Pinegrove Fall 2016 Tour
I must have had a look on my face as I closed my laptop, only semi-satisfied with the work I had completed during the drive, as the van pulled up to The Masquerade. Adan leaned over to me and said without pre-empt: "You are more than your productivity," before jumping out of the van to load gear into the venue. I took a spare and silent 20 seconds before loading up my camera gear and heading inside to film soundcheck.
That day was November 6th, 2016 in Atlanta, GA. Six days prior, I was at this very venue with my own band, The Island of Misfit Toys, performing on our route back to Chicago from The Fest, FL. Three days later, on November 3rd, back in Chicago for a total of 9 hours, I boarded a plane to join Pinegrove, already three days into their full US tour, in Charlotte, NC. My assignment: to collect tour footage and photos to be utilized for promotional content.
If it wasn't clear already, I've been navigating through my "professional" career trek on a wing and prayer mostly. Finding myself in the correct van, bus, or plane headed to the correct destination is a triumph in itself. 2016 found me functioning without a safety net, back up plan, or guarantees. Exhilarating yet stupid. Fulfilling yet crippling-stress-inducing. I've done a lot of self-observation and scrutiny on whether what I'm doing is worth it. Final jury (as of yet at least)--it's worth it. It helps that I've saddled up next to a swarm of fellow passionate people who function in the same way. We all have our moments of doubts, but we all know it's worth it in the end.
Anyways. I'm here to tell Pinegrove's story. But here's a bit of my story while telling Pinegrove's story:
- Canon C100
- Canon T3i
- 24-70mm lens
- 24-135mm lens
- 16-35mm lens
- Nifty 50mm lens
- Macbook Pro
- (2) 1TB compact hard drives
- Bluetooth mouse
The unglamorous inventory info: For those who live in the world of DIY filmmaking and subsequent DIY budgets, you are not unfamiliar with making do with whatever you have. What I have is a Canon T3i with a nifty 50mm lens and, in this case, an absolutely wack schedule of equipment rentals. For the first half of tour I was able to rent a 24-70mm lens to utilize with my T3i. The Canon C100 and other two lenses would be meeting us in Seattle via a dear and caring friend.
It should also be noted that I would be editing with a 5 year old "vintage" 15in Macbook Pro with a swelling battery and magsafe charger with a bent pin. More on this later.
NOVEMBER 3rd - NOVEMBER 10th
CHARLOTTE, NC TO DALLAS, TX
I've toured many times with many different groups holding many different roles. One of the things you learn right away is that touring creates a sort of micro-world. You may be visiting cities all over the country (or world), but always in the context of the same people, the same van, the same routine. Every micro-world is different, has different vibes, different priorities. Some groups want to maximize energy by resting as much as possible, some groups want to maximize experiences, bouncing around to must-sees at every stop. And within these micro-worlds there are even smaller discrepancies; varying vibes, priorities, opinions amongst individuals. A balance has to be struck to move along in a healthy, respectful, and enjoyable manner for everyone. Sometimes it takes multiple tours to strike this balance.
I think it's safe to say it only took me about one day, give or take a couple hours, to sink into a balance with this group.
I lost my journal about three days into tour. I'll do my best to remember the small moments. By the end of tour I will have also lost one scarf, two pairs of leggings, my glasses, many a pair of socks, and a sweater. Probably my worst track record yet.
My daily routine as a documentarian on the road with a band consists of: morning/breakfast broll, travel broll, making sure to catch any goofs or interesting conversations, editing and logging footage in the van, venue load in broll, establishing shots of the venue, close up performance shots during sound check in kind to having free access to the stage, green room broll, performance shots, audio of any stage banter or discussions, broll of set up/break down of equipment, load out broll, travel broll, sleepy time broll, downloading footage for the day, logging footage for the day, sleep, repeat.
It's not uncommon for me to feel socially worn out by the time we even get to the venue on a daily basis. Especially with a project such as this, a memoir-style documentary, staying on your toes every second in wait for those solid sound bytes, always interpreting your surroundings and the general activity for what can fuel your story. You find you're always "on."
The first week of tour went by without any major hitches. We all sunk into our routines pretty quickly. I started to get a feel of what direction to take the footage I was capturing--I had decided on several small tour updates to be released every few weeks. Later the content could be re-used for any sort of promotional purpose.
In Houston, TX on November 8th, 2016, we watched together as Donald Trump became our new president-elect.
"I think we want to make music because we have something to say. And I think the mission of this tour has changed a lot since last night. We have to keep going because that’s the last option we have." -Kiley Lotz
"There has been a very scary message recently sent to the country that it’s okay to not care about people that aren’t like you. But we reject that wholeheartedly. We are here today to reaffirm that we believe in compassion and equality and in love and we do not respond to hate. "
-Evan Stephens Hall
Our priorities indeed instantly and collectively shifted that day. I've been on many tours with many different vibes but never have I been on a tour that started with one vibe, and in a single day switched to a completely different one. It was as if a static buzz was hovering around our heads, unwavering.
Being on tour during a such a severe and impacting event is disorienting for all involved. You feel a day behind the rest of the world, detached. We knew two things: one, we had to keep moving. Two, we had a new responsibility to utilize our platform in order to do our part.
So we started strategizing.