While I may lack captivating tales of storybook summer romances, that doesn't mean I haven't experienced crushing summer heartbreak. Loving is easy, losing that love is hard. I, of course, am talking about dead summer music festivals.
While it's easy to be jaded about many aspects of modern summer music fests — be it their crowded natures, corporate sponsorships, bros behaving badly, etc. — they largely remain blissful experiences for me. I still adore wandering between stages hoping to find a new favorite band, camping out at the front of a stage to hear a beloved fave, and all the messiness in between. But a lot of my best fest times are now relics relegated to the past tense, as the festivals themselves have become defunct.
My first summer love was the Vans Warped Tour. As a teen whose primary musical wheelhouse was pop punk and its offshoots, the traveling one-day punk fest was a musical mecca. In Billings, Montana, where I grew up, bands like Alkaline Trio, New Found Glory, Against Me!, The Used, Bowling for Soup, Saves the Day, The Living End, and Motion City Soundtrack almost never swung through town. So my favorite day of the year wasn't my birthday or Christmas or any of that nonsense, it was Warped Tour day. Starting in 2002, even when the fest wouldn't stop in the Big Sky State, I'd drive 10 hours to Boise or Denver to catch it. As is the natural way, I lost touch with newer pop punk music post-high school, and going to Warped Tour stopped being an essential day on the calendar. But when it ceased touring in 2018, I can't say the childish part of my psyche wasn't feeling a bit emo.
In the years since, I've lost other loves in the form of the fabulous Sasquatch! Festival at the Gorge (which had filled the Warped-sized hole in my heart) and even Seattle's Bumbershoot (at least temporarily MIA). I get bummed out every spring realizing they're not on the horizon. They all hurt my sonic soul, but that first heartbreak will always cut the deepest.