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Proof the Warped Tour Used to Be Rad

Evolution is natural, and diversity is a beautiful thing, but neither have served the Warped Tour particularly well. Since launching in 1995, this initially punk-centric festival has expanded into emo, EDM, pop, hip-hop and whatever else organizers can cram onto one of the nine-dozen branded stages, and while that may reflect the diverse listening habits of today’s concertgoers, Warped has lost a lot of its identity.

For a reminder of what it was, check out this 1996 episode of ‘MTV Sports,’ which follows Warped as it winds through California, hitting Los Angeles and San Francisco. In the early days, music and extreme sports received equal billing, and this footage splits its time (and often the screen) between great punk and ska bands—Rocket from the Crypt, Dance Hall Crashers, Pennywise, Goldfinger, CIV, etc.—and high-flying skateboarders and BMX riders. It’s a big ol’ love-fest between the musicians and athletes, who dress and speak pretty much exactly alike, and everyone’s stoked about everything.

No one’s having a better time than Danish vert skater Rene Hulgreen, though even at this early stage in the festival’s run, he can see danger ahead.

“It is a great idea. as long as they keep it like it is and don’t get too commercialized with stupid bands,” he says. “Because the bands on this tour are still really good. It’s still underground. It’s fun.”

Next: 2014 Festival Guide

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