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LIVE: Vans Warped Tour 2018: Final Full Cross Country Tour – July 30, 2018

Venue: PNC Music Pavilion

City: Charlotte, NC

Date: July 30, 2018

Review and Photographs by: Rachel Craig (

After driving 4 hours from Knoxville, TN to the PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte, I finally arrived at the festival I have been wanting to see in person since I was an angsty pre-teen. Fifteen years ago, I would have never guessed I’d be finally attending Warped Tour while taking professional photos of my favorite bands and even chatting with members from some of the biggest names in the lineup. I feel a lot of regret knowing that I never had the opportunity to see Warped Tour before this year, which is the tour’s final full cross-country run.

While waiting in line to get inside, I saw Warped Tour’s founder Kevin Lyman directing fans to move the line faster. If he hadn’t been busy, I would have thanked him for being leaving such a positive impact on the music industry throughout his career. After making my way inside, I spent a while making sure I knew where all the stages were and hunting down the press area, where I was able to chat with several bands about the final run of Warped Tour and their plans after the hectic summer ends. Since most of the bands I wanted to catch were later in the day, I spent my first few hours doing interviews and soaking in the environment.

Waterparks was the first band to hit the main stage, so I checked them out to get myself and my camera warmed up. Their pop-rock catchy songs started the day off perfectly, with excited fans shouting lyrics behind me in the pit. Soon after Waterparks left the stage, the sky clouded up and it began to rain for a while (you could say it became a real Waterpark at that point). Warped Tour became a sea of ponchos, puddles, and soaked Vans shoes, but the show went on without any problems.

Luckily, the storm cleared up quickly and the rest of the day was beautiful, hot, and sunny. I returned to the main stages again to grab shots of one of my favorite bands on the lineup, Falling In Reverse. I was very happy to hear that they extended their run on the tour to include Charlotte. Frontman Ronnie Radke is full of personality, and the fans went wild when he came out on the Right Foot stage to start their set with “Just Like You.” After getting my shots (while singing along to “I’m Not A Vampire”), I watched the rest of their set from the crowd to just be a fan for a while.

The next band I checked out on the Left Foot stage was 3OH!3, one of the biggest names in the festival’s lineup. They were also one of the most fun bands I saw that day. They turned the amphitheater into a 2000s-era dance club with songs like “My First Kiss” and “Don’t Trust Me.” They also brought out We The Kings’ frontman Travis Clark to perform “Starstrukk.”

I made my way through the humidity to check out the Mutant White Lightning stage, where Motionless In White was about to perform. This is where most of the goths at Warped Tour converged. I also saw a few people taken to the First Aid tent for heat-related problems after being stuck in the hot crowd in the sun. This is the 4th time I’ve seen Motionless In White live, and they’re easily one of my favorite heavy bands to see in person. I always try to catch them whenever they’re playing near me because they were the first band to kickstart my career in concert photography. Motionless In White’s setlist included “Reincarnate,” “Abigail,” “Soft,” their recent single “Voices,” and concluded with “Eternally Yours.” MIW has also become a huge part of this final run of Warped Tour, since they’ve been very vocal about the tour kickstarting their career when they first played in 2005.

After shooting for my first 3 songs, I headed over to the Mutant Red Dawn stage to listen to the rest of Motionless In White’s set and got ready to see another one of my favorite bands, The Amity Affliction. This is the first of 3 Australian bands I saw at the show within a few hours – so Warped Tour’s unpredictable schedule can be interesting sometimes. The Amity Affliction is currently on the tour with Casey McHale on drums after the departure of Ryan Burt, and Matt Rogers from Deez Nuts is also filling in for guitarist Dan Brown. They started their set with “I Bring The Weather With Me,” “Open Letter,” and “This Could Be Heartbreak” before I headed out of the photo pit to see them from the crowd. They also performed “Ivy (Doomsday)” from their upcoming album Misery, along with older favorites like “All Fucked Up,” “Don’t Lean On Me,” and “Pittsburgh.”

I spent the next few hours between the Mutant stages and the Full Sail University stage, shooting Deez Nuts (Aussies), In Hearts Wake (more Aussies), along with Skyward Story. This tour has kickstarted the careers of so many bands on smaller stages like Full Sail, so I’m curious to see if the end of the tour will make it harder for new bands to make themselves heard. The hot sun began to set when I stepped into the photo pit for Ice Nine Kills, which was easily the most theatrical band I saw that day. It was at this point that I realized the day was coming to an end and there were so many bands I was not able to see. The tour really demands all your energy to run from stage to stage if you can schedule things perfectly, and I personally know a lot of people who went to multiple dates just to get the full experience. After Ice Nine Kills murdered the crowd with their metalcore horror movie-themed set, I headed back to the main stage to see the last band of the night, Simple Plan.

Back in my pre-teen days, Simple Plan was one of my favorite bands so I was instantly hit with nostalgia as the pop-punk legends took over the Journeys Right Foot stage with “I’d Do Anything.” It’s hard to stay still while listening to Simple Plan live, since they’re full of energy and jumped around the stage (especially during the song “Jump”). The band also gave fans some relief from the heat with a water gun. I walked out of the photo pit while hearing “Welcome To My Life,” a song that was an anthem for misunderstood kids in the early 2000s that I’ve listened to probably hundreds of times. The night wrapped up with “Perfect” before the sea of teenagers, their parents, and long-time Warped fans left for the last time and many of us realized that this is it. Warped Tour is just a memory.

The Vans Warped Tour held its final show just a few days later in West Palm Beach, Florida after 24 years of rocking cities across the country. I hope that Kevin Lyman understands what a wonderful impact he’s left on the music community by creating this tour, and I also hope that maybe there will be something just like Warped Tour to begin in the near future. Next year is the tour’s 25th anniversary, so perhaps things have not wrapped up just yet, but that’s only speculation. I am forever grateful to have the opportunity to finally experience the tour and do what I love while I’m there. To conclude, I will quote Lyman’s tweet on the final day of Warped Tour: “I have done what I can do and now it is your turn. Do amazing things, much love to those who got it!”





Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

Comments (2)

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  1. Megan says:

    I’m so jealous I’ve wanted to go on that tour since I was a teenager just like you.

  2. Megan – Rachel has brought a fun approach to shows we cover and we appreciate her youthful enthusiasm!!!

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