December of 2019 I was given the opportunity to go on my first tour, with Grand Rapids based band If Only, If Only. I was very excited but also very nervous to see how those 11 days would challenge me.
At the end of the day, it was the support that surrounded me that lead me to believe I was ready to go and see what I could create while on the road.
Nov 29 – Grand Rapids
Show one! We started in Grand Rapids and everything felt normal. I don’t think my brain realized I was about to be on the road doing something I love for 11 days. It felt just like a normal show. I was surrounded by friends and didn’t know what else to think. The reality of it set in when I didn’t embark on the 2 hour drive back to my own house. This is my first tour and I am very eager to keep going.
Nov 30 – Elgin, IL
The drive to Illinois was an easy one – considering we were already in Grand Rapids. I remember getting to the venue and as soon as we were going to start loading in, a weird bright orange flash lit up the sky and made all the light on the block flickr. Turns out it was an outage, and unfortunately not aliens. We collectively had a lot of energy that night and just kept goofing off. This was the start of a wonderful series of Go-Pro videos being captured.
Dec 1 – Iowa City, IA
Iowa was so much fun. IOIO played at Gabes and it was such a cool venue, not to mention the fact that everyone was very nice. I was able to see some friends that I often can’t. My friend Elizabeth kindly offered for us to stay with her for the night and I had the best sleep on a giant bean bag.
Dec 2 – Lincoln, NE
Driving through Nebraska is as boring as it sounds, but that doesn’t mean our energy was low. It was Austen’s birthday and crowd brought much enthusiasm, which is all well deserved for these guys. I was introduced to this wonderful app called GoPuff and we had some Mango White Claws delivered to the house which was just funny to me. I never thought I’d even want to give White Claw another chance, but Austen got me hooked on the Mango flavor. Shout out to him.
Dec 3 – Tulsa, OK
If you’re ever in the area and have never been to The Vanguard, I urge you to do so. The venue and staff are amazing and the Oklahoma crowd did not disappoint. The energy was high from the beginning of the night, kicking it off with shot gunning beers. Yong sliced his finger open on his guitar and bled on it. Austen did a somersault and does not entirely remember it. We ended the night at Waffle House and I can’t really think of a better way to end it.
Dec 4 – Denton, TX
Day one of three in Texas and day one with our friends in Early Humans! On our way through Texas, we stopped at a Buc-ee’s and yes, it does live up to the hype. There was last minute venue change but it didn’t throw things off too bad. At this point I found myself really being in the swing of things and it was nice knowing the set well enough to know which shots I wanted to try to get.
Dec 5 – Austin, TX
Another house show, another good crowd. Jake was unfortunately was feeling sick but was better by the time they had to play. Shoutout to the bag of medicine I brought along with me. After the show, we ended up getting a hotel and a group of us went to Buffalo Wild Wings. The walk there was a lot longer than we thought, but the wings are always worth it. What can ya do?
Dec 6 – Houston, TX
The show for this date unfortunately got cancelled for reasons out of If Only, If Onlys control but it was ultimately nice to have a day off. My friend Izzy told me about a skate shop called No Comply out in Houston and we took a trip over there where we were pleasantly surprised by friendly staff. I ended up leaving with a couple t-shirts for myself and a gift for Izzy.
Dec 7 – Lafayette, LA
This was another great house show hosted at “The Loud House.” There was a great turnout for all the bands playing. We did, however, find out that the show the next day is Chattanooga was cancelled. The bands tried to talk and see if they could throw something together last minute, but it was unfortunately not able to happen. After the show, we packed up and embarked on the 9 hour drive to Tennessee.
Dec 8 – Nashville, TN
WE SURVIVED THE DRIVE!
The If Only, If Only van pulled up to Austen’s dads house and it was nice to be in a place that felt like home to all of us. We got to have a home cooked meal, ended up seeing Neil Hilborn in a venue that was in a Top Golf building and went to a billiards bar to play some pool. Yong and I also secured tattoo appointments for the next morning, which I was very excited for.
Dec 9 – Louisville, KY
The dreaded last day. My emotions had honestly been all over the place for the past couple of days because I knew this would be coming to an end soon. If were being completely honest, the turnout for this crowd was not as expected but it was nice to see the bands play for each other.
We still had fun and tried to soak up the last couple hours we’d have together. We ended with saying our goodbyes multiple times, lots of hugs, pictures and lots of laughs. I’m so grateful for the opportunity If Only gave me, and for how our friendships grew. The amount of support I received from these amazing people was incredible and I can’t thank them enough for it.
Tour was great.
I can finally cross off my goal list. Hopefully, I will continue to do so in the near future. However, this experience taught me a couple of different things;
Being that being on the road is exhausting. In all forms of the word, and I knew this in the back of my head. I just don’t think I was fully prepared for how much I would crash once I got home. When you’re constantly moving with not much of a break – you will get tired and eventually crash. Whether it be once you’re home or while you’re still on the road. It’s important to know that it is okay to take a second and step back from everyone else to breathe. Luckily, in my case, everyone had a mutual understanding of this and we knew when everyone needed quiet in the van.
Whether it’s four of you in the van or six, your relationship with these people is going to grow quickly and you’ll end it with great friends and an even greater team. To have a good team will allow you to let yourself be more creative with your work. In fact, they will probably love that you’re experimenting a bit.
One more thing that may be worth noting, your return time on your photos will help you a lot. When I first started concert photography I built a habit, out of eagerness and excitement to see the photos, to get the work done right after the show and directly into a folder when the band could access it. This makes it easy for any band to post the work as soon as they are up and ready to head out the door to the next city.
The bottom line is…
Your own mental health on the road is very important. Try to take care of yourself. Be ready for great friendships after its all said and done. It’s okay to push your creative limits. Last but not least, work on that return time!
For more of Janelle’s film images from tour, purchase a copy of Resurget’s debut print issue.