Have you ever hosted a band? Tom has and he loved it. Couchsurfing is a great opportunity for musicians to connect with people who know the local music scene. At the same time, it spares bands the boredom and cost of a hotel and allows them to spend their budgets on what they do best: music. The benefits for musicians are clear, so we were wondering: what’s in it for a host?
Couchsurfing host and Australian expat Tom Fitzgerald loves music so much, he invited a band called “BOATS” to couchsurf with him. Read all about Tom’s unique hosting experience in his own words:
Hosting a Band on Tour
Shortly after moving to an apartment in San Francisco with a spare couch in the living room, I started to host on Couchsurfing again. I get so much out of it – meeting new people, learning about other walks of life, and a steady stream of fascinating stories over a pint or two at the local pub.
“This is me (Tom) and my girlfriend Victoria.”
I get a good range of Couchsurfers: some couples, the frequent groups of friends, and occasionally the solo traveler passing through San Francisco. Something I really want to do more of though is to host bands on tour, as that’s something I got hooked on just over a year ago.
One late night after viewing my weekly ‘Some Couchsurfers looking for a host’ email, I sent a rambling message to a 5 person rock band from Winnipeg. They accepted my invitation and we met two weeks later.
Backstage with my 5 Guests
My guests – the band BOATS – were fronted by Mat Klachefsky who uses a mix of Couchsurfing and Motels to keep a roof over the band while on tour. They were passing through San Francisco near the beginning of their six week tour of Canada and the US.
On the night Boats were set to play at a local bar in San Francisco, Mat messaged me saying my name plus one was on the venue door entry list. I couldn’t help myself from sharing with the door man that I was ‘hosting the band.’
As Boats were setting up the stage, frontman Mat found me and took me backstage. Do you know what happens backstage at a rock show? Yep – Couchsurfers and free beer. Mat introduced me to the rest of the band. Most of the other members had played with Mat for a while, but this tour was different with the addition of an energetic 19 year old drummer who had been playing with the band for only two months.
I asked Mat if it was hard keeping the band together. “It can be. A few have panicked that this rock thing won’t pay off so they flee to college to get a degree,” he said, chuckling.
After BOATS rocked out on stage, the instruments were packed up and loaded onto their well-traveled Chevy tour van. I sat up in the front passengers’ seat giving the drummer directions back to my place. The drummer later told me that the venue owner didn’t want him to play tonight because he was under 21 and shouldn’t be backstage with the free beer. Frontman Mat had convinced the owner it would be OK, as the 19 year old wasn’t just the band drummer but also the designated driver for the evening.
Sharing my space with the BOATS
Once home, the wifi password was shared along with hot showers and a barrage of questions I’ve always wanted to ask a band (I finally learned what a producer does!). For me, talking to surfers who work in a completely different field from mine is one of the most enjoyable things that I could get out of Couchsurfing. So I unloaded my few dozen questions to everyone as we kicked back in my living room and put on a few records.
“You know, I have to say that hosting this band was very easy. BOATS only stayed for one night and they all had sleeping bags. I borrowed an extra air bed in addition to my couch and all 5 members were comfortably put up for the night.”
Morning came with an early rise, and I was still buzzing from the previous evening’s entertainment as I cooked everyone an English breakfast (complete with baked beans). Hugs were given all around as the van was loaded and multiple points of the suspension were tested by bouncing the guitarist on the hood.
The band’s well-travelled tour van goes by the Couchsurfing-worthy name “Explorer”.
Mat handed me a warm handshake and a copy of their new CD “A Fairway Full of Miners.”
The band had about 6 hours of driving ahead of them to get to the next town. I’m not sure if they made it all the way back around to San Francisco but I would jump at the chance to host them again. Super nice, down-to-earth folks, and I have to say – very enjoyable music! BOATS definitely got me hooked to the idea of hosting more touring bands.
If you have any experience hosting a band, artist or traveling musician – get in touch with us here!