Driving across Canada
The tour begins in our home town of Toronto and will end two weeks and over 4400km later in Vancouver. There’s myself, Duxx and Nikos of Concrete Guerilla Clothing in the car, with DJ Dames Nellas & Peter Jackson riding on the tour bus with Slaughterhouse & Pharoahe Monch. We hit the road on a Sunday evening on route to Thunder Bay. I immediately realize two things: Duxx smokes a lot of weed (he’s a dread I should’ve figured) and Nikos is “The Transporter.” He drives twelve hours straight from 6pm to 6am!
“I’m a people person,” says Duxx when talking about our sales tactics in Thunder Bay. “My thing is I walk around the room and talk to everybody, make everybody my friend. Of course they’re ready to talk to the big white dread dude right? Then I tell them we have shirts over there and I’ll hook them up. I work the room. Watch on this tour…”
As salesmen we have to work the room. There’s no other way to do it. And that’s exactly what gets the adrenaline flowing – talking. We strut into every show with a story to tell.
“Hey brother,” I say reaching my hand out to greet a guy browsing the t-shirts. “I’m Bizz, what’s your name man? We’re out here all the way from Toronto. We’re going across the country with these t-shirts. Their exclusive to this tour actually. These are the hottest things out here right now. Me and Duxx always argue because I like the red and white version, he loves the black and white though. What size do you wear bro?”
Don’t feel taken, if you heard this story too. Feel exactly as you felt when you first bought the t-shirt – exclusive. This is the reality, this is the truth. Don’t blame me for bottling it up and serving it to you in a succinct little spiel for your auditory consumption.
Of course, not every night worked out so smoothly. As much as I was looking forward to focusing on one single task for two weeks (selling t-shirts), I also soon realized how our success or failure on that task could sway the energy within the crew.
On good nights, we fed off each others momentum. We tag teamed, signaled and consulted on potential buyers. We up sold, cut deals and made real connections with the audience. We’d walk away flying high, knowing we’d reached our goal and looking forward to the next opportunity.
On bad nights, we were pulling teeth. We surveyed the crowd, spotted potential enthusiasts and put our best foot forward, but ultimately were at the mercy of a few uninterested, random crowds. We’d walk away with our minds on other things, thinking about our families, hoping for a better shot the next night.
And that was the tiring part. Not the time in the car (well that was tiring for Niko “The Transporter”), not the physical labor of hauling t-shirts in and out of cars and venues every night, not the irregular sleep patterns and poor eating habits. It was the psychological strain of it all. The roller coaster ride is really what we’d come to battle.
Like I said in the intro: The highs are euphoric and the lows are isolating. Being the salesman on tour means no guarantees, as we’d sink or swim on the strength of our hustle. The artists got paid regardless of the crowd, we didn’t. But I’d like to think that with every good night we learned something and with every bad night we learned more. I knew I was a people person, just like Duxx knew he was. But this tour I learned to push myself to be one, even when the people weren’t necessarily ready and willing.
This is the tale of The Salesmen and our Tour Life.
“Tour Life” will be posted every Tuesday till the end of the series.
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