Chasing Dreams @ Vans Warped Tour 2016

As a teenager, I kept a daily journal which chronicled what I felt was an awful excuse for a life. High school and early college were difficult times for me – plagued by all the symptoms of living with an abusive parent who squandered our money on women, and neglected to pay the bills or buy groceries.

Without rock music, I’m not sure I could have ever made it out alive. Rock musicians assured me that not only had they been there, but they had also triumphed over their circumstances.

This encouraged me to do the same.

Teenage Bucket List

Thus, somewhere amidst all my complaints and lamentations, I’m almost certain I had a list of all the things that would make me happy. It might have read something like this:

  1. Move out
  2. Go to college
  3. Get Dreadlocks
  4. Dye hair
  5. Travel
  6. Become a writer
  7. Go to Vans Warped Tour

Ticking Items Off the List

At the time, simple as many of those things were, they seemed like little more than a dream. But as years went by I started to tick things off that list.

By sixteen, I moved out for the first time, started my associate’s degree, started my dreadlocks journey, dyed my hair black and red, and got my first paid writing assignment.

Compared to the dark depths I had climbed out of, it was all up hill from there. At seventeen, I moved out for the second and final time and started to travel more – not just to the United States, but around my tropical island.

Before long, there was only one thing left on that list. But concerned about all the accidents and violent altercations that took place at rock shows in Atlanta, my mother refused to let me go when I visited her for the summer months.

So after a while, I let that dream go too. I had school to focus on, my writing to keep me busy, and had developed other passions to fill the void. Besides, having fulfilled six of the seven items on the list, I felt I had already made good progress.

Plans for Vans Warped Tour

Then, a whole ten years later, Michael suggested we attend the Atlanta leg of Vans Warped Tour 2016. I was all for it, but nowhere near as excited as I should have been. In fact, it wasn’t until I had actually arrived at the Lakewood Amphitheater that I realised the treat I was really up for.

I had never found myself in the company of so many other rockers in all my life.


Stocking up on Alcohol

We started our trip with whiskey before heading into the venue. Having been to his own fair share of music festivals before, Michael knew we could expect prices like $12 for a bottle of beer.

When we got inside the venue, beer was actually as much as $14, and wine was $10 for one small glass. But I wasn’t there for the liquor. I was there for the shows.

They were already rolling full-swing with bands from all over the world. There was Sum 41 from Canada, Tonight Alive from Australia, Sykes from Britain, and countless others from around the U.S.

It took us about half an hour before we could find all the stages and map out what bands we wanted to see.

Mission Accomplished

Once we had that all figured out and weren’t just wandering around aimlessly, everything else seemed to fall right into place.

“My teenage self would be so proud of me right now,” I told Michael, while we jumped around in the crowd of Yellowcard’s performance.

All around us, other rockers were shouting ecstatically, and forming a mosh-pit that was a force to be reckoned with. I was exactly where I had wanted to be – ten years ago – and it was still a pleasure to be there at the ripe old age of 26.


Even though it meant suffering in almost unbearable heat, and ruining my shoes.


And then going home sunburned, after fleeing the Sleeping with Sirens performance, in the pouring rain. We’re still peeling and nursing our wounds, but we enjoyed earning every last one.

Chasing Childhood Dreams

There are many dreams and wishes from our youth that we now think of as frivolous, impractical, and unwise. Maybe we wanted to travel the world as a sailor, or pursue artistic passions. But are they really all as impractical as we think they are?

I once advised readers to Do Something your Future Self will Thank you For, but there is often equal satisfaction in doing things that would make our younger selves proud. It’s never too late to do the things you want to do in your life – even if it means moshing with teenagers at 26.

Check out some of the bands we saw live in the pictures below.

Cane Hill
New Found Glory
Falling in Reverse
Sum 41

35 thoughts on “Chasing Dreams @ Vans Warped Tour 2016

      1. They were here last year, they’ve been multiple times but stopped for this year 🙁 One of the best lineups 🙁

  1. Thank you for reminding me about the hopes, dreams, and aspirations I had as a teenager. It will take a little while to remember or even articulate what they were. When I had kids, I told myself I’d get back to them and enjoy experiences with the next generation. A second chance. I’m thankful to have shared the gift of music with them, so we have a few memories of Music Night jams with friends, recording studios and performances (They’ve seen that Mom can still deliver). But there’s much more to do. My oldest is 18 now. Time to make things happen!

    1. Oh definitely! The passions of our teens should be enjoyed with the next generation. I’m certain I would be one of those parents at Warped tour using my kids as an excuse to keep going. Haha.

      I take it you make music, or used to? Sounds awesome!

  2. As a lover of all things Rock, this post makes me super happy and amused. I should also point out, Popeyes is still my favorite place to get chicken. Xp I saw the cup, I had the comment. It is so delicious!

    Anyways, thank you for sharing and inspiring.

    Cheers! ^_^

    1. Haha. We’re actually vegetarian (pescetarian for me, meaning I still eat seafood), but we stopped there to get sodas for the liquor! Yum!

      My parents love Popeye though so I don’t doubt that you love it too!

      What bands are you into? We’re seeing KORN and Breaking Benjamin later this year. Can’t wait!

      1. I’m a pretty big Disturbed fan. I also really love Korn, Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, The Pretty Reckless, In This Moment and OTEP to name a few.

        I also grew up listening to a ton of classic rock so Kansas, The Eagles, Metallica, The Rolling Stones, and Blue Oyster Cult are few others I enjoy. I love a lot of different types of music, Rock is just my favorite genre.

      2. My cousin was obsessed with Disturbed haha. I like them, but not to his degree. The lead singer is now in a new band with a girl, if memory serves.

        I prefer KORN and Breaking Benjamin. Love Three Days Grace as well. Didn’t even remember OTEP was around. So many bands to keep track of!

        I grew up listening to other unrelated music lol. My parents are not rockers. My first point of entry was Good Charlotte in 7th grade. I was on to Marilyn Manson by 8th and KORN by 9th. It only kept growing from there.

      3. Those were about the grades I got into those respective bands. Marilyn Manson is awesome. He is one of the few singers that can take someone else’s song, make a cover of it, and have me loving the cover song better than the original. I still of course love the originals as well as his original work also.

        I could talk music forever. Xp I like how KORN makes me feel. Their music is perfect if I’m writing something action oriented or even in horror. I’m a gamer so back when Silent Hill Downpour first came out and I heard Korn singing the themes song I was stoked! A lot of people didn’t care for it at first but then when they played through and beat the game it garnered the love it deserved by most as it so perfectly captured the themes of the story and the main protagonist Murphy Pendleton.

        I’m mixing subjects but yeah, and no worries, there are quite a few bands I love I haven’t listed. It would be an insanely long list. Xp


      4. You’re so right about that with Manson. That’s one of the reasons I love his music too. My favourite cover has to be I Put a Spell on You.

        Jonathan Davis has a very unique voice. I also love his microphones! – as does everyone else. His brother was also really good. I think he used to be lead singer of Adema, if I’m not mistaken. I prefer the band from when he was in it. They had a more raw sound in songs like “Unstable”.

  3. It’s so amazing that you got to do this, albeit at 26! And who cares!!! As long as you had a good time, it is all worth it 😀

  4. I got to live out a dream of mine. In the 80’s the Jackson’s tour came to Atl but my mother would not allow it! I did get to go to The Bad tour to see MichaelJackson, just Awesome & amazing! Then I got to see the Jacksons come at Lakewood, they too were Awesome!I also got to Chase My dream. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Oh, that is awesome Tabby! I guess your mom was a bit like mine. And in ATL too, and Lakewood, what a coincidence! I’m glad you finally got to go.

      We just sent my mother-in-law to see one of her favorite bands from her teen years back in April of this year.

      It really never is too late.

      1. Too many to mention! The biggest were probably Metallica, System of a Down, Linkin Park, AFI, Blur, Ben Folds, Me First and the Gimmie Gimmes, Weezer, Ok Go!, plus lots of indie bands from the UK you might not have heard of like Super Furry Animals, Feeder, the Charlatans, Idlewild etc. Best bands you’ve seen?

      2. I haven’t seen any of those live yet. Before Vans, Michael had taken me to see POD, and Insane Clown Posse. We’re seeing Breaking Benjamin and KORN in October for my birthday.

        I would have loved to see AFI and Linkin Park back in the day. I preferred their music from back then. And my goodness, Davey Havok was a God among men haha.

        I don’t know Ben Folds, Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies, and Blur. The others I know. Those UK bands must have been awesome. Bands from the UK generally are. 😄

      3. I would love to see korn! And omg I saw AFI in about 2005 and Davey Havok wore the TIGHTEST white trousers I’ve ever seen. You should come to the UK and go to a festival, I really want to go to Glastonbury.

      4. Tightest white pants you say! That sounds like quite the treat. He looks younger the older he gets. I will never understand it.

        And I would definitely love to see the UK festivals.

  5. Ah! Now I want to go to Warped Tour. I’ve always thought of going and never done it. Haha, I’m going to look at tickets again now. Thanks Alex!

      1. Haha I made that mistake at the beach last month. I thought ‘oh it’s overcast, it’ll be fine, I’ll just wear a hat.’ Given that I’m super pale I should’ve know better but… oh man that hurt, for daaays haha.

      2. Well, I figured my good dose of melanin would save me and it did not. I haven’t been this badly burned since childhood. You can just imagine Michael, who’s pretty pale himself.

      3. One would think that would help, but my friend who was with us at the beach and fairly dark skin was the only one lathering on the sunscreen. Turns out he was the smart one. I haven’t peeled like that in a decade. Oh yeah, your poor husband. Did you guys try aloe or black tea compresses?

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