Silva: Warped Tour’s ending may give Fort Collins a unique opportunity

Josh Silva

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.  

This past year, Vans Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman announced that the upcoming 2018 tour would be the last, leaving fans and artists justifiably upset.

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Following in the footsteps of Grand Junction’s Loudwire Music Festival in 2016 and Denver’s Riot Fest in 2017, the farewell tour will pass through Denver on July 1st before shuttering its doors on August 5th later this year.

Though all three events have expressed interest in a revival at some point in the future, they have yet to take concrete steps toward this goal. The end of the nationwide Warped Tour further exacerbates the void for punk rock enthusiasts in Colorado, since none of the other Colorado music festivals fit the profile of Warped Tour or Riot Fest.

The City of Fort Collins is uniquely well-positioned to take up the mantle by hosting a new festival to replace Warped. While Colorado as a whole features a hospitable musical climate and boasts artists such as OneRepublic and the Fray, Fort Collins specifically is the ideal location to establish a new music festival in the spirit of Warped Tour.

While Colorado as a whole features a hospitable musical climate and boasts artists such as OneRepublic and the Fray, Fort Collins specifically is the ideal location to establish a new music festival in the spirit of Warped Tour.

Promoters have historically struggled to set up music festivals in Denver, but Fort Collins may prove more compatible under the right circumstances. Historically speaking, Fort Collins enjoys a track record of accommodating large crowds for musical events, as the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys both famously played at the soon-to-be-demolished Hughes Stadium.

The musical appetite in Fort Collins persists, with CSU’s on-campus stadium being floated as a potential future concert venue and CSU students working to make Colorado an artistic hotspot. The efforts seem to be paying off, as CSU hosted concerts on football game days, known as “Stadium Sessions,” that showcased various artists before kickoff.

A festival would promote the City and spur economic development, and Fort Collins has another positive track record when it comes to holding large-scale cultural events. Fort Collins hosts the annual Colorado Brewers’ Festival every summer, in which visitors gather to witness over ninety Colorado beers and forty Colorado breweries. The City also hosts the Taste of Fort Collins, which has showcased rock bands such as the Plain White T’s, the Wombats, and Smash Mouth. Finally, last year’s successful Tour de Fat celebration in Fort Collins featured the All-American Rejects and X Ambassadors, proving that such events can thrive with the appetite for rock bands in Fort Collins.

While music festivals such as Warped can be expensive and cumbersome to implement, they also present numerous benefits such as opportunities for sponsorship, philanthropy, and activism. They also provide cash-strapped fans with the opportunity to experience several of their favorite artists in one central location.

Vans Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman on the mission of Warped: “We are trying to deliver [an affordable festival experience] for the 95 percent of people who can’t afford to go to Bonnaroo or Coachella”

Since the Vans Warped Tour began in 1995.  its mission has been described as, “trying to deliver [an affordable festival experience] for the 95 percent of people who can’t afford to go to Bonnaroo or Coachella,” to see their favorite artists. By capping ticket prices around 50 dollars, the Warped Tour has worked to fulfill its mission and provide fans with shows they otherwise may not have been able to experience.

Additionally, the cultural impact of the Warped Tour cannot be overstated, as these festivals allow up-and-coming artists an opportunity to gain exposure they otherwise would not have. According to Westword, “punk has ebbed and flowed in Denver’s underground music world since the mid-’70s. The current wave of the genre is one of its most diverse, both demographically and musically.”

Without a large venue to interact with other bands and showcase their talent, many local artists risk their careers being strangled before they have the chance to take off. Indeed, various artists such as blink-182, Green Day, and even Katy Perry and the Black Eyed Peas have credited their appearances at Warped with bolstering their, at the time, fledgling careers. Benefits such as these are why festivals like Warped are worth replacing, and Fort Collins has a golden opportunity to fill the void.

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Josh Silva can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online at @jsflix.