In this Tour Tips segment, the indie folk band, Rainbow Girls, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips, after the break.
Hi all, Caitlin from Rainbow Girls here to give you some juicy tour tips that it’s taken us nine years wreaking havoc on the road and ourselves to finally figure out. I hope these can bring you a smile and make your time on the road sweeter and sweatier.
1. BECOME A SOCK PRINCESS
Everyone handles bringing socks on tour differently. Do you want to be a dirty sock thief who washes your single sock in a gas station bathroom and hangs it out the van window to dry, or a beautiful sock princess, the envy of the whole town? If you want to never run out of clean socks and never feel like you have to do laundry ever again in your life, follow this equation. Take the number of days you are on tour and divide it in half. That is the number of pairs you will bring (plus one extra pair in case you drunkenly fall in a river or misjudge a gutter puddle). You will wear each pair twice, but not in a row- cycle them so that the ones you already wore have time to sit and lose smell before you wear them again. Put them in a paper bag on the porch at night outside of wherever you are staying to make sure they can aerate properly. If you are in a campground, make sure you hang this bag from a tree so bears don’t steal and wear them.
2. PORTABLE SPEAKER
This one is actually one of the most important things of all, no joke. Every band should invest in a small portable speaker that ideally can get pretty loud. If you’re in a van, the day will probably come where the sound system will stop working or the CD of a band you played with once who wanted to do a CD swap (you didn’t want to but you didn’t say no cause that’s a dick move so you did and now you have one of their CDs and you can’t throw it away because they worked so hard on it so you put it in and it was awful like you thought it would be) will get stuck in there forever. Anyway, having a portable speaker solves that problem. It also means you can practice harmonies in the van when the car is off, or listen to music in the green room with other bands and have A Good Time.
3. THE TEMPTATION OF THE COOLER
We used to think we were smart by bringing a cooler on the road with us. That way, we can buy food & whatever and keep it cold in there. You may think that’s a great plan and it may work for a couple of days but halfway through the tour that thing will turn into a soggy mess of empty plastic bags, wet cheese, and one sad loose carrot somehow laying on the bottom. If you’re going to bring a small cooler (and you should, esp in summer), just keep ice and drinks in there. Empty the melted water out/refill ice if needed when you stop to pee.
4. LOCAL HAUNTS
if you’re lucky enough to be in a city for more than one night, you will probably end up walking around trying to find The Best Bar or Cool Hang in town on your off night. You will not find it on your own because you just got there and you don’t know anything. You are like a baby at a racetrack. You will end up at some sports bar wishing you had eaten when everyone else did earlier. The key to finding the haunts in a totally new place is to suss out who is nice and cool and then be cool and nice back to them. This tactic works for most situations in life, but specifically, in this case, you will probably be in contact with some sort of barista or bartender. If they have tattoos, it is better. Avoid anyone with normal hair, they will not know anything. Ask them where you should go to “have a righteous evening” and then wink in a nonthreatening, platonic way. Good luck.
5. PARKING LOT DANCE PARTY
If platonic winking at the bartenders didn’t help, you can also look for someone who is around who seems like someone you’d want to be friends with and strike up a conversation. If this seems impossible, you can start talking to them by saying “excuse me, I don’t mean to eavesdrop but…” and then add something related to whatever they were talking about. This will hopefully get everyone talking and lead to things like After Hangs and Friendship. Once you’ve started hanging out, pull out your portable speaker (see: 2. [this is why you make sure it’s loud]) and start a dance party in the nearest street-adjacent parking lot. Don’t play shitty music though, this will ruin it. Play good music that people want to dance to, like funk or samba. If your new friends come, and you all dance, it could start a dance avalanche and new people will join you off the street. Then you are having a great time and you have become the hang you were looking for all along.
The trio are soon to embark on a January tour supporting The Dead South. See all tour dates here.