The Tour 2017 (or, who thought this was a good idea?)

Note: I will need to build this out more over time, but wanted to get some thoughts down for some people who asked.

For those unaware, my kids are musicians. Not “bang on a pot and call it rhythm” but honest-to-goodness musicians creating art. And since I cannot do anything more musical than…well, bang on a pot…I try to help in other ways.

It started two years ago when they could find no place cool to play, other than coffee shops, and under-utilized “rock clubs” on Sunday afternoons. As a five-piece they had the long running distinction of being asked to turn down at eleven different venues in a row. I said “fuck it” and took on the task of banging on doors of venues, begging for time for all-ages shows; I eventually got a few friendly venue owners to agree. And two years later I regularly run shows 3–4 times a month in various clubs, supporting over 130 all-ages acts.

Which brings me to the summer of 2017, where I had virtually connected with a startup GiG{a}BiT Rocks, a touring beta site designed to help touring bands find places to play. I really loved the concept and was researching the idea of taking my son’s band on the road. Instead, after some chatter, I ended up connecting with a band from NY that was looking to tour the New England area and I was asked “would I help?”

“Fuck it”I said…it’s sorta becoming my mantra.

So Metorana came to play.

Original tour poster

I had no idea what I was doing, had no idea how to promote this thing, and generally was sweating every second of the lead-up to this tour. I cobbled together the local support, consisting of 3 or 4 of a list of 10–12 bands I knew I could always count on — good boys who play well, show up on time, and can draw a crowd. I begged the venues to give me these shows right in a row, spread out enough geographically where it didn’t seem like we were playing the same place each night. And I hoped we could make for a fun few nights. I luckily got some promotions through radio stations, and even built a promo video and audio cart to play.

My post-tour Facebook share kinda says a lot:

Well, that was fun…
I needed 24 hours or so to decompress and gain some perspective. I had no idea what it would take to pull off running a four-day tour with five bands, but I do now
I’ll start by saying this: I love you all; each and every one of you crazy bastards that helped me run this tour, that performed in the tour, that came to see one or more shows of the tour…all of you, just amazing. We started in Worcester on Thursday night and finished up in Salem at Opus on Sunday, hanging around its back alleyway for an extra hour because no one wanted to leave. Group hugs, high fives, promises to keep this alive, even some tears shed…no one wanted to let go of the magic that we had.
It was beautiful, just beautiful…because of you all.
There is no way I can encapsulate in words what exactly went on with this tour, I fear everything I might write would come off as flat and uninspired, and the tour was anything but that. But I will drop a few of my favorite memories and thoughts here, and hope you all will respond with your own.
Alex and the fucking panda head
Pill Book’s tightest set ever at Alchemy, all 20 seconds of it
Concusia
Stephen slamming into the back of my van, then freaking out that I was going to be mad
Trap cooking with Gordon Randy
Pill Book’s basement concert at midnight on Saturday night, heard 4 streets over
Metorana’s entire fucking set in Lowell, with Sam writhing on his back and falling over monitors
Jonny laying in my driveway at 2am talking on the phone
Corey: “did you ever grow mold for fun?”
Sam perpetually looking like he was going to take a shower in his 2XL Walmart shorts and sandals
The epic light show every fucking night
Steven ripping the handle off his Prius like it was made of legos, then Corey saying he could glue it back on
Ironman
Please always refer to us as a “bag of dicks” no matter what our band name is
The 1am acoustic concert by Fin&Giuls on our back deck
Our 9-year-old roadie adjusting cameras on stage during The ‘Dicks set
Mr. Porter literally destroying Lowell on Friday night with his screaming
Phil coming to Opus to see Company One
Jake’s fear of getting his ear cut off, while bleeding all over Giuliana’s drum kit
It’s Been Real’s closing of the tour at Opus with Rage
Our merch girls
“Marcelo, you think 5 pieces of french toast is enough?” “You’re right…” <takes one more piece>
The conversations I would listen to with everyone encouraging and supporting each other
Cooking breakfast for everyone every morning with Giuliana and Edmee
The hugs every night after a set
Seeing all those beautiful people and fellow artists show up for these nights to support this tour
Thank you to the bands and to their supportive cast of managers, friends, and girlfriends.
Thank you to the entire Five By Two extended family for coming to support these shows.
Thank you to the venues, their owners, their managers, and their technicians for being so cool about our little train-wreck of a tour.
Thank you most especially to my wife and my kids who literally did everything I could not do…I am eternally grateful that they put up with my harebrained schemes to make music matter in everyone’s lives.
In the coming weeks Declan will be pulling together his video footage and we’ll share it out with all of you.
Until then, be good to each other and to everyone you meet, and know that while you’re no longer here under my roof, you’ll always be in my heart.
Peace.
Robert
#FiveByTwoIsFamily
#AllAgesOrNothing
#SupportLocalMusic

Everyone came together like family — we were jammed into my house every morning, upwards of 24 people, and things just flowed so easy. It was a joy to watch musicians interact, talk about their playing styles, their interests, give criticisms on the previous night’s performance, talk about gear, compliment each other, and laugh and smile and soak it all in.

I imagine this is what it was like for the English Romantic poets.

The concerts themselves went from ok to awesome to uh, wtf happened? Our kick off night we had 70 people show up (on a Thursday)…

…on Friday night we packed in another 75 into a tiny venue and ripped it apart (one of the best nights of the tour)…

…and on Saturday night we …

LOST POWER in the venue 20 seconds into the third band. Darkness, flashlights out, no hope of continuing…so we brought the concert back to the house. It was so loud, so monstrously loud, when Pillbook launched into their set in my basement at midnight. By the time Company One was playing at 1:00am, I took a stroll outside and could hear my neighbors sitting up in bed (sorry!).

At 2:15am we turned off the amps for fear of the police being called, but we carried on with an impromptu acoustic set by my daughters on the back deck.

That was a magical night. More than one person told me “if we hadn’t lost power, it would have been ‘just another show night’, but it turned completely epic with the house party”.

We finished the tour on a Sunday evening at an iconic club in Salem MA in front of a raucous crowd, and then we stuck around outside for more than an hour, talking and laughing, no one willing to say goodbye. I had audience members come to me and thank me for the show, for getting them out of the house, for having such “epic” bands all play together on one night.

It felt really really special.

And my kids, just recently when talking about going back to school, said “this was the best summer ever — WE WENT ON TOUR!”.

I guess we did :)

Lessons learned:

  1. I can fit more people in my house than I thought
  2. You need lots of support, more than you could anticipate — people to help with transport, loading, cooking, cleaning, coordinating merch, etc.
  3. Explaining a tour like this to people is harder than I thought. I don’t know what is so difficult about playing four nights in a row in four different cities, but people did not understand where they should go on which night to see the show (I must have posted 100 times a day)
  4. Facebook sucks… Really really really really really really sucks, at one thing in particular: socializing your media for an event. The number of people that never saw my posts, never got notified, couldn’t figure out which date was where, etc. Facebook — you suck at events.
  5. Take more pictures…there can never be too many. And use Dropbox or equivalent, to automatically feed them to a backup location.
  6. Have a break night, or a night that gets broken, to allow for “fuck it” impromptu shit to happen
  7. Write more, during the tour, so you remember stuff.
  8. Always carry with you: flashlight, ear protection for multiple people, gaffers tape, Tylenol, bandaids, strings, drum felts, external phone battery, phone charger, 9V batteries, cigarettes, lighter, and super glue.
  9. Always have in the transport vehicle: extra drum heads, extra drum sticks, extra drum stands, extra anything to do with the stupid drummers who forget SOMETHING every stupid night (I love you idiots).
  10. Learn to lock the bathroom door

Would I do this again? Heck yes…already planning the next one.

What do I hope this leads to? I hope that the touring band got to see how my little business can run shows, and I hope they tell others about it, so that I can get more touring bands in here to play with these local bands. Both deserve an audience. And I hope that soon the touring bands can return the favor and invite these local bands through their town for a show or two — that would be fun: NYC to Philly to Chicago to St. Louis to Wisconsin to Houston to LA (those are the locations of some of the bands we’ve been able to connect with this summer through doing these kinds of events).

For that — I definitely need some tour help, and I am hoping GiG{a}BiT Rocks can provide that help.

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