Erin Wolf’s Road Trip Rules

By - Dec 1st, 2005 02:52 pm
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By Erin Wolf

When reality television asks, “Wanna be a rock star?” and slaps the title of ‘American Idol’ on your Hi My Name Is: tag, they fail to disclose miniscule bits of information otherwise known as reality. A musician is not pulled into each show by golden horses and whisked away into a crowd of adoring, salivating fans. Pop the bubble now. Fledgling bands, you will find love in music, but it will be tough. And it starts by nestling in the incapable arms of the Road Trip. Elusive until you finally get enough gear and a decent mode of transportation, the Road Trip will hold many surprises. Here is a short, personal account of my own road trip lessons.

Rules of the Road:
A Rough Guide to Making It Through the Tour

1. The vehicle. Is it road-ready? Make sure the band-mobile is fueled up, and the tires have enough air. Coolant is also nice on those extra-hot Midwestern days. If you forget the coolant originally, be prepared to wait for it to work by blasting the heater on a 110-degree highway.

2. The route. MapQuest maps are not all they’re cracked up to be– learn this now.

3. Bring a pillow. Otherwise you’ll end up sleeping with your face on top of something during your van-ride nap that will leave interesting lines for hours. “What happened to your face?” is not a great way to open a conversation.

4. Eat right. Avoid anything at the gas station that involves jalapenos, fake or rotating meat or any edible that is free. These items contain smells that will linger in the non-circulatory air of the van for-EV-er.

5. Park strategically. Try to secure a parking spot within a few feet of the actual venue. If there’s nowhere to park, and you’re forced to park blocks away, you’ll be glad your amps and cabinets have wheels. If you’re assigned a Fender Rhodes piano, though, you are gonna be shit-out-of-luck. Did you eat your Wheaties?

6. Turn up the lights. Always make sure to get good lighting onstage (especially if over half your band is vision-impaired). Kicking the lights all the way up also helps if you have stage fright – you won’t be able to see the audience. Forget the ‘picturing people in their underwear’ deal. Not seeing them at all is way better.

7. Free beer is a trap. Although the tap beer is free, avoid it like the plague, unless spending the wee hours of the morning curled up, pm the bathroom floor in the fetal position is an acceptable trade-off.

8. Know where you’re sleeping. Line up a house to stay at after the show. Otherwise, you’ll end up sleeping in the van or in a motel reminiscent of a 1950s bomb shelter, complete with metal walls covered in vinyl and smells suggestive of the inside of a wet sock that a cheap cigar was snuffed into.

9. Pack lots of clean t-shirts. But if you forget to do this, you may air out your shirt after a particularly invigorating show by draping it outside a rolled-up van window, so it can fly like a freedom flag – a damp, smelly freedom flag.

10. Take pictures. Send postcards to yourself. Write stuff down. These road trips will form some of your most important memories of all time. VS

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