It was a decade ago, and I was much too old for it, but I took in a stop on the annual Vans Warped Tour when it came to Montreal.
It was part of being a good dad. My teenaged son had some bands he wanted to see. My wife and daughter were away; I thought we could make it a boys’ expedition.
I did know what I was getting into. The Warped Tour had established itself as the place for punk and heavier music, dozens of bands in a one-day extravaganza. Ten stages, non-stop music from noon until 8 p.m.
Knowing it in theory was a little different than the experience in practice. The stages were set up on the old Blue Bonnets race track (the Hippodrome as it was known in later life), arranged in five pairs, side by side. Setup was being done on stage B while a band was playing on stage A, in five different areas of the racecourse. The second the band on Stage A was done the next act fired up the noise on the adjoining stage. For eight hours it really was non-stop music.
There was one spot of refuge, the day care tent.
Perhaps it seems incongruous to have a day care at a punk music festival (and I didn’t see one the following year in Calgary) but I guess it makes sense after a fashion. Because this was no ordinary day care. This was “reverse day care,” a place the children could leave their parents. After all, not everyone is enamored by eight hours of non-stop music. Those that enjoy such an aural assault are frequently of an age where their parents are reluctant to have them attend a day-long festival unescorted. Some place for the parents to hide while their offspring are rocking makes sense.
I must admit though, the day care was a bit of a letdown. The tent was hot and stuffy, the chairs were plastic (I was hoping for nice leather couches) and there were no complimentary refreshments. I always thought when you were in daycare that snacks were included. (Looking at the website for this year’s Warped Tour I see that the daycare is supposed to be air conditioned – but it sure didn’t feel like it when I was in it. Apparently I could also have gotten free admission to the site since I was accompanying a minor. Too late to discover that now! Or maybe they didn’t offer that a decade ago.)
I didn’t stay long in the daycare. I read for a bit (I always carry a book with me) and then left. It was hot and stuffy. It wasn’t particularly quiet either, the tent walls being fairly thin and there really being nowhere on the racetrack site you could escape from the music. As I remember it, I was the only one using the facility. It was a nice concept, and perhaps I just hit it on a bad day.
In the end though, I too was there for the music. There were bands I wanted to see, so I left the tent.