In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, the psychedelic rock duo, Crown Lands, shares one of their stories from being on the road. You can check out the story, after the break.
We were on tour across the US late last year, it was early December and we were playing in Omaha, Nebraska when the snow and ice began.
We had grown close to the headlining band and crew we were touring with, and they reassured us that there would be no hard feelings if we holed up for the night and missed the next show or two due to the bad weather. Being hardy Canadians, we decided to brave the storm. We left for Colorado at 1:00am. As we drove through the night the weather worsened, but nothing that we hadn’t seen before. We met a Sheriff along the way and we learned that the I80 was now shut down for a stretch of 100 miles – the next 100 miles that we were determined to cross before daybreak. Foolishly we pressed on.
Not 10 miles down the road from that decision, we hit a gnarly patch of ice and spun out. On the right side of the road was a steep 10- foot drop-off, and a thick lining of deadly trees. On the left was a pillow of fresh snow. Luckily we spun into the soft-shouldered ditch on the left. The trailer we were towing kept us from capsizing. It was now 2am. We hopped out and did a circle-check. All was good, save for us being dug out deep into the snow. We weren’t going anywhere without a winch, which we were sorely lacking.
We called AAA for a tow truck and learned that not only was there a tow-ban, but the entire freeway was also shut down. No local tow trucks bothered to answer our calls for help. Not even the salt trucks were driving that night! We waited for hours before the sheriff eventually came and took three of us to the nearest hotel. Kev stayed with the van and trailer. An important rule for touring: NEVER leave your gear unattended. Even in a snow-laden ditch in the middle of nowhere, Nebraska. It was now 4am.
Daybreak: 10am came and AAA fulfilled its promise! A beautiful 5-ton tow truck showed up and winched a sleepy and cold Kev & Tour Van out of the ditch. We regrouped, fuelled up, and tried to get breakfast. The snowstorm had stopped pretty much everyone from driving so even the McDonald’s was being run by one person – no one showed up for work. Turns out, even though Canada gets pummelled by snow, there is a healthy infrastructure built around salting & brining the roads. Nebraska is not as lucky, so we learned.
We finally got back on the road and drove the remaining 8 snowy hours to Colorado Springs, with the blizzard on our heels the whole time. Eventually, we caught up to The Hu’s bus on the interstate and we pulled into the venue together at 8:00PM, right when doors were supposed to open. Classic! So the two teams hustled, loaded in, set up the stage, sound-checked, and set up merch in a record-breaking trailblazing 30 minutes. We sound-checked as doors opened and the venue filled up. It ended up being one of our best shows of the tour! The adrenaline of almost dying on a desolate frozen highway in the middle of nowhere, Nebraska, coupled with the rush of successfully making it back out of a snowy ditch and carrying out the briskest of sound-checks led to an incredible performance. The audience understood that we all took a huge risk to be there and appreciated the effort.
Touring is a very difficult prospect for many people. This was one of many near-death experiences from that winter storm (you should hear about the Donner Pass through the Sierra Nevada Mountain range sometime), but it’s all worth it when you get on stage and play your music. That’s why we’re still doing it.
5/1: Birmingham, United Kingdom @ O2 Institute
5/2: Dublin, Ireland @ Button Factory
5/3: Glasgow, Ireland @ SWG3
5/5: Manchester, United Kingdom @ Ritz
5/6: Bristol, United Kingdom @ SWX
5/7: London, United Kingdom @ Shepherds Bush Empire
5/9: Amsterdam, Germany @ Paradiso Main Hall
5/10: Cologne, Germany @ Live Music Hall
5/12: Brussels, Belgium @ Ancienne Belgique
5/13 Paris, France @ Le Trianon
5/15: Barcelona, Spain @ Apolo
5/16: Madrid, Spain @ Sala But
5/19: Milan, Italy @ Santeria
5/20: Zurich, Switzerland @ Dynamo
5/22: Munich, Germany @ Technikum
5/23: Vienna, Austria @ WUK
5/25: Prague, Czech Republic @ Lucerna Music Bar
5/26: Berlin, Germany @ Huxley’s
5/27: Hamburg, Germany @ Markthalle
5/29: Copenhagen, Denmark @ Vega
5/30: Gothenburg, Sweden @ Tradgarn
5/31: Oslo, Norway @ Rockefeller
6/2: Stockholm, Sweden @ Berns
6/8: Toronto, Canada @ Mod Club
(photo credit: Travis Shinn)