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27th March 2017

I followed my favourite band across Europe

Reckless? Yes. Stupid? Yes. The best experience ever? Absolutely. Katie Shepherd writes about her experience following her favourite band across the continent

Seven shows, six countries, Twenty One Pilots.

It was, without any doubt, the most reckless, stupidest thing I have ever done. And believe me, I’ve done some stupid things. But whilst it was stupid and it was reckless and I did end up literally sleeping on the streets of Prague, it was also the best experience of my life.

Twenty One Pilots have been my favourite band for a few years now; way back when they were still playing the Deaf Institute and no one knew who ‘twenty-four what?’ were. I had already seen them eleven times across the UK before my Europe excursion, but when they announced their Emotional Roadshow tour, I knew that, just like the venues they were playing, I had to go bigger.  A few months later and I was getting on my first flight by myself to Copenhagen.

From Copenhagen, I went to Berlin, then Prague, London, Brussels and finally Paris. In total, I was travelling for about two weeks and in that time I had one shower, spent seven nights on the pavement outside various music venues, accidentally stumbled upon a sex machine museum and ended up submitting an important essay from an internet cafe in the middle of Paris (French Google is not easy to navigate FYI).

But from that time I have some of the greatest memories with the most wonderful people, and ones that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

People often ask me whether seeing the same band performing the same set with the same songs every night starts to get a bit boring, but I can honestly say that every single show has retained the same magic as the first one. And there is something really special about your favourite band recognising you as being at the front of that crowd again; knowing that of all those faces in the crowd, they know yours.

But the shows are just half of the experience. I did most of the shows with friends of mine, but I also met a lot of new and really lovely people along the way too; I met a girl from Leeds in Prague, people I met in Berlin have become some of my closest friends and I have regular conversations with people living all across Europe that I met on that tour.

‘Diehard’ fans of any band get a pretty bad reputation from anyone outside of the ‘fanbase’, but I can honestly say the kindness and the generosity of the complete strangers I met lining up for those shows remains unrivalled.

If anything, what this tour taught me was how much good there really is in this world. Maybe that sounds dramatic for someone that blew all her money to watch two nerdy guys from Ohio play a ukulele and backflip off a piano every night, but it is true. Not just in the amazing friends I made; a man working in a SafeStore saw us camped out on the street in London, asked us what we were doing and immediately invited us into his office to warm up, made us tea and let us charge our phones.

The team at Alexandra Palace in London went above and beyond, even providing us with portaloos. And the shows themselves, the band themselves, created such a sense of unity amongst strangers, such a powerful and pure feeling that everything is okay.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how incredible it feels to be seeing your favourite band with your best friends, but I will say that I’m pretty certain its the closest thing we have to magic in this world.

The truth is that music really can help people. This band helped me, and they helped my friends too. And to be in a room of thousands of other people that had also been helped by, and brought together by one band, by music, in a completely strange country, really reminded me of just how powerful that was. And the immense hope and joy that one band can bring people brought a much-needed reminder of just how much potential for good the human race has.

So, if you have ever considered running off and following a band on tour, I say do it. Just maybe not during the most important year of your education. And definitely be prepared to go a while without showering and eating nothing but McDonalds fries. But then, that’s all part of the tour experience right?

If you want to read more about what I got up to on my adventures following Twenty One Pilots, check out my blog here

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