Since 1996, the Vans Warped Tour has been a staple of punk and youth culture all over the world, uniting kids of all stripes under the violent heat of the sun one day out of the year in cities across the map. The traveling festival is responisble for breaking bands worldwide, like My Chemical Romance and Blink-182, while also fostering younger bands along the way.
The Warped Tour also manages to link today's fans with older acts that most of these kids would only know from older YouTube clips. Over its history, it has showcased bands like Suicidal Tendencies, Circle Jerks, G.B.H., and Fishbone that helped form the bedrock of what punk is today.
Rocks Off started going to Warped in 1999, and that first year was an eye-opening cultural experience. There were booths selling books on politics and social awareness, we got to hear bands that we wouldn't have otherwise heard, and we saw thousands of kids just like us who weren't digging on all the music on the radio, so we were searching for something else. Plus, punk-rock girls were cuter than other girls.
Looking back, we saw plenty of bands and artists before they went mega, and wouldn't be able to play Warped again due to their success. In 1999 Eminem was touring behind his first album, and he stole the hat off the head of my best friend Chad when he jumped into the pit with us. I got Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 to sign my Adidas that year too. Or was it my arm? Both guys would be playing stadiums within a year.
Then there were the bands that we burned red-hot for, but they didn't quite last, the ones that you only remember from the compilations you bought at the festival. We have memories of seeing bands people probably don't remember like the Pietasters, The Living End and Molotov. And oh man, Monique Powell from Save Ferris was our imaginary girlfriend for a whole summer after we saw her live.
Seeing Bad Religion, Rancid, and the Business was love at first sight too. The circle-pits commanded by Lars Frederiksen, seeing Greg Graffin walk by and stopping in our tracks in amazement, and the lead singer of the Business writing "Oi!" on our shaved head in lieu of an autograph...
Warped also helped us deal with covering festivals a decade later for the Houston Press. The music changed, but the sweat and stink did not. We covered the last few Warped dates in Houston for Rocks Off, and we felt like dirty, old, out-of-touch men, but we had fun nonetheless.
We made a playlist of 30 bands, the best 30 bands to ever play the Warped Tour in our minds: The punks, the rude boys, the hardcore dudes, the metalheads and the emo cats that made us find a shady spot to cry in our sno-cones.
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We have enabled collaboration on the playlist, so feel free to add more bands.