Photo by Chris Phelps

Summer is officially here! With Warped Tour starting in 3 days here’s another ‘Warped Tour Edition’ of my series ‘Behind the Scenes’ with another Warped Tour veteran to try to get an idea of what really happens, and what really goes into working this very long, very hot, tour. This will give you some tips on what to wear/ where to eat/ how to get involved with the festival/ the do’s and don’ts of Warped Tour and some bands you should check out while there. Let the countdown begin!

Here is Davis Shirkhani who owns Passion Brand Clothing and is currently on tour with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.


Position(s) held when on Warped Tour:

Merchandise Manager


How many summers on Warped?

I spent 3 crazy summers on the warped tour.  One 3 week stent, one month long stent, and the entire thing.


How did you first get involved with the tour/ any previous experience?

I first got involved by interning for Equal Vision records. They gave me a day pass to help run their tent at the Virginia Beach date.  I enjoyed it so much that I applied for a job to run their tent on the east coast.

The year after that I started my clothing line Passion Brand and did a month on the tour.  The third year I was the merchandise manager for Sing It Loud and The Blackout.


Describe a typical day working the tour:

You wake up at about 7 or 8 am... possibly hung over, still very tired. You push your boxes of merch, and your tent on a hand cart over grass or rocks or something difficult. You search endlessly for a member of the production staff to place you somewhere near your stage.  It’s a cluster fuck of finding them and getting a good spot unless you're a main stage band.  Sometimes it’s a popularity contest, so be nice.

Once you have your spot you have a couple hours to set up your tent and build a small shopping village inside the festival grounds.  Count in your merch, make your display look awesome, and wait for the doors to open.  Once the doors open you sell in your little square area.  Hope one of your crew members brings you lunch/dinner/ water (warped has two kinds of weather HOT, and RAIN) and hope someone gives you a bathroom break.  I trained myself to only have to pee 3 times a day. once the sun starts going down you start breaking down everything, packing it up, debriefing with your artist and tour manager, and grabbing a bite to eat or a shower or a beer (you have time to do about 1 or 2 of those things) then go to sleep and do it again 5 more times till you have a day off.


Survival tips for Warped Tour (for both crew and fans):

Water, water, water... drink lots of it.  Lotion... normal common sense stuff really. Find something to occupy your down time. Bring a book, keep busy.


Do’s and don’ts of Warped Tour:

Don't cross the production staff... they hold all the power, so be polite and don't be a dick.

Do be a nice guy, say good mornings, Help others out... even if it’s little things.

RECYCLE. Warped is a waste land. People treat it like a trash dump.


What to wear/not to wear:

The weather changes so often that you never really know. Dress in layers or bring a hoodie.


Best live performance(s) you have seen at Warped:

The second year I was on the tour, Anberlin was on... damn they are TIGHT every time. 

Every Time I Die is really entertaining to watch as well. Same with ALEXISONFIRE.


Best and worst part about working Warped?

Worst, waking up early.

Best, the people you meet. It’s like summer camp for punk kids.


Was it/is it what you thought it would be like?

Sort of.  I had it built up as the end all, be all of touring. But then I grew up and wanted something a bit more stable and less brutal on my body.


Favorite city and/or best venue Warped Tour stops in:

They all start looking the same after a while, but the Long Island warped date is awesome. Huge party after wards cause all the label reps and management people come out.


Best place(s) to eat while being out on the tour:

I’m vegetarian so there are some little restaurants that do fake meats really well. My favorite is Red Bamboo in NYC. Best fake chicken wings EVER!!!

But warped has an amazing catering company that follows and cooks for everyone. They are called TADA and they rock.


Favorite Warped Tour memory/ story/experience:

I watched the singer of GALLOWS rock out in the pit with his fans... then he talked shit to them... then a fan grabbed a table and hit him in the face with it.  CLASSIC.


Advice for first timers (for both crew and fans):

Fans; don't burn yourself out too early. It’s a long day. Pace yourself and stay hydrated.  Dress appropriately. Fashion doesn't matter when its 100 degrees outside.

Crew: enjoy the band you work for.... make it like a family. Have each other’s back. Have fun.


If someone wanted to work on Warped Tour how would they go about it?

Ask nicely


Anything else you’d like to share?

I'll never do warped tour again.