Young Gun Tour Manager’s Lessons from the Road: The Flawless Smile Tour #2

Transportation and Moving People

Moving people and gear from one place to another and making sure the band and crew are on time are some of the main tasks of a tour manager. Before, I’ve been part of crews as a merchandise manager on tours in Finland and worked according to the schedules given to me. I’ve followed bus calls, loaded in when we have arrived to the venue, handled my merch duties, paid attention to door and show times, and loaded out after the artist meet and greet. This time, it was up to me to draw up the schedule, make sure that all of us were following it, and we were where we were supposed to be, safely and on time.

We were on a national tour in the US for a month (Sep 16 – Oct 10, 2018) with the band Worldwide Panic. To think of it afterwards, it took some courage from me to take the responsibility of moving a band of four across the country without prior experience. A country I had never toured before and parts of the country I had never visited before. Still, I didn’t hesitate a minute but planned it the best of my abilities to be able to fulfill my responsibilities.

Deciding on the transportation method was one of the first things on the list when we started planning the tour. Many bands travel in a bus but believe it or not, it’s a very expensive way to travel. Some bands rent a sprinter to sleep in and a trailer to move their gear in. Some convert a van into a sleeper. There are different ways to go about transportation, it pretty much depends on the budget.

We travelled in a 12-passenger van with two seat rows removed to fit in the gear. Fortunately, we didn’t have to sleep in the van for more than one 2.5-hour morning between Salt Lake City, UT and Colorado Springs, CO (see the next paragraph). However, to keep the gear safe, we had “van duty”, meaning there was always someone sleeping in the van for the night and keeping eye on the van and the gear (it was also a way to have some alone time while being on the road with others for 24/7).

We followed the routing (show locations and dates) booked by the headliners’ agent. I made sure we were where we were supposed be, when we were supposed to be. This required communication with the venues and the tour managers of the other bands. I had to make sure we had enough time to drive from one city to another (including time zone changes), have breaks, eat on the way, shop if needed, and get gas. There was one leg when we didn’t have time to sleep in a hotel but in order to drive 600 miles to the next venue by the next day, we had to take a break and sleep in the van at a gas station for 2.5 hours at 5:00am and continue driving to catch the load in time. Guess who was driving to let the talent rest?

It’s not safe to let one person drive for too long at a time so I made sure the person driving was okay to continue and we switched drivers regularly. We always had a person driving “the shotgun”, meaning he/she sat on the front passenger seat and made sure the one driving was feeling okay, kept company, helped navigating and choosing music, etc. Travelling through a huge country, the weather conditions varied from clear skies to heavy rain, wind, thunder, blizzards, and even tornados (yeah, 3 in the area where we were driving in Iowa on our way home). Thus, safety was high on the list of things to consider.

Doing all of this on my own for the first time ever was super interesting and challenging. I learned a lot! What experiences do you have to share about moving people and gear on tours?

❤ right now: Arion – Life Is Not Beautiful

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