Warped Tour 2011
1255 Hempstead Turnpike
Uniondale, NY 11553
Four years ago, I hit up my buddy Kevin Lyman, the man behind the “punk rock summer camp” more commonly known as the Vans Warped Tour. The NYC area tour stop at Nassau Coliseum was happening on my birthday and I wanted to ask Kevin for passes. When I told him it was my birthday, there was no way of knowing that his response of “we’re going big,” would turn into tradition of intense magnitude.
Now known as “Kev and Rev’s Awesome Parking Lot BBQ,” this insane party of epic proportions kicks off every year at the close of the tour stop in Long Island. For weeks leading into it, I get dozens of emails, texts and tweets asking if the party is on. People tell me every year that even though they live closer to other shows on the tour, they specifically come to this one because of the BBQ. Kevin, not one to mess around, busts out with a massive smoker and cooks more than 100 pounds of meat to feed the entire tour and it’s guests. The two of us, especially Kevin, slave all day over the massive cooking giant preparing food.
But before we get into all of that, let’s talk about what is the Warped Tour. I realize that a lot of you who read this blog aren’t from the music world and even though this tour plays to hundreds of thousands of people every year, you may not know about it.
Back in 1995, Kevin, along with a couple of buddies decided they were bored from the same old, same old and wanted to take their South Cali scene of punk rock and street culture to the rest of the world. With some help from shoe and clothing manufacture, Vans, Kevin rallied up some punk and ska bands along with some skateboarders and BMXers and hit the road. To keep things interesting, fun and unique, Kevin devised a plan to keep all things equal asking all bands to play 30 minute sets on a variety of stages where the line up changed every single day. This meant that the most popular band on the tour would play the same amount of time as the youngest of acts and never at the same time as the day before. Most of the shows are played in non-traditional venues like parking lots and fields. This not only kept the tour outside, it also helped to keep costs down and create a unique and fun day of music out in the sun. Each day, just before doors open, the show order is placed on a gigantic red blow up “Band Line-Up” wall that can be found next to the official Vans tent. This punk rock ethos has stuck with the tour and is a big part of what makes the Vans Warped Tour so special.
Along the years the tour has expanded past the punk world including rap, country, pop, hardcore, metal, dance and all sorts of genres, keeping the punk-rock feeling but allowing for a more diverse audience and music base. Tickets to the tour always remain low priced, subsidized by sponsors who want to introduce services, knowledge and product to the attendees of the tour. You’ll find everything from great causes and charities, to magazines, small & upstart clothing companies, music instrument companies, to big corporations like 7-11, Nintendo and Hollywood film releases. There’s even “reverse day care” tent where the parents who are there to chaperone their kids can go and relax away from the punk rock. All in all, with the bands, people, food, entertainment, sponsors and everyone involved, the Vans Warped Tour is an all encompassing lifestyle based day out for fans of music. Whether you’re an old schooler like me or a a teenager who is attending for the first time, the Warped Tour is an amazing experience and staple of many people’s summers.
While the punk rock is happening in the parking lot at the Nassau Coliseum tour stop, just past the arena, right in the middle of the bus parking lot, there are two guys, named Kev and Rev, who along with help from a lot of others, are preparing a massive BBQ.
For me, the party prep starts the day before. At 7:30 AM, I walked over to Esposito and Sons factory in Hell’s Kitchen, where the NYC kings of sausage still have a plant where they make fresh sausage every day. The sausage is like none other and this year they armed me with their brand new fresh Pork Chorizo, Bratwurst & Chicken Andoille with Cheddar Cheese sausages. I watched them make the sausages, put them directly into a box and hand 30 pounds of them over to me! These tasty treats could not be fresher! If you live in NYC you can pick them up at the butcher shop in front but if not, you can order them yourself from Amazon.com.
Later that day, a delivery in the form of AWESOME arrived at my bar, Idle Hands, from Burger Maker. These guys source some of the most amazing Beef available and turn them into utterly delectable Burger patties that taste like fine Steaks! A few places around Manhattan like 4Food & Brother Jimmy’s use their patties but if you want some for yourself, you can get them through Fresh Direct. Jamie from Burger Maker promised me some special patties and I had no idea he was sending over gargantuan 1/2 pound Steak Cut patties. In fact, we had so much Meat that when we arrived at the Warped Tour, we had to use a golf cart to get it from the car!
While the punks are rocking in the lot, the meat is being cooked in the back. Kevin took racks and racks and racks of Ribs along with Chicken and rubbed them with spices before putting them into the grill to smoke all day long.
Once the meat was in the smoker and gathering up lots of flavor, I took a spin over to the AEG Worldwide hospitality area to catch up with some friends. Every year they set up a tasty area of food, cold beverages and entertainment for their guests. Every year, like clockwork, there’s always a tasty backstage Burger awaiting me, serving to satiate my hunger until the big BBQ starts.
As the tour was shortly due to wind up, the intensity in tent city begins as final prep of the meat starts. Kevin and I, along with the help of a couple of friends, pulled all the Chicken and Ribs out of the grill. Kevin had a great idea on how to zing up the meat. We took simple Apple Juice and poured it over the meat in trays before adding a slathering of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. We then covered the trays with tin foil and put them back into the grill. By doing so, the Apple Juice would boil underneath the meat acting as a flavor agent and a tenderizer. The sweet and smoky BBQ sauce would then permeate the Meats adding extra flavor. Goodonya buddy, that was some grillin’ genius!
The next step was to prepare the sweet New Jersey Corn. With some highly appreciated backstage assistance from Lagunitas Brewing Company, we shucked and cracked a massive amount of Corn on the Cob. Once the Corn was cleaned and readied in the trays, I got an amazing idea. Corn can be cooked a number of ways, one of which is to boil the corn which allows a lot of the natural flavors to come out without adding extra flavor. As we were in a parking lot, we didn’t really have easy access to a water source so I came with the next best idea…no, an even better idea…we were going to boil the Corn, on the grill, with Lagunitas’ flagship IPA!
What do you think of that idea George and Rachel?
As the final bands are taking stage, party prep goes into high gear. The grill help arrives and the Meat goes into final prep. Props to Nick and Tatiana from TAT for taking on a bulk of the work. The beer arrives, the booths and tables are set up, the DJ booth goes up, bands start to set up in between the buses and the lines for food start to form.
That’s when I bust out the Burger Maker patties and the 30 pounds of Esposito and Sons sausage. The moment the sun drops behind the buses, the party kicks into high gear as about 150 pounds of Meat along with Salads and Corn starts to fill up people’s plates.
Once people made it through the food line they were treated to sets from Brothers Of Brazil, MC Lars, Weerd Science, a DJ set from Travie McCoy, Tricks from Metal Magician Vinnie Magic, a Beer Pong tournament, a bar run by Less Than Jake and all other sorts of party fun that goes on into the AM hours.
Of course the best part of all of this is not the amazing food, the cold beer or the big party, it’s getting together with old friends to enjoy their company on one of the most special events of the summer. There’s nothing like the Warped Tour and for that Kevin Lyman, we thank you.
Thanks to Kevin, Sarah, Kate, Julie and the rest of the Warped Tour crew for always making my birthday a party for everyone to enjoy. Thanks to Rachel and George for the ride and moreover, stopping at Arby’s on the way home because that’s exactly what we needed after a ton of great BBQ, fast food. Thanks for Mark and Trevor for copious amounts of delicious craft beer all the way from Cali. A massive MEATY thanks for David from Esposito and Sons as well as Jamie and John from Burger Maker for the gift of MEAT. I can’t wait until 2012 for another fun filled day of music, friends and fun.
THE BURGER COUNTQUEST
July 23, 2011 – 8:54 pm