London-based folk dude Rob Lynch is out on Vans Warped Tour all summer long, ploughing his trade to anyone who stops by the Acoustic Basement stage. As the only English artist on the entire run he's in a great position to tell us the realities of the world's biggest travelling festival, and boy, has he seen some sights....
Greetings from California! My name is Rob Lynch, I’m a singer-songwriter from Stamford, Lincolnshire, and this summer I’m very lucky to be living out every rock music loving teenagers’ dream, playing on the whole of the Vans Warped Tour on the Acoustic Basement stage in the good ol’ US of A.
Rock Sound asked me to give an insight of what life is like on the Vans Warped Tour as a lonesome Brit. So, here’s what I’ve been up to. In a nut shell it’s name drops, moaning, drinking, and a generally good time.
I set off for the tour with my suitcase and backpack and a pocketful of hopes and dreams on June 11, and so far it’s been an experience like no other. I had a lot of excitement in the buildup to starting this tour and I really did not know what to expect. Two weeks later, I’ve settled into the lifestyle and the ebb and the flow of the whole operation. I won’t sugarcoat it and say that it’s all truly amazing - there are long-ass drives, lots of waiting around, and lots of being dirty. There are days when you won’t play to many people, and there are things that you see that you don’t agree with (the sheer amount of T-shirts that I’ve seen young teenagers wearing emblazoned with mysogynistic slogans on is truly depressing), and at times, being on your own without a band can leave you feeling somewhat isolated. But for the most part, to be part of this travelling musical circus and institution is a real pleasure and I am proud to be a part of it for the summer.
Wednesday, June 25 - Chula Vista, CA
Yesterday was a day off, so last night I stayed in a hotel. The loving embrace of a double bed and a shower with hot water was true ecstasy. I had to wake up at 5.30am as bus call to leave for today’s venue was at 6.30am. I trudged over to Bus 18 and duly fell back asleep in my little cubby hole sized bunk.
I’m travelling on a bus for the whole of the tour, so I am living in relative (tour) luxury. Each morning I wake up, and I have no idea where I am. I stumble to the front of the bus, look out of the window and see that we are in a huge car park, amongst a sea of other buses and trailers. I slide on my flip flops and go in search of catering to grab a coffee and aind a ‘rest room’ that is in a reasonable state.
Brian Marquis, Elder Brother, Rob Lynch
I’ll then head over to the Acoustic Basement stage to find my good buddy, stage manager, and performer, Brian Marquis, to find out what time I’m playing. Every band on Warped has a different stage time each day. Anyone could be opening or closing their stage. It keeps it fair and it means that kids have to turn up right at the start of the day to make sure they don’t miss their favourite band and they are then around for bands they’ve never heard of before (AKA me). I’ll then write down my set time on a handful of fancy postcards with my face, logo and a free download code on it, and I go and hand them out to excitable teens waiting in the queue (or “line” to my transatlantic friends) for the doors to open.
Half of Team Acoustic Basement bowling team (or as I like to call it 'Rob And The Lynchpins'. Young Statues, Rob Lynch, Front Porch Step
Playing on the Acoustic Basement stage this summer are 2twoof my bus mates, Carmen from the band, Young Statues, and Jake AKA Front Porch Step, as well as Antony Raneri (Bayside), Elder Brother (featuring Dan from Daybreaker and Kevin from The Story So Far), Bad Rabbits, Nick Santino (formerly of A Rocket To The Moon), and Brian Marquis. Later in the tour we’ll be joined by Mike Herrera (MXPX), Alison Weiss and Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties (Soupy from The Wonder Years). I’m in very capable company, and it’s a real pleasure to share a stage with these artists each day. Brian started the Acoustic Basement stage 3 years ago, and it really offers somewhat of a haven to Warped Tour punters. It’s the only stage with a roof over it, so it is a popular spot on really hot days to cower from the sun. It’s also where you’ll find most of the parents who have brought their kids to Warped for the day, seeking refuge from the endless bands with angry frontmen demanding to know “WHAT’S UP MOTHERFUCKERS?!”. (There’s something about parents taking their children to gigs and festivals that warms my cold heart).
I headed over to catering for lunch and ate with my new British friend, Sam Ryder, who sings in a band called Close Your Eyes, and was formerly in Blessed By A Broken Heart and The Morning After. We ate a meatball sub to celebrate his birthday, and it was delicious. The catering on this tour is amazing, I eat better than when I’m at home. The job that the catering team do is medal worthy. They cater for close to 1000 people everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and prepare everything inside one shipping container in the scorching heat. True unsung heroes.
Sam Ryder from Close Your Eyes, Rob Lynch, Eric from Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!
After playing my set, I went out to watch some bands. Notable mentions today for Plague Vendor, who have a completely unhinged and enigmatic frontman, and The Story So Far who had a huge crowd in their home state of California.
We had a 10.30pm bus call tonight, so after the show had finished all there was time for was a quick whiskey with Brian Marquis in his bus. I then headed back to my own bus and drank a few PBRs with bus mate Chuck, the man who deals with collecting ALL of the merch fees on the tour. He played us some of his favourite songs and told us stories from his years of touring. Name drops of Bob Dylan and Walter Schreifels are just a selection.
Thursday, June 26 - Wheatland, CA
I woke up in a carpark, didn’t know where I was, etc etc.
When I got to the stage today, it was still only half set up. Most of the buses arrived late on site today, as the journey from Chula Vista took longer than anticipated, so there was a little feeling of stress in the air this morning.
I sat and did a stock take of my merch, which as I’m sure you can imagine was exhilarating. Life on the road really can be wild sometimes.
My set today closed out proceedings on the Acoustic Basement, so I had a relatively relaxed day and sauntered around taking in the atmosphere. Chris Conley came and played a Saves The Day set at the Acoustic Basement, and it was a real treat.
Chris Conley's performs an acoustic set in the Acoustic Basement
Any day that we have a day off the next day is called Roadie Friday. The reason being the crew don’t have to wake up early the next morning meaning they truly let their hair down.
On these nights, there is a big BBQ where all of the bands and production crew get together and drink lots of beer, hang out and/or throw some shapes. It was good vibes tonight and I spend my time hanging out with new friends in Elder Brother, The Story So Far, The Maine, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk and Chris Conley. All great people.
Friday, June 27: OFF DAY
Kevin Lyman, Warped tour founder, organises activities for the production crew to partake in on some of the off days. I’m on a production bus, so I have the privilege of joining in with these things. Today’s activity was speed boating in Grant’s Pass, Oregon. We went on a four-hour trip, which I went on with low expectations, and ended up having an amazing time and seeing some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen in my life. We stopped off halfway through the trip at Hells Pass Canyon and went to eat BBQ food and drink beer in a restaurant that can only be described as an incredible, huge tree house.
Speedboating on the off-day in Oregon
Besides the music and the people, the things that I have gotten to experience on the off days are things that will stay with me for a long time. Last week, I got to go white water rafting in Santa Fe. Our guide looked like Matthew McConaughey from True Detective (and was as much of a badass. He told us how he once stopped an armed robbery in a bar) and a snake tried to get on our boat.
Saturday, June 28: Southeast Auburn, WA
Today’s show is in Seattle, I wake up and look outside to see grey clouds and a lot of rain. I might as well be back in London for all I know. It’s not all beautiful sunsets and palm trees, kids.
I play first today, and the set is somewhat hampered by the weather.
We have a late bus call of 2am, so I go and drink some whiskey with Brian Marquis (you’ll notice this is a running theme). I make some calls to loved ones at Glastonbury, and have some twangs of jealously. I then pinch myself and tell myself that I’m extremely lucky to be having this experience and to make the most of it.
Sunday, June 29: Portland, OR
I have a hangover today, I wander on site to a torrent of metalcore. That’s not what I wanted. I have a little stroll around. I say hello to my fellow Brit friend, Henri who is doing merch for Yellowcard and runs Antique Clothing, and we have our daily chat about “soccer”. I then go over to see my new friend, Mike Farr, at the Music Cares stand. I had heard the name, Music Cares, over the last few weeks but didn’t actually know what it was, so I had a sit and a chat with Mike and he explained to me what they do. Essentially, they provide support for musicians on the road in America who run into trouble. For example, if someone needs to go to rehab due to alcohol/substance abuse, or someone needs urgent medical help but can’t afford it, then they are there to help out and give support. You don’t have to pay a subscription fee, and all their funding comes from donations. I approve. In between the throngs of band merch and clothing companies, there is a high concentration of non-profit organisations with stalls at Warped Tour, spreading positive messages and awareness to kids at a young age who might not otherwise be savvy to such things.
Mike Farr from Music Cares repping the Rob Lynch merch!
Monday, June 30: OFF DAY
Today is an off day, last night we started the 33 hour drive from Portland to St. Louis. It’ll be broken up into 3 night drives. There are no special activities planned for today, but we have a day room to share between 11 of us in a hotel in Salt Lake City, so we can shower and relax. Being in a room with 11 people is definitely not relaxing. I went out for some lunch with a few of my bus mates, and then decided to go for a stroll in the city, alone. That turned out to be a less than enjoyable experience, as I somehow found my way into drug addict central. It felt like Hamsterdam from The Wire. I bought a can of Grape Fanta to reward myself for surviving.
Tuesday, June 01: OFF DAY
Again, today is another off day, as our journey to St. Louis continues. We stop in Lincoln, Nebraska for the day. The USA are playing Belgium in the 2nd round of the World Cup, so I watch that in the hotel bar (where again, we have a day room so we can shower). America lost and everyone was annoyed for about 30 seconds, before they realised that they’re not too bothered about football after all. I accidentally drank 3 beers during the game, so I went upstairs to shower and then try to do something fruitful with my day. I called Brian Marquis to see if he wanted to hang out and get involved with the fruitfulness. It turned out he was now in the hotel bar that I’d just left, so I went back down and drank some more beers (and whiskey). A group of people working on the tour were going out for sushi. I’d never eaten sushi before, but feeling the effects of my day’s fruitfulness, I felt adventurous, so I went with them. It was delicious. I drank copious amounts of sake and had an all round enjoyable evening.
Wednesday, June 02: Maryland Heights, MO
Oh boy, this is a hangover. I was the last to play on the Acoustic Basement stage today, which for someone who is pretty much unknown out here, isn’t ideal. Playing before someone like Front Porch Step or Anthony Raneri is great, as their fans turn up early to make sure they are there for them, and you have a pretty big crowd for at least half of your set. So, today I’m relying on people who have actually come to see me, or people searching for respite from the heavier output that the festival has to offer. The set turned out better than I was expecting, and I had a great time.
Parkway Drive joined the tour today and they absolutely tore it up during their set on the main stage. I hadn’t seen a crowd react in the way that they did for anyone on the tour so far. I had a nostalgic moment and thought about how far they’ve come since I first saw them support Shai Hulud at Joseph’s Well in Leeds in 2006. And then I thought about how far I’d come since playing some of my first shows in Leeds as Lost On Campus is Leeds in 2006. Before I could get too overwhelmed by it all, I headed to the BBQ.
Our bus call wasn’t until 2am, so it was another big BBQ night. This morning’s hangover was a distant memory and so I duly went in search of beer, whiskey and wine and for some company to waste the night away with.
Thursday, June 03: Noblesville, IN
This is where I leave you. I have already made friends with people that I feel I will know for a long time, and I’m getting to live out a dream. Roll on the next 28 shows. I’ll be home on 5th August.
Come and see me on my headline tour in September / October, and I’ll tell you more.
Rob Lynch will release 'All These Nights In Bars Will Somehow Save My Soul' on September 22 through Xtra Mile Recordings. Following that, he'll be hitting the road in the UK for a full headline run:
09 - CAMBRIDGE Portland Arms
10 - NORWICH Owl Sanctuary
11 - LIVERPOOL Maguire's Pizza Bar
14 - BRISTOL Old Bookshop
15 - PLYMOUTH Tiki Bar & Diner
21 - KINGSTON Banquet Records
22 - LONDON Monarch
24 - CARDIFF Undertone
25 - STOKE Sugarmill
26 - DERBY Victoria Inn
27 - DUNDEE Kage
28 - GLASGOW King Tut's
30 - NEWCASTLE Think Tank