Well, this is it. The final Warped Tour cross-country run. After 24 years, Kevin Lyman and Co. have decided to hang up their hats and deliver U.S. punk, hardcore, and emo fans one last send-off.
To no one’s surprise, the lineup both delighted and disappointed many fans of the festival. Around the Internet, there seemed to be a healthy mix of ‘What a great way to end the Tour!’ and ‘Really? NO MCR?! Sum 41 isn’t playing every single show? I am boycotting.’
Aside from expectedly conflicted feelings, the lineup did draw some other legitimate criticisms on the lack of inclusion of women on the Tour. Of the 68 bands booked, only four include women. This is only about 6% of the acts. This statistic has resulted in somewhat of a shock to many Warped fans, especially noting that this is less than half of what was listed for the 2017 lineup. While there are special guests that have yet to be announced, it is fair to say that women do not have a solid representation on the stages of this final Warped Tour.
While it is necessary to acknowledge the truth about bands with any women at all being inexplicably left out of the lineup, another conversation has risen from this critique. Many women that work in the music industry have come out against these criticisms, noting that there is no lack of women involved in making Warped Tour possible. The following tweet by Amanda Schill, an experienced merchandise manager who is active in the alternative scene, accurately portrays this sentiment.
Schill is amongst others who publicly recognize the importance of everyone behind the scenes who make it possible for us to enjoy our favorite bands. In an effort to increase the equality between on-stage and off-stage appreciation, we did some research on previous Warped Tours, and talked to some badass industry women to get their perspectives on the 2018 Warped lineup and their experiences at working festivals in general.
Women are behind almost every aspect of Warped Tour, and festivals all over the place. They are merchandise managers, photographers, stage crew, sound engineers, street team, booking agents, and cleanup crew just to name a few. In fact, in an MTV article from 2015, Lynn Gunn, of PVRIS acknowledged, “People don’t realize 95% of production, catering, paramedics and everything is women.”
In a similar sentiment, a short video made by the official Vans Warped Tour 2017 page, Linh of Bad Cop/Bad Cop acknowledges the power of the inevitable female presence found at Warped, “The amount of women I’ve met on this particular Tour, they’re just like, ‘well throw it at me, I’m gonna do it.’ Whether it’s in production and handling all that or performing or being a stagehand, being a tech, running merch… I’ve got to give mad props to everyone that’s been doing this.”
“Women bring a certain calmness to the organized chaos that is production. They are the situation diffusers, the game-time decision makers, and the backbone of most festivals that I have been lucky enough to be a part of,” says Molli Kleeman. Molli currently works as a freelance contractor for Envisioned Arts and has worked numerous festivals across the country. As a freelancer, she recognizes that the constant hustle to find work in the field drives her. “Contrary to common conversation, I sometimes find it exciting that you constantly have to prove yourself to succeed as a woman in the music industry. In my day to day work I am emailing with tour managers, booking agents, festival owners, etc… and thinking to myself, ‘I wonder what they think I look like? I wonder who they expect me to be?’ And when it comes time to meet them face to face, I pay attention to their reactions. That way, throughout the festival, I can watch it change as I handle the million things that they throw my direction. Then, over time, you begin to gain respect from and change the ideals of those who started off doubting you. It is those same people who soon after realize, they couldn’t have done it without the consistent drive that is a woman’s energy.”
Cheyenne Simmons, a publisher at Vibe Up Magazine, told us she’s not complaining about the lack of musicians on the Tour because she appreciates that the Tour is mostly run by women. She thinks they don’t need to be on stage in order for them to be present. All over the industry, she admits it’s a ‘constant test to prove yourself… there is always someone who thinks that you shouldn’t belong there. But that doesn’t stop many women from killing it and proving that [they] can do just as much or even more than some of the guys can’. Working music festivals is no easy task and recognizing the female presence today is still a necessary part of creating equality and appreciation for women in the industry.
Clearly, the lineup deserves more women and plenty of female artists would have easily fit the bill. But we must be careful to not discount the hard work that so many women put into making the Tour, and festivals everywhere possible. On stage, we may see more males than females but at the end of the day, there are important, committed, badass women driving much of the event’s success.
In the spirit of Warped Tour, and the beginning of festival season, we should embrace the sense of discovery and learn about these hard-working women. It’s the last one, let’s make it count.