When I was thirteen, I loved fake punk music like Blink-182 and NOFX, and I still kind of do. But every year when the Vans Warped Tour passed through Cleveland, it was always during the week when I had to lifeguard so I was unable to attend. Spoiled rich kids from the suburbs don’t teach themselves how to doggy paddle, you know. I wrote a letter to Motion City Soundtrack, who was my favorite band on the tour. “Why is the show on a Thursday? Who can go to a concert in the middle of the day on a Thursday? Have it on Sunday or something,” I wrote. “Quit your job,” they replied. After I graduated college, I was finally unemployed and able to go. But much had changed, including my feelings toward Motion City Soundtrack and the availability of any of my friends who could accompany me. I didn’t care, I was determined to finally go. So I brought my mom and dad and my namesake Larry, who loves rockabilly and hates Motion City Soundtrack, but for the most part, we all had a pretty good time. Except for when Joan Jett was wearing really tight black leather pants. My mom still bitches about how disgusting that was.
But actually, my mom had the best time of us all. That day changed her life—her love for sk8er boi music was born. Now she loves Against Me!, Green Day, Rise Against, Paramore, etc., and even took me to a Yellow Card concert once, where I stood in the back with moms watching their teenage sons and daughters jump up and down in the cute little mosh pit that had formed in the front. My mom stood with those teeny boppers, coming back with bruised wrists from drumming her hands on the side of the stage. I obviously tried to ground her, but it just doesn’t work that way.
I don’t go to the Vans Warped Tour anymore, but my mom does, every year. Last year she only had one gripe: she was tired of the chaos and having to walk from stage to stage. She wanted a seat in the main pavilion, and wanted her favorite bands to come to her. That’s when I realized that my mom is going to be 95-years-old and still going to Vans Warped Tour. She’ll traverse the grassy concert space on her motorized scooter, which will ensure she will have a seat for all the shows.
The reason she does it is quite admirable—my mom is really good at being happy. The Vans Warped Tour makes her happy, so she goes. She doesn’t care that nobody wants to go with her or that she’s surrounded by pimply teenagers or that when she arrives, the organizers try to usher her to the “Parents’ Tent”. She doesn’t go because she wants to seem cool, and she isn’t afraid of seeming uncool by going. She goes because she loves the music. I love that about my mom.
Being the oldest person at Vans has its perks, though. Mom points out that the beer lines are always really short because nobody is old enough to drink, and that the security guards always let her leave for lunch in the middle of the day, a luxury not afforded to regular concert goers. I like to think of my mom as the Mayor of Vans Warped Tour. I am waiting for them to give her a sash and build her a throne, hopefully at the main stage, where she can watch Paramore and Rise Against until they are too old to play their guitars.