Summer Tour Tips
by Brandon Stoner of Thieves and Lovers
Summer tour season is upon us! From scenic sunsets to dialing in soundchecks every musician loves to tour during summer. And why wouldn’t we?! The weather is nice, the crowds are into it, just good vibes all around.
While touring in the summer can be extremely fun and lucrative, just like any other season there are considerations to be made to make sure your tour is as successful as possible – both professionally and personally.
Beat the Heat
If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you’ll know I always include something on health and wellness. Touring is very draining (both physically and mentally) and doing it in triple-digit heat can make it infinitely more dangerous. Perhaps more-so than any other time of year, mindfulness of your nutrition, hydration, and wellness are absolutely critical.
I once got heat stroke when on tour in Texas in the middle of August (Houston, we have a problem…). I was keeping myself very well hydrated and had been taking care of my overall wellness, so don’t be fooled into thinking that issues like that can’t arise even if you take all of the necessary precautions.
Stay hydrated and have a diet that is as loaded with as many fruits and vegetables as possible. Avoid de-hydrating drinks and food if you can when you’re forced to be outside for long periods.
Party in moderation, and come prepared with plenty of water and Gatorade -which is also a great hangover remedy!
Summer is by far the best touring season. The weather is accommodating, people want to be out and about, and pretty much every band is on the road. But that’s just it – every band is on the road. This is by far the most competitive time of the year to be touring, so prepare in advance in regards to routing and promotion. Also consider focusing on markets that you might have avoided during the winter now that weather isn’t really a factor.
Conversely, just because it’s (in theory) peak tour season never assume that your shows will be full or that you can be lackadaisical with promotion. Without the proper promotion any show could turn into a cold, dead gig even if the temperatures outside are blazing. Don’t skimp on pulling out all the stops for promotion. In fact – promote even harder!
Pretty much everything is more expensive during “peak season” which is really just another way of saying all summer. Hotel rooms and gas are among the most notoriously gouged, so stay on top of prices by booking hotel rooms as early as possible and using gas finder apps to find the lowest fuel prices.
Plan a budget, and stick to it. Food is a huge expense and harder to keep your own groceries from going bad in the heat, so get a good cooler and stop at grocery stores instead of fast food restaurants.
Highway to Hell
Keep a road kit of everything you’ll need to beat the heat including coolant, water, food that can withstand the heat, a flashlight (better than the one on your phone for greasy situations), tools, and a first aid kit.
Believe it or not, sultry summer weather can actually be worse for a battery than frigid winter temperatures. The combination of heat and vibration can be a death sentence for a battery, so make sure yours is properly mounted. Fluids also evaporate faster in the heat, which can lead to rust, so make sure they are always at proper levels. Keep your tires inflated properly to help avoid blowing them out, and always have a service like AAA or roadside assistance. You don’t want to be changing sparkplugs before your soundcheck.
Travel comfortably and use A/C or invest in an external cooling system. Power adapters have infinite uses but are taxing on the battery – so use them wisely.
Summer can be brutal on your equipment, from blazing back-of-the-van temperatures to humidity to the climate change of moving gear out of the air conditioned inside to the outside. Make sure that all equipment is maintained and kept in as climate-controlled an environment as possible.
Sweat and humidity will corrode strings faster than usual, drum heads can get brittle, and if it’s hot enough sometimes gear will even melt or malfunction. Be as proactive as you can in taking care of your equipment in order to minimize things going wrong when it’s show time.
Picnic in the Park
As mentioned above, food is one of the biggest expenses of any tour and luckily summer can provide ideal weather for eating outside. Rest stops often have clean, scenic shaded places where you can eat peacefully and get some respite from the gruel of the road.
It’s great if your budget allows for staying in hotels every night, but summer weather can be very accommodating to camping. Even if you have the budget, sometimes camping can be a nice change of pace. You can reconnect with nature and your tour mates, find inspiration for new song ideas, and change things up a bit. Routine gets to everyone now and then, sometimes it’s nice to mix it up.
Summer is sweaty and you might not always be able to shower as much as you’d like. Flushable wipes are a “portable shower” and are great to help promote good hygiene. You’d also be surprised just how handy a spray bottle filled with water can be! You can use it to spritz when you’re hot or use it to help rinse when you have limited access to running water. Resign yourself to the fact that you might be taking more than a few rest stop sink showers... Top and tails!
The sun can be absolutely scorching, so consider traveling at night if you can – especially if your vehicle doesn’t have air conditioning. But don’t take any chances, so if you’re too tired or too wired from having fun at your show don’t risk an accident or DUI for pushing yourself too far. Discretion is the better part of valor.
Summer is hot, so why would you be slinging sweatshirts and beanies? Don’t get me wrong, if you only have a limited selection of merch anything is better than nothing, but you have to put yourself into the mindset of the consumer. A fan is much more likely to buy a tank or t-shirt than a hoodie in the middle of July.
To be successful, every tour needs a combination of elements executed properly. Rehearsing, planning, logistics, budget, promotion, and a good mindset all play their part. So work hard, play harder, and have a great summer tour season!