Farewell, Warped Tour (1995-2018): “It’s Okay Not to be Okay”

Across America, the hearts of music fans broke when founder of the Vans Warped Tour, Kevin Lyman, announced on November 15, 2017 that 2018 would be the final year for the beloved cross-country rock, punk-rock and pop-punk tour.

State Champs performs at the 2018 Vans Warped Tour.
Photo by Hannah Middaugh

For 24 years, bands of all genres and backgrounds gathered together to tour the country in one of the biggest music festivals in the U.S. Thousands of fans gathered to listen to some of their favorite groups and to discover up-and-coming bands trying to break into the music industry.

Some of the more widely-known groups who were Warped Tour favorites included My Chemical Romance, All Time Low, Good Charlotte, Black Veil Brides, and Simple Plan. With six different stages, festival-goers could watch the groups that they loved while also passing others that may catch their attention.

However, while music was central to the festival, it was not the only focus.

One significant topic that has become a staple for Warped Tour these past years has been mental illness, and many of the featured acts worked hard to promote the importance of making sure mental health isn’t ignored. A few bands have partnered up with Hope For The Day—an organization that works toward spreading mental health education and outreach across the country.

Hope For The Day uses proactive prevention, live engagements or events, and activism to spread the word about their organization’s resources in order to help those who need it. They also send out resource packs that include buttons, bracelets, and flyers that have more information about getting in touch with the organization and their partners.


State Champs, a pop-punk band out of New York, is one such band that has partnered with the organization. For every donation and pledge, the first 121 fans received an exclusive photo op with the band. The number may seem random; however, the number corresponds with the estimated number of suicides that happen every day due to mental illness.

Hannah Middaugh (center) poses with the group As It Is at the 2018 Vans Warped Tour.  Photo provided by Hannah Middaugh

The band did not say much during their set because they wanted to get through as many songs as they could in a half hour. However, they did have someone come out before they performed to talk about Hope For The Day and about how important it is to know the value of everyone’s life.

As It Is, a rock band from England, also contributed to Hope For The Day by donating a portion of merchandise proceeds and pre-order sales for their new album to the organization.

Patty Walters, the lead singer of As It Is, stated, “Sometimes I’m crying every single moment of every day. But for twenty-five minutes performing at Warped Tour, I actually feel something. This is a place where we can all come out and enjoy ourselves and forget about the world. You don’t have to listen to the front-man [crap] that comes out of my mouth. You feel how you want to feel. That’s okay. It’s okay not to be okay.”

Another group, Real Friends, stated, “It’s okay to be depressed. It’s okay to take medication. It’s okay to seek help. It’s okay to talk to someone.”

Among the tents dedicated to the bands performing were also those set up to provide information and collect donations for Hope For The Day and similar organizations that work every day to raise mental health awareness.

US Outreach Resource Card. Graphic courtesy of Hope For The Day

Other organizations in attendance included Can You Hear Me, To Write Love on Her Arms, Heart Support, and Feed Our Children Now.

The end of Warped Tour is definitely the end of an era. The festival was important to a lot of music fans, and some believed that attending a show was the only place they felt like they truly belonged. As the festival comes to a close, some may feel that their safe-space is also gone which is why Warped Tour is working hard to raise awareness about mental illness and encourage fans to seek help if they need it.

One thing is certain: the festival will not go down without a fight for a worthy cause.

For more information on Hope For The Day, access to educational resources, or to donate to the organization, please visit hftd.org. Sign the pledge to help spread the awareness that “it’s okay not to be okay.”


How To Be Supportive
Graphic courtesy of Hope For The Day

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