Tour Diary: Life On Tour With 5 Seconds Of Summer

From Rotterdam to Brussels to Hamburg, Cat Jordan has lived out every music fan's dream: she followed her favourite band on tour around the world. Here is her tour diary, an insight into the ups and downs of her experience on the road.

After my 2022 started with multiple extremely difficult events, I found myself trapped in a different country to everyone I love due to being on my study abroad year. After about a decade of self-destructive reactions to traumatic events, I made the choice to embrace being alone rather than feel lonely and booked a road trip: One that followed Australian band 5 Seconds of Summer across five different venues in five different countries. This article is going to discuss the first three concerts, which were over the span of three days.

On Thursday night, I boarded the bus to Rotterdam. I had convinced myself that I would sleep the entire overnight bus journey, saving me the price of a hotel in Rotterdam. Rookie error. I was either too excited for the first show to get some rest, or I was too uncomfortable to fall asleep (I could feel a water bottle digging into my back, courtesy of the lady sat behind me), and I arrived in Rotterdam at 6:15am with a solid two hours of sleep.

"I was shocked at all three of the venues to see how well the local fans had organised the queues"

I took the morning to explore the city, and the beautiful street art and innovative architecture was a great reflection of its people’s pride for the city. I struggled through the public transport (which I’m convinced was made as confusing as possible, especially to overcharge the tourists) and finally arrived to the stadium at around 10am. On my arrival, a young girl came up to me and put a wristband on my hand which said GA 61 (meaning that I was the sixty-first person to arrive in the general admission queue); I was shocked at all three of the venues to see how well the local fans had organised the queues so that people who arrived early could easily leave to drop bags off, grab some dinner or just go on a walk.

Looking around the queue, there were girls sat in different groups, some completing 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles, others making bracelets, and others just taking a nap in the sun. Hearing so much Dutch as an English-speaker was pretty overwhelming, but people were instantly super friendly, with one group of girls coming up to me about an hour after meeting them with a blanket for me that they’d bought across the road at Primark, an extremely touching yet useful gesture as I’d left my bag at the station before arriving at the venue (unaware before arriving that it was okay to leave and then come back) and had spent most of the morning shivering with my bare legs out.

These same girls bought me a McDonald’s for dinner, included me in their ridiculous yet amusing games of charades, and spent the rest of the day speaking only in English so that I could understand their discussions. And when the lights dimmed and 5 Seconds of Summer finally came out, I felt one of the girls squeeze my shoulder and whisper to me: "Have a great time". There is absolutely no way our paths would’ve crossed had I not been in Rotterdam for this show, but these girls went from strangers to the ones who were holding my hand and jumping in excitement with me during the show. I’ve always been pretty outgoing, but becoming friends with someone that quickly seems to be absolutely unheard of - especially while sober!

"A harsh reality check that forced me to understand that I needed to be more careful and look after myself better as I was travelling through foreign and unfamiliar countries alone"

While 5 Seconds of Summer gave a great performance nevertheless, a big negative about Rotterdam was the number of people who fainted. After five girls fainted before the band had even come out, I scoffed, exclaiming how “people just aren’t used to concerts any more” and that “this is the problem with people camping for days and days just to be at the barricade”. I’ve never been prone to fainting, having not fainted for about eight years, but I was extremely shocked (and terrified) when I felt the room getting smaller, the taste of metal in my mouth and my eyes trying to roll back. After my requests for water went unheard, I ran to the back of the venue and luckily grabbed a bottle of water before it was too late. By the end of the show, over 25 people had fainted at the Rotterdam Ahoy - a harsh reality check that forced me to understand that I needed to be more careful and look after myself better as I was travelling through foreign and unfamiliar countries alone.

Initially, I had planned to go straight from Rotterdam to the Brussels venue, and to queue there from 4am, packing my sleeping back in preparation for the uncomfortable night ahead. However, after my experience at Rotterdam left me feeling vulnerable and unsure about camping, a truly kind fan who sat next to me on the bus to Brussels let me stay in her hotel room for the night. Once again overwhelmed by a stranger’s kindness, when I thanked her, she simply replied “it’s easy to help kind people”.

I woke up in Brussels feeling refreshed, as although I only got five hours of sleep, I woke up on a adequate hotel bed as opposed to a Flixbus seat or a gravelly street outside the venue. Since the Palais 12 venue wasn’t as central as the Rotterdam Ahoy, I didn’t get to see as much of Brussels, but from my limited experience on the metro I probably wouldn’t return. Arriving at the venue, the queue was more of a standard “queue” than in Rotterdam, where people numbered 0-100 were sat in one block, and so one.

"Polaroids were taken, Instagram usernames were once again exchanged and even TikToks were made!"

After meeting such wonderful people the day before, I entered the queue shyly, uncertain of whether I’d be as lucky this time around. This anxiety was for no reason at all though, as I met three wonderful Belgian girls almost immediately. We started playing UNO together, which encouraged about four other girls to join us, and by the time the venue let use in, I had once again found people to hold hands with and cheer on our favourite band. Polaroids were taken, Instagram usernames were once again exchanged and even TikToks were made!

An interesting thing about seeing the same artist multiple times in the same week is that you can see similarities and differences in each performance. Luke did the same little dance in Easier, got the crowd to sing along at all the same points, told all the crowds how much he loved their country. The group seemed to have more energy and have higher sprits in their Brussels performance than in Rotterdam, possibly due to some technical difficulties that the venue had experienced before the group came out.

Overall, the differences in energy were absolutely minute, unnoticeable to everyone except for the psychopaths such as myself who went to multiple shows in the same week, or which there were actually quite a few, with one girl from Doncaster telling me she went to a total of 11 shows. Other than the occasional forgotten lyric - I didn’t realise it was possible for them to mess up She Looks So Perfect having definitely played it more than 1000 times over the years - the boys delivered flawless performances each night, with me looking far more weathered by life on the road than they did!

After a second wonderful night, I fell asleep in Brussels and woke up in Germany. It seems that the tricks to falling asleep on FlixBuses are a) relying on the fact you’ll have two seats and will able to stretch out and b) being so exhausted you could sleep soundly literally anywhere. I picked the quaint city of Bremen to rest in, since it was cheaper than staying in Hamburg for two nights, and it was only two hours away. I did everything the city had to offer during the day, which wasn’t much except for a nice Cathedral and a cute Windmill, and was asleep in my hostel by 7pm.

When I arrived at Hamburg’s Sporthalle, other than a lovely girl who had an early entry ticket chatting to me while we walked to the venue, I found it harder than other venues to simply approach someone and become their friend. After leaving to grab breakfast and a COVID test, I resorted to Twitter, finding a girl I had spoken to earlier that day and asking if I could sit with her. Like everyone else I had met on tour, she was extremely kind, inviting me to sit with her group and even sharing her Oreo’s with me.

We spent the morning talking about our tattoos, with the girls showing me the 5 Seconds of Summer tattoos that they had. I shared that if I met any of the band, I’d ask for their favourite flower and get it tattooed. We also listened to music, as I had at the past venues, and got to know each other before we were split up. The afternoon gave me the experience of drinking €2 German Rosé, ordering a Jäger shot using my very limited German language skills, and learning the very amusing popular phrase “Kein Bier vor Vier” (meaning no beer before 4pm - the reason we were instead drinking wine).

"Drummer Ashton Irwin had shared via Twitter that he wanted 5 Seconds of Summer to be a “multi-generational band”, so to sing and dance alongside the next generation of concert-goers was a really special moment"

Hamburg’s Sporthalle had the smallest crowd of the three shows (around 5000 compared to 7000 in Rotterdam and Brussels) and meant that I ended up the closest I'd been to the stage, only three rows back from the runway. Next to me at the show, I had three of the wonderful girls who I waited in line with, and on the other side, a couple who were only 13 and were at their first ever concert. Upon finding this out, it reminded me that I too was 13 at my first ever concert, and I went out of my way to make sure they stayed well-hydrated and happy throughout the show. That morning, drummer Ashton Irwin had shared via Twitter that he wanted 5 Seconds of Summer to be a “multi-generational band”, so to sing and dance alongside the next generation of concert-goers was a really special moment.

Venue to venue, I was able to learn so much about each country’s culture just by interacting with people around me. I learnt that the Rotterdam concert was the week before the King’s birthday, a day of celebration where the Dutch kids enjoy playing sports and the Dutch adults enjoy going to festivals and getting very drunk. In Brussels, I learnt about the Flemish/French divide, and in Germany, I learnt how different COVID rules apply to each different county/state, and that the police are not sympathetic to those who find themselves confused.

Even though I didn’t get to see all of the landmarks in each city, I got to bond with locals more easily than I would had I spent the evening in bars or at tourist sites. The fans were not only a great reflection of their country, but also a great reflection of 5 Seconds of Summer, and the inclusive and friendly ‘safe space’ that they create at their concerts. After this experience, I wouldn’t think twice about travelling abroad solo for a concert: it’s so special to share the experience of enjoying great music with those from different backgrounds who you otherwise wouldn’t have met!

Cat Jordan


Edited by: Gemma Cockrell

Featured image and in-article images courtesy of Cat Jordan.