Pomona, California had the honor of hosting the first date of the last run of Vans Warped Tour. The day started out with an enormous line that stretched around the fence line. The whole crowd seemed to all be putting on sunscreen at the same time, getting ready for the oncoming heat. With a high of 88 degrees, the scorching sun would blast through the 81 bands playing that day.
The lineup changes every day on this tour, making each stop a completely unique experience. Being able to witness the beginning of this tour was an absolute treat. I was rushing from set to set trying to catch every band I could, missing the beginning of sets or just catching the end, but the experience was phenomenal overall. While there were 81 bands playing that day, the primary stages that I visited were Journey’s Left Foot, Journey’s Right Foot, Mutant Red Dawn, and Mutant White Lightning. The most notable bands I saw on the first day of Warped Tour 2018 were Dayseeker, Crown The Empire, Wage War, Motionless In White, Chelsea Grin, Every Time I Die, and Ice Nine Kills.
The first band of the day to perform was Dayseeker, from Orange, CA who crushed their set and had a guest vocal performance by Garrett Russell of Silent Planet during their song Sleep In the Sea Pt II. The crowd went wild which makes sense because I saw several Silent Planet shirts in the crowd that was gathering beforehand. After some heavy bands on the Mutant stages, I wandered over to the Journey’s stages where more pop bands were playing.
Once Crown The Empire took to the Mutant White Lightning stage, the entire crowd surged with energy as the people were lifted off of their feet, surfing on a wave of hands. Andrew Velasquez led the crowd by jumping around the stage, singing and dancing. It was a lot of fun and the whole crowd got into it. Andrew led the crowd like he was the conductor and the energy intensified until the end of their set.
The next band to play, and the band I was the most excited to shoot was Wage War. They opened with their hit song “Alive” and the whole crowd went nuts, jumping and moshing. The rest of their set followed suit. The peak energy that started with Crown the Empire’s set lasted until after Chelsea Grin’s set an hour and a half later. Warped Tour Pomona had finally hit its stride. Wage War played a few bangers in the middle of their set and closed with “Don’t Let Me Fade Away and “Stitch,” which is when the crowd went wild. If I wasn’t shooting the show, I would have hopped right into the epic circle pit that formed and had a blast!
Up next on the Mutant White Lightning stage was Motionless In White who were brought on stage with help from a crowd of screaming teenage girls. Their set was phenomenal, despite me not knowing very many of the songs. The crowd was absolutely wild, screaming whenever Chris (vocalist) made a funny face at them. The high pitched screams would continue through the rest of Motionless In White’s set and would abruptly end when Chelsea Grin hopped up on stage.
Whew. It was about 4:40pm and everyone was feeling rowdy just in time for Chelsea Grin. This is a band I’ve always heard about but never had the opportunity to see. This is the craziest I saw the crowd get which makes sense considering Chelsea Grin is technically considered “death core.” Hands down the biggest circle pit of Warped Tour Pomona. The heavy music loosened everyone up as a big dance party seemed to form during the insane breakdowns.
Every Time I Die played next and the craziness continued! Their guitarist hopped into the crowd and started crowdsurfing while playing. By this time, the sun and the heat were starting to go down so the energy seemed to increase. They played bangers like “Decayin With the Boys, Map Change, and No Son of Mine.” The band members were jumping off of the kick drum and head banging like there was no tomorrow. I have never seen a boring Every Time I Die show.
Ice Nine Kills kept the energy high at the end of the night with the help of Spencer (vocalist) jumping and screaming into the crowd. Ice Nine Kills release the first single called “The American Nightmare” off of their upcoming record The Silver Scream. The Pomona date of Warped Tour marks the first time INK played the song live as it was only released the day before. Beachballs were thrown from the stage into the crowd in celebration of the new song. Spencer’s on stage act was extremely fun to witness and even more fun to shoot. Wearing a cut-off Freddy Kruger style shirt and an epic black jacket, Spencer jumped down from the stage and sang directly in the crowds faces. Eventually he began crowdsurfing until he was dragged under by the flailing hands. Moments later he emerged, seemingly unscathed, and continued the set flawlessly.
Without question, the first stop of the last run of Warped Tour was magical to witness. It seemed like every band had something great to say about how Warped Tour changed their life and how being on the tour was both an honor and a dream come true. I also have to say it was an honor to photograph the last 2 years of it. I’m sure we can all agree that during its 24 year run Vans Warped Tour, the musicians, and especially the founder Kevin Lyman, have changed our lives for the better. RIP Warped Tour.
Every Time I Die
Ice Nine Kills
Motionless In White
Crown The Empire