Obviously there is no bigger passion for me than travel. So I travel for the sake of travel whenever possible. I deeply enjoy discovering new places, people, and cultures. But occasionally I like to travel for my second biggest passion – music. Seeing a band or artist you love play live is one of life’s greatest pleasures and sometimes combining the two can make for an extremely unique vacation.
Yes, most popular bands tour around the world, or at least the country – why not wait until they come to your city? For one, because they don’t always. I live in Miami, which despite being a big city, doesn’t see a lot of great artists because of simple geography. Miami is all the way down Florida. Touring acts have to spend a lot of time and money to get down here and because our music fans are.. well, terrible, they may not even sell out a midsize venue. So why bother? From a practical standpoint, I get it. As a music fan, it’s sad and frustrating. But you know what they say, if the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the mountain.
When Spice Girls reunited in 2008, my tween self was giddy with excitement. There was a lottery to buy tickets and only a number of cities in the US where they would be going – and nowhere near me. So I did the next best thing and turned the concert into a trip to New York and saw them in Newark. I didn’t have the opportunity to see them when I was younger and I haven’t had an opportunity since so it was worth the trouble. Since then, of course, my taste in music has improved. More recently, I saw Rodriguez in a beautiful theater Florence, Italy – an experience that would be all but impossible to recreate since he’s getting up there in years and it’s unlikely he’ll ever tour in the US again.
Aside from the fact that some acts may not be coming to your town any time soon, another good reason to travel for music is that seeing your favorite band or act somewhere else might be a better experience than it would be to see them at home. When the Foo Fighters held their 20th anniversary blowout on the 4th of July in Washington, DC, I bought tickets and suddenly had amazing vacation plans for Independence Day. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime show and even with Dave Grohl in a cast, the show was incredible. That’s not to say that the Foo Fighters are not always incredible, but this was a show that I was only going to have to have in DC on that particular day.
One great reason to travel for music is that sometimes a concert gives you an excuse to go somewhere you would never otherwise go. One of my favorite concert experiences ever was seeing The Hives in their native Sweden. I didn’t have specific plans to go to there, but I was looking for an interesting destination and when I’m not feeling particularly inspired, I check around to see what bands are touring. That’s when I discovered that The Hives were playing a practically free show at a theme park in Stockholm. So off I went to Sweden. You had to pay entrance to the park, but the show was no additional cost. I waited in front of the stage and had a really great view, that I would have kept for the entire set if it weren’t for the intense moshing going on around me. The Hives didn’t speak a word of English since they were at home in Sweden so I didn’t understand a thing. I almost ended up hospitalized from the crowd crushing me and I loved every second of it.
But aside from all that, what may be one of the best reasons to travel for music is the lure of the music festival. Why travel to see one band when you can travel to see one hundred? US festivals like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Coachella bring the masses to their respective parts of the country. Fests in other parts of the world, like Glastonbury, are even more attractive since their standard headliners are acts like The Rolling Stones. Festivals are a great way to enjoy a good bit of music and spend your free time discovering the city. Some of the camping festivals like Coachella, can be an interesting vacation all its own, particularly if you love heat and sand storms.
Understandably, you may not need a particular reason to travel, but occasionally, the reason should be music.