(MFKN) STORY-TIME: My First Time At Warped Tour

A while ago I decided to get back into the music scene WAY more than I ever was before. In order to be successful at what I love to do, I dared to do the unthinkable…

Many of you don’t know but I DO have a shy/anxious side to me (weird, eh?). Earlier this year I saw that AltPress was looking for volunteers for Warped Tour (2 people per show). At first I thought, “Why bother? They wouldn’t pick me”. A day or two goes by, and I can’t get it out of my head. So, just to adhere to my new “no regrets” motto, I signed up for a chance to be a volunteer for the AltPress tent for the show in Mountain View on August 4th. And what do you know… they chose me (don’t ever listen to doubt). I had to read the email like seven different times cause I thought it was a rejection letter that I had read wrong. In any case, I did a really high pitched girly scream and started telling my friends the good news. For months the idea of working Warped for AltPress hadn’t fully “hit me”. Even though I had asked if I could bring my camera and everything, I was still numb to the idea. It was only until the week of that I realized what I had gotten myself into and I immediately became nerve-wracked. This feeling lasted up until the morning of Warped’s Mountain View date. I had left my place completely geared up for the show (Nikon D810, 50mm prime, 18mm-300mm, GoPro with the chest straps, and table clamp).

When I finally arrived at the venue, the traffic was crazy. There was a line of people wrapped around the corner, and then another corner. Slowly and steadily I had crept up to the parking lot  which looked like the endless fields of growing humans pictured in the Matrix. I parked and got my stuff to begin my trek to the main entrance… then I saw a familiar face. Right next to me was Christine, my “work mistress” (another story) from an old job I had in South Bay. She knew it was me because of the unmistakable “kitty ear” buns and fur coat. We hugged and she introduced me to her new boyfriend (I hadn’t seen her in months). Together we walked out of the lot and to the entrance of the venue where I had to leave them (since I was press and needed to go to the check-in tent). There was a guy standing in front of me hollering about recycling (or something or other…) and I felt like he thought I was one of the people he was trying to talk to. I had to tell him that I had no idea what he was talking about and that I needed to check in for AltPress (awkward moment). “Oh! Well just go to the left and go all the way down.”

Passing through I saw a ton of fans getting hyped up for the shows, people taking “selfies” and videos of their friends. Bands were walking by with their show times written on pieces of cardboard. Security was standing around, pretending to be menacing. At the end of the line was a bright yellow tent with the words “Vans Warped Tour Volunteers”. The girl I was looking for had bright pink hair, a mess of tattoos, and body mods all over; she was just as sweet as she was bubbly. After meeting her and getting my arm candy (AltPress wristband) she walked me over to the tent where I was going to be working. There, I met some more chill people that was working the tent with me and sat down to get myself ready for the day. There were a fair amount of bands that I wanted to photograph, but I had to remember my responsibility at the tent. Being an artistic spazz, I get really foggy-brained and excited when it comes to things that excite me (i.e. metal shows). My first time at Warped Tour and I’m working it… yeah, I felt pretty spazztastic and overwhelmed with ideas. “How to be everywhere at once while performing all of my required duties for AltPress…”. Basically, what I had to do was pass out three boxes worth of Warped Tour guides/photo books (by myself since I ended up being the ONLY volunteer scheduled), help out with band signing, keep the tent’s magazine and photo book racks fully stocked, and shoot as many bands as I can get to… needless to say I got my exercise for the week.

I was EVERYWHERE. Strapped to the teeth with gear and dishing photo books out of my camera bag. My main focus was the bands, but I ended up taking just as many photos of alternative chicks at Warped Tour. There were so many interesting versions of female metalheads that I just had to capture them throughout the day. At first, it was chill, literally. The weather was a bit grey and cold in the morning up until around noon. However, by 3pm it had turned into a hellish, humid, human soup when people started piling in from the line outside and the clouds blew away. The email did say to prepare for the weather, so I packed an extra outfit in my bag just in case I sweated out my Deftones T-shirt. Mid-shift I changed my clothes and went back to photographing Warped.

During Warped Tour I met some outrageously awesome people who I did get to photograph…



The “speedo man” at the butt booth.



A gothic queen roaming the venue.



Supa Kawaii chick!



ANOTHER Supa Kawaii chick!



One groovy dude.



This awesome girl on her 18th birthday!



Brian (right) and Anthony (left) beardin’ it up.



And of course… the chick who broke her nose (again; “annual tradition”).


Some random moments from the day:

  • There was a bird in my bathroom stall.
  • My “work mistress” got me a golden grinder from I, Prevail’s booth.
  • I found a pipe in a plastic bag AND a Bob Marley zippo lighter right next to it.
  • I also found some elephant necklaces.
  • Security let me stay in the pit for all of After The Burial’s set.
  • I met some fellow hardcore Deftones fans and had a full on “what’s your favorite…” discussion that gave me life.
  • I finally got to photograph Dance Gavin Dance.
  • Met Too Close To Touch while they were at the AltPress tent.
  • I ran into a few friends from my hometown (Sacramento) while photographing the event.



Sometime after Andy Black’s set, I was walking around eating two slices of pizza put together (pizza sammich). I reached into my camera bag to take a picture of myself eating poorly and stopped walking. The phone was gone. This is when my anxiety/panic mode reached a level… that I cannot properly describe. I was so panicked that I literally went a little blind for a second. Never have I ever lost a phone (I usually smash the screen into eternal darkness and get a new one). Immediately, and regrettably, I tossed my “pizza sammich” and started retracing my steps. I ran around asking if anyone saw a phone on the ground (haha! yeah right). But alas, it was gone. Gone as hell. I felt pretty deflated after that. Somehow I ended up wandering into the backstage area where the tour buses were, laid out, and chilled on the grass. There was a “rockstar massage” tent about 50 feet away from me, and a fleet of identical tour buses. As I’m just laying there with the “oh my god where is my phone” look on my face a girl approached me and asked if I was okay. I recognized her as the shaved red-headed chick that I had photographed earlier that day.  I told her about the phone, and she joined me in my moment of grief. We ended up talking about photography since she was a photographer as well. I let her take some photos of me reapplying my lipstick with a film camera she had.




After going out to shoot Beartooth, I ran into Anthony backstage and stayed around to chill for a bit while BT finished their set. I gave Adrian advice on how to gross out his longtime girlfriend Nikki by sticking his tongue in her ear. In return, he gave me some advice on touring with bands and networking. We exchanged contact info (emails) and I started my long walk back to the front entrance. Everyone had left by this point. Looking around the venue, it was a ghost town of emptied out booths, venue workers, and mangled piles of items that had been lost in the fray. Taking in one last look I thought about all the amazing and random moments I had today. I thought of everyone I met, and getting to experience Warped Tour for the first time from an interesting perspective. If losing my phone was a small price to pay to the metal gods for this awesome adventure, so be it! Thank you Alternative Press for the great day I had!! 🙂


Lessons learned from this day:

  • SECURE YOUR PHONE (glue it to your face)

  • Always bring a spare shirt to an outdoor music festival

  • Stay hydrated

  • Network (all day, everyday)

  • Don’t JUST take pictures of the bands

  • Multitask (and make sure all responsibilities are covered)

  • Always ask about touring when backstage

  • Never listen to self doubts! (Or anyone’s for that matter)


See you all next year!!!


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