By: Simeon Lohrmann (RYFO Team Leader)
With over 100 bands performing in 32 states in under 2 months, Warped Tour is a MASSIVE undertaking! This summer Warped is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and while the tour is celebrating its 20th year; we’re celebrating our 1st time having a RYFO presence on the tour!
Since the tour kicked off last month in Texas, our volunteers have been spreading the word about our Host Home network, and looking for opportunities to build relationships with the bands on the tour. When it’s all said and done 21 different volunteers will have represented RYFO at select tour dates in 6 different states. With one date remaining for our volunteers in Atlanta next week, we wanted to share about our experience thus far.
A Warm Welcome
Since our first appearance on the tour at the San Antonio date, the bands have been wowed by our desire to care for their needs on the road. Some of the bands went so far as to stop what they were doing to sign up on the spot. Comments like, “This is the best idea I’ve ever heard!” have been repeatedly noted by our volunteers as they share about RYFO. Simply put, RYFO has been warmly welcomed into the Warped Tour Community!
One notable, and somewhat comical comment made by an artist at the Pomona date went something like this…(a phone conversation while walking up to our booth in the catering area) “I’m about to get lunch (brief pause while reading our sign) and apparently I’m about to get a shower!” We proceeded to share with this artist, as we have with most of the musicians on the tour, about the hospitality of our amazing Host Homes all around the country. He was blown away!
In contrast, some of the artists we connected with thought RYFO was simply too good to be true. When Audrey Thompson, RYFO’s Host Home Coordinator was asked, “So what’s the catch?” by one of the more skeptical artists. She responded plainly, “Well actually there is a catch. We’re doing it all for Jesus.” To which the artist responded, “That’s a good catch!”
To add to all the positive receptivity from the Warped bands, RYFO’s acceptance on the tour was fully cemented when Warped Tour’s founder Kevin Lyman took it upon himself to approach our table and personally thank us for serving their artist community.
With such a warm welcome across the board our staff has concluded one thing for sure – This summer won’t be the last time we’re Serving the Voices at Warped Tour!
A big shout out and thank you to our amazing volunteers!
A Picnic with Bands
By: Lori George
Jonathan Gunasingham became involved with RYFO the year after he graduated from college. Engineering was his focal point when he attended college, but he was looking for something that blended his passions and interests with a Godly calling. The phrase, “the place you are called is where your deepest longing meets the world’s greatest need” is what Jonathan believed would happen for him. One of his deep passions is music, and he started to wonder if there was a space to craft communities on the road with touring artists, while meeting their practical needs. Jonathan believed this could not only impact the lives of the artists themselves, but also the lives of other artists they shared the road with. He drafted surveys and e-mailed varied artists, reaching out, and somewhere along the line was connected with RYFO.
“I was really drawn to the comprehensive aim of RYFO to meet all needs of touring musicians,” Jonathan shared. “I started to reach out to musicians and set up times at concerts to speak to them about their spiritual, practical, psychological, and emotional needs. When setting up these times, I usually tried to see if I could bring to them something to help them out like care packages and what not. I often had people I was acquainted with contribute items such as baked goods and gift cards.”
Eventually, Jonathan started to dream big and think outside the proverbial box. He was inspired by the amazing gatherings his church put on, and the potlucks that took place before concerts. Jonathan started wondering what it would look like if a tour came through town, and had a giant picnic of sorts before the show, for all artists on the tour. Someone he met at one of the concerts took notice of what Jonathan was up to, and called him one year later to see if he could do a similar outreach for a tour she was booking.
“The tour ended up being Abandon Kansas’s first Canadian tour,” Jonathan shared. “I was excited that the act of service got some steam and others were excited about it. I once again gathered many friends. This time there were more people who came by to hangout and attend the show. They brought TONS of food. The overall night was bittersweet because I discovered the band was having a pretty rough time in Canada; low capacity shows, unaware venues and being robbed the night before the show they played in Toronto. The band was in somewhat low spirits. It was very difficult having such high expectations for the event knowing what the band was navigating. However, it was awesome to form a camaraderie with them and hear that the food, support and love they experienced in Toronto was the best part of the tour. We were also able to send them off with food.”
Photo Courtesy of Fire At Will Photography
A behind the scenes view
By: Lori George
I volunteered to work at a well-known Christian artist’s merchandise table two years ago. I had moved to California a mere four weeks prior and viewed volunteering at this event as a unique way for me to meet and network with others. The tour was a rather large one, each gig lasting up to a solid three hours with all the performers combined doing 10-20 minutes worth of material.
The artist I volunteered for not only had their spouse with them on tour, but also their children and their in-laws. After the show, the artist interacted with the long line of fans/supporters at their meet and greet table. Myself and a very small amount of others knew how exhausted this artist truly was. Despite the exhaustion the artist gave out a countless number of autographs, handshakes, hugs, and photos. Much later, after the artist was done for the night, a few more people came up to see the artist. One of them surprised me by making some negative remarks about the artist not staying around long enough to meet with people.
Since that experience and my recent involvement with RYFO, I’ve found myself wondering why these fans were so negative towards this artist. Were they expecting the artist to stay around and meet people all night long? Through RYFO, I was introduced to the idea of being a Different Brand of Fan, one who takes a sincere and genuine interest in the artist as a human being, not just as an artist. A Rebranded Fan looks for ways to love and serve an artist, and cares very little about what they get out of the interaction. It’s all about being an authentic source of encouragement, and pointing the artist towards the love that Christ has for them. Interested in learning more about being a Rebranded Fan?
Watch and share this promo video: A Different Brand of Fan.
You Aren’t Good Enough
By: Rihanna Teixeira
Rejection. It just might be one of the most emotionally catastrophic life experiences we all face. As children, our peers reject us when they won’t let us sit with them at the lunch table. We go home and cry into the arms of our parents as they do their best to patch us back up. As teenagers, rejection rears its ugly head when our crush goes with someone else to the school dance or when we don’t get chosen for the team we spent years dreaming of being on. Unfortunately, even adults can’t outrun the occasional rejection. We don’t get the job we interviewed for or the promotion we’ve spent years working towards. Rejection hurts. Badly.
Now, imagine facing rejection anywhere from 1-4 times a week for years on end. Imagine working 80 plus hours a week with zero to little pay and having to live off ramen and dollar menu items. Imagine having to hear that you’re not good enough and that you’re wasting your life away from friends and even family members. If you imagined all those things, you might just have a taste of what it feels like to be a musician.
Chasing your dreams is hard. So much so, that the majority of Americans stop pursuing their dreams and settle for a typical office job by the age of 23. The daily grind of actually actively pursuing a dream takes an emotional toll on a person, particularly for artists. Musicians spend hours of their time creating music. They sacrifice sleep, time with family, and nights out with friends just to give life to a song that they carry within them. They sing at open mic nights to an audience of maybe 10, while dreaming of singing at a stadium. They get denied by agents and managers who tell them that their songs aren’t good enough. Their appearance isn’t marketable. Their voice needs more work. They are faced daily with the chance that all this work may quite possibly lead to nothing. Yet, they keep going. They sleep and travel in that stereotypical “band-van” that might not make it to their next destination. They give their all at every singing event despite the terrible sound system or audience turn out. They pour their hearts out into every song knowing that the general public will have the opportunity to tell them that they aren’t good enough.
One of the many reasons I love RYFO is because it was started by two guys who experienced what it was like to chase a dream. They realized that musicians don’t have to walk this path alone, if they can help it. They understood the power of offering an aspiring band a hot meal and a warm bed to sleep in even if it’s just for one night. They decided that a “fan” can be so much more than just a consumer. A fan can actually stand beside them and actually give back.
So, the next time you go to see your favorite local band play or if you meet an aspiring musician, encourage them. Tell them why you love their music. If you can, offer to buy them dinner. Offer them a place to stay. Tell them that you believe in them. Tell them that they are good enough.