THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE TOURING WITH MUSICIANS
I've traveled around with a band for the last 2 years as an asst. to a photographer/videographer, gathering footage for an on-going documentary/online content. Shooting has given me the opportunity to play both the naive rookie & the road dog (faking it till I make it, obvs.) while bridging the gap between my 2 creative interests: film & music
- •Waking up in a new cityThe bus often travels in the night, post-show. It's so wild how many mornings start off in a new parking lot in new time zone... a new city... a new state. It's like a weird lapse in time. Longest venture out on the road for me was only 8 days, and I felt very ~away from real life, but I'm sure it's something that experience and a bit of FaceTiming help over time... I never know what to pack.
- •Sleeping in the bunk feels like laying in a coffin traveling at mâché speed through the afterlifeIt is 1. really nice to have a proper place to sleep while traveling, but also 2. nauseating and disorienting beyond belief. It's also the only place I can think of that-- if you forget where you are and sit up too quickly-- you can give yourself a concussion from knocking your head on a DVD player.
- •No shitting on the tour busI don't know if this is law or just a heavily enforced honor code, but it can truly be a nightmare. The band's bus is stocked with pizza and hot wings every night post-show, which hopefully paints a picture of how awful this strict rule can be. I know people who have shit in brown paper bags. 🙃
- •RoutinesI always imagined the members of my fav bands traveling in a pack & always doing the same things & always hanging out & visiting my city & going to all of my favorite places & so on... But there are a lot of people involved & they're all individuals with their own shifting preferences & routines, navigating different moments of their lives. It was nice to understand that a band can operate as a singular entity, composed of multifaceted people who are all doing their ~thang.
- •The downtimeSo, yea, lots of days in lots of cool places are spent catching up on rest in prep for the next show. Lots of trips to Starbucks. Lots of trips to restaurants you could eat at anywhere in the world. Took me a bit to remember this is also their job, & routine does bring comfort (for me too tho). That being said, yo, they bowl (I dunno why but they do). They shop for records. They go to other shows! We'll take hikes in CO & swim in a pool that uses river water & sits at the bottom of a mountain 😝
- •Lots of cities feel the sameI have been around a bit & each city holds a bit of the one prior and upcoming. The edged are blurred-- especially when you spend most of the trip inside of an arena. Maybe it's that the bus or the people don't change... Literally Cincinnati, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky felt the same to me. I had serious déjà vu looking for a Starbucks in Cincinnati, after looking for one in KY a year before. Only difference was that in KY when you asked where to get coffee locals told you "McDonald's."
- •Green roomsall feel the same (there are some exceptions, of course). Picture this: slick concrete walls like your high school had, black curtains hung from rods, some mirrors, hopefully enough room for the band's ping pong set up, a framed photo of the venue & sometimes a framed low-res pic of Beyoncé.
- •Rockst⭐️r Energy makes cans of water for artists they sponsor to drink on stageOnce, like, Slayer or Godsmack played the venue the night before we showed up and there were tons of these leftover cans of water styled as the classic black & yellow Rockstar Energy cans, and it is my new favorite way to consume water.
- •I still tear up at showsEverything makes me cry, but still... I came into the job being aware of the band and a few songs, but I have a newfound appreciation. I've seen so many of their shows, but I still get that feeling, ya know? I thought the magic would wear off after getting to see what goes on behind the scenes, but it's only made me more aware of how flooring it can be to witness SO MUCH energy directed towards the stage. Especially when there are other teary eyes in the crowd. I see u I feel u, & so do they.
- •EncoresI've always assumed that encores are planned (except I didn't understand the concept of encores when I saw my first concert, Britney Spears, & my parents tricked me into leaving early to "beat traffic" & I listed to "oops I did it again" from the parking lot, devastated). BUT they ~can shape up differently depending on the crowd. If the crowd is giving out certain vibes, songs will be added on. Taken away. There's a backstage huddle. Still, no one is wondering "oh shit, do they want us back?"
- •Musicians dip out of the arena pretty quickly (sometimes)And literally no one will believe you if you try to tell them that they REALLY left on their own bus half an our ago and that this is the crew bus and please God take your child to the car it is so cold out here. (Obviously this is subject from venue to venue, stop to stop, and band to band).
- •It's a weird world and I really love it.I'm the lowest of low on the totem pole. I'm the newest addition to a long-running family of people who all contribute to the show, on-stage and off. And this-- as well as my position as a videographer-- allows me to take the backseat and just watch the inner workings unfold. It's a strange walk of life! It's been really inspiring! And hotel showers are complicated in every city!