The Vans Warped Tour kicks off on Friday (June 24) in Dallas, and tour founder Kevin Lyman has a lot of surprises in store. Over the last 17 years, Warped has grown from just over 25,000 attendees to an estimated 580,000 this summer, and although prices have risen proportionally, Lyman says he never stops thinking about how to give fans the most for their ticket, which this year costs around $50.
"I'm trying to figure out how to get a better value," Lyman said. "Maybe not the ticket price knocked down, but how do I get to spend more money on talent and do different things like that, versus Ticketmaster fees."
This year Lyman is amping up the educational and non-profit programs on the tour and continuing to increase the interactivity of the tour through social media. There are also "a lot of little hidden gems in the lineup this year," Lyman said.
"A few acts are gonna come in and out. There's gonna be some surprises. ATL for one show maybe," mumbled Lyman, hinting that pop-punk audience favorite All Time Low would be stopping be the tour for at least a day -- possibly July 27, when Warped is at Virginia Beach the day before ATL kicks off its North American tour in Richmond, VA.
In addition to headliners Paramore, 3OH!3, Jack's Mannequin, the Devil Wears Prada and Less Than Jake, Lyman recommends that fans, especially those in college and beyond, check out reggae-rock band Pepper, the Bad Rabbits, the Expendables, Larry and His Flask and the Dance Party. "There's a whole line-up out there that [older fans] might enjoy. They'll be like, 'Wow, Warped Tour might be for me this year.'"
There have been a lot of changes in Warped Tour's 17-year history, and the tour is constantly evolving. "I think you're going to see some big changes next year," Lyman said. "I'm working on a lot of big changes. Not so much with the show but maybe where it plays, the type of situations we play in."
Lyman is already making some changes -- the tour has cut Calgary in favor of Omaha and Las Vegas dates and shortened each day by 30 minutes. "I felt that it was getting a little long," Lyman said. Warped Tour will hit 44 cities in 52 days before wrapping in Oregon on August 14.
There tends to be an artist or a band that explodes onto the scene just before, during, or just after its first summer on Warped Tour. Last year, Mike Posner's song "Cooler Than Me" peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100 while he was out on Warped Tour and in 2008, Katy Perry had just started making buzz with her chart-topping singles from "One of the Boys" when she set off on tour, after Lyman booked her in fall 2008 based off the stength of a demo tape.
Lyman offered some insight on who will be the breakout artist this summer: "I don't know if there is any band that will be like the new Katy Perry necessarily, with big giant pop songs, but I think Yelawolf is underground and has a very similar path to what Eminem did. Big Chocolate -- all of a sudden people are talking all about Big Chocolate. He's a young kid I found and he's become quite the DJ."
Fans were given more opportunity to check out the Warped Tour bands this year, as the lineup was announced in small segments each week. "By announcing the bands this year five bands a week, a lot of people were able to learn about these bands ahead of time," said Lyman. The official Warped Tour 2011 pit reporter, Brian Walsh, has also been interviewing bands and giving out Warped Tour details for months, and will continue covering each day of the tour this summer.
"Are we giving so much that kids could just stay home and watch the Warped Tour?," Lyman wondered aloud, "I hope not, because I think you need to have that experience of sweating your ass off. And the social experience you'll never replace. You'll never replace music."
Here are the complete Warped Tour dates: (buy tickets)
June 24: Dallas, Texas (Gexa Energy Pavilion)
June 25: Houston, Texas (The Showgrounds At Sam Houston Race Park)
June 26: San Antonio, Texas (AT&T Center)
June 29: Las Cruces, N.M. (NMSU Practice Field)
June 30: Las Vegas, N.V. (Plaza Hotel - Parking Lot)
July 1: Pomona, Calif. (Pomona Fairplex)
July 2: Mountain View, Calif. (Shoreline Amphitheatre)
July 3: Ventura, Calif. (Ventura Country Fairground At Seaside Park)
July 6: Bonner Springs, Kan. (Sandstone Amphitheatre)
July 7: Noblesville, Ind. (Verizon Wireless Music Center)
July 8: Detroit, Mich. (Comerica Park)
July 9: Tinley Park, Ill. (First Midwest Bank Ampitheatre)
July 10: Shakopee, Minn. (Canterbury Park)
July 12: Darrien Center, N.Y. (Darien Lake Performing Arts Center)
July 13: Mansfield, Mass. (Comcast Center)
July 14: Scranton, Pa. (Toyota Pavilion At Montage Mountain)
July 15: Mississauga, ON (The Flats at Arrow Hall)
July 16: Montreal, QC (Parc Jean-Drapeau)
July 17: Hartford, Conn. (Comcast Theatre)
July 19: Milwaukee, Wis. (Marcus Amphitheatre)
July 20: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (Blossom Music Center)
July 21: Camden, N.J. (Susquehanna Bank Center)
July 22: Burgettstown, Pa. (First Niagara Pavilion)
July 23: Uniondale, N.Y. (Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum)
July 24: Oceanport, N.J. (Monmouth Park Raceway)
July 26: Columbia, Md. (Merriweather Post Pavilion)
July 27: Virginia Beach, Va. (Farm Bureau Live At Virginia Beach)
July 28: Charlotte, N.C. (Verizon Wireless Amphitheater)
July 29: Orlando, Fla. (Central Florida Fairgrounds)
July 30: West Palm Beach, Fla. (Cruzan Ampitheatre)
July 31: St. Petersburg, Fla. (Vinoy Park)
Aug. 1: Atlanta, Ga. (Aaron's Amphitheater at Lakewood)
Aug. 2: Cincinnati, Ohio (Riverbend Music Center)
Aug. 3: Maryland Heights, Mo. (Verizon Wireless Amphitheater)
Aug. 4: Council Bluffs, Iowa (Westfair Fairgrounds)
Aug. 5: Denver, Colo. (Invesco Field at Mile High)
Aug. 6: Salt Lake City, Utah (Utah State Fairpark)
Aug. 7: Phoenix, Ariz. (Ashley Furniture Homestore Pavilion)
Aug. 9: San Diego, Calif. (Cricket Amphitheatre)
Aug. 10: Carson, Calif. (Cal State Dominguez Hills)
Aug. 11: Marysville, Calif. (Sleep Train Amphitheater)
Aug. 12: Nampa, Idaho (Idaho Center Amphitheatre)
Aug. 13: George, Wash. (The Gorge Amphitheatre)
Aug. 14: Hillsboro, Ore. (Washington County Fairgrounds)