#MerchMaddieGetsGooey: On The Road With Glass Animals

It’s Saturday night in a drizzly Ithaca, NY, and I’m the only person sitting on our Prevost bus, waiting for the rest of the crew to return from a bar before we make our way north into Canada for a show in Toronto. Today marks show 7 of the Glass Animals Fall North American Tour, and what a whirlwind seven days it’s been! It feels like we’ve been out forever, but it’s hardly been a week.

It’s been a hot minute since I last hit the road. This last year has been hectic in terms of my personal life, between big life moments happening with family and lots of inner struggle trying to decide which professional path to continue to down. I took some time to really step aside and let the necessary things happen, and now I’m finally hopping back in and doing so gingerly; making strides to focus my attention on answering some “what ifs” that have been haunting me for far too long. One of those questions was if I should reset my focus on trying to tour consistently, and I think this tour is the universe’s way of giving me the time I need to figure that out. 

Prior to this tour, I spent the week in Baltimore working a brand event, so Sunday the 25th I popped on a train from Baltimore to D.C. and made my way south to meet up with the crew who’d had their first show the night prior in North Carolina. Working with a new group for the first time is like your first day at a new school: it’s up to you to figure out the existing dynamic and see where you fit alongside the other characters. For some tours, this can take days, or weeks to really find your place, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. 

When I arrived at the Echostage that afternoon, there was a church service being held inside the room (that’s new?), so I wandered through a venue full of little kids and elderly women in their Sunday best to find our bus parked out in back. I was immediately welcomed by a mix of band and crew, shown to my bunk, and introduced to everyone. The first day could not have gone smoother, and it’s only continued that way since. This crew function like a family unit, and they’ve welcomed me to the pack without blinking an eye. By the end of night one I’d been properly introduced to the game of “bummy”, been made a cup of tea, and included in the band’s pre-show ritual. Everything felt seamless and awesome and perfect. There are three “new kids” this tour: one light tech, one guitar tech, and me - the only three Americans (everyone else is English). It’s been fun to see how we’ve all fallen into place, and been neat getting to know everyone a day at a time. I’ve honestly never felt more quickly comfortable and just…at home in a setting as I do with this bunch (except possibly when I first started at Apple). These are my people, I’m good to be myself in every way around them, and take pride in this band and their work like I would a band I’ve been with for years. Tour family is a very real thing, and it’s humbling to feel that in such a massive way so quickly. 

Our first chunk of tour went from D.C. to Philly, followed by a day off and two back-to-back sold out shows in New York City. I’ve never really spent time enjoying NYC, but these shows gave me a new perspective on the city, and made for a hilariously perfect three days including dinner dates with good friends, getting to know the crew over drinks at bars, and an incredible art installation from our frontman complete with palm trees, purple lighting, and a super nintendo with Super Mario World rigged to play a chiptune version of the band’s radio single “Life Itself.” 

After New York, we headed north for a chilly day in Boston, which happened to be a show where the venue was selling the merch, so I had my first opportunity to photograph the show. Our lighting designer, Louisa, has done an incredible job with this show! It's full of fun fills, color combos, silhouettes, and textures all being displayed across giant Tetris-esque arches hanging on either side of the stage with three giant cacti dispersed in between. I won’t be able to photograph the show again until Chicago, but I can’t wait. I’m lucky to be out with a crew that not only has an awesome stage show, but is giving me the opportunity to create my own art from theirs. 

The band is currently touring in support of their new record, How to be a Human Being, which was just released last month. It’s been exciting to see songs coming to life for the first time, and watch the audience react to new music. Their fan base is a mix of die-hards who come dressed as one of the album cover’s characters, to fans who’ve been newly introduced through friends or classmates. The crowds are usually pretty young, and all very excited - for some it’s even been their first concert ever. I’m working really hard to reciprocate that passion by getting to know them, and build on that joy through their time with me at merch. The kids are loving the show and we’ve been flying through merchandise, so it’s been a bit of a whirlwind to keep up with orders and shipments, but I’m enjoying the “hecticity.” 

Highlights so far include: bummy in Washington D.C. behind the venue where we hit one too many cars yet managed to not break any windows, my new fanny pack (thanks, Shawn G!), getting tacos for lunch with the whole band in Philly, dinner with the legendary Amanda Lynn Kim in New York followed by walking from Chelsea back to my hotel on the Lower East Side with no directions (like a boss), my massive, crazy, egg-shaped bathtub in NYC, bar escapades and tequila shots after NYC show 1, photographing in Boston after a miserably cold day, and waking up with our bus immediately next to a street fair in Ithaca this morning. 

Tomorrow we’re off to Toronto for our first Canada show, followed by a week in the midwest and then an adventure driving across Montana for one show in Missoula en route to the west coast.

More updates to come soon, but for now, enjoy some photos from along the way :) 
x
-M

My Fight With My Face

If you haven't noticed, I am one pale son of a gun. My family is all of Irish descent and have the very fair, sensitive skin to prove it. Growing up with asthma and allergies, things like eczema and rosacea were always on my doctor's radar since these issues usually go hand-in-hand. I was lucky to never have to deal with those particular skin conditions, but what we all failed to take into account as I began my trot through prepubescence was my family's major history with acne, and the issues it could cause with my obscenely fair skin. My battle with acne has slowly built into a war, and one that I never thought would lead to a blog post ranting about it. I've never openly discussed my struggles with anyone outside my friend group, but the past four years have been a roller coaster unlike anything else I've dealt with. I swear I'm not turning into a beauty blogger, but I wanted to take a minute to talk about a real problem that almost everyone faces. Hopefully my story of struggle can instill some faith in others like me who think they're at the end of the line in the fight for better skin.

back when I had clear skin and nose freckles. I miss them :( 

clear skin in high school (spring 2010)

Way back in 2006, high school Maddie was running around thinking she had a problem. She'd spend her days playing with make-up, working hard to cover the one or two zits gleaming from her chin or nose. I get it, zits suck! But I had no idea back then what acne could really mean. High school Maddie got pretty lucky in the face department, and although I struggled with some body acne due to the sports I played, overall my skin was doing well for being a teenager. As I entered into college in the fall of 2010, my face slowly but surely began to get worse. When it got bad enough that even my mom took notice during the time we spent together, I knew something needed to happen. I tried everything: filtering my water, only eating certain kinds of bread, watching my sleep the best I could, and washing my face religiously. By November of that year, my face was a speckled mess, and I was desperate for something to help. I went to my regular doctor, started on a prescription medication, and went to see a dermatologist for some kind of topicals to assist in the process.

Freshman year pimples (early 2011)

The meds kicked in, the topical cremes seemed to help, and my face slowly returned to it's mildly-pimpled self. The rest of the year things were going well, and I was happy. Everything was fine again until the summer of 2012. The medication I was on was started to disagree with my body causing a swirl of issues, one of them being return of my acne. Upon returning home from Warped Tour that summer, my face was a mess. I thought that being home without changing climates daily and a more regular sleep schedule would help, but by then the damage had been done. My face was waging war against itself, creating pimples that wouldn't just disappear overnight, or even in a week. My face had begun to produce pockmarks - the scarring caused by repetitious acne on the same place on the skin. My sensitive, fair skin was collecting pink dots that made me look like I had the chicken pox all the time, and it was bad. I ran back to the dermatologist, determined to find a quick fix, but there was no simple answer this time. They were scars, and just like scars anywhere else on your body, they would take time to heal. The best the doctors could do was have me try more meds that would hopefully help less acne arise, giving my skin the time it needed to heal without making the scarring worse.

The next year was brutal. Pill after pill, topical creme after topical creme, nothing was working. It felt like my body was immune to everything I put on it, and was only slowly getting worse. I knew i'd hit my low point when I switched to a type of medication that was physically making me sick to my stomach twenty minutes after taking it each morning. Was clear skin really worth all the trouble it had caused? Minocycline, Doxycycline, Tetracycline, Isotretinoin, Topical Retinoids, high dose benzoyl peroxide gels, I'd tried it all. Acutane wasn't an option for multiple reasons, and it seemed like I'd come to a dead end. It felt like I'd spent a year in dermatology school with all i'd learned, only to fail the final exam of fixing my own skin. I tried going to a new dermatologist, thinking they'd know something the others didn't. I showed up and was instead given a sales pitch on a Danish skin system, and six treatments of having tiny, crumbled diamonds rubbed on my face as microdermabrasion for the nominal fee of $150 per treatment - I couldn't get out of the office fast enough. I was fed up. I was beat down. I was deterred and heartbroken. I knew there were people out there with much worse acne than I, but my face was the worst it'd been in my entire life. I thought I had been doomed to a life of pink chicken-pox skin, because even if I got the pimples to finally stop, the scarring was there... it all seemed helpless. My acne had stolen my adorable nose freckles, my skin, and most of all, it had demolished my confidence. In an act of desperation I returned to my physician in the spring of 2013 and told her the stories of my failure-ridden escapades through the world of skincare. She and I spent an hour talking, and came up with a very simple plan: start back at the beginning.

left side: my acne at it's worst (April 2013)

right side. From the day I saw my physician.

Step one? We'd focus on the acne, and getting it under control. We decided that my body had become immune to prescriptions thanks to all the pills I'd tried, and so we took them out of the equation completely. As for topicals, they also seemed to be doing nothing. The only thing we hadn't tried was the basics, which my dermatologist had sped right past to get right to the heavier stuff. We worked backwards, and started me on two of the leading prescription topicals: Differin and Epiduo. The final big change? My face wash. I'd been a Neutrogena girl my whole life, but it clearly wasn't cutting it anymore, so we switched my daily face wash to the industry leading brand Cetaphil - specifically their new acne line of face wash & moisturizer. That very day I began to document my skin so i'd be able to watch it's progress and give my doctor updates. I was so unsure and had little faith that our crazy new campaign would have any results, but I thought i'd give it one last go. Little did I know that I was finally starting down a path of relief.

Within a week I could feel a difference in my skin, and after one month, I noticed a change in the type of acne I was experiencing. By month three, the big cystic pimples were slowing down, and by month six, they had nearly disappeared. I was in disbelief, shocked that our simple little solution to start back at the beginning could be working. By December of 2013 my acne was nearly under control. It seemed so surreal, my face was actually, really clearing...all except for the scars. I researched for hours at some points, reading the ups and downs of each wrap, mask, and peel that was meant to help with scarring, until one night when I accidentally stumbled across a silly little invention called a Clarisonic.

After doing a ton of research and interrogating everyone I knew that had one, I decided to invest in the device come January 2014 in hopes that it would help with some of my scarring before investing in an expensive dermabrasion. It sounds really stupid to spend $100 on a brush you wash your face with, but until I have reason to do otherwise, I will bet my bottom dollar on the Clarisonic's effectiveness. This brush uses supersonic vibrations to pull gunk out from the deepest pores, effectively cleansing your skin nearly 6x better than simply using your hands or a rag. Not only did the texture of my skin immediately improve, but as I slowly eased my skin into regular use of the Clarisonic I noticed that some of the pimples I could feel forming under my skin would literally disappear after one use of the brush. The few pimples that did appear weren't scarring the way they used to, the pre-existing scars I had were slowly lightening, and the deep pockmarks were beginning to become more flush with my skin. It took months for me to really notice a difference, but once I did, the change in my skin was dramatic. After years of fighting this seemingly endless fight, it was this past summer while I was out on Warped Tour when I felt like I had finally won my war. Being able to wake up every day and leave the bus without makeup (and feel confident to do so) was huge for me. I've never been the type of girl who refuses to leave the house without makeup, but feeling confident enough to be out in a workplace amongst peers for two months without a drop of foundation on my face? That was huge. Not only could I spend a summer not worrying about makeup, but thanks to my Clarisonic I knew I didn't have to worry about my acne getting worse due to my living conditions. Making sure to use the brush daily kept my face pimple free the entire time I was out on the road, something I thought was impossible.

It's taken me years - literally my entire college career - to get my acne under control. It's been a heartbreaking, time consuming effort thats forced me to question beauty, integrity, and even medical science at times. My daily routine these days is simple and consists of three key components: Cetaphil, my Clarisonic, and Epiduo. The treatments I've used on my skin might not have the same effect on other people, but what I hope to show folks is to not give up hope. Find a doctor who's opinion you trust, and give your skin the time it needs to really cycle through before making changes to your regimen. Sometimes doing too much at once is just as unproductive as doing nothing at all! My face continues to get better, and even though I know i'll never look airbrushed (who really does?!), both the scarring and redness in my skin has continued to fade. I still think i might do a microdermabrasion in the next year, but now it merely feels like it would accelerate the Clarisonic's progress, and I can survive without it. There are days I look in the mirror or catch a picture or myself, and sometimes just stare, fascinated that I don't have bumps scattered across my cheeks they way I used to. 

Acne is a lifelong battle, one I don't foresee ending for me anytime soon. I have aunts and uncles who have spent decades of their lives dealing with the emotional fallout of acne and scarring, and for the first time ever I feel like I might just be able to avoid that same fate. If you're fighting this same battle, don't give up hope. It's a fight, and a gnarly one at that, but it's one you can win. Life is hard enough without always feeling self-conscious about your face, so don't let this crappy little thing called acne keep you down. We all have it, we all know it sucks, and we'll all get through it together. No one will ever think less of you for that one little zit, and if they do then they're not worth your time anyways! I leave you with one of my favorite recent selfies: make-up free, nearly pimple-free, and finally feeling at home in my own skin.

Season 1: Done | Looking back at Red Rocks

I cannot believe it's already October - WHERE DID SEPTEMBER GO?!? Oh, that's right, I spent all of September lurking beneath a giant, orange colored tent called the clamshell. Apparently my life is now strictly spent living under the cover of vinyl tents, and to be honest? I really don't mind. If a tent means me slinging cotton, I'll stand out there all day, any day...and that's kind of what I've done for the past five months. As I mentioned in my first post-Warped blog, I've spent September and October working at Red Rocks Amphitheater, selling merchandise for all of the artists that have come through to play the venue from August through the end of the season, which was October 4th. I've worked twenty-six shows (if I counted right), spent countless hours on the sacred, music-filled grounds in Morrison, spent a few nights shooting pool until 2a.m., and I've learned more about merchandising than I can put into words.

If you read my blog post prior to me starting this gig, you know that I was just a little nervous about this new opportunity. New job, new co-workers, new things that I've never done...oh, and did I mention that I'd be helping sell on some nights upwards of $100,000 in merch?! The most I'd ever done myself was maaaybe $5,000, so the idea of doing upwards of even just $50,000 was horrifying. The other scary realization was that I would be the new kid on the team in a big way. All the folks at Red Rocks have been there for at least seven years, if not longer. I'd always heard that it was an "old boys club" running this venue, and here I was somehow smack in the middle of it - I wasn't about to mess this one up. I came into this job wide-eyed, ready for anything, and prepared to have my world rocked. It was definitely not as scary as I thought, but I've still been steam-rolled by the amount of knowledge I've gained...who ever thought selling t-shirts could really have so much to it?! Three-quarter length sleeves are Raglans, no matter the material. There is a proper way to bin your shirts, item number goes left and price goes right, and no matter what anyone says, you will count the trinkets. All of them. Somehow $50,000 doesn't sound intimidating anymore, and 15 boxes of unorganized fabric good isn't as outrageous as it could be. This team has given me tools I didn't even imagine existed, taught me tricks that have been passed down merchie-to-merchie for years, and more than anything, they've given me confidence. If i want to keep moving up in the world of merch and eventually into tour management, I really, truly needed this. No one on the team except me has ever toured (which blew my mind) so there was plenty for me to teach them about being a road dog, but learning how to handle bulk to this extreme has prepared me for every and any situation, regardless of venue, band, or number of shirts for sale...even if it's Drake and Lil' Wayne and we have nearly 50 different designs. (no joke).

Just last month, I did a one-off vend for the merch company that I work for on the side (they're called Sandbag LTD., and I love them. I get to work all sorts of cool shows for them), and I was surprised with a "hey I need you to inventory everything we have" 12hrs prior to the show. I did an inventory on 10 boxes of untouched merch, organized the remaining stuff in the trailer, and still sold $2000 by myself in a matter of 10 hours. It was madness, but the only reason I could do what I did was because of the stuff i'd been handling for the past two months. Red Rocks has prepared me for what I hope will be a tremendous next few years of adventures in touring with bands. I couldn't have ever fathomed how much this job would benefit me, but man am I thankful I took a risk on the gig and joined the team. My co-workers are fantastic, and have been so kind and helpful to me. I didn't think that I could find another work family where I could really be myself the way I was at my last job, but these kids accept me even though i'm the only one who doesn't smoke weed, and put up with my incessant snacking and question asking. As much as I really want to hit the road pretty continually next year, part of me hopes that for the summer, I'll be able to be home and work most of the season with them. If anything, I'll definitely be lonely at my merch booth from here on out no matter where I go.

goal: get to work for a band who's name is in this hallowed hallway. (and sign my name too) 

I am incredibly thankful for the chance I've been given to come up and join this group of pirates. The chance to learn from folks who've seen so many amazing things has been truly a one-of-a-kind experience, and to be learning all of this at such a sacred and magical venue is just surreal. I got to see some amazing bands, meet some amazing road crews, and shake a LOT of hands I wouldn't have otherwise. Apparently taking chances is paying off, and I hope that I can continue to be daring enough to let these experiences keep coming my way. As of now I have no touring plans for the fall (sad face), but I'm getting close. I've had two big chances come my way, but due to some upper management conflicts, I've been caught in the fallout and missed out. I'm hanging on tight to the hope that something will come my way before the year's end, but if not, at least I know now that I'm prepared for whatever it is that I get to do next. I've always known I felt "at home" at Red Rocks, but after the past two months, that statement has an entirely new meaning. I'm just thankful that the magic hasn't warn off yet, and that every time I walk down that ramp and into the venue, the glorious view still takes my breath away. 

Fond Fare-WARPED: Warped Update #8

my farewell sunrise from Denver the day i left for tour

Warped Tour started and ended with a sunrise. From the sunrise on my front porch the morning of my birthday, to this morning's warm orange salute, my cross-country adventures have come to a close once more. It's August 5th, and I just got home from an early morning run to drop off a friend off at the airport for his final flight home. Warped Tour is over and done, another summer on the books. These past eight weeks have been exhausting, but they have also been some of the most fun I have ever had. Since I last updated you, we've gone all the way from Virginia down through Atlanta, Florida, and skirted through the midwest (North Carolina, Nashville, Milwaukee, Kansas, Salt Lake City) and made it back to my beautiful and beloved state of Colorado. This past week was a rush to say the least, but I think it also led to some of the most fun I had all tour. 

Georgia was a hot mess - literally. It was a scorcher of nearly 100 degrees out, but by the middle of the day (as always, during our set) the rain began to come down and Warped suddenly went from hot and happy to shut down and under tornado warnings. IFD was on stage as all this took place, and although we got DRENCHED, no one was hurt for which I am sooo thankful. The kids eventually returned from the required waiting in Tornado shelters, but not in as huge crowds as they originally were. That's the bummer about weather and Warped: some days you win, and some days you lose, you just have to hope that the fans will stick it through with you and make the most of whatever comes your way. The rain followed us south to Florida and drenched us in Saint Petersburg before we could even open the doors for the day! Luckily the rain cleared for the rest of the afternoon, and after two disgusting days of unrelenting "wet" the rest of the week was warm and dry.

my view of the band trapped onstage in GA

the band's view of me trapped in tent in GA

Florida's shows are at some of my favorite venues of the whole tour. St. Petersburg's show takes place at Vinoy Park - a gorgeous grassy park that sits directly on the coastline. There were Protomen crab fishing, dolphins swimming next to We Are the In Crowd's merch tent, and our team went out for a big, delicious seafood dinner downtown to celebrate Hari's birthday! Miami the next day was just as fun as the whole crew was decked out in grey shirts made to celebrate Less Than Jake's 365th day of Warped Tour! The band has literally spent a year of their lives playing this tour, and so we all donned some custom-made shirts to help commemorate the occasion. Did I mention there was an Alligator pond behind my bus?! SCARY! Orlando led to more adventures as a friend of one of the bands brought a boat out on the lake just behind our bus parking, and spent his day driving artists around on the lake to relax. Orlando was one of the first times my whole stage family was all done for the day early with no rush to leave, and so we got to just sit on the dock and enjoy one another's company...it was surreal to just have time to sit and relax, made even more special knowing it'd all be coming to a close so soon. The rest of the week was just as fun, with a special early screening of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in North Carolina, some fun old Warped Tour family reunions in Milwaukee, and a spectacular stage family BBQ courtesy of Teenage Bottlerocket on our last day off in Laramie, WY. 

dock hangs with my stage family in Orlando. Photo credit: Joel McDonald

Yes. We had a day off in Laramie, WY when we only had two shows left, and the tour ended in Denver. Sounds absolutely maddening, eh? I thought i'd be going crazy that whole day, being so close to home I could taste it while knowing I couldn't go back just quite yet. Thankfully our bus mates, Teenage Bottlerocket, are actually from Wyoming and their bassist Miguel opened his home to not only our bus but to all of our tour friends. We ended having a full-day barbecue complete with a horseshoe competition! Courage My Love brought their trusty Margarita machine, we grilled some dogs and veggie burgers, and to all of our surprise, Australian band The City Shakeup totally cleaned up shop and beat every last American at horsehoes. We played some card games and watched movies until it was time to go...the day was an absolute blast beginning to end. Over the past two months all of the bands on our stage had become very close, and to be able to just spend time with one another, relaxing and enjoying their company just before we all had to part ways was absolutely perfect - I couldn't have asked for any better. 

horseshoe tournament!

card games in WY.

Yesterday was a complete and total whirlwind beginning to end. My amazing roommate Laurel agreed to pick up my favorite local breakfast burritos (Santiago's!) for all of my stage family. I saw countless familiar faces, family, and friends throughout the day, but most importantly, I was back a mile above sea level - finally breathing that crisp mountain air. The day came and went all too quickly with some goodbyes missed, and others just barely caught. I was so terribly sad to see everyone go, but like I keep saying, Tour family really is family, and I knew that the universe would have us all crossing paths again soon. I spent a good hour or so cleaning out the bus and getting all my belongings off. I arrived on Warped with one suitcase, and left on our last day with an entire hand-truck FULL of stuff. How does that even happen?! We barely fit it all in my car, and at nearly 11:00pm at night, I bid farewell to my final parking lot of the summer, my bus, and headed home. To my real home. 

This summer on Warped was honestly nothing like I expected. I'd done Warped before, and so I thought that there was no way this summer could be much different. To my shock and surprise, I feel like the two Warped Tour's I have gone on were unlike one another in more ways than they were similar. I was doing a lot of different jobs this summer that I wasn't last time, and although I wasn't expecting it, I was happy to take on new responsibilities and challenges. Although I feel like I got to spend less time with the band I was working for, I made many new, diverse friends compared to my first summer, probably because I was no longer afraid of being the "new kid on the block". My living situation was a huge upgrade and really helped keep my stamina up (not to mention my mental health), which for the record reallyyyy changes your perception of this entire tour. I've always been told that if you can do Warped Tour, you can do anything...the people who said that to me were talking about touring in particular, but every year I come back from this adventure feeling just a little bit more at peace with myself - a better, newer "me" more in line with my heart, my head and my thoughts. I feel more ready for what lies ahead, and more sure that I can handle just about anything because hell, I just got home from 2 months of Warped.

me. Roseburg, OR. photo cred: Brain Mazzaferri

I hope you all keep following along with me and this new chapter in my life, but for all of you who were here just for Warped, I'll see ya next summer :)

-M

A Day in the Life of Warped: Mini Update #7

Ernie Ball Stage Family (bands, crew, stage crew) 2014.

Many of you who have been following along with this blog might have realized by now that there are TONS of people on this tour. Our little Dragon-fighting team is one of hundreds of bands out on this 50-day adventure, and we are amongst the smaller teams. Out of the ~1000 people working on Warped Tour (no exaggeration) nearly every person's job is entirely different, even if their titles are similar. I thought it might be time for me to do a small "Day In the Life" so that during this 10-day run without a day off (read: blogging) you guys won't miss me too much, and might be able to get a slightly better idea of what Warped life is truly like. Every person's day runs a little differently than the next out at Warped Tour. The way I see it, there are five different basic groups of people on Warped: production team, stage crew, artist team/merchies, non-profits, and artists themselves. 

Let's start with the production team, as they are some of the first up and out every day. The entire Warped Tour is planned and produced by a set team of about 20 people, all working for Kevin Lyman's 4Fini Production company. The show's production manager, tour manager, security team, crew chief, and Kevin himself are always out and about first thing in the morning as the stages and production vehicles begin to roll into the venue first thing in the morning (~6/7am). They're the ones who design the layout of our venue each day, get the stages in place, and keep the show running no matter what mother nature throws at us. They're usually accompanied by the Ta-Da! Catering Crew, the traveling food geniuses who cater 3 meals a day for nearly every single person on staff. If you thought remembering to eat each meal was hard, try planning food for thousands of people who all have different dietary needs. The meals are usually quick, delicious, and always nutritious (except on Churro night - YUM!). Without these tong-wielding pirates, we'd all be dead seven days into tour - I guarantee it.

this is sometimes how the production office looks. Yes, that Includes the grill.

Stage Crew/Setup Crew are the next folks on the scene each day. Working directly with the production team, the stage crew are the folks who manage each stage, the gear trailer it's partnered with, as well as the Sound Engineers that make our crazy rock-and-roll circus really make some noise. Arriving usually around the same time as the production team (again, 6/7am), it's up to these folks to get the stage set up, the sound working, and prepare the bands for that day's schedule. Most people don't realize this, but Warped founder Kevin Lyman personally chooses each day's schedule first thing in the morning, guaranteeing a different show each day. This makes it much more fun for fans, as they have no choice but to show up all day, or they could risk missing the bands they want to see most. For crew, this means that you have no idea what your day looks like until the schedule is released around 9/9:30am. It's up to the Stage Crew and Stage Managers to make sure that they're ready to start on time, no matter what the schedule throws at them. Setup crew is in a similar position. Arriving on scene with Production crew, they are in charge of laying out all the tents (both merch and non-profit), as well as building any of the large iron tents needed on site each day. They don't know how or where they'll be building until we arrive, so they have to be on their game to get things up as quickly as possible at both the beginning and end of the day. 

pre-show setup. Can you believe Warped can look this...empty?

and after. That's a little more like it.

The artist's team and Merch people is the category that I fall into - my beloved people! We are the folks who are here to make sure that performance-wise, everything goes over perfect. An artist's team often varies on the band's size (both physical number of people and popularity), genre, and preferred needs. Some bands have enough guitars that they need a guitar tech, others are DJ's and drummers who can handle their own gear. Some bands prefer to travel with their own sound engineer, who can mix their set to sound just the way they like it. Some bands travel with photographers, some with "hype men", nearly all with Tour Managers, but the one constant of Warped is that nearly every band has a merch person. Warped Tour is known for being an opportunity to really connect with bands on an intimate level, and part of that is the readily available tent each band brings out to house their goods, and function as a home base throughout the day. The "mechies" arrive on site every morning around 8am, rolling onto the venue with hand trucks full of shirts, tents, coolers, and lawn chairs. We set up tent by 9, grab breakfast, and then settle in for what can sometimes be a 12hr day in our tent, peddling goods. Selling merch, setting up autograph sessions, interacting with fans, and being the physical representation of your group's presence at the tour - merch is not only your place to connect with existing fans, but your chance to lure new ones in based off what they see walking by. An artist's team is what gets them through the day and handles all business needs, but we all know we're there for the musicians themselves. 

some of America's favorite merchies all losing our minds in the merch village in VIRGINIAAAAAH.

Each band member handles the day-to-day of Warped Tour differently. Since you're not the headliner, and you don't know what time you'll be playing each and every day, Warped Tour for an artist is very different from any other tour they will do. It forces you to be awake, prepared, and available for longer than any other show - this manifests differently for every person. Some band members choose to use these extended days to write new material, or work on existing projects. Some cut hair or start up a parking lot coffee business (because that's their other passion), some choose to get on a consistent workout routine with others, some record in studios in different cities each day, some do interviews, and some will just enjoy their time, go out and partake in the festival. Every day is different, but having so much time to prep and plan allows for musicians to do more than they could ever normally accomplish while out on the road. 

It's insane how different each person's day can be for every single person, but the culmination of all of our different duties and day-to-day activities is what makes Warped Tour what it is. Our routines are as eclectic as the music at the show, and it's this ability for everyone to do what they need to do that makes Warped such a success. You can see why they call this "punk rock summer camp" - there's always something going on, it just depends on what you came to camp to do as to what your day is like.