Over the years, I’ve been to many shows where bands, at the end of the night, ask into the microphone if anyone can offer them a place to stay. It was a big eye-opener that many independent bands are just barely scraping by on the road and that hotels, and sometimes even food, are a luxury that they couldn’t readily afford when gas to get to the next town is their main priority.
As a fan, paying money to get into the show is the first step toward paying the band. Unfortunately, depending on the scale set by the venue, it’s often not much more than a pittance, and bands are watched and then left behind by the fans who came to see them, often in a worse state financially than they would be had they never come and played.
For many bands, touring is a financially destructive operation. As gas prices rise, this is even truer than in years past. Often a band is only one bad night or mechanical breakdown away from having to call off a tour.
There are ways to help touring bands along their way, though. In addition to buying merchandise and other things, you can put them up. If you have the space, offering them a place to crash (even if it’s just a patch of floor), hot showers, a home-cooked meal and access to a washing machine go miles toward relieving the physical and financial pressures on a vanload of road weary, dirty musicians.
Better Than The Van
Better than the Van is a resource that hooks up bands who are getting ready to tour with places to crash along the way. You can offer up space, provide details of how much space you have available, and do your part to help make a tour coming to your town a reality. (Better than the Van Site)
It's not just for the band - it's for the good of everyone involved
Hosting a band is helpful to your local scene if your town is not a typical stopping point, and especially if it's a place that bands typically pass through on their way to bigger cities and scenes. The promise of a place to crash and clean up for a night is often the only incentive a band needs in order to book a show where you live.
We’ve hosted a few bands over the years, and it has always been a lot of fun. Hanging out at home after the show is often better than the show itself, and it gives you a chance to really get to know the bands. I’ve made some lifelong friends this way.
Case in point - if you ever get the chance to put up Chicago’s Lasers and Fast and Shit, by all means do so. Not only are the guys a terrific band, they're the best house guests we’ve ever had, even putting away the fold-out couch and folding up all the bedding on their way out, leaving behind only a CD and a couple of t-shirts. It was like a visit from the rock and roll fairy.
So, if you're leaving a show, and you see the band piling into their van after loading out, take a second to ask yourself if you can offer them a place to sleep. If you can, offer it up. Odds are, they’ll be more than grateful, and you'll probably make some great new friends while doing your share to help your local scene.
Get Permission First!
One last item: if you’re planning on bringing a band home to crash, you should probably make sure you have the approval of any roommates you may have before arriving home with a vanload of rockers. Even though the band will leave the next day, you’ll never hear the end of it. And our younger readers will definitely want to run this past their parents before offering up space. It may sound like a lot of fun to have a slumber party with the horn section of a ska band, but your folks may feel differently, and most ska bands have too many members to hide under your bed.