A couple of months ago the Webster Hall music venue reopened in New York City.
As a relatively new arrival to the city, I’m not an expert on the city’s nightlife history, but I know although it’s not in the same category as the likes of CBGBs, Webster Hall is still up there when it comes to New York’s most revered places to hear live music.
On a warm Spring night in 2013, I went to Webster Hall in its previous incarnation. That particular night it was host to a crazed dubstep party, but it wasn’t the gnashing synth lines that grabbed me; it was the colourful, weird and magical little pocket of the city that I’d never visited before.
Fast forward 5 years and I find myself living directly opposite the place. It’s a warm day today and I’m writing this from the terrace of my building as the sun tips behind the new hotel being built opposite. Outside Webster Hall I can see a bunch of Broken Social Scene fans already lining up outside the venue for the final edition of the band’s three-night stay.
And outside the 24 hour market on the corner of 11th St and 3rd Avenue is a space reserved for the headline band’s tour bus. Every night or two it switches over to whoever’s on the road and coming into town, complete with their cornucopia of backing musicians, guitar techs, tour managers, agents, managers, and whoever else may be part of the crew.
All this is to say, Webster Hall has got me thinking about being on tour again.
On the Road
I spent nearly 10 years of my life in and around the world of touring.
Most of the time I was behind the scenes, yet in the orbit – making the deals, routing the tour stops, ensuring the tickets went on sale, the artwork was on point, and the stage time made sense.
Sometimes I’d be on tour – very occasionally as a DJ myself, and most often as the agent for the artists I represented.
I left that world 4 years ago this month. Sometimes I’m wistful, and every so often I feel those pangs of regret.
- Did I leave too soon?
- Why didn’t I travel more?
- What if I didn’t lose touch with so many people in that world?
- Knowing what I know now (a lot, lot more), what would I have done differently?
- Who would I have become?
- What would my life look like now?
Now I’m perhaps in the orbit of the orbit.
Still connected, tethered by a couple of lines that are almost invisible to the naked eye.
Out of the game, yet inside the outer galaxy.
Every so often I’ll look out and see the stars align. I’ll find myself back there again, carried into the magnetic pull of the night lights, taking a trip around, before the constellation flickers and rotates out of view again as daylight comes. And as soon as it starts, back I go to normality – whatever that means.
There’s something about being on tour:
Getting there just in time, against the odds.
The few seconds before the stage lights come up.
The tense energy of the tidal wave that’s an expectant crowd.
The magic moment of that song playing.
Being there to see it all come together.
But it’s more about the people and the places.
The knitted connection of the traveling humans in transit.
A glimpse into the lives of others and the fabric of their lives: from Serbia to Sao Paulo, Barcelona to Beirut
An insight into cultures through music, food, gathering, celebration, commerce, tension
The stop, start, pause, wait, go again. Grueling and grim, yet strangely satisfying and special.
For all its downsides, discombobulation, and hidden costs, I want to go back out on tour again.
I’m out of the game, out of the orbit, but there’s a strange pull, a strange yearning, that’s hard to ignore.
This time I’m orbiting around the orbit – a second-hand satellite, some rust accruing and navigation systems a year or two out of date, but with miles on the clock and time in the rotation.
I know it’ll never be the same, and it always looks different from the other side of the glass, but there’s something tugging at my feet and my heart.
Going up into orbit again.
On tour again.