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Vans Warped Tour fills up with youth power

| Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Alex Stone
The Used
Kevin Lyman
Kevin Lyman, Vans Warped Tour organizer

This year's Vans Warped Tour has undergone a youth movement. At least that's how tour organizer Kevin Lyman sees things.

“It's a very young lineup, very kind of bubbling-up feeling,” he says. “Every day is just getting bigger. And the kids, you can just feel that energy, that, by the end of the summer, this tour is going to be on fire. It's going to be one of those years where, four months from now, a lot of people are going to go, ‘All those bands were on Warped tour. I missed it. I didn't go this year because I didn't know, it wasn't like those big names that pop sometimes out on the Warped tour.' It's cool, and it's very eclectic, very young and a very energetic crowd. There's a lot of energy out here.”

The tour kicked off June 15 in Seattle, and while ticket sales were down a little for the first couple of dates, Lyman expects the tour will once again post solid attendance as it moves through July. The tour stops at First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown on July 17.

“Our attendance was down a little this week, but not bad when we're doing 18,000 people in San Francisco and 24,000 people in Pomona (Calif., where there were two Warped dates),” Lyman says.

The slight downturn in attendance, Lyman says, is probably because of not having as many prominent acts from the alternative music world this year. In year's past, Lyman has generally had a half-dozen or more-established acts with fairly large followings on Warped.

For instance, last summer, Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, Yellowcard, Senses Fail and the Used were on the tour. In 2010, All-American Rejects, Sum 41 and Andrew W.K. helped give the lineup some star power.

In 2005, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and the All-American Rejects were on the tour just as they were breaking big.

This year, probably the most-established acts are Hawthorne Heights, Reel Big Fish, Allstar Weekend and Bring Me The Horizon.

“It was who was available,” Lyman says. “Some people were recording this year. There were a lot of acts I talked to that I think you'll see next summer (on Warped) that were maybe getting out of (record deals). Major labels are dropping a lot of acts right now. So, bands are kind of in a regrouping strategy, and they weren't quite ready.

“Next year, they'll have their indie-record releases based around Warped tour. It will be a fun position (for booking) next year.”

So, Lyman went after the best bands he could get, even if the group lacked name recognition. And just a week into Warped tour, Lyman says, a number of acts are already making their presence felt.

“I mean, Echosmith, Crossfaith, Crown The Empire are all starting to do really just big crowds that grow every day,” Lyman says. “And even on the electronic stage, artists like Itch are doing great and Wallpaper. Everyone that sees Wallpaper goes ‘Oh my God, that was the best band I saw at Warped tour.' And then bands like Stick To Your Guns are doing really well out here. It's nice to see punk bands like Emily's Army having nice crowds, playing to nice groups of people. Real Friends is doing real well, and this little band, Citizen.”

Lyman also thinks this year's Warped lineup fits the direction he has started to take the tour over the past few years. He has come to find that Warped tends to draw from two main age groups — 13 to 19 and 24 to 30 — and the lineup is tailored to that audience.

“Everyone right now at 19 wants to go to all of those other festivals, and there are so many festivals in America, right now,” Lyman says. “Everybody wants to go to those three-day festivals (Bonnaroo, Coachella, Lollapalooza), but for the kids that come to Warped tour (it's different).

“To have the average attendance at the age of it being around 17 or 18 right now, they feel like it's their own tour,” Lyman says. “They don't feel like they're going to a nostalgia tour. They're going to their own tour.”

Alan Sculley is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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