3 Things I Learned Touring (In A Christian Hardcore Band)

For those that don’t know, I used to be in a hardcore band called Ten 33. Ten 33 was signed to a small Christian label called Blood and Ink Records. I had the privilege of doing this band with some of my closest friends; we still hang out and share life with one another (although, I’m probably the most absent of the group). These guys taught me so much about life, relationships, and God. Maybe even more compelling, my band mates (including the roadies) unashamedly spoke difficult truths into my life during a time where I was using people like a drug for my own self-gratification and worth. They saw me for me, in both my worst and my best of times. Sadly, it was more of the later than the former, yet they remained loyal and true by offering me grace and love. It is impossible to fit all the life lessons I learned from touring in a hardcore band in one blog post. No, I won’t be musing about how it’s better to NOT shoot roman candles at one another (sorry mom). Nor will I share about best ways to sneak 12 people into one hotel room; or why a relay race after eating 60 sliders from White Castle might be a bad idea. Instead, I will share three things that I hope help in some way.

1. Hospitality

Being on tour for 25-40 days at a time meant we had to rely heavily on the hospitality of others. You can never explain to someone the wearisomeness of waking up, driving 8 hours, playing a show, packing up the tour van, and sleeping on some strange floor for that many days. However, for many of us, we have our own repetitiousness and rhythm that become stale and fragmented.

I have realized that there is a treasure for others in what we have.

Some of the greatest memories of touring came from random people that would spend their last penny to buy us a meal at Pizza Hut. Or when a fan would ask their parents if the band could spend the night on the floor for free only to wake up to the smell of eggs and bacon being prepared for us by the family the next day. My favorite memory was playing in Las Vegas and a friend’s mom paid for a hotel room on the Vegas strip for us to stay in. You have no idea the life that those moments brought us in our weary travels. I have come to realize that the most life-giving thing we can do is offer our hospitality and treasure to others. Offering hospitality in the smallest ways takes those who are on their own monotonous travels, from lifeless to life in one moment. It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture, only giving what you have so that others might experience hospitality.

2. Presence

One of the differentiating things we wanted to do as a band was to be present with our audience on stage and off. We never wanted to take ourselves so seriously (which was a temptation in hardcore) that we ceased to be accessible to people on the fringe. We realized that punk rock and hardcore wasn’t just for those “in the know,” but more appropriately for those without a voice. We decided that we would strive to make sure people felt cared for and valued with every encounter we had. As a band, we had countless conversations with people on tour where they offered their deepest feelings of pain and regret and we listened and cared for them. I’m grateful for the decision the band made early on because it made me realize how important it is to be present with people in their life stories which included lament and joy. The reality is that many of us struggle and feel voiceless, yet we rarely feel like we have a platform to share our grievances with others.

Presence takes someone from being just another anonymous person to being ushered into the realm of known.

Being known is that powerful moment where, for the first time in many peoples’ lives, they feel apart of something bigger than they are and not alone.

3. Celebrate

Ten 33 knew how to celebrate well. We just loved to have a good time even when things weren’t going well. We had our share of moments where things were going terribly: things were stolen, our van broke down, we got lost—this was before GPS so it happened frequently, our record wasn’t selling like it should, or we would run out of money on the road due to shows not panning out like we thought. Regardless of all the things that went wrong on tour, we always knew how to make light of the situations and laugh. I think part of the reason we had such an easy time celebrating was because we knew that we were just lucky to be with one another. We also knew that celebration was a way of revealing God’s goodness despite the hardship of the moment. I learned a valuable lesson that gratitude can take you a long way with others but more importantly, it is an act of worship to God. We celebrated because Ten 33 knew that God was still faithful despite hardships.

Celebration is an opportunity to show the world of grace, love, and hope despite difficulties that will inevitably come.

Even cooler, celebration with an acknowledgment of pain brings about moments of healing.

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