Less Than Jake will play its 337th Vans Warped Tour show in Pomona this month, helping mark the 20th anniversary of the all-ages eclectic rock show here in Southern California.
“It feels great to be a part of something as festive as Warped for so long,” said vocalist and guitarist Christopher Demakes. “We have played in all three decades of Warped (the ‘90s, 2000s and 2010s) and have done more Warped shows than any other band. We could be known for way worse things!”
The Vans Warped Tour, featuring wide ranging acts like Less Than Jakes ska punk sound to metalcore, electronic and acoustic, is celebrating a milestone this year and heads to the Fairplex in Pomona on June 20 and Season Park in Ventura on June 22.
Bands performing include Yellowcard, Bowling For Soup, The Devil Wears Prada, Falling In Reverse and many more.
Inland Empire native Kevin Lyman, founder of the Vans Warped Tour, quipped the music festival turning 20 didn't mean much except him getting older and grayer.
“I'm only as good as the last year in this business,” said 53-year-old Lyman. “There's a lot of unique things with the tour to evolve and stay relevant. We'll get out there and hopefully the weather cooperates.”
While a staple for the punk rock community over the years, Warped Tour hasn't gone without criticism and this year's point of contention is that there aren't enough women on the bill, a similar complaint for several mega festivals including this year's Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival that had no female headliners.
“It's not like we go out there looking (for female acts or other types of acts). We're not an affirmative action tour. But look at how diverse it is,” Lyman said, adding that Warped does have has 20 bands featuring women this year.
In addition to the diversity of music performed at the traveling festival, what stands out to Lyman is putting a focus on charities and nonprofits such as the canned food drives the tour assists each year. Lyman, who grew up in Claremont and graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 1984 with a recreation administration degree, said it's important for Warped to make a positive impact on the community.
“Most kids come to run themselves around and have a good time, but 10 percent start a nonprofit. There's a great community there of people,” he said.
Chicago pop punk band Real Friends returns to Warped this year on the larger Journeys stage and 25-year-old bassist Kyle Fasel couldn't be more stoked. He said the festival is like summer camp.
“It's the worst summer camp and the best summer camp wrapped into one because there are days that you're like, ‘This sucks I want to go home.' Then there are days like, ‘This is awesome.' For instance, the heat sucks. But I remember the California dates (last year) weren't too bad for us,” he said.
The band just released the single “Sixteen” from its forthcoming album “Maybe This Place Is The Same And We're Just Changing,” which is set to be released July 22, so the Real Friends plans to perform some new and old material during the tour.
“There's a lot more emo influence and a lot more heavier influence,” Fasel said about the latest album. “It's a lot more dynamic than our previous music. Just ups and downs all within the songs. It's not like this song is super energetic the entire time. Songs dip out and come back in. That was important to us as songwriters. All good bands are able to put your ears on a roller coaster in a way.”
Vans Warped Tour
Where: Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona on June 20 and Seaside Park, 10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura on June 22.
When: Doors open at 11 a.m. June 20 and June 22.
Tickets: $39.50 plus fees for Pomona; $37 plus fees for Ventura. Warped Tour also offers one complimentary parent/guardian admission to accompany those under 18 who have bought a ticket. This complimentary ticket can only be picked up at the yellow top guest list tent near the front entrance of the venue.