Throughout the summer, we’ll have blog, photo, and video updates from Maggie Ward, the Full Sail New Media Journalism Master’s grad who is interning on this summer’s Vans Warped Tour. This week, Maggie tells us what life on tour is really like.
Best day ever. Every single day. Every day there is a concert, and every night there is a party. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
I have not showered in three days. I can’t remember the last time I shaved my legs, or slept soundlessly through an entire night. I wake up every morning feeling like garbage. I shoot a different band every day, and I only know what band I shot because I am ridiculously organized and drop my footage on my hard drive every evening. Even so, I still have a folder labeled “Unknown Bands” with hundreds of photos I do not know what to do with. I have to wait in line for everything: bathrooms, showers, catering, photographing.
Ben Meeks is currently working his tenth Warped Tour. In the past he has done label representation for Tooth and Nail Records. “Warped is the most physically and mentally demanding tour I have ever done,” he says. Each day’s stop is ten long hours of music in the heat. And before the music, set up takes another three hours, and tear down takes even longer. “You’re not just working through three or four sets and going home.”
There are 17 people on my bus and we are all here for various jobs. We stay out of each other’s way and respect what little space we each have. My bunk is the size of a coffin. Due to the lack of space, we can only keep personal belongings in our luggage bags under the bus or in our bunk, so I have to sleep with my camera, tripod, recording equipment, and laptop. Almost every night I wake up thinking that I’m falling out of the bunk. The man sleeping across from me has night terrors. One night he screamed bloody murder because he thought the bunk was falling in on him.
A good shower is a luxury. Hot water? Forget about it. Some people shower with a garden hose because they don’t want to wait in line. I have the luxury of setting my own schedule every day, so I can shower at almost any point. I can’t count how many times I have taken a cold shower and was completely sweaty again by time I got back to the bus. Sometimes I use baby wipes if I can’t take a shower. My bunk smells like garbage, even though I just changed the sheets a few days ago.
Catering is amazing. The food is fantastic and the people are friendly. However, I miss deciding what food I can eat. Today’s menu is this, and if you don’t like it, you don’t eat. I am positive I will miss catering when I go home back to my life of macaroni and cheese and frozen pizza. The food is always interesting and usually very healthy, but the line for the food is impossible to judge. Waiting in line for food takes about an hour and a half. If the line is short, I am pleasantly surprised. But if the catering team is set up in a shaded, air-conditioned area, the lines are even longer.
I have the best job ever, getting photo and video footage of bands performing every day for the Absolute Voices network of websites. [Editor’s Note:Check out one of the videos Maggie worked on below.] Tour life is rough, but I went into this experience understanding it would only be for seven weeks, and that the pros would outweigh the cons. Although I have to fight other photographers for a good spot to shoot main stage bands like 3OH!3, Chiodos, Bring Me the Horizon, and August Burns Red, my work is quickly becoming greater than I could have ever imagined. I have hundreds of phenomenal photos to choose from when I update my portfolio after tour.
I have shot dozens upon dozens of acoustic sets at the Full Sail Acoustic Basement stage. I’ve gotten to work closely with musicians like William Beckett, Craig Owens, and American Opera. Who could ask for more?
Tour life isn’t easy. But, would I do it again? You better believe it. Best day ever!