Playing On The Warped Tour: Part Two

By Eric Kamm Published October 17, 2009

Learning To Respect The Crew

I had fallen asleep effortlessly that particular evening (before we backed in to a mailbox) precisely because Setoff had cut their Warped Tour teeth in Seattle’s Gorge Amphitheatre earlier that day. A couple hours after daybreak as our van pulled into one of the most beautiful venues in the United States, we quickly found out that we had no fucking clue whatsoever about what was going on. Hundreds of people were walking around. You couldn’t tell who were employees, who were band members, and who was just sitting around. Everyone’s so busy with what they were doing that no one can tell you exactly what’s happening. Every day is a new location on the Warped Tour. It’s kind of like a circus--you arrive, the tent and stages fly up, and the show goes on.

At long last, we found the stage we’re supposed to perform at. I made the mistake of asking the stage manager and soundman for a little bit of direction. They made it very clear, very quickly that there was no reason whatsoever that I should be bothering them. Over the next eight days I would learn that a good rule of thumb at The Warped Tour for no-name bands, such as Setoff, is that it’s better to ask for forgiveness, than to ask any question at all. I can honestly say after playing eight dates over two years, that the people working the Kevin Say’s and Skate stages are some of the most quality people you’ll ever meet in your life. However, one should place the word “eccentric” next to the adjective “quality” to make the sentence a little more appropriate, keeping in mind that certain types of personalities are better suited for manual labor jobs (such as setting up stages), where there is always way too much work to be done in way too little time, on way too little sleep the night before. If you have the privilege of setting up a stage with them--they’ll give you a warning before you lift any piece of metal, which triggers a reflex in their heads where they immediately impart an anecdote about some kind of crazy accident or experience that happened to them while on the road. It took me a while to realize that these are great people who have a job to do, and it stresses them out when others are constantly asking something of them. But, I indeed had to learn this lesson, which was not evident upon our arrival said morning. Had you asked me that particular day, I would told you they were some of the biggest assholes I’ve ever met in my life (and I would have been very wrong).

We unloaded our equipment, and I was immediately off on my second task at hand--find the publicity booth. In addition to playing The Kevin Say’s Stage, I was there to interview the drummers playing the Warped Tour.

Publicity was equally a nightmare. Every question I asked was answered with a scowl. “Well how do I arrange an interview?” I asked. The hired publicist, who’s being paid to contact the band members about interviews, at long last, decides that, although it’s beneath her, she will actually try to contact some of band members about interviews. She is not happy about this, mind you, and makes it very clear that she does not like me. “Well, you should just go up to the drummers and ask them for interviews,” she tells me after a few failed attempts to contact the musicians herself. Her tone makes it very clear that what she is actually doing, in reality, is inviting me to go fuck myself. Alright, I can take a hint. I walk outside. (Note: over the next few years I would run into this woman at other Warped Tours, and at events like NAMM Show—just like the stage managers, she was a real nice person who just had way too much she was trying to get done.)

Eric Kamm is a former DRUM! staffer and drummer for the band Setoff. You can reach him here.