Dessa's tour diary, Vol. 4
Photos by Isaac Gale
There are inside jokes, and slang, and scraps of nonsense that evolve on tour--and all of them lose their magic once you cross the threshold of your apartment. You will try to recount a tour anecdote to a friend, to explain how a particular expression came into being... and you get that same deflated feeling that you get when you retell a dream. The structure of the story seems to melt away beneath you, leaving only a few halting sentences. You know without looking to your listener's face that you've relayed none of the urgency or humor of the experience itself.
Sometime after midnight tonight, the Every Never Is Now Tour will be over. We'll play our last show in Duluth, probably with the giddiness that accompanies fatigue, and with the abandon of people who've spent long, unbroken hours in one another's company. I don't know exactly how I'll feel on stage tonight, but I have a guess. I'll have that pang in my chest that hits me when I'm getting nostalgic for the present moment. And the relief and revelry and fraternity of the past seven weeks will unfold in predictable ways. On the last night of a tour, someone usually rushes the stage during another performer's set, a line of shots appears besides the turntables, and brief but effusive toasts are made that will be difficult to remember in the morning.
Last night, after our Milwaukee show, I shared a hotel room with Plain Ole Bill and Stacey, our tour manager. Bill and I have been pretty sick during this final week of tour--both of us congested, achy, and lethargic. Consequently, we've been quarantined to our own sick room for the past few evenings. Last night, we took pulls from a shared bottle of red NyQuil, crawled into our respective beds, and spent our last few moments of consciousness speculating about our approaching homecoming. Bill spent more than 200 nights on the road last year, playing with P.O.S. He cautioned me about the blues that accompany the end of tour. "Don't plan anything for the first few days," he said. "Just sleep." Extended tours affect relationships at home, he warned. "You'll be surprised about which five people you're really looking forward to seeing--these are people who you might not even see that often in Minneapolis. And you'll think to yourself, 'These are my real friends.'" Others, he said, will be harder to reconnect with. I didn't ask for the details of Bill's social life, but I couldn't help but scroll through my own friendships, guessing which might be damaged by a year of touring. And I wondered how I'd fare on my own headlining tour, how I'd weather the sort of year that Stef and Bill had.
I'm braced for the blues, but haven't succumbed quite yet. It's the first day of spring and I'm looking forward to the sunlight in Minneapolis. Stef is driving. I'm wearing a backwards Grieves cap to keep my bangs off my face. There's an audiobook playing through the van speakers. By all professional measures, our tour was a success: full rooms, receptive crowds, good merchandise sales. For the first time in my career, I don't feel shy to identify myself as an artist--a word that always loomed large to me, too special to touch. I'm hopeful for the coming year, I'm heartened by the last seven weeks, and my instincts seem more trustworthy after road-testing them. My first national tour has emphasized the personal costs of touring, but it's stoked my appetite for the art. I'm eager to sleep in my own bed. I'm eager to see my five friends. Then I'm eager to work.
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