The Vans Warped Tour has become an American institution. But like many American institutions, it has a problem. That problem is one of sexual violence. Artists like Blink and Katy Perry have jump-started their careers on the tour, propelling themselves to TRL-level adulation. The tour also boasts a more diverse bill every year, expanding lately into hip-hop and EDM. Musicians have been convicted of crimes, and other bands have been condemned for their apparent advocacy of physical and sexual violence, especially toward women.
More difficult is untangling the nuances of this new age of opprobrium. We saw botdfmusic Dahvie bring under age [sic] girls to his hotel rooms an [sic] do sexual things.
The cotton candy-pink-haired Internet icon, makeup artist, and would-be diva was responding to a wave of allegations leveled at Dahvie Vanity, founder of the electropop group Blood on the Dance Floor BOTDF.
For his part, Star appeared to be offering some damning testimony to buttress the widespread claims of sexual misconduct continuously made against Vanity over the previous six years. In October , Vanity was arrested in Centennial, Colorado on a charge of first-degree sexual assault for apparently bedding a fifteen-year-old girl. The roundup is full of jarring screenshots purporting to show texts and tweets from Vanity to young girls. The exchanges are lurid, to say the least. The band, also Warped Tour participants, had frequently toured with BOTDF until Costello decided to speak out against Vanity in a lengthy, now-deleted jeremiad, saying, in part: I have never felt so uncomfortable.
I have never been physically attached [sic] and abused, until now. I have seen horrible and disgusting things done by a man on a throne that does not deserve to be there… Showing you [sic] ass to kids? Having kids grab your dick on stage? Telling 12 year olds your [sic] going to come on their faces? Making derogatory comments to me on stage. Hitting fans on the head with equipment? Watching the cops get called on tour because he was with someone under the age limit.
Not to mention what was done to me and done to so many other girls. It is a fucking disgrace. This past January, year-old Jake Mcelfresh, who performs under the moniker Front Porch Step, came under fire when several young women began posting screenshots of text message conversations they had with the singer-songwriter.
Days before that article was published, Mcelfresh dropped off Warped Tour—thanks in part to a Change. In , British rockers Lostprophets spent the full summer on the tour. Several months later, singer Ian Watkins was arrested and charged with a spate of crimes. In November , he pleaded guilty to attempted rape and sexual assault of a child under thirteen.
The singer had, on two different occasions, filmed himself having sex with sixteen-year-old girls. In addition to these suspicions and proven crimes, Warped Tour has seen its bands come under fire for espousing violence toward women. But why should the women who attend or work on the tour have to contend with such immediate violence and hatred?
Under his purview are hundreds of musicians, administrators, volunteers, audio engineers, stage managers, roadies, and drivers, all of whom make Warped Tour what it is. Lyman has worked for over two decades to transform Warped Tour from a traveling circus into a cultural movement.
Kevin Lyman seems beleaguered, always on guard. The tour plays host to non-profit organizations, blood drives, food drives, and environmental initiatives. On off-days, Lyman prompts his staff and artists to volunteer. Noting a decrease in the age of the average Warped attendee, Lyman has also taken the step of allowing parents into the tour free of charge.
But is Lyman doing enough to discourage the culture of violence threatening to metastasize within the Warped community? Is it her youth that attracts you? And any argument about intent is semantic. The message that was part of Warped Tour has, little by little, been eroded and there is no message anymore. The community is so split up by the violence inside and outside the music.
How can the alternative community come together in order to combat violence? Kelly, Chris Brown, and Ted Nugent. At some point, more aggressive measures against the presence of physical or sexual violence may need to be enacted.
Is a pattern of untoward band behavior a reason not to buy a ticket to Warped? Is this a problem with most or even a large portion of bands on the tour? This will help to share the story with others.