By now you should have most of the information you need to book, advance, and prepare for gigs in previous sections of this four-part post. After my first two-week tour though, I thought it was worth sharing some parting thoughts on what it’s like to be a “gigging” musician traveling with a band.
First and most importantly, the music makes everything else worth it. Just like any other experience, touring has its highs and lows, especially when you’re dealing with different accommodations, venues, and audiences every night. For better or worse, no two gigs are exactly the same. Some nights we played for packed houses, but others we outnumbered our audiences. Sound was typically easy to manage, but there was certainly shared frustration when we loaded into a seemingly impossible room. In the end, it boiled down to one thing: we all loved the process of sharing our music. Once we started to play, the mutual desire to challenge one another, listen, and create a positive musical experience took over. The rush of that experience always made the rest of the day worth it.
Second, you meet a lot of interesting people when you travel. That’s especially true if you’re interacting with different fans, clubowners, and hosts as you move from town to town. People can be incredibly generous with their time and energy, especially if they enjoy your music. My only advice to others setting out on a first tour would be to make time to develop those relationships. I was amazed at some of the stories our new friends told us.
Finally, touring is a great way to form deeper bonds with your peers. Since everyone has the same schedule for the duration of the trip, it’s inevitable that the band will spend a lot of time together. That means countless meals together, hours practicing together, and conversations in the car. Personalities and values start to become even more clear as band-mates grow more comfortable with each other. That group intimacy and chemistry ultimately shows on as well as off the bandstand.
As always, I’d love to get your thoughts on gigging and travelling. You all probably have more experience with some of these topics than I do anyways, considering I’m only 23 years old!