Tour Manager’s Guide: Boston

Boston TM Guide
Hi. My name is Danny. I’ve been touring with bands for some time and want to tell you about some of the places we’ve been. I know, I’m missing some important things from these cities but this is just what I’ve had time to see. If you have suggestions regarding where to go in your beloved hometown the next time I’m hurtling through in a van filled with drunk people, please let me know.

I’m gonna get my ass kicked for this article.

Matt Damon did a terrible thing to America and I’m not talking about The Monuments Men. Somehow, by the grace of superb writing, Matt Damon made Bostonians charming. When Goodwill Hunting came out America caught bean town fever. People who had never been to Massachusetts started saying things like, “Wicked Smart” or “How do ya like them apples?” it was crazy.

If you’ve never been on Netflix and sleep all day, Goodwill Hunting is about a poor kid from Southie (tough neighborhood in Boston) that is known as an underachiever fearful of unlocking his full potential. He works construction during the day and moonlights as a janitor at MIT. One day a professor puts up the most difficult math problem ever on a public chalkboard outside the classroom to see if anyone can solve it. Days go by and everyone is stumped. Then Matt Damon (Will Hunting) walks up and is like, “Ain’t no thang but a math problem” and does the hardest math problem in the world in like 5 minutes. Eventually his identity is revealed and everyone goes ape shit and he starts hooking up with Minnie Driver and hanging out with Robin Williams, it’s awesome. Ultimately the film is about an underdog, albeit an underdog who looks like famous movie star Matt Damon and has a genius level IQ, but an underdog nonetheless. I attribute this, and the Boston Tea party, to our America’s love of Boston.

But what everyone forgets is that the beginning of the movie consists of Matt Damon and his friends walking around town doing Boston things like beating people up. The movie ends with the protagonist driving off into the sunset, hopefully to greener pastures, he escapes from Boston. But Danny, there are other movies about Boston where not everyone is an asshole. Really? Like what? The Departed? The movie where everyone betrays each other and is brutally murdered? That one?

I understand that you want to like Boston. I want to like it myself. It’s historically significant and beautiful but I cannot get on board with its residents. I think it is worth visiting for a day or two and that’s it. My dislike stems from the fact that I believe Boston is an aggressive place with an aggressive culture and their social norms don’t mesh with mine. I didn’t always think this way. My first visit to Boston was a mind-blowing experience. If any of you are from the southwest or Midwest suburbs you know that visiting a city like Boston on the east coast for the first time is quite something. Everything is so old compared to back home, there are subways to take you places, and there’s not a Chick Fil A in sight. But I was young and didn’t’ really talk to anyone. Then in college I remember having drinks at a bar and talking to a guy from Boston. I asked him how he liked Austin and he was like, “Fahkin hate it.” A weird sentiment because most people that visit Austin have a good time. I prodded and figured out that what he hated most about Austin was how polite the people are. Yea. He hated how polite everyone is. I met another couple from Boston while I was on tour in Nashville and they said the same thing. After that I started going to Boston on a consistent basis. I go like two times a year. Nearly every time there is some sort of altercation with me or someone I’m with and an individual from the city. Counting the number of fights I’ve witnessed on the streets would be impossible. Counting the number of times I’ve been called a fag on the streets or flicked off or had a rude encounter with a promoter or been threatened with violence by someone at the club or outside the venue is also nearly impossible. I could tell like a hundred stories like this but I don’t want to write a 400-page book on Boston’s aggression. My point? If you are planning a day in Boston and have manners, bring a thick skin. Also prepare yourself for a city filled with people that for some reason believe they are from Ireland, even though they are not from Ireland.

Days off in Boston are more rare than days off in NYC, probably because if we have a day off in Boston… we go to NYC. But if you are dying to see Boston like a tour manager, this is what you do.

Hotels are expensive in this city. Get a room at the Days Hotel in Cambridge. It may smell like smoke. The Chinese restaurant downstairs may be terrible. Hell, the staff may not know how to check you in. But for being somewhat centrally located with parking that fits vans, I’m all about it. Begin your day with breakfast at The Breakfast Club in Allston, MA. It’s like bourgeois diner food. They have eggs Benedict with Brazilian linguica (sausage) that is the shit. After that I’d hop on the subway and head to stroll around Harvard Yard or the MIT campus, then go to the museum of fine art. Boston’s MFA claims to have on of the larger collections of Japanese art outside Japan. The main attraction is their Katsushika Hokusai collection. If you don’t think you know Hokusai, you do. He painted that famous wave painting found on every Apple and in every college student’s dorm titled, Under The Wave off Kanagawa. This collection is enormous and will take up a large portion of your day. Newbury Comics is also a fun place to nerd out, it’s in a walkable area.

If you go to Boston the Union Bay Oyster House is a common recommendation for dinner. It is suggested because it is the oldest operating restaurant in America. I’ve been there a few times. Meh. I had the clam chowder. Meh. I guess if you want to see a really old building then yea go. We never have time anyway. Better than the Oyster house is a sobering but well curated experiential Holocaust museum outside the Oyster House. I know that’s not exactly a light early evening event but it is a good museum. The venue we’ve played most in Boston is Brighton Music Hall. It’s a great little venue with good sound. I definitely recommend checking it out. We normally have dinner around there at Le’s Vietnamese before the show. I’ve also had lots of good Middle Eastern food in Boston and there’s a place near the venue named Garlic n’ Lemons that’s cheap.

Beyond that I would hit up as many museums as possible and walk around if the weather is nice. Winter is too cold, I would avoid it at that time.

Boston boasts the largest house of blues in the nation. It’s next to Fenway Park. Unless you like seeing fights or getting in one yourself, avoid. If it’s still around the Royale Nightclub isn’t bad. Boston’s little Italy is one of the better in the nation. Seeing a Boston College NCAA hockey game is a wonderful experience.

We never really have time for anything else and nothing else I’ve done in the city is worth mentioning. I actually want to get more sold on Boston. If you want to prove me wrong, inbox me, come to the show, and lets do it.


Danny writes about music and other things. You can find him Here. Right here.

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