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A Day in the Life – When the Tour Bus Reaches the Stadium

Trucks Pulling in for the Lorde ShowWhen I left you last week, I told you about how my typical day starts and what the fist half on my day typically involves.This week I’m going to tell you what happens when we finally reach the arena.

It’s fortunate that the routing, in this business, has gotten MUCH better than from when I started. The average distance I travel between shows is now somewhere in the 350-450 mile range and tends to not look like darts thrown at a map. A ramshackle, hopscotch method of touring, with ridiculous distances between shows and passing through a city three or four times before you actually stop and do a show there; have now given way to fairly well planned and well thought out tours.

As the night gives way to daybreak, we are generally on the downward leg of our journey, and THANK GOD FOR THAT! Personally, the worst time of my drive is when the sun is struggling for what seems like an eternity to rise above the darkness and burn bright. It wears me out and it seems to take forever.

Generally before rush hour has had a chance to start or to take hold, we are pulling the tour into the venue, getting out of the way of the trucks and into our designated parking areas if I’m driving the crew. At this point, my passengers are usually still in bed and the driving part of our day is over but the work will continue for a bit longer.

If we are at a venue that has shore power we will plug into the 50-amp service. If not we will fire up the 24,000-volt on board diesel generator and power down the bus. The roof air conditioning system will take over for the onboard bus air conditioning system (or heat) and all A/C outlets will now be powered by the generator or shore power instead of the battery bank and inverter.

If I have coffee drinkers on board, I will at this point start the first pot of the day so it is ready for my guys as they start to stir and get ready for the day. I will normally just hang out a bit with other drivers or on the bus depending on how early we get there. I may even find time for a short nap.

Unpacking for the Lorde showThe crew generally starts to rise as early as 7am depending on who you have on board. The production manager, stage manager, production coordinator, head rigger, audio lead and lighting lead all need to be in the venue. They need to mark rigging points, determine office locations, dressing rooms, catering and various other things before the general crew are up and the doors to the trailers open and the gear starts to roll in.

As a bus driver, once everyone is up and catering is open, I’ll usually go and have breakfast.

After breakfast, it’s back to the bus to clean up. My job responsibility is to keep the bus tidy, clean the bathroom and make sure the floors are vacuumed and mopped. Now, I’m no maid or butler, and the majority of the passengers are very good at keeping the bus clean, but I need to tend to the things that they are not expected to do. Once I’ve got all of that done, it is a consensus decision between all the drivers as to what happens next. The choices range from:

  1. Is today an exterior washday? If so, we will generally pull out the hoses and the brushes and have a big ol’ bus wash in the parking lot. As a fleet we all like to look good at the same time.
  2. Are we going to hang out and stay for lunch? The length of tonight’s journey and the distance to the driver hotel usually determines this for the day.
  3. Do we need to do anything tour related that requires us to hang around? Turn in payroll sheets, turn in tour float and receipts and be “re-floated” like; petty cash for road expenses: fuel, tolls etc. The tour accountant or production manager handles anything that involves cash on the tour and us drivers need to adjust to their schedule.

Once the decision is made to leave, us drivers find our runner for the day, hop in the van and head to the driver hotel for the remainder of the day.

In about 10 or 12 hours, we will do it all over again!

Until next time… Motor on!