The first time I ever really traveled to see a show was in the summer of 2015, when an incredibly cheap festival with an unarguably great lineup was announced in Scranton, Pennsylvania – about two and a half hours from where I lived at the time. The main thing pulling me there was that I was yet to see my favorite band, Bleachers, live. They were billed on the fest, so I convinced a friend of mine to make the journey up into the mountains with me, and the rest was history. Now, over 7 years later, following Bleachers around on tour is one of the bigger parts of my life.
After the live-music drought that we all experienced over the course of 2020 and the first half of 2021, by the time shows finally began being announced for that fall, and started to feel like they could really happen, there was one thing I was in desperate need of – a Bleachers trip. In the pre-pandemic years, I had taken my fair share of little ventures around the country to see them play, but after the complete removal of my favorite thing in the world for so many months, it seemed like there was only one logical thing to do – plan a weeklong road trip from the east coast to the midwest, hitting every show on the first week of their first tour back.
Celebrating the release of their 3rd album, Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night, Bleachers embarked on a two-month North American tour starting in New Jersey and ending in Canada. A friend of mine (one I’d met years earlier because we were both quite into traveling to see this band) and I planned our week-long journey. We went from Asbury Park to New York City, hopped on a flight to Pittsburgh, drove down to Columbus, and then up to Milwaukee, and then back down to Kentucky. We stood in the crowd and heard that same set played night after night in cities we had always just arrived in and were always just about to leave, and it was magic every time.
We of course caught the bug, along with plenty of other friends I had met over the years the same way, and after the week was up, knew we had to keep going. For the remainder of that tour, every weekend show that was at all possible to get to, we were there. That tour ended up also taking me to Philadelphia and Washington DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Detroit and Cleveland, and middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania – seeing many of those places for the first time.
After a brief winter hibernation, the band returned in the Spring of 2022 with another hefty tour to continue on the TTSOOSN era, and thus the travels resumed. This time taking me to Boston, New Orleans, Napa, Atlanta, Denver, Portland, a couple more middle-of-nowhere New York shows, and London.
I was lucky enough to not only attend so many shows on this run, but to get to cover a few of them for the site too. Getting to combine my love of music, photography, and travel is something I will always be grateful for.
When I think of my favorite band, I don’t just think of the music, or even the shows themselves. I think about watching the world shrink from the view of a plane window, and driving down a midwest interstate while the sun rises over a field of cows. I think about stuffing my face with late night fast food and laughing with friends, and driving across the Golden Gate Bridge. I think of eating beignets on the bank of the Mississippi River and wandering around a Buc-ee’s convenience store at 2AM. I think about how red the rocks at Red Rocks really are, and how blue the water is in Maine. I think of all the corners of the world I’d be yet to see, and all the people I wouldn’t be lucky enough to know, if there wasn’t something as special as live music in this world, compelling me to follow it.
Bleachers will end their 16 months of touring, and conclude this album cycle, with a performance at ZONA Music Festival in Phoenix this December – an absolutely stacked lineup that should be compelling enough to get anyone thinking about booking a flight to the desert (I mean – Bleachers, Japanese Breakfast, Bartees Strange, The Front Bottoms, Lucy Dacus, Pom Pom Squad… and that’s just a fraction of the lineup).
With no further shows announced for the band and multiple hints that this album’s era is coming to an end, I’ll just have to twiddle my thumbs and wait for the next excuse to travel for a show, but I’ll forever be thankful for the perfect blip of time that this touring cycle gave me.
It’s not always glamorous – there are about a thousand things that can (and probably will) go wrong on any given trip. But my advice to everyone who loves music is simple – follow your favorite band. Maybe not to the extent I’ve gotten accustomed to, but go to that second show (or that third show) on the tour that you’ve been thinking about. Use the music you love as an excuse to see the city you’ve always wanted to visit. Book the cheap Spirit flight, or the $5 Megabus, or load up your car with some friends, and go have your fun. Meet some like minded people who care about the same things you do and collect as many music-inspired memories as you possibly can. It’s doable, and it’s absolutely worth it.
All Photos: Dana Gorab