I just got back from an extensive (somewhat grueling) tour of the East Coast that lasted most of the Summer. We recently hosted a touring band ourselves and I was awash with flashbacks: carrying in sleeping bags and pillows, late-night snacks, the excitement over the possibility of showers - ah, the memories.
This is for people in the smaller towns. Those who get excited when bigger bands come through. But the bands aren’t big enough to stay in hotels. So maybe you’re opening for one, and maybe you’ve offered them a place to crash. Here is my list of the 5 best things you can do for that touring band, in chronological order!
1) Promote the crap out of the show. Promote it how you usually promote your shows. Then do twice as much. They aren’t from here. Even if they could get to the area early and put up posters, talk to people, do interviews and get write-ups – they might not know who to talk to or where to go. They are relying on you to promote the show and get people out. Don’t assume they have a fanbase here, they probably don’t. Getting people to the show is your job. When you play their town, it’ll be theirs.
2) Give them all the money! You have a job. They don’t. Right now, this is their job, and chances are, they aren’t making a lot of money. Touring is expensive and they are probably in debt. You might think you deserve the money that your friends payed. I promise that ($40-$200) will go a lot farther in their pockets. They’re trying to scrape together money to get to the next town, and you just wanted some post-show Taco Bell. Sometimes it’s hard to see the big picture, but you’re hoping someone does the same for you down the road. Be kind first and others will follow. Favors like this will be remembered.
3) Give them the option of not partying. Maybe they do want to hang out at the bar for hours, or go back to your place and pound beers, but maybe they don’t. Having an option for people who just want to get a good night’s sleep is always appreciated.
4) A quiet, dark place to sleep – that stays quiet and dark for most the day. Touring bands are on different schedules. They go to bed late and get up late. Don’t assume they want to go get waffles at 8:30am (unless you’re buying, and in that case, just bring us back some). Being able to actually sleep well into the day is a gift.
5a) Food, showers, laundry. These things will make the next few days a bit more bearable. The best places are those rare stops where everyone gets to reset/refresh.
5b) Wifi, staying late, personal space. The worst thing to hear is “I have work at 8:00, so ya’ll will have to be out by 7:30″. Dear God. The band might not have to be anywhere for a while, and you want to give them the option to relax, have some space from each other, and take care of some business in a quiet, comfortable place. The best thing to hear is “Here’s the wifi password, feel free to stay as long as you want. I’ll be over here, doing my own thing if you need anything. There’s a TV room, a hammock outside and a lovely park within walking distance. You can all relax in different places!”
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By making their experience as pleasant and successful ($) as possible, they’ll be much more likely to want to come back soon. They’ll also tell all their successful band friends that (your city) isn’t as bad as everyone thought. They made some decent money and met some really cool people. It’s the small things. Spread the positivity.