DISCLAIMER: This article contains suggestive materials such as drug & alcohol references, sexual innuendos and anything else to be associated with the stereotypical ‘rockstar’ lifestyle. If you are easily offended by content of this nature, and are unaware of the current controversy surrounding this year’s Vans Warped Tour, please take the time to research and educate yourselves before continuing. This article isn’t for the faint hearted, only because it addresses the truth about what really goes on behind the scenes. Reader’s discretion is advised. (The views in this rant are solely the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views as Bucketlist as a whole.)
There seems to be a lot of controversy surrounding the bands and artists on the Vans Warped Tour this year. Back in early 2015, Front Porch Step was accused of sexual harassment, and a petition was drawn up to ban him from playing on the tour this year. More recently, YouTuber Jake McElfresh, has come under fire for faking his age to get underage girls to send him twerking videos. The tour marking the beginning of summer for us kids who are ‘different’ commences next month, so I figured with I’d tell you about my Warped experience. Needless to say, whatever you believe about how your favourite artists act as human beings, you can’t believe it until you see it for yourself because, my fellow Bucketheads, the rockstar lifestyle still exists for many artists today.
Without naming names, let’s just say that I know a few people in the industry right now. It all started back in December of 2013. Nope, not quite the summer bash we all know and love just yet, but it all started there. Through Bandhappy (I have no clue where it’s gone to nowadays), I was able to meet someone I looked up to as an artist and fellow musician. We partied after the show and to be honest (kiddies, stop reading now), they knew how to do so well. The major drug used in the scene today is good old cannabis, and if you do some minor digging, I can guarantee you’ll find that one of your favourite bands are potheads; nothing wrong with that in my opinion. Combine that with some underage drinking, a bunch of talented, like-minded people who are living their dreams, and you’ve got yourself a cocktail of nothing but good times with awesome new friends. Fans who are in bands, take note: the best place to make connections is at the ‘bar’, so to speak. They’ll never tell you that in school, it’s just how it’s done. It takes a bit of cash, and a lot of luck to become friends with a band you look up to. Anyways, I digress.
In the summer of 2014, when Warped Tour paraded into town, I was lucky to be placed on the VIP guest list, and got to hang out with my new friends that I had met the winter before. As soon as I met up with them, it was business as usual. Free cigarettes, weed, alcohol, everything needed for a good summer’s day according to them. Before I go on, please understand that I’m not condoning the use of drugs or alcohol. I’m speaking from my personal experiences to shed some light on how some people are treated at this festival.
After their set, we immediately headed back to the van where I learned that a couple members had left the festival all together, and had gotten hotel rooms to have sex with girls that they met at Warped tour. I’m not saying these girls are ‘lot lizards’ or groupies, sluts, whores or anything like that but this next part is what I’m truly ashamed to have witnessed. The lead vocalist was walking back to the van with a girl on each arm. He literally just pointed to them to come with him because they knew who he was, and they followed. I actually talked with them for a bit and found out that they were 21 (which was total bullshit), and were in college. For five hours, the rest of us sat outside the van as it teetered back and forth in rhythmic motions and to be honest, I unfortunately didn’t see what the problem was. Even though I was uncomfortable, there wasn’t any problem. I was made fully aware of the situation by another member of the band who just snapped and was ranting to us about how he uses his notoriety to have sex with girls at every stop on the tour, not taking into account their age or anything. Just a pure ‘f*ck n’ chuck’. Would these girls ever press charges? No. Not at all. They both consented to the act and I was a witness to it. What is wrong is that some people in the bands on Warped, on labels, or even on tour in general, use their fame for sick, primal sexual advances that ultimately lead to a cockfight with other members of the band, debating on who’s got the biggest stick.
That day wasn’t the first time I saw this behaviour. As I said in my last rant, some people want to use music as a way to get themselves off. And if you, the fan, consent to that, not even knowing what you’re actually doing, it inflates their ego a bit more, endangers your health and safety, and if you’re underage, makes it so much worse. Anyone who judges their success by how many hymens they broke on tour doesn’t deserve to be in the spotlight. I walked around the party that followed the show that night, and witnessed the same conversation everywhere I went. People hugging, crying. Bands, artists, people you and I look up to. All saying the same thing: “dude, we f*cking made it”. Artists are people, just like you and me. Yes, sexual desires are perfectly natural and by all means the core reason for our evolution as mammals and as humans, but what this rockstar lifestyle does is outright disgusting to watch. I can’t stress this enough. If you feel that someone in a band has victimized you, whether at a sold out show, or your friend’s local metal/jazz/djent/Born of Osiris/Northlane copycat band, I urge you to speak out. Talk to someone you trust. Let promoters, managers, club owners, or anyone know what’s going on. We need to protect ourselves from the people chasing their dreams for the wrong reasons. If you’re offended by this viewpoint, regardless of your gender, feel free to contact me at your will and threaten me all you like. These are the things I’ve seen, and as an artist aspiring for success, NOT fame (yes, there is a difference. Figure it out and let me know.), I’ve made sure not to work with anyone who acts this way because I’ve already made that mistake too many times. Put simply: just keep it in your f*cking pants guys, or you disregard everything you stand for as artists and as role-models for young people. You’re destroying lives. Think twice before you decide to take that girl (or guy) on your tour bus, or in the van, kick your bandmates out and get down and dirty. Is it worth it? Think with your head, and not the one between your legs. Be safe everyone.
Please check out what Kevin Lyman, founder of Vans Warped Tour had to say about the controversy surrounding the artists on the tour.
Written by Rian Cunningham