The Dangerous Summer - UK Headlining Tour 2013

I had the opportunity to make my first trip over the pond with my friends The Dangerous Summer. I was so stoked to be back out with these guys because #1) I had an awesome time on tour with them previously and #2) they're one of my favorite bands in the world, so I enjoy nothing more than hearing them play every night. As far as the tour, there are only so many places you can play in the UK so there were only 8 dates. I added some vacation time around Europe on each end of the shows so I wasn't just flying in and out quick. On this tour I was shooting a ton of video, so there's a huge lack of photos compared to what I normally shoot, but I was still able to scrounge enough together to justify a blog post! Side note: I'm writing this a few months after the tour ended, so I'm going to try to recall the details as clearly as I can, but my memory really sucks.

Here are the dates of the shows:

  • Sep 25 - Rock City - Nottingham, United Kingdom
  • Sep 26 - The Cockpit 3 - Leeds, United Kingdom
  • Sep 27 - King Tuts Wah Wah Hut - Glasgow, United Kingdom
  • Sep 28 - O2 Academy 2 Newcastle - Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom
  • Sep 29 - Sound Control - Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Oct 1 - Clwb Ifor Bach - Cardiff, United Kingdom
  • Oct 02 - Borderline - London, United Kingdom
  • Oct 03 - Joiners - Southampton, United Kingdom (Had to catch a plane to Germany this day!)

UK shows are fundamentally the same as US ones, but behind the scenes it's so much different. Because the country is so small, you can only drive roughly 3 hours at most to the next show. No more west coast 7 hour drives across the desert - that's something I could get used to, especially in a van like we were. Another plus to UK shows is that the staff really take care of you. Some US venues that are equivalent sizes to these UK ones rarely have a green room or area for you to put your stuff. When you're a photographer lugging a ton of gear around it really sucks to have to take stuff out of your bags in the van on an as-needed basis instead of having it inside the venue! Thankfully these UK venues were all great. The staff at every one of the shows was very helpful and had food/tea/alcohol/more alcohol ready for us, which makes every day way more enjoyable.

Day 1: Nottingham, UK at Rock City

I took a train to Nottingham from my friend's place in Manchester. Taking a train with lots of luggage is a pain and I hated it, but at least I only had to do it a couple times on the whole trip. I got to Rock City late afternoon and met up with the TDS guys. It was good to see them again despite not being apart for too long. I did a couple weeks of tour with them in the summer and it had been about a month since then.

The venue was cool - it had a couple nice rooms in different sizes to accommodate bigger and smaller shows. Oh, another interesting part about UK venues is most of them seem to turn into night clubs like every night of the week? That basically meant we had to pack up stuff and get out as soon as possible which kind of sucked but also there was a party every night so that's fun. Right next to Rock City is another venue/bar called Rescue Rooms which we ended up going to after the show for a few drinks and some alarmingly bad karaoke with Deaf Havana.

Day 2: Leeds, UK at The Cockpit

Leeds! This was the first morning I realized the beauty of the UK's smallness. From Nottingham to Leeds was only an hour and a half. Beautiful. Leeds was really neat, the venue was right near an amazing shopping center and only a few blocks from Starbucks. Obviously we had to make a trip. We also went to Nandos, of course.

My friend Jordan Green who is an awesome UK tour photographer happened to be home and free so he came out to hang for a bit. We did a bit of shopping - he helped me find a new CF card reader because mine stopped working the night before... great. If you're reading this - much appreciated, Jordan.

The show was upstairs in this rectangle-shaped room which had an arched ceiling made completely of corrugated steel. It was odd, but cool. The room was PACKED. There were so many people in there and it got unbearably hot and impossible to move. At these smaller shows there's obviously no photo pit and in this case no room on stage at all, so shooting photos and video was a struggle.

Day 3: Glasgow, UK at King Tut's

The drive into Scotland was incredible. I was super hyped up for it because I had watched Skyfall a few days before and figured everything would look like that... and it kind of did, actually. It was foggy and rainy but beautiful outside. The hills and landscape were very Instagrammable.

King Tut's was probably my favorite venue of the whole tour. They had a kitchen in-house and cooked food for us... it was the most amazing mac n cheese I've had in my life. It had bacon in it and man, it was so good. But that's not the only reason it was my favorite, I swear. The cool part about King Tut's was it's historical significance. It's a small venue but the bands that had come through there were incredible.

The show that night was one of the best of the tour. It was a totally sold out room and the energy was super high. There were so many crowdsurfers and people singing along to every word. I love shows like that, especially because The Dangerous Summer is one of my own favorite bands. Watching them play every night didn't get old... I loved it more each show. But shows like this one are especially awesome because the guys feed off the energy and play so well. This was a great night.

After the show we starting talking to the venue's house sound guy, Jerry. Jerry kept talking about how sick Ben's drumming was (valid point, Jerry). He had worked there practically since the venue opened and had some incredible stories. He said he's seen bands like Coldplay and No Doubt come through this tiny 300 cap venue in Glasgow before they became what they are now. I can only imagine the stuff this guy has seen in his time there.

Day 4: Newcastle, UK at O2 Academy

The O2 Academy venues are scattered around the UK and they run a tight ship. We played a smaller upstairs room but the big room there was huge. The first thing we did when we arrived in Newcastle was to stop a local and find out where the nearest Nandos was. Oh, and if you don't know Nandos, well... I feel sorry for you. It's this incredible chicken place which they evidently only have in the UK (and like 2 random North American locations). Anyway we all racked up our rewards cards a bunch over the course of the tour.

The weird part about Newcastle is that there were clubs open in the middle of the afternoon. Drunk people everywhere. It was really weird - you would walk past clubs blasting dance music at 2pm. Pretty sure it was a Sunday too. Apparently Newcastle parties no matter the time or day.

After the show we packed up our stuff, grabbed kebabs from a shady place across the street, and got out of town. Getting out of Newcastle was scarier than we expected, though. Evidently the drunk people clubbing at 2pm all decided to go home at the same time and there were MOBS of blackout drunk people all over the street. It was like an episode of The Walking Dead. Cars even stopped in the middle of intersections so people could puke out the door. WB managed to weave through traffic and get us out of there alive, thank God.

Day 4: Manchester, UK at Sound Control

Ahh Manchester. I was just here right before the tour started hanging out with my friend Matt Sayward from The Cape Race . His buddy Mark Orr who owns LAB Records generously let me stay with him for a few days despite not knowing who I was before then. Great guy - hopefully I can return the favor someday.

Anyway, it was great to be back in Manchester, I really enjoyed the city a few days prior. We showed up plenty early but due to some massive protest that circled the venue and blocked every street we needed to take, we were heavily delayed and frustrated. After speaking to a dozen police officers who weren't willing to help us we managed to make our way through the madness and get to the show. The band's manager, Jamie , came out and hung out for the show which was rad.

The room was pretty packed that night which was cool, and the guys played a good show. I wish we had more time in Manchester but oh well. It was a cool place and I want to come back sometime and explore the city more.

Day 5: Cardiff, UK at Clwb Ifor Bach

When we got to Clwb Ifor Bach I couldn't believe my eyes. Actually back up - when we got into Wales itself I couldn't believe my eyes. How is Welsh an actual language?! The road signs were so confusing, there are like no vowels. I was so confused. Ok, as I was saying, when we got to Clwb Ifor Bach I couldn't believe my eyes. The venue was tucked in a cobblestone alley about 100 yards from a real life castle. This was the first real castle I saw my whole trip! We obviously had to go explore around it for a while. Apparently it was built in around the year 1080, and on that same location the Romans built a defensive fort around 50 AD. I'd never seen any building nearly that old before.

We walked around Cardiff for a bit. Found a Nandos. The usual routine. Cardiff was really interesting - the part I love most about European cities is that they're built for walking. You can walk everywhere and not worry about a thing.

I gathered the band as it got dark and we shot some casual promo images just for fun. They came out alright but we only shot for 20 minutes or so before we made our way back because it was too dark.

Day 6: London, UK at Borderline

This is it! London was my last day on the tour and it was a bummer it was over so quickly. I'm happy my final stop was in London though, because the city is amazing. Favorite place I've been yet on this planet, for sure.

When we arrived we parked a bit away from the venue and, being the Americans we were, sniffed out a Chipotle (like the only one on the continent) and ate there. Hot tip; UK Chipotle is not as good as US Chipotle. After eating we loaded in and started getting ready for the show.

I ran off for a bit and met up with my internet friend Lauren Aquilina , who is absolutely one of the most talented people I know . This was the first time we'd ever met - we were online friends for a while so it was really great to see her. We ate at Nandos. Obviously. Can't wait to see Lauren again, she's got such a bright future. One of the best parts of getting to go on tour is to meet all the people that I talk to online but live thousands of miles away.

The show was amazing - sold out and packed to the brim. One of those shows that kind of validates what you're doing and makes you know that it's all worth it. I mean, I just take photos but for me it makes me realize that people care so much about a band and the photos and video are the only way to fully preserve those moments and let other people experience them from across the planet. The London show was one of the best I've seen the guys ever play, and it was great to end on the highest note of the whole experience. After the show we made a mandatory stop at Crobar, which is this tiny rough-around-the-edges bar that could comfortably fit about 8 people, but evidently squeezed in about 75 bodies that night. It was kind of our last hurrah in the country so we had a few drinks. I guess Dave Grohl has rented this place out before for Foo Fighters after-parties and the like. It seems like a bit of a rock n roll icon, and we definitely had a good time.

AJ and I had some really deep conversation on the drive to the hotel that night about Taylor Swift and songwriting, I think, and then I slept for about an hour before I had to head to the airport to catch my early flight to Germany. I fell asleep on the way to the airport, while waiting in the airport, and on the short plane ride. I can't recall the last time I've been so exhausted. When I got to Germany I spent some time in Frankfurt and Munich (Oktoberfest!!) with my old college roommate before I finally traveled back home to Minnesota.