Having toured Asia many times, most recently doing three tours last year, we can safely say that though we are never put up at 5 star hotels, nor have buses picking us up from airports or buffet lunches/dinners, the pure exhaustion of the members of Meshuggah caught in this documentary as they trudge onwards from one city to the next while touring India brings back a lot of quite painful memories. If anyone wants to have a rough idea of what touring Asia is like, this is a pretty good video to wrap your head around and do some mental yoga to prepare your mind and body before embarking on the road here.
Like the video captures, touring Asia ALWAYS requires catching early flights so you can get to the next city on time because unless you are a massive band that can space days off in between other cities, chances are that you are going to try to make your money back for those initial flights out to Asia, and thus want to make sure you’re playing shows every night. What that means is early morning lobby calls, sometimes as early as 4am, which means packing your crap and getting down to the lobby to then pack into a van to get you to the airport on time. Once you’re at the airport chances are you’re probably flying some budget airlines and THAT check-in line could snake all the way out the door. If you’re a touring band you probably have a BUNCH of shit to check in so you’re totally the asshole holding up everyone else behind you. By the time you’re finally checked in it’s like 6am maybe. All that and it’s only 6. You get to your check in gate and fly. You arrive in a new city/country and have to go through immigration and customs sweating bullets because unless you’re Lamb of God, your local promoter asked you to come in on a tourist visa so you’re walking through customs/immigration clearly a band with tons of equipment and worse, those dreaded merch bags. You just hope you won’t get asked to open any of those damn things…
Finally you pack into another van and head to the hotel…to sleep you think? Hell no. Drop your shit off and then go off to soundcheck. Then sleep right? Hell no. The venue is so far away from the hotel that you are asked to just hang out in that area. Then show begins and if you’re headlining you’re not done til probably 11 then load out could be at midnight. By the time you get back to your hotel it could be 1am. You eat a late dinner…bed by 2 or 3…4am wake up call for next journey.
I haven’t even factored in ALL the things that do go wrong…the Meshuggah documentary talked about a flat tire. That’s cute. We’ve had a tire BLOW UP on the road on the way back to Manila from Olongapo once, we’ve had a venue change three times within 24 hours because of fear of a police raid, lost luggage is always expected, band members getting sick is always expected, deals going south especially when one type of transportation was promised and another turns up and you have no choice but to pile in to make it to the next show on time, going through customs and they DO open your merch bag, going through immigration and they stare at your passport wondering if it’s fake, fights at the airport because stranded passengers have lost all sense of civility, the list is endless.
It ain’t pretty folks. That half hour or so you’re on stage is beautiful…but the rest of it ain’t pretty. Must be nice for a band to have buses, their own sound guy, their own lighting guy, tour manager, tons of roadies to help move stuff…the rest of us lowlifes are all on our own 🙂