Is Your Band Touring Europe on a Sleeper Bus? Check the Parking

There are a staggering number of gigs in continental Europe that have no parking for sleeper buses or trucks. (America, being the home of the automobile, does not seem to have this problem). Some European venues are actually completely inaccessible for a touring sleeper bus. There are either low bridges surrounding the venue, narrow streets, weight restrictions or zoning laws. Playing one of these gigs is not only a logistical challenge but can actually end up costing you money Maharaja Tempo Traveller was the most comfortable.

The standard approach for gigs with no parking is ‘drop and run’ – the sleeper bus pulls up to the venue at load-in time, the crew haul the gear off, the band gather everything they need for the show and troop into the venue and the bus pulls away again, probably to spend the evening in a truck stop on the outside of town. After the show and load-out the bus returns, everyone gets back on and drive to the next show.

‘Drop and run’ gigs can be made a lot less traumatic if the person in charge (hopefully a competent concert tour manager) informs everyone the day before the show that the sleeper bus will be going away and that they need to prepare everything they need for the show before they leave the bus at load-in time. Just saying the words ‘the bus is going away after load-in’ is usually enough to make people listen – play on the psychological attachment people have to their hotel on wheels.

The same competent person should then also check with the driver to confirm where the bus is actually going to be. Once parked up the driver will probably try to get some sleep and will not appreciate a phone call saying ‘where are you, the bass player left her tuner on the bus’ for instance.

Venues that have no actual access to sleeper buses are rare but do exist. You should check with the booking agent and venue itself before confirming such a gig – it is likely to cost you money. The problem is that you cannot do a ‘drop and run’ because you cannot even get the sleeper bus near the gig. You will therefore have to hire another, smaller, vehicle and cross-load the gear and touring party into that. For instance, The Tivoli Oudegracht in Utrecht is inaccessible to buses and trucks because of weight restrictions on the street. Bands are advised to park their sleeper buses in a conference centre nearby and cross-load the gear from there. However, Tivoli also want top-class artists to play at their venue and realise the cross-loading is their problem, not yours. The venue therefore supply a mini-bus and small truck to help get band, crew and equipment in and out of the gig as part of the show deal.

 

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