The alarm goes off at 4:45am and the instant reaction is to throw the phone against the wall and go back to sleep. But after a moment of staring blankly at the screen, angrily asking myself (and the innocent piece of electronics) “WHY?” it hits me: it’s time to go on tour with Poets of the Fall.
As many of you know, mine & Satu’s lives are irrevocably entwined with this band. We’re all friends, yes, but we’re also the biggest fans of practically every beautiful note they ever produce and release. Sometimes we work for them, sometimes we just blindly follow them around to see as many live shows as we can, and sometimes we hang out and party. And since almost the very beginning, I’ve been documenting their live shows and many other interesting bits of their career.
This fall we promised to deal with the merchandise sales during the UK tour, all excited about going on the road and seeing so many new shows in a country we love. Five nights, five cities, wham bam, tour done. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? If you’re a Poets fan, you’re probably thinking “Aww how fun!! Getting to hang out and party all night with the band!”
Well, it’s all fun alright, but that’s the dream. The reality is a little bit different…
If you’re a musician on tour, it’s a lot of waiting. You wait around for the soundcheck, for each meal time, your turn to take a shower backstage, the gas station breaks, for the VIP meet & greets to start, for the showtime in the evening. And when you’re not waiting, you’re probably in a hurry or on stage or desperately trying to get some rest in between it all.
The tour bus ride was always going to be tight (even with the beautiful doubledecker the band had in the UK), but it’s not always about the space alone. During the long drives and hard days of work, it’s a challenge to fit so many different personalities into a small space while making sure they’re all happy and well-rested at all times.
Within just the band alone, there are introverts who need a quiet space and some alone time, there are people who like to work or concentrate on other things, and of course the ever-social ones who like to chat and spend time with each other between the cities.
So, taking all of this into account, me and Satu decided to go with our own rental car — just to be a little more in control of our schedule and rest. In hindsight, it was probably a little too optimistic. See, when you travel by a bus full of bunks and beds, you can always catch a little sleep between the cities. In a car without a designated driver… not so much.
For us driving our own car meant devastatingly early mornings and hitting the road as quickly as possible to make it to the next city in good time. Basically, we did the whole tour somewhat sleep-deprived and with no free time at all.
(And see, I can’t even drive. Satu did it all. She’s my hero.)
On more than one afternoon we got stuck in traffic, got lost in a city full of one-way streets (damned be you, Glasgow!!!) or couldn’t find a parking spot. Which of course meant less time at the venue and having to set up the merch stall in a hurry.
Once, we had it all set up perfectly, and then got some very last minute instructions from the venue folks and had to re-set everything within minutes.
We skipped meals because we simply didn’t have time to grab food from backstage or consume it. (Which once led to an incredibly sweet food delivery from the band in the form of a plastic bag full of bananas, energy bars and soda!)
Sometimes, we had to skip a shower or other daily hygiene routines. Ew.
We carried boxes half our body weight up and down stairs and ran back and forth for 20,000 steps’ worth in a day. One night, the only light we had to work with was our cellphones, so we stood there pointing at shirts and cds and vinyls with our phones whenever people approached the table.
Which was actually super amusing to many of our customers, so we got to see their faces light up (pun intended) on several occasions.
But you know what? None of this matters. We can’t say we didn’t complain at all during the tour (because boy, we did), but we never seriously regretted the decision to go.
The feeling of completely losing yourself inside the tour bubble (even during a short sprint like this) is a beautiful one: very soon, you forget what day of the week it is, next you forget most of your life’s troubles. You’re there, you’re part of a hard-working team as fun as a barrel of monkeys, who are all striving to give the audience the best night of their life.
The music is the reason the audience comes around, of course. But the sound and light engineers, the tour manager and us two as Santa’s little helpers are there to make sure everything else runs smoothly. We’re there to make sure the band and the audience can just concentrate on each other.
And then there are the people, the wonderful people we get to meet from all walks of life.
The overly excited fans seeing their favorite band for the first time and the ones who’ve seen them dozens of times before. The dads with their daughters, the moms with their sons, the group of friends borrowing money to each other so that everyone can buy a shirt or a cd.
The ones who share their life stories, the ones who came from another country far, far away, the ones who tear up after a meet&greet with the band. The young ones ready to rock and cause mayhem in the front row, the elderly couple in the back singing along to every single song.
The ones who wait outside the venue at midnight just to get a chance to tell the band how much they mean to them and how their music has changed their lives.
And the ones who thank the music for helping them overcome depression, the ones who found comfort in it during their battle with cancer and the people who found new friends and families thanks to their love for one Finnish band.
It’s simply an experience like no other. There’s not as much rock glamour to it as many might imagine, but there’s the overwhelming feeling of giving and receiving, even for us who are not even a part of the band.
We’re very familiar with what being a fan of something can mean to people at its best, since we ourselves are those very same people. That’s why it’s extra special for us to work with and for a band we love and be their biggest fans at the same time. Cause we get you, Poets fans. We’re right there with you.
Here’s to hoping we’ll get to see more of you in the years to come!
There are many people we’d like to thank for a successful and fun tour. Without these guys, it would’ve definitely been harder for us to stay cheerful and do as well as we did.
First of all, the Tanners. They’re our dear Finnish friends who live in London and gave us a place to sleep, then joined us for most of the trip. Without your dorky humor and absolutely legendary attitude we probably wouldn’t have made it all the way to Scotland and beyond with such huge smiles on our faces. Kylki Edellä Friends 4ever. Mwah. We love you.
Ben, you too are a rock star. Thank you for taking such good care of our dear dudes and us. And thanks for letting us take control of dinner that one night. We really, really needed some pizza in that moment.
Thekla (Bristol), O2 Academy Islington (London), Garage Club (Glasgow), Rock City (Nottingham) & Manchester Academy, wow guys, we can’t believe you do this almost every night! Thank you to your phenomenal and patient staff and for providing such great spots for these happy get-togethers.
Blackout Problems: What you brought on this tour was pure energy! Thank you for lighting up the audience and for your super friendly faces, many smiles and great hugs. What a cool bunch of rockers. Like, seriously.
Jurys Inn all over the UK, you made our life on tour a way more comfortable one that it would’ve otherwise been. But we’ll get back to you guys in a moment… ?
SACO Apartments Bristol Broad Quay, we love you. We arrived in Bristol already exhausted from the very early flight and traffic jams in the city, but you gave us a comfortable and spacious home for the night. We loved your beds, we loved having our own clean kitchen where Satu cooked us some late night egg scramble and toast after the first gig of the tour and most of all… we loved the location!
It’s quite luxurious to not worry about parking at the venue or in the city, and instead, just walk everywhere. We didn’t get to stay long at this time but we’re hoping to come back some day for a proper Bristol visit.
Because see? We match your beautiful bright & colorful rooms perfectly ?
While Poets of the Fall are touring Germany (boo, without us!) we’re staying home to work on all the photos and stories we’ve gathered in the last couple of weeks.
We always say this, but we’ll say it again: do check them out and go follow their Instagram. They have fans all over the world and the international Ultraviolet tour might just be hitting your country or city, so make sure you don’t miss your chance!
Maybe we’ll see you on the road some day… ?
For more Poets of the Fall live photos (coming soon!) and their life on tour follow @tiiaohman and @poetsofthefallband on Instagram and Tiia Öhman Photography & Design on Facebook. Might add a few on this page later, too!
Collaboration: Our stay at SACO Apartments Bristol was a complimentary one for review and photography purposes. Check out their stunning aparment hotel rooms in several UK cities on their website!