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By Teri Bildstein/ comments

A Festival Of Scandal: Vans Warped Tour Considers Changes For 2016

August 13, 2015
A Festival Of Scandal: Vans Warped Tour Considers Changes For 2016

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The words have been entwined for years and many sins have been excused with the casual toss of this phrase. In the world of music, it speaks volumes that the rock and roll portion of this phrase has always followed the misbehavior associated with the scene. Even after known groupies described the fall from muse to sex object and famous marriages dissolved under allegations of infidelity; the sex portion still leads the charge. Despite watching many talented musicians battle, and too often lose, their struggles with addiction; the drugs portion of the phrase stands firm.  Many of these transgressions continue today and are accepted, even embraced, as the very nature of the rock and roll music scene.

There is one sordid area that even rock and roll can no longer excuse. In the past, no rock show would be complete without a swarm of underage girls waiting in the wings for the chance of catching the eye of the stars they called hero. Some of these backstage love affairs gained notoriety, such as when Led Zepplin's Jimi Page became infatuated with 14 year old Lori Maddox. One such tale even gained the status of rock history when another 14 year old, Priscilla Beaulieu, captured the eye of Elvis Presley.


Led Zepplin and Lori Maddox
Led Zeppelin and Lori Maddox


Today's society no longer accepts these stories as romantic. Any musician using their status to take advantage of underage fans will be called out as a predator and faces the same legal ramifications as anyone else involved with a minor with the additional threat of public shaming in the press and on social media.

This year, Vans Warped Tour faced the backlash when not one but two musicians associated with the festival were publically were called to task for preying on minors. Austin Jones was an official YouTuber for the tour before he was accused of requesting twerking videos from underage girls. Jake McElfresh was dropped from the tour amid allegations of sexually inappropriate messages he shared by phone and online with teenage girls. When he was granted a single performance on the tour's stop in Nashville, fans and other performers received his appearance with hostility

After another band, Slaves, was removed from the tour after claims their lead singer sexually harrassed one of their merch vendors; tour founder Kevin Lyman decided the atmosphere for next year's festival needs to change.

Which would be open for applause if his responses did not completely smack of victim shaming. One of his initial thoughts is to put a 21+ age limit on bands and staff touring with the festival and it appears most of his anger is directed towards social media's tendency to share information about allegations before the accused has had a trial. 

In an interview with The Stranger, Lyman stated


"I'm already working on Warped Tour for next year,” Lyman says. “And you know what? There are things that need to be fixed. [The community] needs to fix what due process is, what judicial systems are, and [we] have to stop putting false information on the internet," said Lyman. “Slow down the social media blur. None of you are retaining. People can't retain the name of a band and the song they play. Brains have turned into a spaghetti sieve, as I like to say, shit just flows through them all of the time. Nothing’s sticking, except for a little bit of crust off of the sides. We're going to have to slow down technology. We have to slow it down, so it means something.”


So, because some of the adults on the tour have had predatory interactions with teens, the answer would be to remove their prey? But wait...not all of their prey, just the underaged performers or crew. Potential victims who pay to attend shows are still welcome. What kind of sense does that make? How is blaming social media helpful if that happens to be the platform where victims are sharing their stories and supporting one another? How is it fair to artists like Kaya Stewart, who at the age of 15 was this year's youngest performer? 


What do you think? Should there be an age limit on who can travel with Warped Tour? Leave your feedback in the comments below!