Pollstar’s 2021 Transportation Special

No, We Won’t Back Down:
George Rose /Getty Images
– No, We Won’t Back Down:
Although much has changed since Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers’ 1981 tour (pictured, at the group’s Chicago stop), there’s still no show without getting the band from Point A to Point B in time for the big gig.
COVID-19 disrupted the live music industry as much as any, and maybe even more than any other.  
While event producers were often able to pivot to virtual concerts, drive-ins or other types of events, and artists were able to lean on merchandise, recorded music and other creative endeavors, the transportation industry largely had no choice but to remain parked and wait it out. 
While still remaining creative, relying on diversified revenue sources and preparing for the eventual and hopeful touring industry reopening, the transportation sector of the live entertainment business was uniquely affected by the lack of touring. 
Likewise, as the industry reopens, never has there been more pressure on – and respect for – those who get bands and crews from point A to point B, along with the just-as-important materials, crew and all the other moving parts required to successfully do what the live industry does.  Facing challenges like everyone else right now, from supply shortage to driver scarcity, COVID positives derailing shows and everything in between, Pollstar’s 2021 Transportation Special puts a spotlight on some of the unsung heroes of the pandemic.

Count The Headlights On The Highway


Any tour bus that’s out on the road quickly becomes a makeshift home on wheels with multiple functions, including sleeping, eating, cooking, dining, entertaining, meeting, relaxing, indulging, escaping and so much else. Add in a dozen or so co-workers into the mix with different agendas and very quickly protocols and a jargon develos helping to ensure the ride is safe and smooth (as glass), rules are followed and noxious odors don’t harsh everyone’s mellow. Pollstar staff compiled the following tour bus glossary culled from the thousands and thousands of miles logged aboard a variety of motor coaches in relative peace. 

Oil Spotting: When a crew or band member is left behind at a place, i.e. a truck stop because they didn’t leave their laminate or some kind of article on the driver’s seat to alert the driver they’re off the bus.
Submarine Ride: A long 1,000-2,500+ mile bus ride straight to the destination.
Shower Room: Hotel room for crew/band to use to shower after a show.
Driving Braille: Bus keeps hitting Road Rumble Strips 
Three-legged Dog: when the band’s trailer loses a wheel and has to drive with 3 wheels to destination to be repaired.
Butts and Ass: The smell of a bunk area of a to-capacity crew bus after a week.
No Poop’n On the Bus: for obvious smell reasons, in the closed confines of a bus.
Smooth as Glass: Term used for a really good driver who delivers a safe and almost perfect ride.
Are We There Yet?: Term used by passengers to piss off the driver.
Circle Back Around: A polite term used by a driver that missed a turn, or is just plain lost.
Behind the Curtain: Term used to denote what happens behind the driver’s area stays behind the drivers area-think: Las Vegas or Sgt. Shultz’s from “Hogan Heroes” “I know nothing, I see nothing!”
No, Officer, There Are No Drugs On The Bus: “Yes officer, the contraband is well hidden.”  Harkens to afore mentioned ‘Sgt Shultz.’