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Summer is here, and concerts and tour dates are popping up everywhere. One of the most well-known punk rock concerts is rapidly approaching with thousands of people eagerly buying tickets – Vans Warped Tour.

Warped Tour is a music and extreme sports festival that’s sponsored by the shoe company Vans and has been around since 1995. The tour, which is held in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe, features dozens of bands on at least 10 stages.

I have discovered so many awesome bands because of Warped Tour. It’s an all-day extravaganza for people of all ages to come together and appreciate music. Lots of bands have been discovered and claimed fame because of Warped Tour. Some bands have appeared multiple times over the years, such as A Day to Remember, AFI, All Time Low, Avenged Sevenfold, Blink 182, blessthefall, Bowling for Soup, Fall Out Boy, Mayday Parade, Motion City Soundtrack, Motionless in White, Of Mice & Men, Paramore, Pierce the Veil, Simple Plan, Silverstein, Sleeping With Sirens, Sum41, Thrice, We the Kings, Yellowcard and many more.

But there’s more to Warped Tour than just music. There are slip-and-slides, misting stations, snow cone machines, free unlimited water stations to fill up water bottles, undiscovered bands promoting their music, body paint tents that help to raise money for various causes, and free food sample tents. There are also plenty of security guards scattered around to make sure no one gets hurt. There are merchandise tents that sell band T-shirts, jewelry and sunglasses. Organizations such as To Write Love On Her Arms and ROXY also are present. Concertgoers can get signed posters and pictures with bands.

Some of the major bands that are appearing at this year’s Warped Tour are Bowling For Soup, Breathe Carolina, Cute Is What We Aim For, Dayshell, I The Mighty, Issues, Mayday Parade, Neck Deep, Of Mice & Men, Parkway Drive, Real Friends, the Story So Far, the Word Alive, the Maine, the Devil Wears Prada, We the Kings and Anberlin.

The tour will hit Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on July 8.

I’ve gone to the past two Warped Tours, and it’s always a different experience, each one better than the last. The most amazing people and the best music you will ever hear is at Warped Tour. There are mosh pits and plenty of opportunities to crowd surf. But it’s more than just music, it’s a lifestyle. Punk rock represents everything that young adults stand for and recognizes that standing up for your beliefs is a must. When you’re there, you feel like you’re home. Everyone is so friendly and accepting of one another. You meet all kinds of people you never thought existed. People can come together and put their differences aside to have some fun and enjoy great music.

Catherine Keller is a senior at Lancaster High School.