Warped Tour season is my favorite season of the year. No matter what, I always secure my ticket at least 6 months in advance, and this year came with an added bonus with Linkin Park playing a surprise Warped set for the first time in Ventura, CA.I arrived bright and early with a car full of friends and a box of fresh Krispy Kreme donuts to power us through the long day. We entered the fairgrounds to find the signature Vans inflatable board with set times and “Linkin Park & Special Guests @ 5:25” was featured boldly at the bottom. Fortunately this gave me plenty of time to enjoy some of the other bands throughout the afternoon before their set.
I accidentally found myself carelessly slipping into the Warped crewmember buffet for a quick lunch, and afterwards I caught a few of my favorites bands, including One OK Rock from Japan and Crown the Empire. I finally met Crown The Empire in the flesh, which was very high on my priority list. Dave Escamilla looked me in the eyes as he took my hand and signed “I <3 U”; my existence finally being verified…
After an afternoon of mixing and mingling amongst the crowds, my new Australian bff Ronnie “#Rukkus” from The City Shakeup casually spilled the beans that one of the special guests set to perform with Linkin Park was Jeremy McKinnon from A Day To Remember. Upon hearing this news, I just about flipped my pancakes because Jeremy McKinnon is the real deal, and ADTR is cooler than you and your mom. I was excited to say the least.
At about 4:30 I made my way to the Main Stage and joined the rest of the group. Linkin Park came on promptly at 5:25 and opened with “One Step Closer”. Nate from Finch surprised everyone with his cameo of “SHUT UPs”, and for those three minutes into the set, everything was awesome.
And then shit got cray.
In classic Warped Tour fashion, the waves of crowdsurfers began to crash upon us, coming from left, right, and above. Each song featured a new surprise guest including Tyler Carter & Mike Bohn from Issues, Ryan Key from Yellowcard, Dave Schmitt from Breathe Carolina, Mike and Jeremy from The Devil Wears Prada, and… wait for it… Jeremy McKinnon from A Day To Remember. All we really needed from the Sunset Rat Pack was Carlile, and we would’ve had a real party. Maybe one day…
A few words were spoken and McKinnon made his way down onto the stage and Shinoda started his verse for “A Place For My Head”. And in that moment no fucks were given about the fact that Mike Shinoda’s camo-clad crotch was hovering above me and my circle of friends in the front row, as both eyes were fixed on McKinnon and his glorious, manly beard- as they ought to be.
I don’t remember much of the rest of the set. I caught a few glimpses of Machine Gun Kelly and the rest of the entourage somewhere in between getting bonked on the head by various sweaty body parts and trying to keep upright. Did I have fun, you ask? Well, it was about as much fun as one could have while being slightly claustrophobic in a sardine can full of sweaty, sunburnt, heavy teenage boys and girls. But I made it out alive with all teeth and fingernails intact, so I’d say things turned out pretty well.
Although short, it really was one of the best sets ever, and I’ve been to quite a few Linkin Park shows… The crowd was ideal and the band’s energy was off the wall. Never in this lifetime did I ever think I’d see Jeremy McKinnon co-sing “A Place For My Head” on stage with Linkin Park… I mean, what is life? As if I needed further confirmation… Warped Tour is “about that life”, and always the best day ever.