Touring With 9 Strangers On A 30ft Bus — Vans Warped Tour
This summer I got on an RV with people I didn't know (literally didn't even know anyone's names, hadn't added them on Facebook beforehand, etc.) to travel the country working on the entire 2018 Vans Warped Tour. It was very similar to the framework of an MTV reality show — a bunch of strangers in a house coexisting in chaos — except we were in a moving vehicle working for a music festival. What the "Shore Store" was to the Jersey Shore cast is essentially what "Cool Suppliers" was to my bus mates and I...
A 6 foot long, 2 feet deep bunk padded with an outdoor patio cushion as a mattress was my bed for the summer. The toilet on the bus was out of commission (We used the bathroom as a storage closet.) The generator of the RV decided to sporadically work whenever it felt like it (conveniently breaking down leaving us with no air conditioning while we traveled through Nevada, Arizona, and Texas during the month of July... because of course.) The food in the refrigerator went bad, got moldy, and turned different colors (I'm still recovering from the scent and visual.) We had no "living area" as our couch and kitchen table were converted into beds. The RV ("The Chateau" "Chateau Mosh" "Chateau de Shit") was tight, lived in quarters for nine young adults (sometimes more, sometimes less) to share for eight, sweaty weeks, enduring the traveling punk rock summer camp.
For a non-touring person, I know this sounds like a hellish situation that you would never voluntarily put yourself through. Sleeping in Walmart parking lots and showering with water bottles isn't everyone's cup of tea, understandable. For tour life though, this was a pretty luxurious set up.
I was hired to run social media for a company called Cool Suppliers, a sponsor of the tour selling ice pops at every date. This opportunity was extremely serendipitous as the Cool Suppliers iceys are allergen free and contain no GMOs. Meaning, I could actually enjoy and honestly promote the product (Yes, they are delicious and refreshing. Pineapple Coconut is my fave) while also bridging together the music world / bands. My job was to promote Cool Suppliers across socials, run around Warped Tour all day bringing followers to various sets via Instagram, showing behind the scenes footage, filming vlogs with my intern Drew, curating social posts, taking photos and distributing iceys to bands and crew.
Deciding to go on the tour was a wild decision for me to make. I've been going to and have worked on dates of the Vans Warped Tour since I was literally eleven years old (in braces, Hello Kitty sunglasses, Roxy board shorts, dad as a chaperone, you get the picture...) and it has always been a dream of mine to work on a full tour run, especially the Vans Warped Tour. But with debilitating auto immune issues and insufferable food allergies, the idea was never really fully entertained as it would be a tremendous struggle for my body to be able to handle a job that is so demanding, extreme, and often times uncomfortable. But to let it keep me from getting paid to see The Maine (my favorite band) every day and travel the country taking pictures? There was just no way.
If you couldn't tell, I survived! And much to everyone's surprise, I didn't return home from the tour skeletal and emaciated... but tan and possibly even stronger (My health app recorded about 20,000 steps on average most days of the tour, oof.) My blood sugar levels remained stable, I suffered no form of cross contamination, had no severe allergic reactions, never fainted, and, unrelated to my more serious health problems but also very important, I didn't get any crazy sunburns or sun poisoning. My life has revolved around issues like these for many years, so surviving an entire tour unscathed was a BIG deal and a huge personal victory/relief. Everyone who knows me well knows this was a true miracle.
This post serves as an overview of what I was actually doing out on Warped, as I know from Instagram/Twitter/Facebook it probably looked like I just stood in mosh pits all day (not totally wrong... it was a tough job but someones gotta do it.) In this series of blogs I will share some of the things I learned and experienced while on the tour (i.e. showering at truck stops, getting left behind in Texas, spending Fourth of July with Simple Plan, etc.) as well as talk about what it was like touring with an auto immune disease, being a female content creator, tips I picked up/learned a long the way, etc.
You know how there's that stigma about people who study abroad NEVER shutting up about studying abroad? Constantly inserting their experiences about being abroad into conversations that are usually totally unrelated to being abroad? Well, Warped Tour was basically my study abroad experience so I may have become one of THOSE people. I have a lot to share.
"So I packed up a bag and went, two months in the sun I spent I woke up everyday and smiled because I wanna be alive, well don’t you?"
- Tonight Alive ("Hell and Back")
(From production day in Pomona, CA. — Photo by Drew Servedio)
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