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The Tours That Never Were
05 28 2021
With the promise of live music again, we look back at the tours cut too short

Through Twitter and loved ones, they heard the news: Venues were closing and people were being sent home. For two weeks? For longer? Who knew?


The abrupt stoppage caught artists off guard from every angle: Some were in between tours, others getting ready for one — all seeing months and months of rehearsals evaporate instantly. 


For many artists, the aftershock from the year of lost tours lingers. But today, signs of hope are at least visible. Artists are slowly announcing end-of-summer tours and surviving venues are emerging from what appears to be the eye of the storm — perhaps signaling a return to live music and renaissance that’s long overdue. 


Where were you when you first caught wind of the shutdowns — who broke the news to you? What was your reaction?


Jenny Owens Young: We had wrapped our final session for background vocals in late-January or early-February, and were like, “Tight, the record is done. There’s no stopping us now.” 


Rachel White: I was supposed to fly out to New York with our producer to attend a string and horn session for the Weezer record that just came out. We were on the verge — like, should we go, what’s the worst case scenario — but he has a kid, so we couldn’t do that.


Instead, I spent the first couple weeks of quarantine finishing up our record, fully gloved and masked in the studio. 


How did this project develop the longer you sat with it?


JOY: We’ve had to press pause on L.A. Exes so many times before we even launched but every time we come back to the record, we’re like, “Nice!”


The shelf life of your own work can be so short. To be able to feel fresh about these songs, continually, has been really exciting.


How did you react when you first caught wind of the shutdowns?


Chris Toufexis: We had developed a great live show, invested in all the equipment to make that happen, and rehearsed for months and months — it was a very exciting time. We played one show before we heard the news that things were locking down.


What do you miss about touring? 


I think the good thing that I’ve taken from Covid is I think people have realized how not the future digital is. I think it’s really helped people realize, “Goddamn, I miss interacting with people.”


How has your creative process changed without live performances? How have you managed to stay creative (or understandably not) during lockdown?


I started writing about my experience with this and the idea of loss. It’s a little dramatic to say, but losing the concept of shows was like mourning a death. It was all I cared about, and to have that gone with no semblance of when it’s coming back was tough.


But I wrote tons of music because of it. 


Where were you when you first caught wind of the shutdowns — who broke the news to you? What was your reaction?


Kel Taylor: We’d been a first of three on a tour with Nightly [and The Wldfe]. You’re not making a ton of money; you’re investing to be on this tour. So, we were in Indiana, watching all these cancellations come in. It was so stressful because it was so much more than just a few shows missing. It was our plan for funding what we’d just done.


They announced in the middle of a college show that they’re closing. Everyone’s on their phones and starts talking about how they’re [going to start] packing after this show. That was the weirdest moment for me — watching the college students find out that they’re not coming back to school.


Have there been other opportunities you’ve been pursuing that you hadn’t before?


EH: We did sort of accidentally become TikTok viral. Our first video was, like, just a dumb old skit idea.


But I love being able to share songs [on there] that we’ve written that week. It’s just so easy to get that instant gratification. I worked really hard on the song. Even if it goes nowhere, I’d like someone to hear it.



Where were you when you first caught wind of the shutdowns — who broke the news to you? What was your reaction?


Jansen Hogan: We had just gotten off of tour with Sawyer, and then we were about to head out again in April.


Right at the beginning of March, there were people talking about [Covid-19], but I don’t think that we really associated it with what we were doing. Even when the shutdown happened, we were all still in a bit of denial — like, “It’s still gonna happen. It’ll shut down for two weeks. It’ll be fine.” 


There wasn’t that big shock moment. It was very gradual.


What’s one adaptation or change you’ve made from your pre-pandemic routine that you’re planning on keeping long term?


JH: At the beginning of the pandemic, we mutually decided to split with our management. It just didn’t feel right anymore, and with everything shutting down, it felt like the right time.


When we all talked about finding new management, something we really valued was finding who we felt like was going to really stick their neck out for us. We’ve worked really hard and, because we’re independent, we do feel a sense of pride and ownership over what we’re doing. We don’t want it to go to waste, you know? 


Where were you when you first caught wind of the shutdowns — who broke the news to you? What was your reaction?


Alex Gomez: I remember it being just after New Year’s and sort of seeing on Twitter that there was this virus and it was potentially really bad. Except everyone was like, “It’s probably nothing.” so I didn’t really give it too much daylight either. 


At the end of February, I went back over to the UK to do a show. By that point, it had started to pick up a bit with some cases in the UK and U.S. 


What do you miss about touring? 


AG: Each night is a little bit different. When you record something, it’s going to be that way forever, right? There’s something cool about, when you play a show, you’re hearing it in a different context. 


Shows take on a different life in that way. There’s also the fact that you mess up, things happen, things go wrong. It’s kind of exhilarating in a way.