There are a lot of Warped Tour survival guides out there, all covering the facts and figures of surviving a day out in the sun surrounded by bands and fans in complete and utter punk rock chaos.
But since I love the attention, I decided it was time for me to write a survival guide of my own. The neurotic, out of shape, almost-too-old-for-this-shit how-to guide, if you will.
1. DO: Overprepare- the schedules don't get posted until the morning of the show, and by then, you've only got half an hour until the bands start playing, if even. So do everything you can to prepare ahead of time. Make a list of the bands you want to see, the stages they're playing on, where their signings have been, which tents you need to get to early to get meet and greet passes... then just add the set times to your list when you get into the venue, and you're set. Follow the sponsors /bands who are hosting signings and meet and greets on twitter and set alerts on your phone so you don't miss any important updates. I made a little chart in my notebook the night before Warped Tour and I was on schedule the whole day. The same thing goes for packing your bag- make a list a week ahead of time, and then you can add or subtract items as you think of them. When you pack the night before, sometimes you forget things... like that your sunscreen expired or that you didn't put on half of your makeup (not that this happened to me...)
2. DO NOT: Expect things to go according to plan- signings get cancelled, singers lose their voices, signing tickets run out... you have to consider the chaos that you're entering and adjust accordingly. Otherwise you'll spend the whole day upset that you missed out on something that, in your head, you considered to be guaranteed. Nothing is ever set in stone when it comes to Warped.
3. DO: Bring a bandana! The BEST way to stay cool is to soak a bandana in water and keep it on the back of your neck all day. Even if the water is warm, the bandana cools down as the water evaporates, and it keeps you about ten degrees cooler than the people around you. This has saved me from heat exhaustion countless times.
4. DO NOT: Drink hot water. Your water is gonna heat up in your water bottle, and even if the water refill line is super long, it's worth it to get new water. Chemicals from the plastic in your water bottle will leech into the water as it heats up, and this can make you super sick, and puking in the pit is not a good look.
5. DO: Bring something to meet and greets. This is totally optional, but a lot of people like to bring something to the bands when they meet them. This can be art, a letter, a present, anything. I make vinyl guitar picks, so I usually bring a packet of them when I meet bands, it's a cool, personal thing that shows I appreciate them and want to support them. Letters are great, because it let's you say everything you want to say to the band without being rushed by a line, and most bands LOVE getting letters from fans. Homemade food is usually not a great choice, since it's not going to keep well in the heat all day, and there are stories of fans putting weird shit in food they bring to bands, but something like a favorite candy is definitely okay.
6. DO NOT: Bring anything weird or uncomfortable to meet and greets. This includes, but is not limited to:
Fanfiction- it's okay to write/draw fanfiction. It's a way to express yourself. But for the love of everything holy in this world, do not bring it up to the bands. Do not bring up your "ships" do not bring up fanfiction do not bring up anything that would make them or their loved ones feel uncomfortable. They're there out of the goodness of their hearts to meet you so treat them with respect.
Razors- if a band helped you get through self-harm, that's fantastic. That's what music is for. But do not give bands your old razors. I wouldn't even bring this up if I hadn't seen people do this before. It can a) make the band uncomfortable b) be very triggering. For some of the people in these bands, those razors could bring up painful memories if they or someone they know used to self-harm. If you want to thank a band for helping you stop self-harm, write them a letter. It will mean a lot more. Throw out you razors.
7. DO: Try to get to the front! Be polite, but if you have a band you desperately want to be at the barricade for, try getting there during the set beforehand. When people flood away, you can use this as an opportunity to move to the front with little resistance. This is how I got to the barricade for Of Mice & Men, and didn't even get kicked in the head once.
That's all I've got for you right now besides the obvious "wear your damn sunscreen," but if you have any tips, feel free to post them in the comments!