Alright. Here goes my best effort to recap everything that happened this summer (impossible).
pc: Nathan Beer
This summer I went on tour for the first time ever– played 35 shows in two months and visited places I have never been before. I played solo (just me singing and playing my electric guitar) but traveled with my two managers (who are also two of my best friends) by plane and by car. We spent 20 days in the Mid-West and then just shy (ha) of a month playing shows up and down the West Coast.
At the beginning of the tour I handed Megan (right) and Amelia (left) a journal each and asked them to document what we did everyday for the first 20 days. I wanted to see how different all of our experiences would be, and it turned out that similar things stood out to us. I’ve decided not to include those entries here, but if you’re interested I can post them.
The Midwest tour was so fun because I had never been to that part of the country before, and Megan is from Wisconsin so we got to feel like locals for a little bit and stay with her family. Between the three of us we all had the same big highlight- the show we played at the Memorial Union in Madison Wisconsin. The venue is this beautiful outdoor terrace/amphitheater and Megan used to work on the audio crew there which made it especially fun. This show was by far the biggest audience I have played to (around 2,000 people) and we made so many new friends– including the band I was opening for (Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers), who I just opened for again in LA!!
There were ups and downs and a few days off, but this leg of tour was very manageable. We had a place to stay everywhere but Cincinnati which saved us a lot of money. We hardcore budgeted and shared many beds and many meals between the three of us. WE DRANK SO MUCH COFFEE. Megan and I probably had 3-5 cups a day. lol. And we ate a lot of peanut butter.
Our other highlights were the first and last stops of tour: Eau Claire, and Milwaukee (I guess we really like Wisco).
We then flew back to LA and took a week and a half “off” (we still played 4 shows while we were home) and then left on our ambitious West Coast leg.
The West coast leg was longer: more consecutive show days in a row, more driving. We decided to spend our hours in the car listening to Jim Dale’s narration of the Harry Potter series (perhaps our smartest idea all of tour). Driving up the West Coast is so so so beautiful and we really enjoyed that. We got to see my brother and some other family and that was cool.
We had quite a few music highlights along the way. We played a Sofar Vancouver in a North Face store, met two other awesome artists at Sofar Portland, played 4 great shows in San Francisco and made a bunch of new friends, and when we came home I played my biggest LA show yet at The Peppermint Club. It got easier and easier for me to connect with people onstage, I feel like I leveled up as a performer because I had to be able to read a room quickly since so many of the gigs were different vibes. My voice stayed intact- I warmed up every day and practiced often. I still wrote songs on the road and was able to write two new tunes I really like. (which is a lot for me in that amount of time)
pc: Andrew Robles @ Sofar San Francisco 2/3
pc: Nicole Berry @ Sofar Santa Barbara
pc: Jasmine @ Sofar OC
pc: David Hoffy @ The Peppermint Club w/ my friends Tyler and Matt
I am having a hard time recapping things in my head. Honestly, I have a terrible memory. I’m sure there’s a million more things I could say but I’ll just say a few.
For my music friends thinking about planning a DIY tour, here’s some stuff I learned: (sorry if some of it is really obvious)
- bring an extra tuner. I don’t travel with a pedal-board and lost a tuner and then had one stolen so that was a bummer.
- if you have to drive for a long time and have a performance at the end of the day- try to take the first driving shift so you can mentally prepare before you arrive.
- find artists you want to collaborate with and hit them up before tour and try to meet up! it’ll make things more fun and productive.
- bring a contigo and buy cold-brew concentrate and oat milk or something for your morning coffee. it’ll save you so much money!!
- drink lots of water even if it means you have to stop to pee- that and sleep are going to contribute the most to a happy voice.
- go on walks whenever you can, it’ll clear your head and make you feel like you are actually in a real place instead of feeling like everywhere is the same. also alone time is important.
- show up to your gig 30 min early and hang out in the area, it’s so stressful to be running late in a place you’re unfamiliar with.
- use free gym trials or join a gym for a month that is in most cities!! I swear it’ll make you feel so much better and like you aren’t floating in a random place.
- grocery shop for breakfast and lunch and DOUBLE check if the gig will give you food to save money!!
- in the car, eat small amounts of filling food- the worst is to have a tummy ache for the whole ride. better to be a little hungry when you arrive than to feel gross.
- get rid of the trash in the car every SINGLE day!!!!! or else everyone will hate you!!
- check in with your travel buddies regularly and give people the opportunity to express their feelings/concerns. it is hard to spend every minute with someone even if they are your best friends. you can’t always be in a good mood but you can always say sorry if you have been hurting someone’s feelings ❤
- make an overall schedule AND day sheets for each days agenda and details. it will help so much to make you feel like a sane person.
It was a learning curve for sure but we got it down by the end. 🙂 My biggest piece of advice for indie artists is to JUST DO IT. Don’t wait around for anyone else to hand you something. Plan the stupid tour and go. We ended up breaking even and making a small profit. You can do it!!
The biggest thing that I learned was that touring requires an open mind.
I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t really hard, but for more personal reasons. I am a pretty closed off person, but I feel like it would be dishonest of me to share my tour experience without touching on this next part. (sorry if I get emo)
I am a quality time person, not a quantity time person- so I was a little nervous to share a space with two other people 24/7 for a month and a half. Over the past 4 years I’ve gotten more and more introverted, I drive home to Santa Barbara often and spend much more time alone than I ever have. Even in high school, I would always use my parents as an excuse to skip social events or spending time with friends/clubs etc. My friends probably thought my parents were way more strict than they actually were (sorry and thanks mom and dad)
I used to come home in tears 2-3 days a week my last few years of high school and college hasn’t been easy at times either. No one bullied me or anything, it’s just hard for me to be around people all the time because I am very empathetic and the amount of stimuli can be overwhelming.
When I was on tour I noticed that that feeling started to come back but even stronger, and it was very hard for me to express it. I am bad at talking about my feelings and showing my emotion, because I feel embarrassed and don’t want to upset anyone else. Trying to keep these things in was impossible because I was with Megan and Amelia all day long every day. I started waking up and not knowing where I was, and I felt constantly guilty that I felt tired and unable to connect. It was obvious to them that something was going on with me, I started having panic attacks when we were driving, when too many strangers would brush up against me at a show, or when I would forget where I was. Those feelings of panic would send me into a mental spiral that resulted in exhaustion and a dull feeling many days in a row. Despite my best efforts to be in the moment and positive for about a week and a half the only time I felt truly present was when I was on-stage.
I assumed that I was just feeling claustrophobic and introverted, and tried my best to be open with how I was feeling and explain that it had nothing to do with anything Megan and Amelia was doing. When we came home I thought things would get better and for a while they did! But then things got harder again and it got to a point where I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had a breakdown in class and left to see a counselor at the health center- after talking for a while she told me I struggle with depression. When she said that I was not surprised at all.
Anyway. I am not saying any of this for sympathy or whatever. I just want to be honest. If I hadn’t gone on tour and been put in the position of being with two people I care about so much for a month every hour of the day, I don’t think this would’ve come out now or in the way it did, but I am so grateful it has happened this way.
That being said- tour will bring up a lot of stuff. What’s really going on with you will show when you put yourself in that situation. I couldn’t have asked for a better duo to travel with and support me then and now with what’s going on with me. I had so much fun and made so many good memories. And all I can think about now is touring the whole entire world!!!! I want to go now!!
Anyway. I am recording an album now and that’s really exciting for me. My new music is the best music I’ve ever made and I can’t wait to share it. Should be done by May, fingers crossed. Many more shows to come and a few possible tours in 2020. Woohoo.
pc: Jonathan Roensch
love you all ❤ hope everyone is doing okay