Tag Archives: warped tour

Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – The Advisory Edition

It had been a while since I’d been to a punk rock show.  I was volunteering at a local music festival this past week, and things have changed since my day of attending these increasingly gimmicky performances.  A real punk rock band is hard to come by nowadays.  I’m sorry, but Pennywise’s 11,632nd show you just attended, does not constitute as punk rock.  Although, I do have a pretty punk rock story about Fletcher of Pennywise that I will digress into, since erratic anecdotal accounts of past events are kind of my style.

While on Warped Tour, that one terrible summer of 2010, Pennywise jumped onto the tour for only a few dates.  The members now being in their 40’s, with their scorched voices, calloused fingertips, a beautifully adapted circulatory system that permanently has more alcohol than red blood cells flowing through its’ veins, functional clothing and zero self consciousness made these screamo, auto-tune, I-carry-a-flask-with-me-because-I’m-hardcore, tight-shirt/studded belt/make-up wearing bands that are so self-conscious they can’t make eye contact with anyone who might be cooler than them, look like amateurs.

One of these bands… that starts with an A found Fletcher on their bus at 3:00am.  Apparently he had drunkenly stumbled on, and I have no doubt, he was very aware that it wasn’t his bus, but just didn’t give a fuck because he wanted a goddamn sandwich.  Yes, when “A” band discovered Fletcher, the Pennywise guitarist demanded a sandwich.  Instead of doing the punk rock thing, and making this dude a sandwich, offering him a beer and a bonding conversation, they tried kicking him off the bus.  When Fletcher wouldn’t comply, they punched him and called the Cops.  To make it worse, Warped has its own security that you can call in situations such as these… but they called the Police.  “A” went through the rest of the tour being known as the band who called the cops on Pennywise.  Pussies.

Back to my point, along with the slow, ugly descent of truly raw shows, show etiquette seems to also be a dying practice.  A few things I noticed at this festival that I would like to address for anyone who attends such performances:

1.  Boys, take care of the girls.  This used to be an unspoken rule, a silent pact amongst the male show-goers, but it seems to have lost its significance.  I’m putting an end to that right now.  It is punk rock to be courteous of fellow listeners, especially the girls.  I’m all about jumping and thrashing and moshing and whatever else your music fueled body is commanding you to do, but if you accidentally hit a girl or run into her or knock her down, you stop what your doing, you turn around and look her in the eye you probably just bruised, and sincerely say, “I’m so sorry, are you okay?”  When I was a teenager going to these shows, they could be hazardous, but I was never worried or intimidated because I knew the guys had my back.  If I fell over, immediately a dude was their to help me up and take a few seconds of his time to make sure I was okay, before going back to full music immersion.  As a male at a punk rock show, it is your duty to look out for the females.

2.  If you’re in the pit, do not stop and look for something you dropped.  While watching A Wilhelm Scream, in the middle of a song, in the middle of a pit, this poser stopped moshing, turned on his phone flashlight and began looking for his dropped hat.  Are you fucking kidding me?  I wanted Nuno to call him out from on stage, but he’s way too sweet for anything like that.  The worst part was, other moshers’ started helping him!  Fuck this kid’s hat!  We’ve got a show to watch!

3.  Don’t throw elbows in the pit.  It’s just not nice.

4.  Don’t spit.  It’s just not nice.

5.  Border patrol!  This is important and very appreciated when done properly.  If you find yourself on the edge of the pit, it is your automatic duty to keep the moshers from infiltrating the borders.  Think of yourself as those cops at protests who wear the plastic mask things and sport shields.  And just like sitting at the emergency exit seat of a plane, if you’re not up for the job, you need to move.  At this past festival, during The Draft, I kind of fell in love with this kid whose face I never saw, I only saw the back of his head.  Despite my being right next to the pit, my full attention was able to be on the band because this guy was an expert at border patrol.  I didn’t have to worry about getting smashed into and losing my footing at all because he kept throwing those kids back in before they could do any damage to the rest of us.  Thank you, stranger.

6.  If the pit has ceased, fill that space back in!  As someone who has seen an inactive, empty pit from stage, it looks pathetic.  When the moshers are done, don’t be scared, just walk in and fill that space back up.  The others will follow, I promise.

7a.  If you’re going to attempt crowd surfing, please only do it when there is a crowd, you dumb fuck.  If you get your 110lbs. friend to try to hoist you up, don’t expect anything else to happen after that if the crowd is only three rows deep.

7b.  If there is a crowd however, and you’re going to crowd surf from on stage, you better fucking JUMP off of the stage.  One of the more embarrassing things I’ve ever witnessed (ranking right up there with the junior high talent shows) was this guy during the Audacity show, who got on stage, and then instead of jumping off, he SLOWLY, ass first, leaned back into the crowd, as if he was testing the stability of an old wicker chair.  I shook my head in shame.

That’s all for now!  Contact me with any comments or questions.  Thanks for listening and enjoy the show!

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The Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 7

Two fun drinking games I learned while touring, that I encourage all of you to take part in.

First, the Buffalo.  Apparently, this stems from the gun-slinging days, which makes it truly badass.  When drinking alcohol, one must drink using only one’s non-dominate hand.  The reason, is so that your dominate hand, the one that you would use to retrieve your pistol with, is always free, in case you need to suddenly draw.

Notice how her left hand is the one she will be drinking with.

Notice which hand is being used for what.

Most people are right-handed, thus, you MUST always drink using your left hand.  If you are drinking from your right, and someone calls “Buffalo,” you have to chug the rest of your drink.  However, if someone calls Buffalo, but they are incorrect (for example if the drinker is left-handed, and the “caller” is unaware of this), then that person must chug their drink AND buy the next round.  The only way you are exempt from all Buffalo rules, is if you have a tattoo of a Buffalo.  The person I learned this game from, did in fact, have a tattoo of a buffalo on his wrist.  I kind of fell in love with him when I discovered this.  So he can drink from whatever hand he wants, and never needs to chug or buy drinks.

Though this is known as a “game,” it is more of a club.  It’s a lifelong commitment, that unites loyal, honorable drinkers.  I’m sure this is why it is popular amongst the “touring” crowd.  Every person I have met who is a member, has also been on a tour at least once.  A real Buffalo member will never dispute or whine about having to chug a drink if he or she is in violation.  Also, Buffalo members will never be “that guy” or “that girl” at the bar.  It’s for serious drinkers only.

BuffaloClub

One must be invited by a member to become one.  So, if you are not part of the Buffalo Club, you are not allowed to start playing now.  However, now that I have made you aware of its existence, if you hear someone calling “Buffalo,” I suggest you make friends with that person, and if he/she thinks you are worthy, they will invite you to become a member.  The American Buffalo Club website can further explain what it means to be a member.

BuffaloClub2

Second game, and my favorite, is called, “Iced.”  We did this a lot on tour.  Take a Smirnoff Ice bottle, (the most disgusting of all malt beverages) and cleverly disguise it so that the person you are trying to “Ice,” is unexpectedly encountered by the bottle.  For example, the best one that I witnessed was while I was on Warped Tour. Peace Tea sponsored Warped, so there was an absurd amount of Peace Tea beverage cans everywhere and they are delicious.

peaceOne of the guys cut the bottom out of one of these cans, and put it over a Smirnoff Ice bottle, completely covering it.  He then offered the tea to our Tour Manager, covering the open bottom with a napkin.  When our TM accepted the offer, thinking it was simply a tea, he grabbed it, removing the hollow can, revealing the disgusting Smirnoff Ice, which was now glistening in his face.  When this happens, you have been Iced, my friend.  And you must get down on one knee, and chug the Smirnoff as so:

37850_1414673161267_1065690146_30958727_567548_n

This is what followed the Peace Tea offering.  Epic.  …And Kyle MacDougall is hot.

It seriously sucks when it happens to you, but is seriously hilarious when it happens to someone else.  I put a bottle in one of the musician’s suitcase, because I knew he was about to go through it.  He lifted up a folded shirt, and instead of finding the clean boxers he was in search of, he was presented with a Smirnoff Ice.  If you fail however, and the person you are trying to ice suspects what is happening, or if your plan is unsuccessful (for instance, if my friend had not in fact gone through his suitcase) YOU must get down on one knee and chug.  A fun touring game that you can bring to the real world.  Because remember… touring life is not the real world.

Cheers!

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The Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 6

To continue with my unspoken romances I had while being on Vans Warped Tour, another guy who I grew to really appreciate on the tour, but in a totally different way than the others, (see: Part 5, Part 4, Part 1) was Jonny Craig.  Jonny is the lead singer for Emarosa, a band on the tour that summer, though I knew of Jonny from Dance Gavin Dance, one of the few hardcore bands that I really like.  He is pretty well-known in that whole scene, being one of those vocalists’ who is in multiple bands and has his own following.  While I’m not particularly attracted to him, I did fall in love with his talent.

Fucking auto-tune and pre-recorded tracks.  So depressing.  If I had to guess, I’d say that 50% of what you hear at a concert, is pre-recorded tracks.  This is why I enjoy seeing and supporting local music and smaller touring bands because what you’re hearing is real; it’s raw.  When you find yourself thinking, they sound exactly like their CD!  That’s probably because most of what you’re hearing is from their CD.  It makes me want to throw-up and punch someone.  My whole beef with the present-day music industry though will be a rant for a different day.  Jonny was one of the few lead singer’s of the larger bands that didn’t use auto-tune or vocal tracks, and considering the notes that kid hits… that is respectable.  He also didn’t wear in-ears, which scores him cool points in my book.

Caitlin Rule: Use your monitors!  In-ears make you look like a vagina as well as making it appallingly obvious that the sound engineer is doing most of the work.

From what I witnessed, Jonny embraced almost every form of self-destruction.  In other words, he knows how to party.  Every night, that guy got fucked up, and everyday, he would get up on that stage and just make love to his songs and it was beautiful.  I don’t know how he did it.  He did not take care of himself even a little bit, but his voice never faltered.  He even broke his ribs during one of his performances, and still did not miss one show.  The next day, he was on that Ernie Ball stage and like always, singing his guts out and hitting notes that very few men can.   Somehow, he made those notes sound even better than they do in his recordings, giving you something truly worthwhile by seeing him live.  I’m not even much of a fan of Emarosa, I don’t own any of their albums, but I caught their show that summer as often as I could because of Jonny’s ability to sing unlike anyone else on the tour.

Emarosa (live)  –  Here is a link to a video of them performing, and of course, this shitty youtube video doesn’t do him much justice, but it at least gives you an idea of what I’m talking about.

While I wasn’t attracted to Jonny, I will say that I was oddly fascinated by him that summer.  He has this very “I don’t give a fuck” attitude and demeanor, but underneath it all, I think I saw this little boy vulnerability that again, like a lot of what I experienced that summer, I probably would not have noticed had I not been miserable.  After hours, when we’re all going from bus to bus, mingling, destroying our bodies with substances and watching the dismantling of the stages, (which looking back, was oddly metaphoric) though he was always surrounded by many people, Jonny sometimes looked lonely.  Maybe I’m over romanticizing, maybe there was nothing vulnerable underneath those sharp eyes, but I think that somewhere between those high notes and after hour adventures, he was screaming for some sort of real human connection, something real to hold on to.

I think we all were.

Touring- (verb) a sea of internal uncertainty with home never feeling so close and so far away.

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The Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 5

“We get to play music for a living, man.”

And that’s when I fell in love with Chris Gaylor from the All American Rejects.  He knows how fortunate he is, and because of that, I have never heard him complain about anything related to his “job.”  I met Chris on Warped Tour and was lucky enough to get to know him fairly well, and I don’t have one bad thing to say about him.  A very humble and good human being.  Now for the anecdote that goes along with the quote…

It was one of the first times I had hung out with Christopher, and it was me, him, the members from the band I worked for and the band we shared a bus with.  It was one of our days off, and we were all going to get sushi.  On Warped, you very very rarely leave the grounds.  We visit most of the 50 states on that tour, but when someone asks me if I’ve ever been to Arkansas, or wherever, I always say no, because it just doesn’t count when you have only been to one of its’ parking lots.  That’s a huge advantage that club touring has over festival touring, because with club tours, you can experience the city a little bit.  You usually arrive earlier in the day, and can usually find time to go do something before and/or after the show that night.  With Warped Tour though, you arrive in buses to either a big field or a parking lot, and you stay there all day and leave that night and we average one day off a week.  Point is, us going out to dinner was a special occasion.

The walk ended up being much further than we estimated, and one of the guys was bitching about it and just being a total buzz kill.  I kept my mouth shut and tried to maintain a positive attitude for those of us who weren’t being Debbie’s.  His complaining was absurd, and was something along the lines of, he has to work and walk all day (oh please) and so he doesn’t want to have to walk a mile on our day off.  Jesus Christ.  This led into just general bitching about touring.  In the middle of his obnoxious whining, Chris finally spoke up and interrupted with:

“We get to make music for a living, man!”  Which was code for:  Shut the fuck up and realize how many people would kill to have our job, you ungrateful little bitch.

I smiled, and in that moment, grew a deep respect for Christopher Gaylor.  I don’t think anyone else noticed, or thought much of what he said, but for whatever reason, it left a profound impression on me.  He obviously understands how fortunate he is, and it means something to him.  Chris is the drummer for The All American Rejects, a huge band, and way way way more popular and successful than the guy’s band who was complaining.  So having this statement come from the guy with the #1 hits, made him look exceptionally good and humble and made the other guy look exceptionally bad.  I loved it.  I’ve never brought any of this up to Chris, so that’s why it’s filed under another one of my unspoken romances I had while being miserable on Vans Warped Tour.

…And he loves Dinosaur Jr as much as I do, which is sexy.

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The Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 4

With this post, I am going to continue with the unspoken romances I had with the world, while being miserable on Van’s Warped Tour in 2010.

Being a merch girl, I had to be the first one up every morning, because in order to get a half way decent spot, you needed to be out there with your tent and gear, ready to go by 8:00am.  This meant I needed to be up by 7:00am every morning in order to get ready and get all of the merch bullshit from the trailer and onto the dolly, only to inevitably cart it through mud and hills for a half a mile.  Needless to say, this got very old very fucking fast.

Every morning, on every stage, a sound check of sorts was routine.  Typically, as I’m sure you know, a sound check involves the actual band, but this obviously cannot happen every morning on Warped, so the sound engineers use a very specific, specially picked song to check the PA systems (thanks Crowe).  The Main Stage obviously has the loudest and best sound.  Every morning, they would play “Same Ol’ Road,” by Dredg.  I’m assuming they used that song because of its dynamic, going from almost no guitar to hugely epic, arms spread open under a waterfall, type progressions.  And every morning, when I would hear that song, I would smile.  Everything got a little bit better.  Everything made a little bit more sense and for a split second, it felt like I could breathe again.

After Warped was over, I found the song on iTunes.  It is the worst piece of shit I have ever heard.  So embarrassing to the point that I considered not mentioning the name of it here.  It made me recognize how hugely important listening to music the proper way is.  Our generation listens to music off of our computers, and have no respect for sound quality.  It’s like watching a movie on your fucking iPhone, it’s almost an insult to the industry.  That song was obviously meant to be listened to with real speakers and was the difference between falling in love and throwing up in my mouth, which is why I included “own a great stereo system” to my Caitlin’s  List of Rules.

Despite the song’s cheesiness and Wal-Mart type rock, hearing it at approximately 9:00 every morning while preparing for another day of hell, did hit an emotional chord with all of us “workers” I think.  I remember when the chorus would begin, I’d sometimes look out at all of the chaos of starting the day, and everyone got quiet and just listened.  Somehow that song united all of us in an unspoken way.  I think because with days filled of such uncertainty and variables and unexpected circumstances, that song was our constant, and it echoed out, louder than the rest.

Another unspoken romance I had, was with Jake Kolatis from The Casualties.  I have never spoken of this until now.  He has the most beautiful, piercing eyes of anyone that I have ever met.  I know you’re about to google image this guy, but you’re not going to see what I saw.  I know this because I just google imaged him as well to see what you all would be seeing.  Trust me when I say, it does not do him justice.  While I will admit that I do have a thing for mohawks, and he has by far, the best mohawk I have ever seen, it was his eyes that made me fall in love with him that summer.

One of the first nights of the tour, we were all out by the buses drinking and hanging out.  My TM (tour manager) Kyle, who I have spoken about in Part 2, was kind of a badass.  He TMed for Less Than Jake, NOFX and a lot of other fairly huge bands within that scene.  Anyway, NOFX had a portable bar, and somehow, Kyle acquired it during the tour, even though NOFX was not on the tour that year, and we kept this portable bar in our trailer.  He, and the TM for Alkaline Trio would bring it out every night and serve drinks to everyone on the tour.  They were smart… they bought cheap alcohol in bulk, then, instead of charging, it was a tip only bar.  So if you tipped five dollars, you got a serious drink.  If you tipped two dollars, you got a vagina amount of alcohol.  I’m digressing.  The point of all of this is, that during one of the first nights that Kyle opened up the bar, Jake and I looked at each other and it was fucking sexy.  I’m not going to lie… I even pulled a, bite my bottom lip move, during one of the eye contacts.

Caitlin Rule:  If done properly, biting your bottom lip = lets fall in love tonight.

I had no idea who he was, and it wasn’t until weeks later that I found out he was a member of The Casualties.  We only actually spoke a few times, and the first time was at a Pub in Denver, where we made the soul crushing eye-contact again, and he walked right up to me and said, “Do a shot with me.”

Fuck yes I’ll do a shot with you.  I love when new guys just tell you what is going down.  My favorite way that I’ve ever been asked out on a date was this kid I ran into on the street, we had a couple of classes together at the time and he said, “Get dinner with me tonight at seven.”  Ummm okay.  It doesn’t seem like I have an option and somehow that was kind of hot.  So Jake telling me I was doing a shot with him, and those being the first words spoken between us, just further confirmed my love for him and we took a shot of whiskey.  We only spoke for a couple of minutes because my crew was leaving, one of them being my boyfriend at the time, so me staying behind to do shots and chat it up with Jake Kolatis would not have blown over so well.  God I’m retarded.  I should have just told my boyfriend that he sucked balls and then bunked up with Jake for the remainder of the tour.  I don’t regret much, but I do regret letting my ex-boyfriend ruin that summer for me.

After that, whenever I would see Jake, he would smile and wink at me, and I would stick my tongue out at him.  Every time.  It was our little secret, unspoken romance.  I liked it that way.  We understood each other and the way things were, without words.  I’ll never forget him.

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The Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 3

To continue with my list of reasons why everyone on Warped Tour is miserable, I will start with what perhaps, I should have started with in Part 2.  All day long, you are…

That will put anyone in a bad mood.  We put that sticker on our tent as a reminder, not that we had the luxury of forgetting.  Maybe it was more of an attempt to add humor to the hell.  There were six stages on the tour if I remember correctly, which meant that at all times, there were six different bands playing within earshot, which also meant six different forms of torture all day long.

I do understand that there is a big difference between music that is bad, and music that I just don’t like.  One of my pet-peeves is when I hear someone say, “That band sucks.”  No, they don’t suck, you just don’t like them!  With that being said, a few of the bands that were on 2010 Warped Tour sucked.    It did make me wholeheartedly appreciate the good songs/bands however, which is another romance I had in my misery that I will get into later.

I am going to speak for the boys here, and say that another reason why they were all pissed off and frustrated is because they were forced to watch half-naked teenage girls flaunting around shamelessly all day everyday.  While many men have no qualms with checking out underage girls, there are also many men that do have issues with it.  The guys that I was with most of the time, hated that they had these inappropriate thoughts about underage girls.  It made them feel skeezy.  But when a fifteen year old girl who looks like she’s twenty-two walks by wearing nothing but tiny shorts and stickers over her nipples asking them to autograph her stomach or boobs… you can’t blame the men for not being able to help but imagine titty-fucking her.

Of course, I know the guys would not be turned-on by the disgusting girls above – they’d be repulsed – but it’s just an example of how some of the attendees dress.  I would imagine trying to jack-off on the tour would also be difficult, so releasing their built-up sexual frustrations probably felt like more of a chore than it did a pleasure.

You may think that as a musician, getting laid on the tour is as easy as drinking water, but it’s actually a little more complicated.  First of all, you can only get backstage or to the bus area if you have a pass, and security is pretty strict about this.  There were a couple of times when I forgot my pass on the bus, realizing it as I approached the gate, and had to walk all the way back to retrieve it.  At a lot of these venues, the busses were sometimes parked over a half a mile away.  The point is, getting a potential lay back to the bus is not a simple task.

Also, there is “bus call.”  Bus call is the time we head out and you have to be back to your bus.  Those driver’s will leave without you!  Obviously, we travel at night, so bus call varies, depending on how far away the next city is.  Sometimes bus call was as late as 3:00am, but other times it was as early as 11:00pm, and the festival usually lasted until 9:00pm.  So, if a guy did go through the trouble of getting a fan/groupie to the bus, he then has to make sure that he gets laid before bus call.

That was my very long way of explaining why the men are always pissed off and sexually frustrated on the tour.

On top of that, you are sharing a tour bus with sometimes eleven other people so you better hope you love all of them because unless you’ve retreated to your bunk, there is no personal space.  The petty arguments that stem from who gets drawer space and who doesn’t is awesome.  On most of the busses there are twelve bunks, two columns of three on each side.

That was not our bus – ours was way dirtier – but the layout is the same.  Half of the tour there was eight of us on the bus, but the other half we shared with another band that were high school kids (literally the members had just graduated high school or were going into their senior year), so there was a full twelve of us.  Nightmare.  Although, we did get one of the high schoolers to smoke weed for his first time, and while he was high he said, “It feels like my legs are having an orgasm.”  That was a fun night.

It’s safe to assume that everyone on the tour is also going through some serious relationship problems, which also adds to everybody’s misery.  Touring murders any type of romantic relationship.  Obviously, being gone for three months at a time while living a rock-star lifestyle will put a strain on any relationship.  But if the boyfriend/girlfriend comes with you on the tour, that’s a recipe for killing a relationship as well.  Conundrum.  I have never seen a relationship turn out well when the couple is on the tour together.  This is because of my main point, that everyone is at their absolute worst while touring.  Couples see each other in a whole different light.  Like I said, relationship murderer.  Even trying to maintain a casual, we-just-like-to-have-fun-together-fling-type of relationship with someone from back home, is nearly impossible.  So on top of everything else, it’s safe to say that 90% of the people on the tour are also going through some type of personal crisis.

Touring is this strange break from real life, so people who do it enough, never really have to grow up in many ways.  This is why most musicians are at least partly insane.  And that is why I am plagued with always falling in love with one.

…see. This is us going insane.

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The Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 2

In Part 1, I shared some observations I made during the summer of 2010 while working as a merch girl, on Van’s Warped Tour.  In this part, I am going to discuss the overall touring lifestyle.  It may provide some insight as to why musicians are out of their mind.

The biggest mind fuck is not living out of a bus or van… it’s not going in and out of time zones sometimes twice a day, it’s the utter lack of privacy.  I started that summer being one of those girls who claimed that females don’t poop.  Two weeks into the tour, pooping was a topic of conversation with me and everyone else.  Typical club tours are much different than Warped Tour and other traveling music festivals.  With club touring, the pooping situation isn’t as much of a problem, but on Warped Tour, it’s the number one problem.

I did not poop, at all, for ten days!  I know.  It was absolutely awful and definitely added to why I was so miserable ninety percent of that tour.  Even after I finally did, it still was not regular the entire summer.  Many people had this problem I came to find out, but not as seriously as I did.  Traveling in general can make one constipated, but then on top of that, your diet does a complete 180.  We had a catering service that traveled with the tour, and it was better food than you’d imagine, considering that they’re doing all of this out of a semi-truck.

The catering service really impressed me, and the guy who swiped your tour pass in the food line was sexy (unfortunately not pictured above).  They have to feed 600 people three meals, every single day!  Yes, it takes 600 people to make Warped Tour happen.  Despite the hot guy, and the pretty good food considering, you are still eating from a mobile kitchen and your body knows it.

Also, half of the venues do not have bathrooms.  We have toilets on the bus, but they are STRICTLY for pee only!  No toilet paper even.  After you wipe, you have to throw the toilet paper in the trash.  Yummy.  So, if you’re at a venue with no bathrooms, and you have to poop, you are subjected to using porta-pottys that all of the other 12,000 (literally) sweaty,puking, muddy, teenage attendees have been using all day and night.  Me and the band had an ongoing inside joke that walking into a porta-potty actually makes your butthole involuntarily contract, not allowing anything to exit or function properly.  It’s true.  I know, gross inside joke, but like I said… privacy out the window and there is nothing more hilarious than some of the conversations that spawn while touring because no one holds back.  Pooping in a porta-potty is just not an option your body leaves you with, so there was that to add to my constipation.

After the fourth day of not pooping, I finally had to go to our Tour Manager, Kyle (pictured)

because he is the one that would have to get me in touch with the touring Medic.  Yes, Warped has a Medic who tours with us… kind of makes it seem more bad-ass than it actually is.  She gave me some natural pill that didn’t work.  Every morning Kyle, and everyone else on our bus for that matter, would ask me if  “it” happened yet.  Of course, they didn’t sugar coat it though.  They would just yell across the bus, “Caitlin!  Did you shit yet?!”  When I still hadn’t after a week, Kyle made arrangements for me to see a Doctor in the following city.  Now, thanks to Dr. Clemens, I do not leave for tour without Colace,Benefiber and Miralax.

Apart from everyone knowing about your bowl movements, right down to the size and color of them (some of the guys would even take pictures of their shit and compare with one another), everyone also knows when you’re having sex and who you’re having sex with.  The “walk of shame” has a whole different meaning on a tour bus.  Those poor girls who just hooked up with one of the band dude’s in their bunk, had no choice, but to walk past ALL of us on the way out.

(Though it’s hard to tell, there are eight people just right there).  There’s no escaping to a bathroom to quickly fix your hair or eyeliner so to minimize the “I-just-spread-my-legs-for-a-stranger-look.”  We did our best to try to avoid eye contact with these girls, act like we didn’t notice, but I think that just made it worse.  The guy, would then be subjected to being made fun of for the rest of the tour if the girl was on the more unfortunate looking side.  Regrettably, I was in a relationship with one of the band member’s at the time, and if we were both MIA for twenty minutes, everyone knew why.

Overall hygiene, as you know it, is also out the window.  Again, not every venue had bathrooms and showers, so baby wipe showers become your number one source of hygiene control.  I am not kidding, I would say on average, I was able to shower once every four days.  Keep in mind, that Warped Tour is in the dead of fucking summer, so you are essentially sweating your ass off for three months straight.  I had to push two hundred pounds of merch up hills, over crazy terrain, set-up tents, sit outside for eight hours, unload and reload the trailer… the pro is I got skinny and very tan, the con is everyone is disgusting.  When there were showers available, there were usually only a few, and remember that there are 600 people, and I would say 400 of them are trying to shower on any given day.  Extremely long lines, filthy bathrooms and no hot water.

Towards the end of the tour, Kyle got some “shower bags” that are made for camping.  That was helpful, but where did the showering take place?  In between the busses of course.  As stated previously, that detached space polluted with generator exhaust, rivers of spilt beer and the eerie feeling that home has never been so close or so far away.  Also the space where everyone was constantly walking through and hanging out.  I had to shower in my bathing suit for all to see.  People try to be respectful and not stare, but it’s still just hilarious to walk up on someone loofahing in a bathing suit under a makeshift shower that is rigged up to a trailer.

These are just a couple of reasons why touring brings out the worst in everyone, and there are many more reasons I plan to share next time!

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The Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 1

I was on Warped Tour the summer of 2010.  I was the merch girl for one of the bands, and for those of you who live in some sort of weird alternate culture, or in a different country, Warped Tour is a giant touring music festival sponsored by Vans.  It travels around the country and parts of Canada every summer, reaching out to a mostly teenage demographic.  Lots of destruction, terrible music and terrible behavior.  America in all its glory.

Being on Van’s Warped Tour was possibly the worst experience of my life, but somehow looking back, there is this oddly romanticized sentiment associated with the memories.  What is it about being miserable that heightens the soul in a way that lets us have our own love story with all that we see?  Touring is an entirely different lifestyle that absolutely brings out the worst in everyone.  Specifics as to why, will be the topic of a later blog.

I was tragically sad for ninety percent of that summer while on the road.  I won’t get into reasons why, because that is related to wounds that are still fresh, but I will share some of my observations… my romances with the world if you will, that I probably would not have noticed had I been blissfully blinded by good times and contentment.

Andrew W.K.’s bass player and his cigarettes.  Obviously, there is no smoking on the tour busses.  Of course, smoking drugs on the bus, snorting drugs and everything else you can do with drugs and alcohol is a-okay.  I don’t smoke, but a lot of socializing took place at night during cigarette breaks in between the long rows of busses; that detached space polluted with generator exhaust, rivers of spilt beer and the eerie feeling that home has never been so close or so far away.

Andrew’s bass player, this tall, kind of goofy looking man with chops and a deep, soothing voice, would smoke his cigarettes all the way down to the filter.  I’ve noticed that people who would not generally litter, always litter their cigarettes.  It’s like this weird exception to the rule for some reason.  But not him.  Every cigarette, he would put it out on the bottom of his shoe, and then cup it in his hand until he went back on the bus to throw it away.  Often, we would all talk for a good thirty minutes, and he’d have a second cigarette, but he never once littered a single one.  He’d just stand there, hovering a good foot above me, holding the burnt out things in his hand, while everyone else had long since discarded their’s onto the already infected soil.  The amount of damage Warped Tour does to the environment is obscene, and I could write an entire blog just about that, so littering a couple of cigarettes seemed almost harmless (even to me, the litter police) when looking at the big picture.  While I can’t even remember his name, I’ll never forget that man standing there with those cigarettes in his dirty, calloused hands, doing what he could in a small way, to leave a place the way he found it.

Another unspoken romance I had that I probably would not have appreciated had I not been miserable, was this beautiful display of what real punk rock is.  On one not so very special evening, I was pushing the dolly back to the bus which was carrying the usual, over two hundred pounds I’d say, of all the merch crap.  Earlier that day I was hanging out in a big group and a couple of the guys present were band members of Alkaline Trio.  The singer mentioned that he was losing his voice, and I remember this because I thought it was cool that he was still talking and carrying on.  That might seem like an absurd thing to think, but it’s disgusting how often these lead singer’s are on “vocal rest.”  Vocal rest means that you simply don’t speak or utter a sound.  At all.  It’s obnoxious.  You call yourself a rock band but you baby your voice with hot tea and Slippery Elm Bark?  Take a shot of Jameson and hit the stage!

The vocalist of the band I was working for, I swear to God, was on vocal rest eighty-five percent of the time, which meant I often had to be subjected to snaps and whistles in order for this person to get my attention.  So to hear Trio’s singer mention that he was losing his voice, and to be laughing about it and kind of brushing it off, was something to take notice of.  Getting back to later that night, as I was heading to the bus, I was passing Main Stage and Alkaline Trio was about to play.  Being alone and miserable, I decided to stop and watch the show because I certainly had nothing else to do.   I had seen their set plenty of times that summer, but Trio holds a special place in my heart and I was interested to see how he would handle his voice situation.  They get up there and he immediately says to the crowd, “I’m losing my voice… I’ll do my best, but you guys are going to have to help me sing tonight.”

I kind of rolled my eyes, because I have seen this before with other bands, and I knew what that meant… he would just sing softly and then let the audience take over every two lines.  The song begins, he starts to sing,  and I think I fell in love with him in that moment a little bit.  It was probably the most genuine thing I saw happen on stage that whole summer.  His voice sounded like absolute shit, it was a cross between singing and yelling, it was scratchy and cracked, but so beautiful for all of the same reasons, and because it was real.  He sang his heart out in a way I have never seen before or since, and somehow made Warped Tour fun again for a glistening minute, and I remember thinking, “that is so punk-rock and awesome.”  He didn’t care, he was there to give the audience the best show that he could, and on that not so very special night, leaning against my cart of wrinkled merchandise, watching the sun set behind the stage and embracing my loneliness, he did give me one of the best shows I have ever seen, along with a feeling that I desperately needed a dose of: that everything was all right.  God, music is the glue of our soul.

I have many more love stories and other tales to tell from that summer, so stay tuned, my friends.

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