Where do I start? No Doubt have been my favourite band since I was 10 or 11 years old. I grew up watching their videos on Rage every weekend, collecting clippings from TV Hits magazines, and like every other fan – just really wanting to be Gwen Stefani.
In October 2000, No Doubt toured Australia and my parents bought me a ticket to go and see them at Festival Hall in Melbourne with some friends. I was 15, it was my first concert and that night definitely changed my life in so many ways (which I won’t bore you with).
They returned in August 2002 to Melbourne where I saw them again, and my level of ‘fan’ had reached an extreme high. I started telling all my friends that one day I would fly to California and see No Doubt in their home city.
In 2004, No Doubt announced they were taking a break. Gwen toured Australia in August 2007 for for second solo album The Sweet Escape, and I went to five shows in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne – this was my first taste of following a favourite musician interstate on tour. I also started a No Doubt fan site called No Doubt Australia.
In early 2009, No Doubt announced they were coming back from hiatus and would be doing a USA only Summer tour. I decided that was it, I was going to fly to California and see them.
By this point I had been shooting bands for less than a year around Melbourne, I desperately wanted to shoot one of No Doubt’s shows in California so I contacted their management requesting to shoot one of the concerts for my website No Doubt Australia.
During this time I was contacted separately by the band’s management letting me know that No Doubt wanted to reward the fans who had supported them for so long, and because I ran a fan website in Australia they wanted to give me a Meet & Greet pass for one of the concerts. Obviously I lost my sh-t.
Fast forward to July 2009, and I was flying to California with tickets to nine No Doubt concerts throughout California. My days were spent lining up for shows from 9am with all the other obsessed fans, listening to sound checks, freaking out over the snippets of rare songs we’d hear them play, and hitting up the local Ihop restaurant after each concert covered in sweat and gushing at how incredible each concert had been.
This week is the six year anniversary since the best two weeks of my life, and living the ‘fan dream’ as I guess you could call it. I was only 24, and I made my dream happen. I followed my favourite band, met all of them, and made so many life long friends in the process.
Here’s a selection of my favourite shots – I snuck my old Fuji Finepix camera into most of the concerts, and the Mountain View show where I had the photo pass was shot on my Nikon D80. You can view more on my Flickr.
Want to follow your favourite band on tour too? At the end of this post I’ve listed my top tips on how to do it.
Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, California (Photo Pass)
Gibson Amphitheatre, Los Angeles, California (Shirley Manson special guest)
Sleep Train Pavilion, Concord, California
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Irvine Meadows, California
The highlight of the tour was an unexpected one – at the concert in Mountain View, my friends and I had been waving Australian flags in the crowd, and at one point during the concert Gwen spotted them and asked us to come on stage with her. She grabbed my friend Ben’s camera and took a photo with us – the flash didn’t go off so she looks a bit confused and can be seen apologising to us in the video, but the photo turned out perfectly!
TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO FOLLOW YOUR FAVOURITE BAND ON TOUR
1. Buy the tickets to the concerts you want to go to, and work out the details later. Even if you don’t think you can afford another $70 for that one more concert, just remember that six months from now you probably would have wasted that money on something else. Live off Mi Goreng noodles for a month if you have to, just get those tickets. Experiences are more important than money.
2. Connect with other fans online who are interested in seeing the band in the cities you’re visiting. When I followed No Doubt through California I travelled with two friends from Sydney, a friend from Florida and a friend from Brazil – all who I met through No Doubt’s fan forum (back when those existed). We booked a hire car together and cheap motel rooms that provided breakfast (this will be your saviour), and split the cost 5 ways – so it ended up being pretty budget friendly.
3. Get to the concerts early to line up. If you have seats then it’s not necessary, but if you’re a huge fan and have flown this far it’s safe to assume that everyone wants to be in the mosh pit, right? And you want to try and get front row, right? Plus the sound check will happen in the afternoon, so if you line up early and take some snacks, you might be able to hear some extra songs.
4. Talk to other fans. These people might become your lifelong friends, and you might find yourself meeting up with them again on the next tour. I still catch up with friends that I made at shows years ago. Too shy to say hi in person? Scroll through the tour hashtags on Twitter or Instagram and chat online to some people first.
5. Try and meet the band, but always be respectful. They’re human too, so if you do get a chance to meet them try to be patient and don’t over-step the boundaries or make them feel uncomfortable. Straight after the concert is usually the best bet – if you get to the show early, suss out where the back door of the venue is, and once the show is over head directly there. Also take a sharpie texta with you so they can sign your ticket stub/rare vinyl/arm for a tattoo (personally I’ve only done the first two, but who knows what the future holds).
6. Sleep when you’re dead. Or almost dead, from the exhaustion of the tour. You can never get this time back so make the most of it – don’t be lazy and chill out at the hotel all morning, get down to the show, wait in line, and start meeting other fans! They might even have a tip on a secret show the band are playing the next night.
I hope that helps. Good luck!