The first time I attended the Warped Tour, I was 15 years old and hadn’t gone to many concerts.
Music (especially music with meaningful lyrics) has always been a huge part of my life, but it wasn’t until high school that I discovered the magic of live music and, along with it, the magic of Warped Tour.
For those who are unfamiliar, Warped Tour is a two-day concert stacked with the most popular bands in rock, punk, emo, screamo, etc. They tour around the country every summer; or, at least they did until 2018.
Last summer was the final full cross-country tour, and this year they had an anniversary show in just three cities, celebrating their 25-year run.
I was lucky enough that one of those cities was close by, and so this past weekend I had the privilege of attending my fifth and final Warped Tour.
When I was a teenager, I loved this show because I got to see all of my favorite bands in one place, and I got to spend the entire day running around between stages, vendor stands, and all of the other cool activities they had there.
I also loved it because it was one of the only places that I truly felt like myself.
I might’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but I didn’t have a great relationship with myself as I was growing up.
I did enjoy high school and have plenty of friends, but my taste in music, art, clothing, and a lot of other things, was always just slightly off compared with what was trendy or popular at the time.
I didn’t mind that a lot of people thought my music preference was weird; I still found the lyrics meaningful and the instruments exciting.
One thing a lot of people don’t realize about hardcore or alternative music is that the lyrics are often very deep and poetic, and that has always been the main thing that made me feel at home while listening to it.
I think it’s safe to assume that every teenager has to deal with heartbreak, self-consciousness, and anxiety for one reason or another. As a very emotional person and an artist deep down, I was certainly no exception to this.
But when I was at Warped, I not only felt that I could truly be myself and be accepted for it, I saw so many other people outright celebrating whatever it was that made them unique.
I found companionship in absolute strangers as we both screamed out lyrics about loss and hardship right next to one another, knowing that we would never speak of it but that we both were clearly going through similar things.
I found encouragement and inspiration in so many of the band members who would hang out at their merch booths right in the middle of the venue, more than happy to engage in conversation with random fans such as myself.
I found joy in letting loose and dancing to the music, having my body thrown into the air and trusting that the sturdy hands of the crowd would catch me and keep me high above it all. Yes, I, a fashion blogger, am talking about my deep love for crowd surfing.
When I think about my teenage years, I almost always think of Warped Tour and the summer days I spent there. I think of the music that made me who I am; music that still makes up about 90% of my current iTunes library.
It’s so interesting how things like music, books, and movies can seamlessly connect our past to our present. All I have to do is put my phone on shuffle and chances are that an old Silverstein, Finch, or New Found Glory jam will bring me right back to being 17 again.
Those are the obvious reasons why this past weekend meant so much to me. But the most special part of the whole weekend, and the part I hadn’t thought about too much beforehand, was getting to experience it with my husband.
Sometimes it’s freaky how similar Joe and I are. It’s no surprise that we had a lot of the same interests growing up, even though we didn’t meet until he was 24 and I was 25.
We were both equally pumped when we saw the lineup for the Warped Tour 25th Anniversary, and knew we had to make it happen.
I’ve said many times since we got engaged and then married how I wish I could go back in time and relive my teenage years with my husband by my side.
I know that we both had to have certain experiences and get further along in life before we could become the perfect match we are today, but I think of those times and how much I longed for true love and the right person to share it with, and I just wish 16-year-old Laura could have known how perfect of a guy she would actually find.
Revisiting one of my favorite teenage experiences with the love of my life was such a gift. There’s no other way I can describe it.
Standing in the crowds, feeling his arms around me as I listened to my old favorite songs live was something I never imagined doing, but even if I had I could never have known how wonderful it would be.
As we danced around to “I’d Do Anything” by Simple Plan on Saturday afternoon, I recalled hearing it play at a middle school dance but holding back from getting on the floor because I was too afraid what people would think of me.
When The Used played “I Caught Fire” on Sunday I thought of how it almost became our wedding song, but also of how, 15 years ago, I watched my crush play it on guitar for another girl and wondered if anyone would ever feel that way about me.
We ended our night rocking out with Blink-182 (sans Tom, plus Matt) and when “Going Away to College” started, all I could do was smile from ear to ear and think back to being 12 years old, sitting on top of the bunk bed I shared with my sister, and playing the song over and over, daydreaming about what true love actually felt like.
I always knew those songs would stay a part of my life, but I never thought I would get to listen to them knowing I had finally found everything they inspired me to search for.
For me, this weekend was a celebration of the music that helped me through tough times, that inspired me to be a better version of myself.
It was a tribute to some amazingly talented artists, and to being connected with 30,000 strangers, all head-banging their problems away in unison.
And, most importantly, it was look back at who I used to be, who I’ve become, and all that I was able to accomplish. It was my tangible, undeniable reward for never giving up on myself or my desire to find real love.
I will forever be grateful for all of the memories I made at Warped Tour, but especially for the ones of this past weekend.
These bands, their words, and the feelings they evoke in me will always be in my heart. And, most likely, blaring out of my car speakers. <3 🙂