Once upon a Warped Tour, Katy Perry was “lazy.”
It was 2008 and the traveling rock/punk festival was winding down for the summer. Perry, who had just released debut pop album One of the Boys that June, was riding high on a little breakthrough called I Kissed a Girl (the first of her now nine No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart).
But in a “yearbook” given to artists at the end of the trek, “someone voted me ‘laziest’ because they thought I was just sleeping in my bus because they never saw me,” Perry says. “The actual reality is, I was up at 7 a.m. doing radio promo and then going to dinner with program directors after my shows. I was always hustling.”
Still, she laughs, “can you imagine being voted ‘laziest?’ Cut to eight years later, I’m doing a yearlong tour and 141 shows and counting.”
Perry is just one of many eventual superstars to cut their teeth on the annual Vans Warped Tour, which brings dozens of rising to mid-level acts on a coast-to-coast jaunt that attracts an average of 500,000 concertgoers each summer. Now in its 20th year, the genre-spanning festivals have become breeding grounds for bands such as Fall Out Boy, Paramore and Blink-182, as well as hip-hop and dance acts such as TheBlack Eyed Peas, Eminem, Skrillex and M.I.A. This season’s 41-city run kicks off Friday in Pomona, Calif., and features artists as varied as Motion City Soundtrack,Bebe Rexha and Riff Raff.