Thursday, March 22, 2012

10 Lessons I Learned From an Arena Tour

1. I learned that being a  "performer" and being a "musician" on stage are equally as important. For the entirety of "Meg and Dia" I believed that having my bangs cover half my face in a dramatic swoop and an incoherent mumble in between songs fulfilled my requirement as an entertainer. Only during the second half of the Blake tour, by watching and learning from both Dia and Blake, did I realize that the crowd deserves to have the entertainers on stage be appreciative and show their respect by smiling and moving with the music. 

2. I learned to not sweat the small stuff that happens on stage. People aren't analyzing the show in detail as much as the band and I are. When two cowgirls are sitting in the third row, sipping on beers and laughing hysterically to each other, they are not making fun of me for missing the A minor in the 2nd verse, they are remembering the "stuck up" mechanical engineer who spilled Miller Light all over himself while hitting on them at the bar last night.



3. I learned about how to respect hierarchy in a tour production this enormous. Just like an employee in a corporate situation is supposed to first address an issue with their higher up, and then the higher up relays the message to their superior, etc…, those same rules apply on tour. (For some reason, I thought if you were in the band you can do what you want and I could just go talk to Blake's tour manager myself with issues. Well, I learned my lesson! No "after show" Taco Bell for me!)

4. I learned to depend on our crew in a time of crisis. They know what they are doing. I need to trust them to handle their jobs. We recently had a technical issue where we didn't trust the front of house engineer to handle it. I freaked out and stopped playing my part altogether because I believed we were playing way off from each other and we ruined the song. Turns out our sound guy heard the mistake, fixed everything instantly, and to the crowd the song would have sounded perfectly fine had I continued to play my part.

5. I learned how to pee in a stall where boys are in the next room in an open "locker room" type space. Dia and I share green rooms with all the guys in our crew and band. At first, it was a little awkward to step into a stall and realize that everyone in the room could here me peeing. Now, I shout over the stall to them about how great or not so great the tour was and the coming presidential election. 

6. I learned that women can be in charge in a man's world. Beth is in charge of production, and man you should see the big tough men bow down to her. The authority and power she has amazes me every day. I think it takes courage and balls, and she has both!

7. I learned how to shower in under 3 minutes. We are all usually extremely stinky and dirty by the time all nine of us roll up to the hotel after a couple days of no showers, sweaty shows, and "load-ins" and "load-outs". There is no time for singing in the shower, no time to shave, no time to stop and enjoy the water pounding on your back. Just in and out, like a snow storm. Next!

8. I learned not to take things personally. When Dia says that the guitar tone sounded like screeching sirens in her ears, that's not my fault. It could be a myriad of problems: monitor issues, room issues, mixing level issues. Just gotta let it slide off my back, because I know I have killer tone. Duh!

9. I learned that just as coffee and Dave Grohl don't mix, coffee and Meg are just as terrible of a combination. Never again. 

10. I learned that cultivating connections with people on tour is extremely important. You never know how people can help you down the line.  You all know about Jenee, Blake's blue-grass fiddle player, I spoke about in a previous blog. If I wouldn't have met her, I never would have been introduced and inspired by new genres of music and different styles of guitar playing.

19 comments:

  1. I'm glad you're sharing some of your new-found knowledge with us. Tour seems really crazy, but a good kind of crazy I think. My humble opinion anyways... coming from someone who really only lives the daily high school routine at this point.
    It's so hard as an audience member to catch issues with sound... every show that I've watched you guys play has always seemed perfect to me.
    I noticed a difference with your stage presence this tour, it was cool to see you all opening up so much more. Even my mom noticed! Haha. Glad I got to catch the show as many times as I did.

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  3. ohhh, living and learning. I'm glad that tour taught you some important life lessons while you rocked the audience's socks off. You were truely entertaining Meg! Your dancing and playing 10 instuments at a time brought a huge smile to my face :D

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    1. I agree! I was watching some concert videos on YouTube and I found the Flight of the Conchords video the most entertaining! You guys seem so comfortable on stage.

      I also really enjoyed the video of you guys performing Roses - it's been such a long time!

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    2. totally agree with your comments! don't forget in a dress and on high heels!!

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  4. great top 10 learned list, Meg! i can't believe you can show in under 3 mins! how do you do that?! lol! the quickest I can show is 15mins lol. #5 is pretty funny! have you ever had the "runs" in those bathroom? lol!!

    also, you guys have such an awesome crew and management team! i respect them and you guys more after seeing you and the band during this tour! I got to see how things are run for big venue shows! incredible!

    I hope to see you guys again very soon in shows in the near future!

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    1. yikes typos! i meant "showers" in paragraph one '-_-

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  5. Meg, I can't help noticing some parallels with the tour life you describe and life in the military!

    Command structure (hierarchy), self- and group discipline (unit cohesion), adapting to changing conditions, boredom/excitement, close quarters (bathroom "sound effects" haha, eewww, must make for a lot of humor), dirt and discomfort, eating and resting when when time and task allow, always on the move, and above all else:

    The Mission (or, The Show Must Go On).

    Maybe it's hard to envision right now, I'm sure that you and your group will look back proudly and fondly on the past year as a test of character that all of you passed with flying colors and a sense of accomplishment.

    The proof is the appreciative reaction you got from your audiences at all of your shows, and I am most happy to have been a witness at one of them.

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    1. I was going to say, I'm sure that there are so many similarities in other areas of life as well, and your situation is a perfect example.

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  6. So what are you doing now that tour is over? Besides usual "meg stuff" (yoga chandler etc)

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    1. Yoga, Chandler, and possibly some healthy cooking. I'm going to rent a new apartment and fix it up real cute!

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  7. I've sworn off coffee, too. It seems like caffeine deadens my impulse control...talk before think, act before think, diarrhea of the mouth. That drug does not agree with me at all...I am Bad David when on that stuff.

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  8. Thank You,Thank You A MILLION TIMES THANK YOU.I learned a few things by attending THAT BIG ARENA TOUR too.I learned I truly love your band MORE THAN I THOUGHT when I first heard YOU.I learned THOSE COUNTRY FOLKS are just like the rest of US (they enjoy different types of music too).I learned that TURNING PEOPLE ON TO "CHANDLER THE ROBOT" makes them smile and even more the APPRECIATIVE of YOU and your TALENTS,not just THE MUSICAL ONE.I learned music,music fans and the musicians no matter the style CAN BECOME ONE in the MUSIC AND THE PLACE THEY HERE IT IN.I learned FANS come in ALL SHAPES,SIZES AND AGES.I learned I CAN HAVE A GOOD TIME ANYWHERE I AM AT.So again A MILLION THANKS <3 :) <3

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  10. I was thinking about time travel when I read this. If you could go back in time to the beginning of the tour and talk to yourself, what would you what would you tell yourself to do differently? If you could bring one item that you didn't take on tour, what would that have been?
    I should change my name to Herman.

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    1. I would tell myself to bring a curling iron that actually works and to bring a lot less stuff!

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  11. whoa! no more austin?! whats your next adventure now? i had a question.. is playing the old stuff not as exciting as playing the new, for you, the musician? bc when you guys played 'roses' at the troub i was uber excited but couldn't help wondering if that excitement was shared

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    1. It was definitely nostalgic to play "Roses". The energy on stage shifted, and we returned a little bit back to the old days. The new stuff feels "different". I can't really say which is better or worse, ya know?

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  12. Tim asked above about going back in time.

    That reminded of a question & answer session on this year's The Voice show between contestant Chris Mann and Christina Aguilera and her advisor Lionel Richie.

    Chris: What lessons have you learned along the way to get where you are today that you wish you had known (earlier)?

    Xtina: You can't have any regrets (about stumbling, falling, etc).

    Lionel: The journey was the most exciting part. I have all this wisdom, but unfortunately...it only got there because I have experience. You gotta live it. Until you make those mistakes on stage, until you fall down, until you get back up, how did you learn that? Because you made the mistake!

    A link to the video:

    http://www.nbc.com/the-voice/video/chris-mann-prepares-for-battle/1389229

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