I’m proud of myself for making it through this tour.
And I’m allowed to say that. I spoke a lot about humility in my last post, but I don’t like how our current culture has made “humble-bragging” a thing. I think if you’re proud of something, you should just say that. This tour was rough, and I almost tapped out several times.
While I do feel bad I promised you all two more blogs and will only be delivering one, I’m not going to apologize for the delay this time. I wanted some time to meditate on some things, but I’ll get into those things later. For now, we’ll go back to how amazed I am that I actually finished this damn tour.
It can be easy to forget how inexperienced I am—this is my fourth tour ever, and my longest one before this was only three weeks long. So the stretch with no breaks was the same length as my longest tour. I’m 20 years old, I’m just a fucking kid. As much as I don’t think my age should prevent me from getting jobs, I haven’t experienced much of the world yet, and I had a harder time getting through this than people who were older than me.
We trudged through the last few days of the stretch, then had a day off in Atlanta, which we spent driving to Jacksonville. We got our first hotel of the tour—a term I use loosely as there was someone smoking crack in the stairwell and we parked with our trailer up against the nearest building to make the door inaccessible. Ah, Florida.
The Jacksonville show actually got rained out completely (rather than evacuated for a few hours like the other shows), but none of us were that bummed. It was a really small show. The rest of the Florida dates are a bit of a blur, as it was so hot that I didn’t feel all that mentally present. The last day was really the only day I felt sad that that tour was ending, and I cried all day. I should be clear: I’m not all that sad the tour is over, I just miss my friends and crew dearly. I don’t think I could have done another week, as I’m just entirely burned out now.
I don’t want to come across as complaining, but part of the reason I write these is to portray what touring is actually like. I’m sure you guys just want to read stories about partying with rock stars, but that’s not my life. I’m fucking tired. I’m beyond tired. I’m feeling a kind of tired that reaches my bones and seems to have snapped something in my brain that makes me behave in a way I don’t like. Physically, I’m sore all the time. Tour has messed up my sleep schedule to the point where I can’t fall asleep before midnight or stay asleep past 8am, even though I have the time and desire to sleep much longer so I can recuperate. My wisdom teeth decided to come in during the last few days of tour (because why wouldn’t they?), and I feel like I’m constantly clenching my teeth, so my jaw and head hurt frequently. Mentally, I feel a little like a zombie, like I’m watching my life on a movie screen. I’ve been making spelling mistakes in my writing and my mom commented on my grammar when I speak because I don’t have the mental energy to police myself. I curse a lot more because I don’t have the energy to put into filtering my words. I’ve been getting irritated with people I would normally brush off or even feel compassionate toward, and I don’t display my usual friendliness toward strangers. I don’t respond well to being touched. And I don’t like this. It’s not how I want to behave or think. I’m hoping once I finish my move and get back to my normal schedule, I’ll get out of this funk. Because it sucks.
I don’t feel any shame in admitting I wasn’t ready for this tour. I survived, and I made the best of it, but I wasn’t ready. That’s okay. Again, I’m just a kid. This tour kicked the ass of veterans, and I’m damn proud of myself for finishing it out.
And this isn’t at all to say I’m ungrateful for the opportunity, or that I don’t know I’m extremely lucky to have done it. I’m just tired. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I don’t feel bad about speaking out about the things it’s done to my body and mind.
Unfortunately, however, some people interpret speaking out about being tired or having mental health issues as a sign of unworthiness or ungratefulness. I don’t want to spin the whole saga or comment too heavily on it because the people involved have reconciled their differences, but there was some beef between two band members because one chose to speak out about mental health issues, and the other made unnecessary and damaging comments on Twitter. And while that was stressful for the Warped staff, I think it will prove to be an incredibly interesting facet to my thesis project (ICYMI: I’m also doing my thesis on the road about mental health among touring musicians and professionals, specifically looking at stigma and the way it’s discussed). To actually have an instance of someone being shamed for speaking out in writing is something I didn’t expect but am extremely excited to delve into.
I’m excited in general for my thesis. I meant to write more while I was in Florida, but wasn’t able to devote the time to it I think it deserves. I feel like I have a lot to say that I haven’t managed to put into words yet, but it’s definitely there.
Because touring is hard, and Warped tour is a tour on steroids that’s been thrown into a vat of toxic waste. Warped tour was the perfect tour to do this thesis on, purely because it’s so difficult and draining. The 20 day stretch followed by a not-so-relaxing day off then spending time outside in Florida has me stretched really thin—to the point where I’m behind on both thesis and Warped work. Things like showers and good nights of sleep that should leave me feeling like a new woman barely put a pep in my step. I miss my roommate and my boyfriend. I miss sleeping past 8am and good lord do I miss Chipotle.
Now that I’ve sufficiently bitched, I should mention that there were some absolutely wonderful people and moments on Warped. To name a few so I don’t forget them as my memory fades (in no particular order): The Story Untold crew, of course, my OG van squad, Rocky, Cam, Alex, Jason, Michelle, Sophee, Chris, Carlos, London, Jessica, Lauren & Keith, Amber & Natalie, the Doll Skin crew, the Sharptooth crew, the Trashboat crew, the Dead Girls Academy crew, the As It Is crew, the With Confidence crew, the Sleep on It and Capstan crews, the Assuming We Survive crew, and dozens of others I’m forgetting (if you’re like, “hmm, I feel like I should be on that list, you’re on that list in my heart, my brain is just in a microwave.)
Of course, I can't speak highly enough of my crew. Dakota was my buddy even when I wasn't a part of the Story Untold crew, and helped me navigate the tour without me even asking. Rather than keeping his tour managing secrets secrets, he shared with me and offered to help me out as a resource if (when, in his words) I'm given the opportunity to TM. The SU boys treated me like family, and I can't picture how my summer would've looked if they hadn't rescued my stranded ass. They're generous, hardworking, resilient, and treated me with nothing but respect and kindness. Don't get me wrong-- living in a van with a bunch of dudes who speak English as a second language is no walk in the park, but I can't think of a better group of people to take a lap with. I sincerely look forward to working with them again.
I’d also like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who stopped by to say hi and/or complement my work—some days were really rough, and interactions like that meant the world. A ton of friends also offered to bring me things, which also helped me out a ton. This tour in particular didn’t lend a lot of time for shopping excursions, so getting things like baby wipes and Orajel would’ve proved to be much more difficult without your help.
I also have to shout out my parents, who offered just about any type of support you could imagine. It was such a good feeling to know that no matter what happened, I would have them to fall back on. My boyfriend and other friends listened to me bitch and moan over the past two months, offering advice or just someone to lean on. My roommate, an absolute goddamn super hero, also moved all of my stuff from our apartment into a storage locker while we waited for our new apartment to be ready. She just put out a super rad new video project y’all need to check out—go follow @aloevinemedia on Insta. I’m surrounded with the most incredible, thoughtful, selfless circle of friends and family, and none of this would be possible without them.
I’m walking out of this tour with an amazing new group of friends, an absolutely insane line on my resume, several new favorite bands, a ton of free shit from vendors, phenomenal business connections, a new appreciation for bathroom counters (this was really major for me, okay guys?), some great work to put into my portfolio, and thousands of memories. I’m leaving this tour a profoundly different person, which I don’t consider to be a bad thing—assuming my crankiness fades soon.
If you’ve enjoyed my writing, please keep up with my socials, as I’ll be producing a photo book from the tour that focuses on mental health among touring professionals and musicians. Part of the profits will be donated to mental health research/advocacy, and I’m very excited to get to work on it and unpack the awesome interviews I snagged on tour.
Thank you for the most intense summer of my life, to both readers and Warped Tour, I won’t be forgetting it soon. I don't want to remember this tour with rose-tinted glasses, but rather as the sweaty, messy, dirty, beautiful blur. I hope I've told my story warmly and honestly. I’m not sure what’s next on my horizon, but I’d love for you to stay tuned. Long live punk rock and goodnight.