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Growing up and into my early adulthood, I played in bands. And the idea was always to be able to play music to sustain my life. I wanted music to be my career, a stage to be my office, and my songs to be my paycheck. It didn’t work out. And that’s okay…had it come to be, I’d never have been in a position to start AVFTI, and it’s honestly more fulfilling to me than a band ever was.

warpedWhile this may show my age a bit, I can admit that I’ve been attending Warped Tour since 1999. Not every year, but lots of years. Many of them consecutive. And although it never happened for us, I always wanted my bands to be able to get on. So when AVFTI was invited onto Warped Tour in late May this year, I was elated. Unfortunately we were unable to commit to the whole tour due a lack of manpower, cost, and a short-notice invite due to a just having been connected in late May, but we were able to sculpt out 11 or so dates that we are able to attend.

We were invited after Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman vowed to make the tour a safer place for people, specifically young people, to attend. This came after a situation that arose with a singer/songwriter and his decisions to have inappropriate relationships with underage girls. Perhaps I am paraphrasing, and I won’t link directly to him because I refuse to promote him, but I will link to the story. And once you find out who I am referring to (or perhaps you already know), you can just Google him and come up with a plethora of information on the accusations against him. In fact, the stories about him show up in the search results long before his music does. That says a lot.

So after vowing to make Warped Tour a safer place, and saying that this musician would not be playing Warped Tour this year, he was allowed to come play the Nashville, TN date yesterday. Apparently he wasn’t paid, it’s his hometown, and he was only allowed to be there for the duration of his set. Needless to say, some reacted negatively to his presence, and the musician was an asshole back. Many of the bands playing the tour were livid, and announced via social media their disdain for him, and promoted other events and shows going on at the same time his was. We even had a discussion among ourselves about whether or not our presence was even valid at such an event if the very musician that caused these changes was allowed to return, even under stipulations. And we decided very clearly, that yes. It was. It was extremely important.

Here are the facts: whether or not this particular musician was allowed back onto the tour, there is no shortage of sexual assault stories where a band guy makes a decision to take advantage of young fan girls. Hear me when I say that not all band guys are like this. In fact, I’d say most band guys are not like this. But it is a problem, and not just on Warped Tour, and not just with this particular musician. So what’s the point of this article? It’s this:

To us, our existence is and has always been about the people affected by sexual violence, both directly and indirectly. The people with a story to tell. And that’s how we intend it to remain. We want to reach the masses. Thousands and thousands of people attend each date of Warped Tour, and we need to be there reaching out to them. It is about them. And when we attend with that particular mentality, it doesn’t matter if Warped Tour decided to let this dude play their tour for a date. It doesn’t matter their reasons, and it doesn’t matter how much debate is around that. What matters to us, and why we attend, is reaching the people who haven’t had somewhere to tell their story.

If you are attending Warped Tour, and you need a place to tell a story, visit our table. We unfortunately aren’t on every date, but if we aren’t there, our site is free, anonymous, and safe. You are welcome to tell your story here. We can help provide you with resources for whatever you may need. It’s important to us to be present in areas where people are paying attention to these issues, and it’s even more important to be present where people aren’t.

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