A GUIDE TO GRASROOTS GIGING & TOURING, part 2
MORE THINGS TO KNOW IN PREPARATION FOR YOUR FIRST SHOW/TOUR
Last month we had a look at the importance of a soundcheck and how basic in-ear monitoring could enhance your experience on stage. The stage is your workplace and, while we spend a lot of time and energy preparing for the hour we perform, good foresight should be placed on the smooth running of the journey itself, as well as the general ‘being’ out on the road – whether playing a single show or an entire tour.
Maintaining good health and being away from home comforts are just some of the challenges you will face when gigging and touring, so here are some tips thatI hope will put you at an advantage.
Road ‘Life savers’
Basic requirements vary from person to person. For me, one of the most interesting things about touring has been sharing with other budding musicians how they each survive and what they bring to preserve their sanity. In my personal experience, keeping healthy has always been high on the agenda as being sick whilst I’m working away from home has always been my biggest fear. My basic guideline is to always take a holistic stance by simply getting in the habit of doing everything to prevent yourself from getting sick. Satisfying the basic needs of eating right and getting enough sleep can sometimes be challenging when living on the road and being in constant transit. Just try to do your best and adhere to a system that works for you.
Stock up on food in advance: when you make a road-stop, grab some healthy options for the day. Planning ahead will prevent you from making those spontaneous, lessdesirable choices after the show! Although supplements aren’t a cure, I always take multivitamin tablets daily whilst on tour just to help the immune system.
Bring anything you might need to ensure good sleep: pillows to retain some home comfort and earplugs could help, especially if you’re sharing hotel rooms.
Other things that generally help whilst on tour include a power extension (for hotel rooms/dressing room), power socket converters, lanyards, spare currency (for road-stop toilets!); if it fits in your suitcase, just bring it along!
Dressing Rooms and your Rider
Dressing rooms can vary tremendously in size and comfort (and cleanliness), and at a grassroots level of gigging and touring you will quickly learn to simply get‘ on with it’. As a headline act you may be entitled to your own space, however, it can still be common to share a room with the other bands on the bill. In my experience, sharing a room has always allowed us to get to know the other bands better, ultimately making the evening more enjoyable. You will even encounter some smaller venues that don’t have dressing rooms – in which case, be prepared to dress in your van.
When it comes to your rider, whether it’s food, snacks, beverages, candles, incense sticks and so on, it’s fair to say that the bigger you are, the more ambitious you can be with it. It’s easy to ask for the world, but you have to bear in mind that in some situations your rider budget could be deducted from your show fee. If you share a dressing room it’s likely that you’ll have a communal rider too. Perhaps at times a more favourable alternative to the rider would be a ‘buy-out’, but if you do arrange this in advance, do a bit of research and look into whether there are plenty of options near the venue (you could be in the middle of nowhere).
Privacy and being mindful towards others
Touring really teaches you how to work as a team and it’s really important to avoid being self-centred. Always remember that you are sharing space with your band and crew pretty much at all times, so think ahead.
Luggage size: try to minimise this so you don’t hog all the storage space in the van, hotel rooms and dressing rooms. The bigger it is the harder it will be to get changed in small dressing rooms.
Look out for everybody involved – this includes the other bands. The more you get along, the better the show will be, so leave space for each other in communal areas and leave food and drinks for others.
Get used to not having your own space! You will all travel together, eat together and sleep together (at times in the same bed). Go with it and you’ll get used to it.
You really have to get along with your band and crew when you are together – even beyond the waking hours. Share with other budding musicians about how they manage themselves and preserve their health, and you’ll gradually consolidate a system that works for you over time. Remember, being approachable, professional and flexible is one of the key elements to becoming a successful musician. Good luck!
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