Starting this Saturday, I’ll see one of my favorite bands five times across four cities and three states over the next two months and travel just under 6,430 miles to do so.
I am going on tour!
It’s an interesting thing when a music fan declares, “I’m going on tour!” What does that mean, exactly? It’s not like you’re literally jumping on the bus with the band and riding from city to city, show to show with them. You’re not hauling gear, setting up for the show with the crew or slogging through media interviews during the day to promote your show and record. I’d almost argue you’re actually, kinda, stalking the band in a sense.
And that is not what good groupies do.
Can music fans go “on tour”?
So what does going “on tour” mean for a music fan? And should you even be calling it that? I thought this was a pretty open and shut blog post when I first decided to write about it. As a Hanson fan for 16 years, I’ve lived within a fan base that likes to talk about going “on tour” which, honestly, has always seemed like a silly way to state things if you ask me. It’s always come off as a glorified way to say, “Yeah, I’m wasting more money and vacation days to go see that band again. What of it?”
Going on tour is for musicians, not fans.
But then I started to wonder…was that just my perception of things? The Hanson fandom (myself included in earlier years) can get a little overzealous with the need to mimic the details of “Almost Famous” and prove how passionate we are about music, so maybe this idea of going “on tour” is unique to us.
But then for years, I’ve read articles by music journalists who wax poetic about how we traipse from show to show just like Grateful Dead or Phish fans. We can’t be the only modern fan base doing this, right? Surely the idea of going “on tour” as a music fan is universal, regardless of the band.
Insight from “the girls”
Suddenly this idea wasn’t quite so clear cut. I turned to “the girls” for help.
“If I’m going on tour, I expect to sleep on the bus,” Melanie told me when I texted her. “But then…I’ve only been to two shows on a tour before.” Jenny agreed, saying she only uses the term ‘on tour’ in reference to seeing Hanson.
Okay, so at least now I had a starting point – that maybe this term is unique to Hanson fandom. I pressed on for more.
“I don’t know, dude, that’s hard,” Sam said when she called me after work and I asked. “I know we’ve always talked about going on tour, but I’ve always imagined quotes around it – like that’s just what we called it so we were all on the same page.”
I agreed with her – in the nine years I’ve known her, talking about going on tour has always been our code for ‘we’re going to multiple shows so start saving your pennies now!’
I pressed on and called Katie. “I think it means going to multiple, consecutive shows. Probably crossing state lines to do so,” she said.
“But is it unique to a fandom? Or is it a music fan thing?” I asked.
A music fan thing, she reasoned. Katie criss-crossed the country for Steel Train shows when they were still together, and we have both traveled to a city that isn’t our own to meet up for Andrew McMahon shows. Why? Because we love the music and hearing it live does something for us. We enjoy chasing after the music.
What it means to go “on tour”
After deciding it’s a universal music fan phenomenon, I blasted the question out on social media to find out what exactly going “on tour” means.
“Back to back shows,” Myka told me.
“At least three in a week,” added Anna.
“I’d say [going for] more than a week or two, like at least five shows, maybe?” Sharon said.
I had one more person to ask – Melisenda, the girl who got me listening to good music and going to shows regularly in the first place.
“Can music fans go on tour?” I texted her.
“It’s a cool idea,” she said. “Who made this up?”
“Me,” I said.
“Well, then you get to make the rules!”
So with that in mind…what qualifies as going “on tour”? Here’s what I’ve come up with:
The Good Groupie’s rules for going “on tour”:
- You’re going to multiple shows (three seems like the consensus) on a single tour
- These shows are consecutive on the tour schedule
- You’re traveling 150 miles or more to go to a show outside of your hometown
- Unless you live in Texas or California, you’re probably crossing state lines to get to a show
- You’re “touring” with at least one other person – because if you’re anything like me, going to multiple shows on a tour is about the people you’re doing it with as much as it’s about the band
Over the last 10 years, every time Hanson has toured I’ve gone to multiple dates. Part of it is because that’s the culture of our fan base. But the bigger why is because the music means that much to me. These boys wrote the soundtrack to my adolescence and young adult life. Without them, I wouldn’t be the same girl I am today.
All that might sound like I’m chasing after my youth, but I beg to differ. Being a fan of this band has also allowed me to meet my best friends – a group of girls who get music in the same way as me, and when I’m hanging out with them whether it’s in Tulsa or Dallas or Chicago or somewhere else…for that little span of time together, I feel like I’m home and with people who understand me because they’ve lived through it all too. That sense of community is irreplaceable.
What about you? Do you go “on tour” for a favorite band?
Or maybe you have a rule for going on tour I didn’t include above? Either way, I’d love to hear what you think on this topic. I find it endlessly fascinating.