Of Mice and Men at the Vans Warped Tour kick-off 2012.

Story and Photos by Tom Wallace

The Vans Warped Tour is arguably known as America’s youth culture right-of-passage to music entertainment as the longest running festival tour in the United States, attracting more than 500,000 young people now going into its 18th tour with more than 40 dates across the U.S. and Canada. The kick-off event in Salt Lake City, UT on June 16, 2012 proved that once again, producer Kevin Lyman and 4 Fini, along with icons such as Vans’ Steve Van Doren, have created the ultimate formula for today’s touring music market.

Warped has been breaking up-and-coming indie talent as well as both creating and showcasing major established artists since 1995, starting back in the day with Ice-T, Eminem, to No Doubt, My Chemical Romance, Paramore, and Katy Perry among many others. The big question is which bands will be the break-out bands of the summer 2012. As the tour rolls across the country, a traveling carnival of some 500 people, the viral effectiveness of favorite bands pitches to an extreme among a new audience of attendees each summer, culminating not only in new bands breaking into top genres, but a variety of sponsors hitting mainstream madness, and fashion trends envious of designers who watch this tour for DIY styles.

Senses Fail on the Tilly' stage at the Vans Warped Tour 2012.

According to Vans Warped Tour Founder, Kevin Lyman, “Each year as the tour takes shape it is exciting to see it when it comes together. With many new and returning brands and sponsors onboard, we’re able to bring the best show possible and in 2012, I’m convinced we will not let the fans down.”

So far based on the kick-off in Salt Lake City, stoked fans in impromptu mosh pits and packed audiences has proven the line-up is on target. The multi-stage line-up includes Rise Against, All Time Low, Taking Back Sunday, Anti-Flag, Yellowcard, The Used, Four Year Strong, New Found Glory, Pierce The Veil, Falling In Reverse, Breathe Carolina and many more. There’s also up-and-coming bands that are clearly in vogue among today’s youth culture including The Ghost Inside, Transit, You Me At Six, Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds, Vampires Everywhere, Sleeping with Sirens, and Dead Sara.

Dead Sara is a probable break-out band for this summer's Warped Tour 2012.

A mix of hotly-tipped and established artists, the summer trek continues to be the most eclectic traveling festival tour on the planet featuring rock, punk, pop, hip-hop and rap, metal, indie rock, electronic, alt-country, folk-punk, dubstep, reggae and rockabilly.

The stages include a variety of styles, from 2 main stages including the KIA Rio and KIA Soul, to other types of stages including solar, blow-up, and truck stages named:  Monster Energy, Tilly’s, Kevin Says, House of Marley, Acoustic Basement, Ernie Ball, and Silent Disco.

Warped girls 2012.

New this year is the Acoustic Basement sponsored by Full Sail, and the Silent Disco (a huge hit at Bonnaroo) along with a variety of innovative sponsor activations. (Stay tuned for more to come.) It’s here that some of the best new ideas surface when it comes to sponsors engaging with youth culture on-site in a festival atmosphere.

Traditionally low prices are also what the Vans Warped Tour is all about. They been able to create an event that allows young people to see some 80 bands on a variety of stages, interact with fun activities, and more. For example, water from sponsors such as Klean Kanteen and on-site water filling stations; a huge eco-initiative of recycling on site, and variety of non-profits, such as Feed Our Children and their pre-show canned food and used cell phone donation drives.

Each date of the tour, the band line-up set times change. The only way to know when your favorite band is playing is by finding the huge band line-up blow-up.

The tour is also the place where band merch can create the new template of popular designs. From neon cartoony graphics, to statement T-shirts, tanks, and the rising popularity of crop tops, fashion from a youth culture perspective kicks into high gear. More on latest merch trends coming soon.

The Vans Warped Tour rolls on until August 5, 2012, ending in Portland, Oregon.

Stay tuned for more stories posting soon.

Crowd surfing.
Vampires Everywhere.


Pierce the Veil.
Breathe Carolina.
The Ghost Inside kicked-off the first set of the first day on the Vans Warped Tour 2012.