In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, the folk pop band, Mighty Oaks, shares one of their stories from being on the road. You can check out the story, after the break.
In 2014 we played a festival in the middle of a forest. We’d been given a weather warning about a storm that was due to come in. As we were playing our set we could see some really black dark rain clouds getting closer, but the weather held, and we managed to get to the end of our set without any incidents. After we’d finished, we got our stuff off stage as quickly as we could and loaded the van. No sooner had we finished packing than the rain began. We were feeling pretty fortunate that we’d managed to get everything done before it started.
We were watching the final band from behind the stage, then suddenly around their second song the storm really hit! The wind shot in almost with the force of an explosion. Around 120km/h winds ripped through the stage and all the speaker stacks started swinging wildly, and the rain was pouring in sideways due to the force of the gales. The band that was playing started fleeing from the stage grabbing whatever gear they could to try and save themselves and protect their equipment.
We ran back into our van and were sat there feeling pretty safe like we’d managed to escape the worst of it. But it didn’t take us long to realize that we were still sat surrounded by trees in the middle of a forest. And it wasn’t long before those same trees started coming down around us!
Everybody was running around and screaming trying to take shelter, there were flashes of lightning, and huge crashes of thunder, torrential rain pouring down, it felt almost apocalyptic! Because we were a little bit drunk, we were still finding everything rather amusing, and it wasn’t until we realized that our way out had been blocked by a considerable-sized tree, that we started to take things a bit more serious!
Our two options were to go out into the storm and try and remove the tree, or sit tight and hope that it would die down enough for us to leave. There was complete pandemonium from all other bands and people scrambling to leave the festival at once, but we decided sitting in a stationary van with trees coming down all around us didn’t seem like a wise idea.
Ian and our sound man Sylvain decided to go and move the tree blocking our way. Dennis, our tour manager at the time was less than happy with the idea, he was the most chilled person, who always bought a calming and sensible influence to any problems we’d encountered on the road, but this was the only time we’d actually heard him lose his shit and start shouting! Undeterred Sylvain and Ian whipped off the tops and ran out into the storm to move the tree. After managing to get it out of the way we got off of the festival site as quickly as we could.
Once we were out on the road, we assumed we were out of the woods, quite literally, :) and that the route back to the hotel would be easy from there. But we were sadly mistaken. The hotel was indeed only a few kilometers away, but the bridge that we were supposed to drive over was completely submerged underwater so we had to take an alternative route. After coming across many flooded and blocked roads, we kept persevering trying to find any way to get back to our hotel.
Just when we thought we were finally making ground we came across a HUGE oak tree (of course! ) that had fallen across the road blocking it completely. Turning back wasn’t an option, but we also knew we had no chance of moving this beast by ourselves. By this time we’d built up a convoy of vehicles from various other bands and people from the festival who’d started following desperately looking for a way out like us. Realizing we weren’t going any further everyone started getting out of their cars to check out what was stopping us. It seemed like an almost impossible task but we were a fairly big group of people, so we decided to tackle it rather than looking for yet another way home. With our new 20 man crew, the help of a truck and some whiskey to keep us powered up, over the course of about 30-40 mins we finally built up enough momentum to push the tree just enough to clear the road.
Once we’d finished there was a complete sense of elation. We stood there with our new friends hugging, high fiving, and cheering overwhelmed at our sense of achievement like we just defeated some huge monster. After a while, we said our goodbyes jumped back into our vans and continued our way home finally making it to the hotel around three hours after we’d originally left the festival.
A bit bruised, a bit battered, very wet, and muddy but feeling a great sense of satisfaction, we finally made it to our beds for probably the soundest night’s sleep we’ve ever had!