The seeds of the traveling concert addiction for me officially began with something called the Monsters of Rock Cruise, more affectionately known as MORC in 2012. (MORC 2012 Recap Article) After seeing the lineup for that inaugural voyage I said to myself “self it will be the end of your life if you’re not on that ship”. I also said, “you’re an idiot, that’s a long way to go and an assload of coin to spend.”
A bit of a traveller already, having spent several different stints across the pond in Europe, the travel portion was not new to me. Travelling for live music, however, was. Actually listening to “my music” and talking openly about it was also new. I went, of course. I thought I was nuts. So did everyone I knew. My Facebook news feed began to fill up with postings of ships sinking and jokes about the bands. In fact, so much so that the ridicule reached heights and proportions that were well beyond hurtful and unsupportive. But it also drove me on, being the stubborn Aries that I am.
Some time ago I saw a couple of news posts circulating around the feeds of some of my friends on the ole Facebook. Those news posts were stories/articles regarding the traveling concert addiction and the positives of such actions. Something that I wholly believe in. In fact, it’s almost as if the authors wrote their words based on me! I do a healthy, but never enough, amount of globetrotting to attend musical events. I even get a little restless, antsy and down right short tempered if there’s too long in between excursions. I’ve had the pleasure of attending festival events like Sweden Rock Festival, Hellfest France, M3 in Baltimore, Rock n Skull in Illinois, Rocklahoma in Oklahoma, Firefest in Nottingham UK, Assault Fest in Tokyo Japan among others. I’ve also been a veritable road warrior for single band events in cities around North America. A five-hour bus trip to see the opening band play a 40-minute set is not unusual for me. In fact, I require it for survival, but it wasn’t always that way. Like being re-born I’ve found my calling, but it all really started with the Monsters of Rock Cruise.
Here we are now with the sixth Monsters of Rock Cruise departure day looming upon me in approximately a week. This excursion is particularly exciting for me as it sets sail from L.A. and will be my first time visiting the city. The familiar anticipation begins to build, as it always does, spurred on by posts and messages from cruise friends. “What hotel are you at?”, “Get your pre-party tix?”, “When do you fly in?” are all questions buzzing my Facebook messenger as we all plan meet and greets looking forward to seeing each other. Some of these folks I see but once a year (or even longer) during our beloved Monsters of Rock Cruise or other rock n roll excursions.
As I prepare for the voyage I reflect upon the past MORCs, the happenings surrounding them and what the experience holds for me. Such a difference from that first sailing. I’m no longer the shy, terrified, friendless Canadian. I immediately felt accepted into the community during that inaugural voyage. The MSC Poesia was a place that I instantly belonged among like-minded folks who didn’t make fun of me for my musical tastes. Something that was basically foreign to me until then. That has expanded to a collection of friends worldwide that I have an incredible allegiance to. My family.
I met aboard that ship two friends that even though we’ve gone lengthy periods of not seeing each other, I’m confident we will remain life long companions. It’s the very same story with many others. As my Toronto concert circle expanded during my embracement of who I was and the music that drives me, I left the tortuous friends behind, they weren’t really friends anyway with treatment like that. I heard from a few folks at various shows, “what do you mean you don’t know so and so (name withheld), she’s on the same cruise as you”. well, that’s a little like saying do you know Bob from Newmarket (my smaller town north of Toronto)? Well now we’ve met and she’s a big part of my family circle. And I see her more on the ship that I do here at home, even though we are often at the same concerts!
Not just Toronto concert going friends arose from the various MORC voyages, but across my country as well. I started a group for a few Canadians that I’d become friends with for the 2014 Monsters of Rock Cruise. We called ourselves The EH Team and made some shirts. Before long, on the suggestions from the group, I began to post in MORC social pages about The EH Team. Canadians from across the country began messaging and chatting with me and other EH Teamers. More shirts were produced and The EH Team set sail with about 50 members that year. We made a statement aboard ship, many others noticing our shirts and the following 2015 voyage saw us swell to over 100! Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to organize for either 2016 cruise, but The EH Team will return in 2017! Join us on Facebook.
Then there’s the worldwide friends. I’ve met and subsequently seen (in some cases) during my worldwide festival travels folks from all over the USA, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, UK, Germany, Brasil, Australia and more. Monsters of Rock Cruise truly was the catalyst for my worldwide family that just keeps growing with every voyage.
Shortly after that first cruise I discovered and joined the ranks of the Decibel Geek website. The Decibel Geek staff also benefitted from MORC. While we didn’t meet aboard the MSC Poesia, if it wasn’t for that first cruise I may never have met Brian Ronald (now Decibel Geek photographer). He overheard my conversation during a Toronto concert at The Rockpile in which I mentioned the cruise. Turns out he was indeed aboard along with his wife, they also thought they were nuts for going! It’s through Brian that Shawn “Animalize” Irwin (writer/photographer) and I have become good friends, which led to both of us meeting Mikael “The Lionsheart” Svensson at Firefest. Staff writer Kate Campbell was met in Toronto through a mutual friend who was aboard ship in 2013. The connections keep going. Six degrees of MORC.
For me, the Monsters of Rock Cruise experience has changed in the five totally fantastic voyages so far. It’s become much less about the bands and more about the community for me. A lot of the bands are cruise staples, but I’ve seen them too much in some cases. I still love their music, of course, but wouldn’t mind a whole new host of bands. On the other side, for every band I’m not excited about, someone is and I’ll be right there with them fist in the air! It doesn’t matter what ports the ship visits anymore as I don’t even bother to get out of the boat! Well, this trip brings some radical differences. No Nassau, Bahamas this time, thank God. With the cross country departure port adjustments, we have new seas to sail. Our destinations this round are Ensenada, Mexico, and Catalina Island. And I’ll be getting out of the vessel for those unless of course one of the newer bands is scheduled to play at the same time….lol.
Processing thoughts of skipping a MORC cruise are impossible. I imagine it would be like a meltdown of loneliness and tears if I do. I didn’t really know that I was unhappy until I was happy. Ever get that? I’ve never felt more alive than now and that’s because of my music and my family. I’m packed and ready to board Monsters of Rock Cruise West “Monsterwood”!
Thanks, Monsters of Rock Cruise for enriching my life and providing the catalyst for my family. I love you all (even if we haven’t met as yet) and hope to see you aboard the Norwegian Pearl next week!