Kick-off crowd at the Main Stage or Teggart Stage at the Vans Warped Tour 16 in Carson, CA, June 25, 2010.

Photos by Marisa DiLemme, Tom Wallace, Kathleen Gasperini

On Friday, June 25, 2010, the Vans Warped Tour launched with a show in Carson, CA to a near capacity crowd of young people eager to see their favorite bands and experience what’s become a rite of passage in America. Some 60 tour buses (all run on biodiesel), an assortment of big-rigs, and a whole other train of baby bands in vans and merch trucks, gives the impression of an enormous circus when the Vans Warped Tour comes to town. Even though we’ve covered the tour for the past 11 years, each time it’s an impressive experience and quite a site to see.

Motion City Soundtrack–one of the more popular bands within this year%uFFFDs line-up, launched the first act of the day.

What happens here, starting with the kick-off, often sets the stage (no pun intended) for many trends across North America by the end of the summer including sponsors and brands on the radar among youth, new trends in fashion and accessories, and break-out bands that pop. Already there’s hype surrounding bands such as Motion City Soundtrack, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Artist vs. Poet, Attack Attack, Suicide Silence, Andrew W.K., White Chapel, Sum 41, Alkaline Trio, Pierce the Veil, Polar Bear Club, and Never Shout Never. But this was just the kick-off. By the end, some bands will fade into the background and others will suddenly find themselves promoted to the Main Stage, also known as the Teggart Stage, based on the viral effectiveness of social media, blogs, and twitter from fans as the tour travels.

In the past such break-out bands have included Blink 182, Ice-T, Ozomotli, No Doubt, My Chemical Romance, Hawthorne Heights, 3OH!3, Paramore, Pennywise, and Katy Perry.

Steve Van Doren from Vans, and an icon in the world of Warped, with the new Vans Warped Tour poster for tour 16.

Warped’s formula, as producer and founder Kevin Lyman can attest to, continues to inspire others to do similar ideas later -from sponsorships and band autograph signings, to dedicating an entire area to all non-profits, which has contributed greatly to young people in America caring about specific causes and tapping into this generation’s philanthropic and eco-supportive nature. On Warped, this includes Keep-a-Breast, ToWriteLoveOnHerArms, Invisible Children, PETA2, Feed Our Children Now, a Warped Passport Program (you get a stamp for each non-profit you visit in exchange for cool swag, cut-the-line passes) sponsored by Concrete Wave, Music Saves Lives, and more. A range of sponsor activities including airbrush tatts, wheels of fortune, band autograph signings, DJ’s, b-boys and b-girls, an entire Girls Garage area sponsored by Skatera to DIY T-shirts, bags, score jewelry and other things, plus branded stages, VIP viewing areas, and other activities.

There’s also a massive band merch area of booths that have become some of the key locations to spot new trends in T-shirt letter graphics and designs, and is often noted as the start of where many T-shirt companies begin, such as Glamour Kills, and now also Drop Dead.

Band merch this year features horror-comic graphics, large font messages, and bright bold colors. Stay tuned for full report posting soon.

With 6 branded stages of different sizes representing different kinds of genres, the music starts at noon and doesn’t end until 9 p.m., offering up the opportunity to see more than 50 bands in 1 day -and all for the price of $25 (not counting ticketing fees which Live Nation has dropped on Wednesday’s). By far it’s the lowest priced tour on the road each summer, and based on the line-up and activities, attracts 13-20-year-olds by the hundreds of thousands.

The Carson show in southern California was no exception and while the music industry is going through a difficult time, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the crowd of more than 10,000 on that day. Key trends in fashion included horror and cartoon graphic T-shirts, bright colors, denim short shorts, emo-tight denim pants, studded belts, and gladiator sandals (stay tuned for an entire series of street fashion reports posting shortly).

What’s also popping on the radar are the various dances based on the specific bands that are playing. For example, capoeira, the Brazilian-African inspired martial arts dance is prevalent in front of bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan and White Chapel (girls are involved in this too), whereas Alkaline Trio attracts crowd-surfers carried via fans up to the stage only to be dumped on security guards. Old-school favorites like All-American Rejects continue to provoke mosh-pits in the regular format of a circle pit, whereas synth, auto-tune vocal manipulation sounds like those coming from Mike Prosner evoke hand pumping crowds and dancing among girls. And before we forget, Vans Warped Tour also features an entire hip-hop area and dance floor with b-boys and b-girls.

Sponsors this year include Vans, Kia Motors,, Monster Energy, Trojan, Skullcandy, Ernie Ball, Alternative Press, NAMM, Wonka, American Rag, Altec Lansing, Glamour Kills, Skatera, Sabian, Dickies, Fuse TV, Zildjian, PETA2, Shirts for a Cure, Amnesty International, plus Canadian sponsors West 49, Amnesia, AUX TV, and D-Tox.

The Dillinger Escape Plan–tech-metal-punk band from NJ–hugely popular.

Vans Warped Tour fans with their BFF bandanas, graphic love T-shirts, and side-swept emo hairstyles.

AP booth–sponsors and official creators of keepsake programs each year at the Vans Warped Tour. This is seconds before doors which is why it%uFFFDs calm, but this booth area is packed throughout the day.

Artist Vs. Poet on the Glamour Kills Stage are a potential break-out band. Emo-punk styles and good-looking musicians.

All-Girls Skate Jam took place on the Vans mini-ramp at the beginning of the festival. Loads of girls of all ages participating in this contest.

Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands also has a booth and stage. They are in their 14th year and host the world%uFFFDs largest unsigned band competition, from which many play on the Ernie Ball Stage.

This fan thinks the Vans Warped Tour is Super Duper.

The orange truck features DJ%uFFFDs and announcers who do random games with fans while teaching about the dangers of smoking. Very popular area with singing interaction.

One of several Vans merch booths onsite. This is just before hordes of fans crowd the booth to get official merch and Vans T-shirts and sneakers.

The Pretty Reckless backstage featuring lead-singer Taylor Momsen who many may recognize as Jenny Humphrey on Gossip Girl. They are one of the featured bands from the kick-off-party and have a heavy rock sound.

SkullCandy tent maxed for a band autograph signing. They also have a stage on tour this summer.

To Write Love On her Arms is a popular non-profit booth in this area. Their T-shirt merch is very popular and often replicated by other T-shirt brands in terms of styles and statements. TWLOHA can also be accounted for starting the Love Movement.

One-man synth show Mike Posner on the AP Stage attracts a large female audience.

Founder, producer Kevin Lyman on his venue bike checking the front of the line before gates open for the first Vans Warped Tour 16.

Attack Attack dressed in the PBR matching shirts, but their music and merch are both among the most popular things on the Vans Warped Tour.

The band line-up blow-up. Part of the formula for success for Warped is the daily changing music line-up, so fans run to this big blow-up at the beginning of the show to see where and when their favorite bands are playing. You can then set your playlist and locations on your app from iPhone or the Warped Android app and share it with friends.

Breathe Electric merch features cartoony bright graphics–popular trend this summer.

Major fan-surfing often takes place when the popular punk band Alkaline Trio plays. They%uFFFDve been on Warped often and remain one of the most popular bands among youth culture.

Kia Motors sponsorship booth including band autograph signings, a Soul Lounge, airbrush tatts, and a sponsored Kevin Says Stage Powered by KIA Motors.

Wonka sponsorship included a massive amount of candy give-aways. They also had a personalize your own Warped Tour poster area and a DJ.

Warped isn%uFFFDt just punk. This year%uFFFDs line-up is probably the most diverse we%uFFFDve seen, including bands like White Chapel–heavy, metal, synchronized hair-whipping guitar players.

White Chapel crowd attracted mostly young guys, compared with Mike Posners, which was just the opposite.

Stay tuned for a full series of fashion reports posting soon.