Kevin Lyman doesn’t want you to be disappointed with tomorrow’s anticipated reveal of the Vans Warped Tour 25th Anniversary Celebration artist lineups. In fact, he acts like he can hardly contain himself from blurting the big names we only imagine are scheduled for the gigs. (Update, March 1: the lineups have been made known.)

“God, I wish I could just put it out right now,” Lyman tells Loudwire of the announcement only hours away.

The founder of the legendary rock tour has worked long and hard with his team assembling the spreads for upcoming events in Cleveland, New Jersey and Northern California this June and July. Just like he’s done every summer since the mid-’90s for the traveling music festival that sadly sailed its last full, cross-country voyage last summer.

That is to say, if your favorite Warped Tour artist doesn’t end up appearing at one or all of this year’s special shows, it’s not that Lyman ignored that particular band or chose another in their place — not at all. It’s that there wasn’t any wiggle room left to fit them on the bill.

“We talked to everyone,” Lyman explains. “There’s acts that couldn’t make it work, and they wish they could make it work. Even this afternoon, some big bands are calling me, going, ‘How do we make this work?’ And, at this point, I just don’t have the time to make it work! We probably could’ve stretched this out to [more dates] pretty easily.”

While it’s not quite the prolonged rock circus that lit out for the territory, summer after summer, with dozens of bands in tow, it gives longtime Warped fans one more chance to bask in the magic. In 1995, a smorgasbord containing Deftones, No Doubt and Sublime played 25 Warped Tour dates across the States. Four years later, artists as disparate as blink-182 and Eminem were sharing the main stage on a month-long trek.

The mid-2000s is where Warped Tour really came into its own, however, outstripping other fests and making the unprecedented shift from beefed-up package tour to style-savvy arbiter of all things “scene.” Bedroom icons such as Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and Paramore took their emo-indebted wares and peddled them nationwide with Warped’s reach, and that era of acts perhaps owes more to the tour than any other epoch. Or vice versa.

“We were a part of their launch,” Lyman deadpans, downplaying the tour’s importance in some careers. “We were always a good part of an artist’s puzzle. And, for some of those artists, we were just one piece of the puzzle, and then they moved on. But for others, like Paramore, they played the Warped Tour three times as they were breaking.”

Jesse Grant, Getty Images
Kevin Lyman (Jesse Grant, Getty Images)

Maybe that’s why Warped Tour’s absence looms so large in the hole of the scene where it made its biggest impact. At the crux of a large swath of concertgoers’ formative tastes is a repurposed parking lot, a DIY attitude and a one-of-a-kind mix of exciting alternative performers. It may sound unappealing on paper, but that’s the Warped Tour. Without it, a piece of our concert experience feels missing.

At least this summer, bittersweetly, there are three more chances to relive that experience.

“We have a great mix of bands who’ve played Warped over the last 25 years,” Lyman reveals of the anniversary festivities. “You’ll see bands from the first couple years, the middle years, and some from the last couple of years. And, of course, someone will get mad because the one band they wanted won’t be there. But we came up with who could make it work, and we’re still delivering it at a fair ticket price.”

Of course, this leaves one big question hanging in the air, and Lyman pokes at it with the stunned but sure freedom of a satisfied creator. Will Warped Tour return after its 25th anniversary? The summer-long tour is gone for good — this we know — but will there be future Warped anniversary shows or one-off events?

“We’ll see, but I don’t think so,” the promoter responds, somewhat definitively. “This is a lot of fun, but we’re working on a lot of different things right now. I think there’s still that diehard fan that loves Warped and what it’s about, and what we stood for. And you always want to pay homage to the past but look forward to the future.”

You’ll notice Lyman slips into past tense when referring to Warped Tour now.

“And I’m looking forward to my future,” he adds.

Warped 25th presale tickets are available now. At 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT) tomorrow (March 1) the lineup will be announced and tickets will go on sale.


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