I know we’ve all taken our turn on little camping trips with family being the one trying to fit the unimaginable amount of gear into the trunk, squeezing bags and pillows into tiny little nooks and crannies all over the trunk (and the rest of the car) until it all works. Let me be the first to tell you, Cargo Bay Tetris is a whole nother ball game all its own.
Cargo Bay Tetris is like the most extreme packing system I have ever seen, let alone been a part of, and unfortunately this is something we will be doing every single day this summer. Because the band is traveling in it’s entirety in our one van with our merch, we have to find ways to fit both the merchandise and all of our luggage into the cargo bay of our sprinter van each day. During the beginning of the tour, this was literally impossible because of the sheer amount of merch we had! But as our levels fluctuate, shrink, grow, and expand again, it’s going to be up to us each and every day to find a way to know exactly how much merch will fit into the van while having room for our luggage. Not only do we have to be able to fit all of our stuff into the van, but to keep our merch bins stocked for each different day on the road, so we have to re-stock every night, meaning we’ll be pulling each box out each night to load bins and then condense down what we have. All you all thought being on tour would be fun, right? Most bands don’t have to do things like this because they have actual merch trailers strictly to keep this stuff in: they have the space to have huge bins they take out with them daily that only need to be stocked once a week. We don’t have that luxury because of our space limitations. This is a bit of a burden for the band, it’s not fun, nor is it easy, but it’s the cheapest and surprisingly best way for us to be able to travel, keep merch well in stock, and still travel somewhat “light”. We’ll be spending a lot of time nightly stocking, loading, and re-loading all these boxes in and out of the cargo bay, but I think within a week or so we’ll be able to really work out a good system to help make it easier.
try taking ALL of this...
Packy has been our acting “Tetris Master”, conducting load-outs and load-ins from standing inside the bay. On the bands original drive from Chicago through Denver to Salt Lake, there was barely enough room for all of the bands backline (I’ll explain industry terms in my next post, for now, google it!) in the cargo bay. That being said, we had no other choice but to ship all of our merchandise out to Salt Lake to meet us. Yesterday when we arrived in the city, we dropped off the backline to our stage managers, and went to UPS to pick up all the merch waiting. We had NO idea there would be that much, it’s insane! The amount of boxes we had was so great that even with all the backline out of the cargo bay, there was still no room for any luggage to live anywhere other than the backseat of the van: taking up almost two full seats we needed for people!
...and turning it into this.
The past two days have been mainly focused around this ridiculous practice of loading and unloading: finding the few (if not only) ways all of our gear can successfully fit in the Sprinter Van, while leaving room for all of us to comfortably (and legally) fit in the van. This morning when we checked out of the hotel, we still had two suitcases living on the back seat, which is used as a bed more or less, something we desperately needed for our all-night drive back to Denver this evening. Our only goal for today was to be able to sell enough merch that we could re-pack the boxes, condense, and be able to fit all of the luggage into the cargo bay so people would be able to sleep on the bench seat before it was their turn to drive.
The band played a great set to a fairly large crowd today: a great showing for our first show of tour! Thanks to this, and by the grace of the Gods we were able to sell enough merch to magically fit all the little odds and ends that had been living in the van back into the Cargo Bay! After the guys were done with signings, press, and interviews for the night we broke our tent down, and spent an hour or so eating dinner while unloading the van, and re-packing all the merch bins, cardboard boxes, and the bay itself. Tonight’s breakdown took around two or so hours tonight, so I think that when we finally get a good system established I think I’ll be able to get this down to a 1-hr thing every day...at least, that’s what I’m hoping!
Welcome to Cargo Bay Tetris, one and all. May the best band survive the summer without giving up and leaving all their merch (or a drummer or two) on the side of the road, or strapped to the roof of their van.