In this Tour Tips segment, the electro pop artist, Luna Shadows, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips, after the break.
Hi, I’m Luna Shadows! I am an artist, producer, songwriter, and instrumentalist. I’ve been on tour for myself and also as a synth player for The Naked & Famous. I’ve been on bus tours and van tours, and I’ve performed in tiny coffee shops and on massive festival stages. No two tours or shows are the same, but I think I have some tips that apply to any level.
1. Secret snack box
My tour mates LOVE to make fun of me for this one, but I sleep just fine at night knowing that if they had to pick one band member to be stuck on a desert island with, it’d be me. Two words: emergency snacks. I am a strict vegetarian, and despite best efforts, I can’t always count on there being healthy options for me everywhere in the world. I’ve been stuck in broken-down vehicles, at bad rest stops, and in airports with closed cafes. So my first tip is this: bring a box of healthy protein bars (or some equivalent sealed food which won’t spoil) in your carry on. Any kind you like. I literally kept a box of Cliff Bars at the foot of my bus bunk in a protected spot, which everyone thought was funny until they were hungry at a layover after hours. Emergency snacks are so helpful! Having a healthy option with you at all times is also a good defense against junk food, which is an easy trap to fall into on the road when it’s so readily available.
2. Portable Diffuser
I bet you it only takes 5 days MAX before your bus/van starts to sport a new flavor in the air. Personally, I don’t like to wait that long. I’m really sensitive to my environment, so I try to keep up with it. I learned this particular tip from my bandmate, Alisa Xayalith: keep a portable essential oil diffuser (USB powered) in your bunk or in your van cupholder – bonus points if it glows like a night light. You can get these online + a small pack of essential oils (my favorites are Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Jasmine). Mine has a timer, so every night after a show, I turn my bunk into a mini-spa. Again, everyone will envy your scent situation.
3. YouTube fitness
Exercising on the road can be really challenging, especially if you’re like me: not a natural athlete with a lot of discipline, but you rely on fitness for fatigue & mood control! Some of my bandmates use the hotel gyms, but that’s not always an option. Sometimes there isn’t much time or space to work out. I find that getting at least 15-30 minutes of exercise on a daily basis is really helpful on tour. I’ve grown to love YouTube fitness channels, specifically trainers like Rebecca Louise – you don’t need any weights, mats, or even sneakers. I set up shop on my laptop or phone in my hotel room, and some of my bandmates even jump in on my workouts in green rooms.
4. Extra undies
Laundry day… so close, yet so far away. This one seems so obvious, but a spring chicken on tour might have wide eyes in this department. Laundry is rarer than you think. You can re-wear a t-shirt, you can re-wear jeans, but you do not want to be recycling undies. Unless you want to be sporting your one bathing suit that you brought just in case you end up near a beach or pool (bonus tip!), pack 2x as many undergarments as you think you need. I’m not kidding. Double the amount. Thank me later.
5. Day bag
Some of my band members routinely walk around and declare the phrase, “bags on seats!” What they mean is this: space is extremely limited backstage (even at major festivals and giant theaters), and it’s polite to keep sitting areas clear. So first of all, bags go in a designated bag area, not on seats! Second, to that, this usually happens when everyone brings too much stuff. So, if you can, choose your stage outfit before you leave, and pack a bag with the following: stage outfit, shoes, accessories/makeup/hair necessities, change of clothes, toiletry bag, and any other essentials. It’s not a bad idea to bring a backup outfit (you never know) – eventually, you’ll spill on yourself or rip something. But if you can avoid bringing your whole suitcase into the green room, do the favor of giving yourself and your touring crew more space!
Bonus tips: bring shower flip flops (you don’t want to know the bathroom floors I’ve seen), be prepared for a lot of downtime (books, podcasts, music, and movies are your friends), thank everyone on a daily basis for doing their jobs, and be patient with your crew – everyone is under pressure, and it’s always important to take a step back and remember why you’re there.
Obviously, all of these tips are only applicable in pre/post-COVID worlds – in the meantime, stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask, and social distance, so that we can all get back on the road and to a stage near you sooner rather than later.