Vans Warped Tour: Fans, artists celebrate ‘best tour of all time’

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Attending the 2019 Vans Warped Tour at Shoreline Amphitheatre was a lot like looking back at old yearbooks.

Oh, I remember Goldfinger. They had that song about somebody’s bedroom and were led by a singer who I always get confused with Mark McGrath.

Look! There’s Save Ferris. They were the band that people liked to compare to No Doubt and did that cover of a Dexys Midnight Runners song.

And check out Greg Graffin. The Bad Religion singer hasn’t changed a bit since we hung out back in the day.

Talk about bringing back some old memories, especially for those fans who started going to this fest back in the ’90s and have stuck with it over the years.

The plethora of veteran acts on the bill ensured that this 25th anniversary Warped Tour — which was making its only West Coast stop at Shoreline — would nothing less than a satisfying trip down Memory Lane on Saturday (July 20).

Besides Goldfinger, Bad Religion and Save Ferris, the bill featured such Warped regulars as Less Than Jake, Simple Plan, Anti Flag and Silverstein.

The two-day event concludes on Sunday (July 21) with a bill that includes the Story So Far, the Used, the Dollyrots, Sum 41, NOFX and, perhaps best of all, Jawbreaker.

(See set times here.)

Of course, it’s a bit of a surprise that we are even talking about Warped in 2019, given that last year’s tour was billed as its final cross-country jaunt. Yet, Warped founder Kevin Lyman had long said that he planned to do a few special events this year in celebration of the tour’s 25th anniversary — and, as luck would have it, one of those events ended up being in the Bay Area.

Actually, luck probably didn’t have much to do it. The selection of Mountain View, over the multitude of other contending cities to host the sole West Coast stop of the tour, has a lot to do with Lyman’s affection for the area.

“Everyone anticipated (we’d do) Southern California, of course, being that I am from here,” Lyman told me during an interview earlier this year. “But people always ask, ‘What is your favorite show (location)?’ I look for the good in all of them, but then I started narrowing it down and — you know what? — San Francisco has always been (the site of) some of my favorite shows … ”

And the Bay Area proved worthy of Lyman’s vote of confidence. The first of two capacity crowds turned out on Day One to enthusiastically soak up some 10 hours of pop-punk, ska-pop, hardcore and other shades of adrenaline-rich music performed on five stages.

Everyone seemed overjoyed by the occasion, possibly in part because so many assumed that 2018 would be the last hurrah. Smiles were seen all around, even in the mosh pits, and most certainly on the stage as numerous musicians took the time to show their love for both Lyman and the festival.

Goldfinger vocalist John Feldmann — who hails from Saratoga and is actually way cooler than Mark McGrath — went so far as to call Warped the “best tour of all time.”

“This has been the best (expletive) day of my (expletive) life,” he said at the end of the set.

I think a lot of attendees would echo similar sentiments, albeit perhaps with a few less expletives. And, without a doubt, Lyman was the most popular man in the venue.

“We’d like to thank Kevin Lyman for putting this all together,” said Keith Morris, the punk rock icon from Black Flag and Circle Jerks who is now fronting the band Off! “If you see Lyman, give him a (expletive) hug. Give him a smooch.”

While a good portion of the crowd was in its 40s and 50s, and likely had attended multiple Warped Tours in the past, there was also a strong contingent of younger fans, who might have been witnessing their first Warped.

“Yeah, I’m (expletive) old enough to be your grandfather,” Morris remarked to the crowd.

Age was definitely a topic onstage, as artists reflected back on all the years — and, in some cases, decades — since they made their Warped Tour debut.

“The best news I heard today is, since they added Bad Religion, I am now the fifth oldest person playing this year,” Feldmann joked.