Go Warped, Get Inked: The Vans Warped Tour

The 15th date of the Vans Warped Tour 2012 was held at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday, July 6. Doors opened at 11 a.m. and closed around 9. From beginning to end, it was a triple-digit scorcher but that didn’t stop fans from rocking out to their favorite bands. While the sun was blazing, the attendees were baring as much skin as legally possible [and pushing it], exposing a wonderful array of body modifications including that of exquisite ink.

The first concertgoer to speak on behalf of her artwork was Jessica Self from Westland, MI, whose colorful sleeve initially caught my attention. The sleeve consisted of a lot of family history, including feathers on her back in honor of her Native American heritage, as well as the lips of her mother near her collarbone. “I got my mom’s lips tattooed on me,” she said, pointing to a tattoo near her right collarbone adjacent to the sleeve. Beautifully expressive tattoos cover Self’s body, and truly reflect her sweet and grateful personality.

The next attendee to speak on behalf of her beautifully ink-covered skin was Jennica Wahl, guitarist of The Scenery. “This one means the most,” she said, pointing to words tattooed on her right arm in French that say to live with passion. On that sleeve, she also has the times that her parents were born, as well as a bare-skinned ballerina to express her love for dance. Her knuckles spell out, “Get a Grip,” and hold a lot of personal meaning. She also has her son’s name, Aubin, across her chest, and Wahl plans to get her throat tattooed soon in honor of her solo acoustic project, Bye Bye Birdy. “It’s a huge commitment to tattoos and music. Doing Bye Bye Birdy is a symbol that’s representing my commitment to just doing what you’re passionate about; what you love.” She also plans to get the logo of her progressive pop punk band, The Scenery, on her foot soon. They will release their album, “It’s Only Weather” on Saturday, August 4.

Next to chat was Bradley Walden, vocalist of the indie pop rock band, Squid The Whale. With a traditional microphone on his right arm, he said, “Singing is a big passion, and I’m pretty much going to be a loser until I’m 50; still trying to make it in music.” He then pointed to his chest piece and said, “I have the classic mom tattoo; she’s my best friend.” He also has a cupcake with crossbones with the surrounding words, “hard as nails” on his right sleeve. Why? “’Cause I thought it was ironic,” he explained. “Everybody’s tattoo tells a story.”

Next to share a bit of insight was Gary Frasier, who has an intricate half sleeve of the four horsemen from the New Testament. “It’s a very dark book, but essentially looking at that aside from being religious; it is what man has created. Through conquest, we create war, through war we create famine, so I mean it kind of reminds me to look for the good in all things while trying to avoid the bad, if that makes sense,” he said. As far as his other tattoos, he has a self-described “yin-and-yang thing going” with fire and ice, God and the devil, and Heaven and hell tattoos. Frasier gets his work done by Brian “Happy” Williams at Happy Tats in Wyandotte, MI. “He’s a good guy,” Frasier said.

Along with sharing conversations with Warped Tour attendees, there was a plethora of great music to be enjoyed. Music including that of The Used, Dead Sara, Breathe Carolina, Rise Against and Ballyhoo!, to name just a few. Ballyhoo! managed to take a completely drained, dead-tired crowd and revive them in a way that only Ballyhoo! could. They even hung around afterwards to chat about everything including the new album, latest single, and their 17th year as a band.

Howi Spangler, the Ballyhoo! vocalist, had the band’s logo tattooed on his right arm in the fall of 2009. “If anyone wants to give us free tattoos, we’re all about it. That shit’s expensive!” they said.

The guys have been rocking the alternative/reggae/rock music scene since July of 1995 and they recently released an album titled “Daydreams.” The bands new single is titled, “Walk Away,” and you can request to hear it on your local radio station. “You can also check us out on the 2012 Vans Warped Tour Compilation. Come to the damn show; find the House of Marley stage; buy a shitload of Ballyhoo! merch,” they suggested. Ballyhoo! can also be found on the Sunstroke Entertainment California Dreaming: Endless Summer Sampler II. “Yeah, that’s an awesome sampler; tell them we said hi and thanks for putting us on that.”

The Vans Warped Tour is set to run through Sunday, August 5. So if a town near you is on the remaining list, be sure to attend the epic celebration of music, complete with lack of clothing and incredible self-expression through tattoos. The moral of the story is simply this: go Warped for a day of great music and maybe even some inspiration to get inked.

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