I’ve never been one to do something by halves, which is why I’ve spent the best part of the last ten years travelling to see my favourite band. It’s started when I was a kid and lived in the United States, as a young band called The Summer Set emerged from my hometown and quickly began to pick up speed. Not satisfied with just going to see them in Phoenix, I would drive with my brother to cities in Southern California and Texas on the same tour. People would find it strange that I would want to not only see the same band more than once, but in such a short amount of time that the set list would be essentially identical. For me, it wasn’t just about seeing the band— it was about making friends, seeing new places and, I suppose in a way, proving my dedication to the music.
Flash forward to 2017 and I have seen The Summer Set a total of 106 times, with shows in a number of US states, Canada, Brazil, Australia, France, Holland, and Germany, not to mention I have followed nine UK tours thanks to now living in England. In January this year I travelled back to Arizona to see them play what has worked out to be likely their final performance together, and while I’m absolutely gutted I do feel like I had closure from the fact I came full circle. Luckily, I have another avenue— after becoming a casual fan of indie rock band The 1975 back in 2012, I have now somewhat replaced The Summer Set with them in that I’m willing to now travel as much as I can to see them. In fact, I’ve only just come back from going to their shows all over Ireland and continental Europe!
You’d be surprised, but most bands of relative fame these days have at least a couple of fans who will follow entire UK tours. It’s obviously easier here than anywhere else to complete one as it’s not that big of a country, so you’ll looking at, on average, about 12 tour dates across maybe 14 days or so. It’s cheaply done too, if you know exactly what websites to use to book hotels and are willing to spend hours of your life on a Megabus or National Express coach. For the most part, tours are routed so one city is close enough to the one the following day, which is obviously for the band’s benefit but works out quite nicely for the ‘super-fans’ too. If you’re lucky enough to be following a band that is smaller, they may even begin to recognize you though this is more of a bonus rather than something to actually expect.
The obsession begins to build after a while, and UK tours are just not cutting it for the overzealous anymore. More and more British music fans are heading over to the continent, eager to catch shows in easy-reach cities such as Paris, Amsterdam, and Berlin. With low-cost fares from the likes of Easyjet and Ryanair, it’s also cheaper than ever to pull it off. It’s nothing particularly new however— desperate European fans have been flying over to the UK for shows for years since we are generally treated to far more tours than anywhere else outside of the US.
One thing I will say is that it’s not for the faint-hearted. Following a tour is honestly one of the most exhausting experiences in the world, as you’re out late at night but having to get up early in the morning to travel to the next city. Sleep becomes a thing of the past and you rely heavily on caffeine and, believe it or not, cold and flu medicine. Yes, ‘tour flu’ is most definitely a thing and as a fan traveling you are just as likely to get it as the members of the band.
I am the biggest advocate for traveling to see your favourite band as I believe it presents opportunities that you just wouldn’t get when solely going to the show in the city you live in. I have friends all over the UK and beyond that, the world, and have seen such amazing things. Who would’ve thought that being such a devoted fan of a band meant I could cruise down the canals of Amsterdam or see the Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro? There’s just something magical about spending each day in a different city, packing in as much as you can before going to see that special band for the hundredth, billionth time. Again, a lot of people may not understand it, but I urge you not to knock it until you’ve tried it.