It’s been one week since we saw the end of a fantastic tour. The band and traveling fans alike are back home, sleeping in their own beds, mostly adjusted to their original timezones. The concept of post-concert depression (PCD) is a very real one, as the body and mind comes down from the natural high that comes from the thrill of any amazing and fun experience. However, my personal Tour of the Universe ended on such an unexpected high, I haven’t really had too much trouble with PCD. I coped with what I thought was the end of my adventure back in August, after the Dallas show. Dusseldorf was an amazing epilogue.
What I have felt, though, is the same as what I felt after traveling this summer: A somewhat disgruntled readjustment to normal life. The band has cited this as one of the difficulties of touring. Dave’s family suffered quite a bit of tension after he returned from Touring the Angel (the results of which can be heard in the subsequent release of Hourglass). Martin has commented about the awkwardness of something as simple as grocery shopping after a long tour. It goes without saying that Depeche Mode travels at a higher financial level than their fans. They certainly aren’t bumming couches from buddies, booking hostels and hotels with three people to a room, or hauling luggage up and down subway stairs like most of their traveling fans are. We certainly aren’t on and off tour for nine months. However, this isn’t about being well-taken care of or spoiled. It’s a psychological experience, in which I imagine better accommodations may help but do not prevent. I think one begins to understand that experience through the prism of a fan’s microcosm after even a few short trips.
Paying for services is part-in-parcel when traveling, so I don’t think we think about it much while on the road. For days or weeks, you are waited on. Hotel staff cleans and refreshes your rooms, beds made and linens clean, ready when you stumble in at 4am after a gig. Every meal is prepared by someone else, eaten at a restaurant, purchased to go or delivered by room service. Transportation is taken care of – every plane, train and autobus, even taxis or perhaps a local friend’s ride. We live in the moment, traveling with comrades in arms, sharing memories, anecdotes and laughs with each other. All for one and one for all. Every other night is a thrill, a party with the best band and the best fans in the world rocking the house and burning it down.
It was no surprise after ten days in Germany in June, I felt a little shell-shocked. It was as if time had been suspended for me, but not for the rest of the world. I had my own room for two nights in Frankfurt. After a relaxing hot bath, I flipped on CNN International while preparing for bed. Iran’s elections hadn’t gone well, Obama was in Germany, real estate market still sucked, Obama gave a press conference, etc… I was taken aback by homesick I felt just seeing our President on TV! It was then that I realized we’d been living in a bubble for around eight days thus far. A fun and physically challenging bubble, but a bubble none-the-less. I’d called my mom and boyfriend a couple of times, sent a few Facebook messages and tweets out to make sure my family knew I was safe, but I was pretty clueless about what was going on outside of me. I have to wonder if there were nights like this for the band, too – sitting on the bed with a cheeseburger and some bad telly, wondering what you’d been missing? Maybe with so long on the road, a routine settles in, with webcams and iPhones filling in the gaps. Though I would hardly think it was a cure-all.
I was only gone for four and a half days on my most recent trip – there was still a bubble. When we landed in Chicago for a layover, we came out of customs to snow on the ground and flags at half-staff. A DM friend I made on the flights said, “Oh my God, did something happen?” and I replied, “Oh, I think for the earthquakes – I saw on Twitter there were two big ones in Japan and Chile while we were gone.” We didn’t have too much of a clue for what exactly they were lowered, I just took my best guess from some passing tweets I’d seen over the weekend.
When I finally arrived from Dusseldorf Sunday night, I was unexpectedly grumpy. Traffic delayed my getting home by an hour, my grandma had broken her hip while I was away, some friends were having drama… My apartment was as I’d left it: a couple of disorganized tables, a pile of laundry to fold, and a fresh stack of bills in the mail. I was still thrilled about the whole experience, but I was certainly not looking forward to returning to the daily grind and all that it entailed. It took me a week just to get motivated to clean the kitchen, put away laundry and go grocery shopping (and that’s after the jet-lag). I was certainly glad to have my own bed, cat and boyfriend, but the mundane responsibilities not so much.
My experiences traveling for this tour have certainly given me some insight for what the band goes through on the road. They may be seated in business class and sleeping in the most posh hotels, but they still have to deal with the airports, the delays, the intermittent contact with loved-ones outside the bubble, adhering to a schedule, etc. The act of traveling itself is draining, despite the fact one might find oneself sitting on one’s bum in a numbered seat for hours, just trying to pass the time. There is a point where airports and eating out for every meal start to feel normal in a surreal sort of way. So I think of what we experienced, and multiply it by a couple months at a time to think of what it might be like for them. With a full staff of support, I imagine it’s that much harder to shift gears overnight when they head home, back to the real world in which we live most days of the year. It’s not like they have huge mansions with butlers at their beck and call. However, unlike us, they don’t have day jobs they need to return to. That’s ok though – I think they deserve a few weeks/months of lying around in their sweatpants if they so choose!