Touring Outside Your Home Turf: How Bandago Can Help
This post was written by guest contributor Richard Lee Jackson of the band Enation.
If you’re an independent touring band like us then most likely someone in your band is going to deal with the logistics of traveling. When the gigs are close to home (or even on your own coast) then it makes life pretty straightforward.
But what about those times when you have a tour, or a gig, on the other side of the country?
Unless you have some serious money in your bank account and own your own private jet (or happen to hang out with Bill Gates and he lets you ‘take it for a spin’ once in awhile), then you’re left with some ground transportation options. Buses, RV’s, and SUV’s are all common, but by far the most commonly used option is what some might call a staple in the indie band’s touring world: the tour van.
My band Enation is from WA State, and our tour consisted of gigs in the New York / New Jersey area, and then another week in Nashville. After doing the math several times (we’re musicians, not math majors) we decided it would be cost effective to fly over to the east coast and rent a van, then fly to Nashville and rent another van for that week.
But what’s the best and most cost effective way to do that? Well, thank you Google. That’s when we found Bandago.
Bandago is a great company that was formed to give touring bands like us as much ease as possible renting vans for their tours. They have several locations around the USA – including Portland (OR), New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago.
As I mentioned, our tour consisted of gigs in the New York / New Jersey area, and then another week in Nashville, so their locations couldn’t have been better for us.
They had great van options at reasonable prices. We almost rented their ‘Sprinter’ van – a decked out van with leather ‘captain’ style chairs, wi-fi on board, and a taller roof so you can stand and stretch out – until we realized they were twice as expensive as a regular 15 passenger van, like the one we use from home. Our better senses kicked in and we cut our van expense in half and settled on the 15 passenger. (Sprinter = $195 per day vs. 15 pass van = $95 per day. Other companies in the area were twice that for a 15 passenger, around $170-$180.)
To make things even sweeter Bandago offers backline rental for all the gear we’d need. Their supply was limited to the essentials, but it was all quality stuff, no off brand’s we had never heard of and would be worried about malfunctioning. (For instance, we rented two Roland KC 550 amps, a Yamaha weighted keyboard, an Ampeg bass rig, etc. Good stuff.) I spoke with several employees from Bandago and each one of them was professional and helpful. When I requested the second Roland KC550 amp, they mentioned they didn’t have another one in stock, but they would check with the owner to see if they could get another one. I got a call back the same day and they had purchased the second amp because of my request. Now that’s service! They didn’t have everything I requested (like a Taylor acoustic guitar, they don’t carry guitars as backline) but what they had was essentially all I needed.
Places like SIR Studios had more options in gear, and carry guitars galore, but the price was much better at Bandago. We rented our whole acoustic show backline for $770 a week, whereas it would have been $400 per day at SIR. Plus, the ease of renting a van and having the gear right there when you arrive got rid of one more routing hassle.
Some details to keep in mind; each Bandago business seems to be independently run (the NY location was in an industrial garage and the one in Nashville was run out of a business style house) so their locations are distinct from one another. You’ll need a photo ID and valid Insurance card for any driver – however, that wasn’t a hassle we just brought our insurance card along with us in our wallets (and even called one in as a fax for our third driver).
I would highly recommend using Bandago if you’re touring outside your home turf, or need a van or backline rental for a gig in a major US city. They made some of our touring logistics a lot easier, and were cost effective for our budget.
For more info visit the Bandago website: www.bandago.com
[Editor’s note: and for another positive take on the Bandago experience, check out John Wesley Harding’s story about Bandago van rental from Magnet Magazine.]
Richard Lee Jackson is the drummer and co-producer of the independent rock band Enation. Their music has been featured on ‘One Tree Hill’, ‘General Hospital’, and MTV.com.