars with the release of its self-titled third album. Unfortunately, front man Bradley Nowell wasn’t around to see his band break; he died of a drug overdose two months before Sublime hit shelves.
PHARRELL WILLIAMS (2002)
In 2016, Pharrell is the man behind massive hits like “Blurred Lines,” “Get Lucky” and “Happy.” He’s a coach on hit TV singing competition The Voice and an 11-time Grammy winner. In 2002, he was a member of N.E.R.D. (No-One Ever Really Dies), a hip-hop/rock hybrid he co-founded with childhood friend Chad Hugo. The group played Warped Tour in support of that year’s In Search Of…, which eventually sold more than 600,000 copies.