Cheers to a Good Tour – Sleeping with Sirens Experience

Sleeping with Sirens just finished their Up Close and Personal tour, which was exactly how it sounds.

They booked smaller and more intimate venues with minimal lights and close to no big productions. The tour was one month long with 22 dates across the US, kicking off in San Francisco with Chase Atlantic, Palaye Royal, and The White Noise opening. This might be one of my favorite lineups ever.

I followed the tour for a total of 5 dates, as well as the pop-up show at Chain Reaction the month previous and the acoustic set and signing at Fingerprints in Long Beach.

The beginning of the tour, they started with a bang. The chemistry between all the bands wasn’t quite there yet, but by the end of the tour, they seemed incredibly close, like they’d known each other for years. While following the tour, I met some of my closest friends and got multiple tattoos to remember this amazing show. From crying, to air drumming, to screaming, and to dancing, everything was perfect.

I’ve never seen such an amazing community at a show until the second date, at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Sleeping with Sirens has definitely brought many people together on this tour. The small and personal setting of the stages and venues gave an opportunity for people to connect, not only with the band but also with each other.

Bringing Gabe Barham (Sleeping with Sirens’ drummer) up closer to the audience was a brilliant move that I thoroughly enjoyed. His technique really showed during this time. The smaller set production gave the rest of the boys (guitarist Jack Fowler, guitarist Nick Martin, bassist Justin Hills, and singer Kellin Quinn) much more room to move around.

I met a girl named Sofie at the Troubadour while waiting early in the morning for the show. She had come from Belgium and was following the first part of the tour as well. The dedication of these fans inspired me, and it was truly amazing to see so many people get along, especially in a world like today.

They had an incredible setlist that was like none other. It included old songs and new, and some acoustic. Having this variety of songs enabled both old and new fans to enjoy the full set and hear all their favorite songs.

 

The next show that I attended was the following day at the lovely Soma San Diego. They were originally supposed to play Sidestage, but due to the demand of tickets and the small venue size, it was decided too dangerous, not only for the band but for the fans as well. It was bumped up to the Main Stage at Soma. As many were, I was very upset about this decision but understood.

They still kept it extremely personal, with minimal lights and no crazy dramatics. San Diego being Nick Martin’s hometown, it was destined to be a magical night. All their openers killed it, and hyped the audience up with their different styles and genres of music.

They started the night with the VIP Q&A and meet and greet. During the question and answer, Nick and Chrstina (a long-time venue employee) reminisced on old times, discussing the first time Nick ever played Soma Sidestage in 2002. This set the rest of the event to be an amazing, fun, and crazy time.

Even with a barricade, and a bigger stage and capacity, they still maintained a strong connection with the audience. Kellin brought up a little boy named Danny for his favorite song, “Legends.” Danny is hard of hearing, nonverbal, and has Down’s Syndrome. His joy and smile lit up the whole crowd. It was a special moment for everyone.

The whole show had strangers hugging each other, smiling, crying, and content with life. After the show, Jack and Gabe met fans towards the back of the venue. They spent a good amount of time with each fan, signing stuff, taking photos, and talking. Even though they were tired and sweaty, they were still incredibly kind the whole time.

While outside, bugs were flying around. If you’re anything like me, you will run. Jack took this as an opportunity to talk about his hometown in Florida and the types of bugs they have, as well as catching them in his younger days.

From the crowd surfers to the funny meet and greet poses, Soma San Diego never lets me down on some amazing shows.

 

During this tour, they did a few in-store acoustic sets and signings, their first time being at Fingerprints in Long Beach. This was the last day my group had with each other before people flew home and went their separate ways. The cloudy day started early with waiting in line. Luckily, we were able to go into the store and look around before the band arrived.

Once they opened the doors, we fast-walked to the stage to try and get a spot in front with our whole group. We succeeded, and all danced and cried during the set. We weren’t crying because of the band, but because we were realizing that this was the last time we were going to be together: the fact that this was our final “Oh Yeah” (a saying that has been part of our Sleeping with Sirens family).

They played a few songs, including “Gossip,” which many of us were surprised and excited to hear live. After the set, people ran to be first in line to meet the boys. Our group was a little too emotional to go in line right away. We did a group hug and just sat looking at each other crying, knowing this would be the last time we would all be together.

Then “Legends,” “Empire to Ashes,” and “Cheers” came on the speakers and we all decided to dance, sing, and go crazy. While singing our hearts out, we looked over and saw a little boy standing there, watching us. We recognized him as Danny, the little boy from the night before. We immediately went over and said hi. We were still crying a little bit, and he gave us the biggest hugs we’ve ever gotten.

We ended up spending almost an hour dancing and having a great time with him. It taught us many things about life. He taught us all about being happy even when times are hard. I will always remember Danny and his personality and smile. He lit up the whole room.

Danny’s connection with Sofie (the fan from Belgium) was something like none other. It was truly amazing to see them connect. I will always remember his eyes lighting up while we were dancing. He has a big place in my heart.

Once we were sweaty and tired, we decided it was time to get in line. It went by pretty fast; we met the boys and got our things signed. Due to it being a signing with little opportunity, we weren’t able to get a final group photo. Then Kellin surprised us and got us in to take the photo.

Once that was finished, we all realized it was time to say goodbye to this family that we’d created from the past three shows. It was incredibly hard to say goodbye to Sofie in particular because we never knew when we would see her again.

Knowing that this band created this family with people from around the world is pretty special. The idea of having these small, in-store acoustic sets and signings was a great idea that kept the tour even more up-close and personal.

 

Photos by: Sara Says Photography

My sister and I were joking during one of the shows, saying we should go see them in Florida. The joke turned into a reality. The last three dates of the tour were in Orlando at the Beacham, Tampa at The Orpheum, and Pensacola at Vinyl Music Hall. My sister and I flew six hours to go to all three.

These shows were extremely important to us. Everything was amazing about these dates. They were the last shows of tour, and they didn’t miss a beat. The band continued meeting fans after the shows, being genuine and constantly kind, even if they were extremely tired. The smiles on everyone’s faces were there, bright and loud.

The last date of the tour at Vinyl Music Hall was extremely special. Each opening band brought the other bands on stage to finish their set, or to be included in an on-stage party in the middle. Shawn Walker, singer from The White Noise, went and joined Palaye Royal’s singer Remington Leith during their cover of “Teenagers” by My Chemical Romance. Clinton Cave from Chase Atlantic came up and did some saxophone work on stage with the other bands as well.

During each set, the majority of the bands would come up and dance, drink, sing, and interact with the audience. This meant a whole lot of crowd surfing from Christian Anthony (Chase Atlantic’s guitarist) and screaming in the faces of excited fans from Shawn.

Finally, Sleeping with Sirens came on, and they were extremely wild for the set. It was the last show of the tour, and they definitely went out with a bang. The entire band was doing their absolute best and going crazy. Jess Roberts (a fan) even said, “Kellin’s mic throws were so amazing that Adam Lazzarra from Taking Back Sunday would be proud.”

Tommy West (The White Noise’s drummer) took over the drums for their last song and absolutely killed it, keeping up with the rest of Sleeping with Sirens. The end of the set came, and all the openers came up and had a huge dance party, ending the tour in the most amazing way.

From the beginning of the tour to the end, each of the bands became close and the chemistry was absolutely amazing. The relationship between the bands and the crew members was perfect, from Gabe’s drum tech, Dylan Taylor, throwing Gabe drumsticks, to Nick’s tech giving him more guitar picks – Nick loves to throw those picks like no tomorrow – to the band members and crew working together to get the set cleaned up and ready for the next band quickly and neatly.

With following the tour, I started to get to know some crew members who would help out with VIP. These crew members impact my experience more than they know. The jokes they would play while keeping their serious demeanors was the perfect mix. There were two crew members that stood out to me and really helped us out this tour: Ron Gardner (sound crew) and a guy we call “Bagel.” They were a huge help, and constantly made us laugh with their snarky comments and Ron’s need for dad jokes (which, if I say so myself, were pretty on par).

Through the stressful line waits and few issues, I never felt unsafe while these guys were here in charge. They did their job perfectly and smoothly. Wrangling hundreds of excited fans into a single-file line and checking each one in is a hard job, but they did it with no problem.

The venue in Tampa was in a cute little town with this amazing abandoned and almost completely broken-down building that had graffiti everywhere. Knowing me, I had to take photos and try to climb the walls. This took up most of our time waiting in line.

Tampa’s venue was this small, little place with no barricade. This created an opportunity for a fan to come up on stage and propose to his girlfriend! She said yes, and the whole crowd erupted into cheers while the boys each congratulated the couple.

Before the set ended and people would make their way back home, they allowed fans to come up onstage and make a dance party. Of course, with this offer, how could I say no? I pulled myself up onstage and made my way to Justin to shred some air bass with him. Then I made my way over to Gabe and battled him on the drums. The moment was absolutely hectic, but amazing at the same time.

After Tampa, we knew that we had a long eight-hour drive to Pensacola for the final show at Vinyl Music Hall. We were dreading this long drive, so we decided to say goodbye to the band quickly to get on the road as quickly as possible. While driving, it felt like we were going through forests, and the scenery was absolutely stunning. Watching the sunrise in this unfamiliar place was beautiful. To keep us up, we decided to try and pass one of the bands; considering we left around four hours after them, we knew it was going to be unlikely, but still possible.

Finally, at the last stretch of two hours of this miserable drive, we finally passed The White Noise’s van. This was hilarious’ we put our signs on the windows and speeded past them, shouting, even though it was around 7 in the morning.

We ended up making it to the venue about two hours before each band. We were very proud of that, yet extremely tired. We decided to get a sheet and lay down on the sidewalk to try and get some sleep, knowing we had the same drive back afterwards.

That drive back to Orlando was a little harder. We had to make a 10:10am flight at the Orlando Airport. It took us nine hours this time, and we barely made it in time. We very much believed that the drumsticks Gabe gave us the night before was the good luck charm. We flew the long flight home then, sharing stories and memories. Later that week, I got a tattoo to represent this amazing tour, a tour I would never forget.

 

The whole tour was pretty organized and well put-together. With the release of the new album Gossip halfway through the tour, many were excited to hear some of the songs live. The album was a mix of sounds, and touched on many different types of genres. I felt that they truly found their sound and voice in this album. It’s very different from their other albums, but they stayed true to themselves, and who they are and where they come from.

Signing with Warner Brothers allowed them to do this, while still taking risks and pushing themselves. Gossip is a huge hit, and so many have fallen in love with it. If Sleeping with Sirens is coming to a town near you, I definitely suggest going out and seeing them.

SLEEPING WITH SIRENS

Article by Mel Martin

(Also check out her own concert photography account here)

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