Over the past seven years, kiddie dance/rap band Koo Koo Kanga Roo have become Twin Cities favorites. When we heard they'd be playing 38 dates on the Vans Warped Tour — which is aimed mostly at pop-punk teens — we asked them to document the strange journey. Featuring more than 70 bands on nine stages, the Warped Tour is the largest traveling music festival in the United States. Here is the second installment of Neil Olstad and Bryan Atchison's tour diary.
The Warped Tour is an exercise in dealing with the elements, specifically the heat and sun. Chugging lots of water and applying sunscreen all day long is crucial to protecting yourself against mother nature. The entire summer is going to be a hot sweaty affair, but last week’s shows in the Southwest boasted some of the highest temperatures we’ll come across.
It was 110 degrees while we were onstage in Mesa, AZ. Similar temperatures in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas kept us sweating and searching for shade all week. Wearing a shirt entirely drenched in sweat has become commonplace. Our skin is crispy and tanned; we don’t really look like the pale Minnesotans who started this tour. The tour provides us with plenty of (canned, Monster Energy-branded) water, but the battle to remain hydrated is even more complicated when we essentially dance nonstop in our daily, 30-minute set. Being out in the oppressive heat all day can be rough, but it’s easier to handle when we’re out in the sun hustling for our band.
There are around 950 people traveling with the Vans Warped Tour, many of whom work the entire Warped circus from 6 a.m. until midnight daily. There are lots of show days strung together with very few days off. However, when the overnight drive is short (3-5) hours, there is a Warped Tour BBQ before bus call. It’s a great way for the hundreds of people who make up the small village that is Warped Tour to get a chance to meet and get to know each other.
Basically everyone gathers to eat grilled meat, drink beer, and dance to a DJ. There is even a “BBQ Band," and this year it's BoyMeetsWorld, a pop-punk band from Cincinnati, OH. Being the BBQ Band means getting to play one of the smaller Warped Tour stages in return for manning the grills and serving up hot dogs and hamburgers at each of the BBQs. This tour is such a great opportunity that bands are willing to flip burgers for the chance to be a part of it.
We’ve played nine shows on this tour so far. We’re making our way across the lower half of the country. The southeast United States is next.