ASU student photographs the final Warped Tour across North America

“I did Warped Tour in a van – you can’t tell me I can’t do anything.”

It was at the Indiana State Fair where her photography was first recognized as standing above the rest — and she was only in third grade. 

Over a decade later, Kelly Fox now points her camera at a very different subject ­– punk rockers. This past summer, she had traveled with the Van's Warped Tour, capturing special moments in the tour’s final year

Using her mom’s camera, Fox, who is now a junior communication major, would go around snapping shots of flowers from interesting angles. 

“She had a really good eye even at that young age,” said Laura Fox, Kelly Fox’s mom who is also a photographer.

Kelly Fox said she started getting into concert photography when she was 17 years-old — before she had a driver's license to get to the concerts she was shooting. 

When she decided to move across the country from Indianapolis to go to ASU, Kelly Fox began reaching out to bands she knew were local and shooting their concerts. 

She shot promo photos for Doll Skin, a local band who would bring Kelly Fox along on their Europe tour shortly after. Following a successful tour through Europe, the band asked Kelly Fox to be their photographer for the Warped Tour. 

While “nervous as any parent would be,” Laura Fox said she was very happy Kelly was afforded this unique opportunity. 

Kelly Fox said she started planning how she would study the Warped Tour as a cultural entity while on tour for her thesis, but once she was on the road realized there was a more important story to be told —  the mental toll the tour takes on everyone from the artists to the roadies.

“The work is very intense,” she said. “You are working 12 to 14 hour days in the sun with rare air conditioning and I was riding separately from the band, so I was sleeping on the bench seat of a van.”

In addition to bringing awareness to the harsher side of festival tours through her thesis, Kelly Fox said the opportunity to document the raw moments of the tour is what will stick with her.

She said one of her favorite photos from the tour captured the band she was with at the time sleeping in the parking lot near the Canadian border on cots they had pulled out of the back of the van with the sun setting behind them and a full-fledged rager happening 20 feet away.

After the Warped Tour, Kelly Fox said she has a renewed sense of confidence in the impact of her work and general resiliency. 

“I never would have thought I was capable of finishing out the tour, but I did,” Kelly Fox said. “I did Warped Tour in a van – you can’t tell me I can’t do anything.”

The transition from flowers in the backyard to one of the nation’s largest traveling music tours was not made without a lot of hard work and passion on Kelly’s part, Laura Fox said. 

“She has worked so hard to do the things she wants to do,” Laura Fox said. “She has figured out what her goals are and gone above and beyond in attempt to exceed those goals.”

Whitney Asher, Kelly Fox’s boss at The Marketing Mixtape, said Kelly’s adaptive nature has shaped her professional growth. 

“She is a really quick learner,” Asher said. “Kelly wears many hats and works very hard to do everything she does well.”

So what comes next after covering the final run around of one of the nation’s longest running music festivals? Kelly Fox said her next big goal is growing the scope of her impact and developing as a tour manager to get back on the road. 

“It is kind of unrealistic to be on the road as much as I want to be on the road just doing photo, so I am setting myself up for as many opportunities as I can to get back out there,” she said.

To get where she’s going she said she will continue to live by her personal motto: “Work hard and be kind – it’s really all you need to do.”


Reach the reporter at goldham@asu.edu and follow @graceoldham123 on Twitter. 

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