We all know what it’s like, to love something so much, but it isn’t easy because of several factors liked limited access and loneliness because you live in a part of world that is far away from where this thing originates, and that thing for me, is bands.
I love a lot of bands, and after doing a little calculating, I have concluded that approximately 66% of the bands I love are from Europe, in other words, more than half which is pretty significant. To name a few: Lordi, Powerwolf, Delain, Hammerfall, Nightwish, Orden Ogan, Epica, Within Temptation, and Sabaton.
What does that mean for a fan like me living in the Great White North? I shall highlight the following struggles in this article. DISCLAIMER: These particular problems I face as a fan, are not directed towards the band members themselves because they do NOT make those decisions, it is the management that is to blame: promoters, financiers, etc. they are the ones who decide where the band tours, how merchandise is sold/shipped, etc.
1. The band rarely or never tours in your area
For this particular struggle, I have red-inked the bands above that have rarely or never toured my country. Lordi finally made their way over here in 2017 after a 5-year wait, but the other two have not. I’ve waited now 5 years to see Powerwolf and I’m still waiting, and I’m new to Orden Ogan but something tells me I’ll be waiting just as long or longer.
When you come to love a band, you want to see them live, and when you can’t, it’s always heartbreaking to hear all the stories from your European friends who went to the shows and maybe they met the band too. Yet here I am eating my heart out over such a thing. There have even been times when I’ve cried over bands I am unable to see if my love for them is strong enough. Though I’ve been able to bottle up that emotion nowadays, inside I know I’m weeping every time I see the tour dates and it’s all Europe.
I know what you’re thinking, why couldn’t I just go to them in Europe if they don’t come to me? Trust me, I’ve had that idea in mind for years, but I don’t possess the time or money to do so, therefore I’m unable to drop everything to fly over to Germany to attend Wacken or follow the band to every show around that continent. It’s sad but it’s true so it would be much more convenient for them to come to me instead.
2. Obtaining merchandise is frustratingly harder than it should be, or impossible
I was inspired to write this article based on something that happened recently related to this problem. One afternoon, I was in a dull mood so I decided I wanted to order some Orden Ogan merchandise to feel better. I was relieved to discover that shipping to Canada was available, but the checkout process was extremely inconvenient to me on what they were asking for and the fact that I don’t speak German.
I had to open a separate tab just to translate each name of the box to fill open, and it kept asking me to add a “Packstation number” which is something DHL runs (is that seriously the only service you offer?!) and I couldn’t find the number of the nearest facility. I get it, you want me to add it in case I’m not there to sign it when you deliver the parcel to my door, but why can’t you just wait to give that to me until that actually happens, or better yet offer me another option? I never completed the order because of that.
Even if everything goes smoothly with ordering online, because of currency conversion I end up paying way more than I should for the merchandise and have to wait a month or more for it to arrive which is also an annoyance. Not to mention the duties and taxes.
But what’s even worse than that, is when shipping to Canada is not offered at all. That sparked outrage in me and one of my friends when we couldn’t order any Lordi merchandise because there was an error every time we tried to place an order after the band’s web shop was updated. It was only working within Europe according to others and I cannot help but still feel devalued after pledging my loyalty to those monsters for 7 years. It’s not the band’s fault, but still.
Look, it’s bad enough that I can’t attend your concerts all the time, so my only consolation is merchandise and if you’re going to make it harder for me to obtain, it’s like I’m a fan that doesn’t even matter to you.
3. You feel like you’re the only fan around outside of the Internet
When I go onto social media and meet people who are fans of the bands I like, I feel welcome and confident in myself. But offline, that’s a different story especially if it’s a band that doesn’t come play near me.
Before that opportunity even comes, I feel like the only person in the entire country who loves the band. If I happen to own any shirts, I wear them and nobody will know what the band is. That being said, it’s not that I’m the only Metalhead in Canada, but the ones I do run into here are more likely to be donned in Iron Maiden, Slayer, or Metallica gear than they are of say, Delain.
When you don’t see other people around you who like the band, it can create a sense of insecurity like nobody understands your loyalty to a band that is practically unknown in your part of the world. You also feel lonely because you don’t have anybody to talk about the band with in person. Like I wouldn’t blabber about Sabaton to my parents unless they were interested in their music.
Of course, the simplest thing to do is to be true to yourself and remain loyal and one day you will find people just like you whether you’re walking down the street, or the band finally comes to your neck of the woods.
That was how I felt before Lordi toured here two years ago, I was like an alien. My only chance to make friends who were fellow fans was to wait until the band toured here, when that’s not possible, it’s even harder.
4. You feel like the band doesn’t care about you
Tour announcements and thank yous to all those who attended the show in (insert city in Europe here) and they don’t include me since I’m not part of it because I’m in Canada. I’m not asking for a personal shoutout like “Thanks for coming Em!” No, what I mean is I speak for not just myself, but also for any other fans who live in my country or the US.
It’s easy for me to get the impression that the band doesn’t know I exist, or is oblivious to the fact that they actually have a fanbase in my country which isn’t large, but loyal.
Of course, the former can’t be entirely true because hey; I got replies from Mana and Amen back when I used Twitter, Mr. Lordi answered me on the forum twice, and Seeb recently liked one of my comments on Instagram. That is proof that okay so I do matter after all.
But if you ever get that “What about me?” feeling when things like announcements for tours or thank yous to all those who attended show X then we have something in common. It’s easy to feel left out when you can’t attend any shows or other events the band is part of if they’re too far away from you. When it comes time for the band members to thank everyone from coming, and I’m sitting overseas sipping tea and holding back tears, all I can say is “Yeah, that’s great, I’m still waiting over here, when do I get a chance? You have fans in Canada too you know.”
So yeah, those are the four hurdles of being a Canadian fan of bands from Europe. Now, there are solutions to these problems. If you are able to afford to fly over to Europe for a few weeks or month to stalk them on tour, good for you. However, what I am saying is some people have commitments that can make it harder for them to drop everything and do so.
My friends tell me that if I really want a band to tour my area, I should contact venues to get them to book them, because that is one of the ways to bring them to this country. I have tried that before, and I may consider trying again.
Merchandise on the other hand, there are multiple solutions to this: get someone to translate the pages, or find another source; however I recently found that Amazon and eBay don’t have a lot to offer.
As for the rest, it’s just a matter of self-esteem. Think to yourself, I’m not alone and that’s a fact. No matter how many times you feel like you are, know that somewhere out there, there are other fans, you just have to look for them. I started meeting more Lordi fans in North America when I started up a Facebook page about it (something I’ve neglected over the past year). Do I wish more of them were near me in person? Absolutely. But that’s beyond my control.
For now, I just have to keep living and find a way to bring those bands to me.