In The Wild

Topo Designs on Tour with Barcelona

Seattle based photographer and designer Jesse Morrow takes us on tour with Barcelona as they travel around the country, Topo gear in tow.

This summer I had the opportunity to travel with the band Barcelona while they were on tour with The Fray. I didn’t really know what to expect with a tour this size. I was also a little hesitant to travel with the band for two months right in the middle of the most beautiful part of the Pacific Northwest year. In the end the opportunity was just to rare to pass up so I signed on for a 2 month tour which would span across 22 different states, 3 Canadian provinces, and more than 35 cities.

Touring with a band isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done. There were many late nights and early mornings with drives up to 15 hours long. Mentally it was a tough challenge for 5 guys to spend as much time as we did together with few chances of any time alone. Frustrations were often — but so were the laughs!

The tour began in Portland, OR, but a few short days later we found ourselves in the Southwest. The beauty of the desert has really grown on me over the past year. Dry hills and ridged mountains have become some of my favorite views. As we started to sink into a routine of long drives, short breaks in the desert were a nice relief to a constant sight of paved roads and yellow lines.

Perhaps the most memorable show of the tour. There were many venues on the tour which were considered special for the band to play but this legendary spot was at the top of the list. The day was overcast and the weather bounced back and forth between rain and slices of sunlight. We walked around the high-altitude location with a bit of child-like awe in our eyes. After walking through little hallways adorned with alumni autographs and admiring the beauty of this spot for quite a while, it was time to start focusing on the work ahead. With an hour left until show time the temperatures had dropped and it was raining sideways. The crowd was getting getting dumped on as Barcelona took the stage. Much to our surprise the rain slowed then eventually stopped. In these photos the crowd is still holding tight to their panchos and rain jackets thus coloring the stands with an array of hues.

Throughout the tour trying to find some sort of stability was always a challenge. Each day was a different city or drive time or hotel room or venue. I guess the only real consistency was knowing we would be getting back in the van and back on the road. That, and knowing we would be stopping for Chipotle every afternoon for lunch. Some shows were good and the connection between the band and the crowd was almost magic; other shows were more of an effort. It was very unique and special to be with the band as they went through these successes and struggles. Being with the band as they discussed and argued and smiled and agreed on different subjects was the real behind the scenes privilege.

One of my favorite moments on the tour actually happened on my birthday. We were playing at a casino in Temecula, CA. Instead of the usual catering the venue gave each of us $80 gift cards to spend on food. Somehow we also ended up with a few extra gift cards leaving us with ridiculous amount of money for dinner. We splurged on fancy sushi trying to spend as much as we could. We were left at the end of the night with a couple hundred gift card dollars that we just didn’t feel right letting go to waste. The decision was made to high-tale it to the gift shop where we spend the remaining $200+ on snack foods and one very expensive lighter.

NYC was another favorite stop on the tour. This could have been because of the excitement of the city or beautiful location of the venue or maybe just because we had a few days off. We spent our time meeting up with friends and skating through central park on our Penny Boards.

This outdoor show was a fun one indeed. The venue was located right on a pier and the sunset lit up the crowd with a bright orange glow. It was another lucky night for Barcelona when right after they left the stage the clouds opened up and the area was soaked with a torrential downpour.

It was a crazy and unforgettable two months. The opportunity to travel to so many cities, most of which I had never been to, was a dream. Most honestly I’m not sure I could have traveled with another band. It was an honor to join the Barcelona guys. They have become road-dog-brothers of mine and I’ve learned so much from each of them. They are truly appreciative for each chance they get to play and have worked hard on their music and art. Between having families of their own and other jobs that they have to leave behind when they go play shows the sacrifice they make becomes so real. Their passion and outlook on making art is an inspiration to my own journey.