The Ultimate Budget Tour (Vancouver Sleep Clinic TAKEOVER)

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A Tarago, a camper trailer, five mates & a tour dad : the ultimate first VSC tour.

So it’s tough enough for any band to get off their feet financially, but in particularly in Australia – where cities are placed at awkward travelling distances from each other.  Our very first tour offer, and it still feels weird to say this, was supporting the string of sold out London Grammar shows down the East Coast of Australia.  After freaking out for at least a week, it came time for us to clear our heads and sort out logistics.  After a quick look at the Bank of VSC, we instantly knew that it was time to pull out the camper-trailer, the sleeping bags and the Australian free camping guide – and set off for the ultimate budget tour.

The main issue – we were all 17.  This created several problems as nobody had their open license to drive a trailer, and nobody was legally able to book a place to stay.  The only option was bringing in a Tour Dad.  My dad (VSC #1 Fan) is probably the biggest legend alive, and took two weeks off to singlehandedly drive a bunch of 17 year old rapscallions down the coast.  If you saw a tall ranga with a Fender shirt and an outdated camera surrounded by drunk 20 year olds at any of the sets, it would have been my dad.  With that sorted, we decided to throw a couple extra of our closest mates in the car (just because we can) and we set off!

The next two weeks were some of the best times I’ve had.  The countryside was beautiful and we stayed in some sweet camping spots.  One of the free camp places was a 2km detour drive through bush into an opening in the middle of nowhere – so we pulled out our instruments and had a sweet acoustic jam in the middle of nature.  It was the coolest thing ever.  None of us had mums to cook for us, and cooking is effort, so we generally just starved or ate service station donuts.  And it was great.  One of the more priceless moments was picking our sound guy, who we’d never met before, up from the airport and seeing the look on his face when the 6 of us rocked up in a dingy Tarago + camper trailer, with equipment stacked up on our legs and stupid grins on our faces.  I weaved my hand out from between my guitar case and the pillow pressed against the window and extended it to him.  ‘Hi, we’re VSC.’

The shows were incredible experiences, although with the first show being our 4th ever, we were still truly finding our feet – and the nerves were crazy.  It was a massive step up for us going from playing to 100 people in a tiny room to 1200 in a Theatre. 

Our ultimate budget tour very quickly became the talking (mocking?) point (and easy icebreaker) of most of the people we met.  London Grammar also bagged out our rider of Skittles, Coke & Pizza on their Triple J interview – calling it ‘cute’ – which was kind of a dog act – but one that I’m definitely not complaining about.  Love those guys.

It was always entertaining contrasting our own touring logistics with London Grammar’s.  Our stingy 8 seat Tarago + camper trailer filled with gear lining up against their huge trucks.  The six of us crowded around a humble rider, while they had a banquet to feed their huge team.  And then, parting ways at the end of a show by them leaving for their hotels and us driving around with a GPS until 2 in the morning trying to find our Caravan Park.  The old people around us were not impressed as we flailed helplessly in the dark trying to set up our sketchy tent.

So many memorable moments were made on the trip.  A lot of inside jokes that we’ll probably retell forever, and the other guys even wrote & recorded a parody for one of our own songs (which is a true testament to our sad loss of sanity towards the end of the ridiculously long road trip home).  One of our friends filmed it all so if we ever release ‘VSC: This is Us’ to a cinema near you, you’ll get an inside look on this crazy ride.  And the soundtrack to the movie will be ‘Started from the bottom now we’re here’, because it feels like we know all about the bottom of touring life.  And, from our first experience, if ‘here’ was just preparing for another legendary road trip tour – I would still be loving every minute of it.

This post was written by Tim Bettinson (Vancouver Sleep Clinic), as part of his Takeover of Indie Music Filter.  Find him on twitter here.

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