For local bands, touring is both a dream and a problem. On one hand, playing sold-out shows across the country measure the highest aspirations, but logistical issues such as transportation, gasoline, gear, food and shelter make anything beyond a brief regional tour often impossible.
While finishing up a sophomore release, Chicago band Minor Characters had been planning for such a limited tour, until, after their recent Metro show, the band received a surprise gift from their family, friends and fans: a van, gas money that will allow the band to travel more than 7,800 miles and six months of car insurance.
"In that moment, it was like some weird, surreal TV show, like Make a Wish foundation or Ed McMahon showing up at your house with a giant check and balloons," said bassist Adam Schneider, 26. "It was crazy and mindblowing. There were so many people involved, and none of us had a single idea."
The band, also composed of Andrew Pelletier, Shelby Pollard and James Ratke, was planning a Midwest tour along with a trip to SXSW, but the influx of resources might make them reconsider their plans. ("It's enough gas to get you to Los Angeles four times!" bellowed their friend Nick Brysiewicz when he announced the gift onstage.)
The van also grants the band members the ability to haul their equipment around, one of the perils of having to travel without a large vehicle. The band often had to borrow equipment, which is a difficult task, Schneider said, when you "don't know what you might be getting at all. It might be getting the most beautiful drum kit you've ever played on, or it might be from Target."
What the band appreciated most was the magnitude of the gesture in and of itself, said Schneider. He said the group supports the ideology behind grass-roots fundraising like Kickstarter but was very hesitant to start one of their own so early on.
"We didn't ask for it. In no way did we ask for it. We had a mentaility of we're gonna pay our dues, and we're gonna earn it," he said.
"It was overwhelming--completely unexpected and to know that so many people invested themselves, financially and personally, in what we're doing. The love and the caring that that shows, that means more than I could ever even put into words."
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