Reverb, a nonprofit founded in 2004 by Adam Gardner from the band Guster and his wife, environmentalist Lauren Sullivan, works to reduce the environmental impact of the music industry by focusing on fan outreach and greening tours.
Over the nearly ten years since launching, Reverb has worked on greening tours for many popular artists, such as Maroon 5, Dave Mathews Band, John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Sheryl Crow, and Barenaked Ladies, among others.
According to Reverb spokesperson Lara Seaver, the band Barenaked Ladies was one of the bands that first inspired Mr. Gardner to launch Reverb. “They agreed to be our guinea pigs for the first ever tour in 2004,” she explained. Mr. Gardner’s wife Lauren followed the band on tour that year trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t. “The fans were super receptive and the venues were great to work with, and she was able to get a lot of the ideas for Reverb on that first tour,” said Ms. Seaver.
According to the Reverb website, the organization’s impact to date includes 141 tours greened and 107,564 tons of CO2 reduced.
This summer, Barenaked Ladies and Guster teamed up along with the band Ben Folds Five to present the Last Summer on Earth concert tour. The tour kicked off June 19 and continued through July 30, with the bands playing thirty shows overall.
A key element in this and other tours Reverb works with is the Eco-Village – booths set up on the concourse at each show meant to engage and educate fans on what they can do to help the environment.
“It’s really a chance to talk to fans in a positive way about what they can do for the environment,” explained Ms. Seaver.
In the case of the Last Summer on Earth tour, fans stopping by the Eco-Village had a chance to learn about the Lacey Act, meet a local environmental nonprofit, contribute to e-waste recycling, enter a raffle for a chance to win an autographed guitar, and catch one of the bands warming up pre-show on a solar-powered stage.
The Lacey Act bans the import and trade of illegally logged wood. Guster, Barenaked Ladies, and dozens of other artists have pledged to support the Act, which is being attacked by some members of Congress. At the EcoVillage, fans could sign a postcard addressed to their Congressional representative asking them to support the Lacey Act.
A local environmental nonprofit organization was also present at the Eco-Village at each show. Fans who donated $5 to the organization would receive a packet of organic basil seeds from a small family farm in Vermont. “Thousands of dollars were raised over the course of the tour,” said Ms. Seaver.
In addition, the Last Summer on Earth tour Eco-Village featured a solar-powered stage. “We set up a small stage in the Eco-Village each night, and members of Barenaked Ladies and Guster and Ben Folds Five came out and played just impromptu little pop-up performances,” Ms. Seaver explained.
Besides the Eco-Village, the Last Summer on Earth concert tour involved efforts to reduce the tour’s waste and carbon footprint. Greening initiatives included recycling, supplying musicians and crew with reusable water bottles and organic, locally grown food options, and offsetting carbon emissions by supporting renewable energy projects.