Kevin Lyman, the creator of the renowned Vans Warped Tour, visited Drexel Nov. 15 to discuss his career in music and give insights into the concert tour producing world. The event, set up by Emmy Levine of the Good Idea Fund, included a question-and-answer segment with Lyman and a screening of the Warped Tour documentary “No Room for Rock Stars.” For over two and a half hours, a crowd full of students sat in Nesbitt Hall, enthralled by both Lyman and the movie documenting his greatest endeavor.
The event began unexpectedly when the first students to arrive were surprised to see Lyman himself sitting on stage while they snatched up front-row seats. In a very approachable manner, Lyman opened up the floor to questions before the night formally began.
Questions were asked regarding Lyman’s favorite bands, advice on how to advertise garage band music, and his thoughts on the current stage of the music industry. He seemed very easygoing, and after a brief introduction by James Hamalian and Levine, the event commenced.
Lyman thanked everyone for coming and began by saying that he had a great time talking to some classes at Drexel that afternoon. Unfortunately, the night got a little scrambled with technical difficulties setting up the movie, resulting in an hourlong delay. Lyman tried his best to fill the gap but had to change things around considerably because his talk somewhat depended on the audience viewing the documentary. Despite the unexpected issues, Lyman was very determined to press on.
Lyman started off with a little of his background and how he got started in the music business. Growing up in California, Lyman was surrounded by music. After graduating from the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, he got into the music business by working as a promoter and stage manager at clubs around the area.
Once he had built up a reputation, he got a shot at managing the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago. After getting one taste of the big concert scene, Lyman was determined to try and set up a tour of his own. He set up the Warped Tour, a name he borrowed from a now-defunct magazine for mostly punk rock bands. Surprisingly, the concert struggled in its first year.
But after getting the sponsorship of Vans, the Tour steadily grew to become one of the biggest in the country. As the tour grew and expanded, so did the number of genres that the tour showcased. Lyman talked about how he gave some prominent artists their first shot on the Warped Tour, including Kid Rock, Eminem and even Katy Perry. The Warped Tour is the longest-running tour in the country and has been steady since 1995.
Lyman said that he would wait until after the movie to give his closing remarks, and once “No Room for Rockstars” got up and running, the audience finally got to appreciate the inner workings of the Warped Tour. The documentary highlighted a few bands on the tour from three years ago. Bands included Never Shout Never, Mike Posner, Forever Came Calling and Suicide Silence, whose lead singer, Mitch Lucker, died in a tragic motorcycle accident just two weeks before Lyman’s visit.
The film seemed to be a hit with the audience and really gave everyone an appreciation for how much work goes into such a monstrous undertaking. Near the end, Lyman ran out of time and concluded by apologizing for the technical difficulties earlier that night and recounted the heart and soul he pours into organizing the tour.
Lyman stayed after to pose for pictures, answer questions and autograph memorabilia.