The Dirty Spot #6: The Venetia Fair’s Joe Brown On Tour Hospitality
Being on the road in our situation can be very exhausting. By "our situation," I mean barely scraping by. I'm talking about pooling money together to buy an 8-pack of hot dogs and a loaf of bread for dinner and then sleeping in the van in a Wal-Mart parking lot. That's actually a very common night for us on tour. To be completely honest, I've learned to love that lifestyle. I always know what to expect. Good company (my band) and my own bench to sleep on in the van. Staying at people's houses can be a gamble. Though everyone means well by letting us crash on their floor, sometimes I'd rather be sleeping in the 90 degree heat in the van.
It's a great treat when someone says "Hey! You can crash at my place tonight! I'll cook you guys some dinner. Feel free to do laundry. Shower if you must (please). Soak up this free wifi and relax." It sounds awesome. Who wouldn't like that after sweating for four days straight in the same clothes? Oftentimes we'll show up and the host will be amazing. They recognize that we're tired, give us a good meal, and send us to bed with a warm glass of milk and a bedtime story. We'll wake up to a nice breakfast and someone who is in a genuinely good mood after helping out a extremely grateful band. Sometimes we'll be invited to a house party after the show. If we're feeling up to it, we usually have a great time so long as things don't get too weird. (To be fair, we're usually the ones making it weird). People can be very accommodating.
It's when people misinterpret a situation that things can go sour. It's when we show up to the house and are told we have to be quiet because dad is sleeping in the other room, or worse, dad doesn't know we're there, but don't worry because he won't care. (He always cares). It's when dinner turns out to be stopping at McDonalds on the way home. And most of all it's when we show up and the house is full of animals and their feces.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate all of our fans and everyone who is kind enough to let us stay with them, but sometimes I wish they would do a little more research. One incident that stands out to me is a fan of ours that may have been a little too eager to help us. At the show that day we were told we were getting pretty awesome catering. I'm pretty sure it was supposed to be Boston Market. I love Boston Market. When we arrived at the show the promoter told us that a fan offered to take care of catering so he could spend some time with us. I have absolutely no problem with hanging out with our fans, however, food never came. When I inquired as to when we would be getting catering, this person told us that we were getting it after the show at his house. That was kind of a bummer since we had been planning on dinner and didn't bring any of our own food, but it wasn't a total bust.
After the show, we packed up pretty quickly so we could go eat. We didn't know that this person's house was actually 45 minutes away in the opposite direction of our next show. That was pretty awful. I'm sure you've all heard it before but with gas prices these days, we cannot afford to go that far out of the way for something we could get at Wal-Mart for two bucks.
Anyways, this kid offered us a place to stay and showers, so we sucked it up and headed to the kids house. When we arrived, we weren't allowed inside because his aunt was sleeping. We were told to head into the backyard, and to bring our portable grill so we could grill hot dogs. Yeah. He had the same 88 cent pack of hot dogs you can buy at Wal-Mart as our "Boston Market catering." Also, no buns. Oh, and we couldn't turn on any lights in the back yard because it would wake up his aunt.
Well, his aunt woke up anyways, after maybe half of the hot dogs were served, and we were forced to leave. So we did. I want to make it clear that though money plays a factor in this scenario, it's not the huge driving point behind this article. What I'm trying to say is that it's hard to do whatever we want in a band. We can't be driving that far out of the way, and we can't turn down catering meals. It's hard to change plans that quickly and things never go right. We can't just go hang out every night and then be on our merry way. We have to do our best to keep our bodies healthy and spirits up in the cheapest way possible.
I understand that we choose to live our lives in this way. We picked a difficult profession with no immediate pay off. And we love it. I love the lifestyle. But sometimes relaxing in a place like mom and dad's is the best thing ever. Five days of hot dogs and cold canned food followed by even the lamest hot plate of food is amazing. We appreciate it more than you know.