Dott – U.S. Tour Diary Part 1
Words: Anna McCarthy
Welcome to the Dott US tour diary part one. I’m writing this as we drive from Santa Cruz to LA and using it as an excuse to reminisce on all the good, bad and ugly things that we have encountered so far from Seattle to here. First things first, we’d like to acknowledge the amazing support we received from Culture Ireland who made this entire tour possible!
Half of us got in a couple days early to act like tourists before the epic drive began. We spent about half of our time in our favourite bar ever; the clown and pinball themed Shorty’s. The other half of our time was spent in the Nirvana exhibit at Experience Music Project, Pike Place Market and catching up with some seriously missed friends from Vancouver who came to visit for a few days.
Sat March 1st
We played our first show right under the Space Needle in The Vera Project, an all ages art and music centre run by volunteers with internships for young folk. This was a really cool venue with amazing graffiti and artwork everywhere. We finally got to meet our friends from Graveface Records here after months of emails. Six people make up the three bands that we are touring with, with members swapping and filling in to play sets for Dreamend, The Stargazer Lillies and the Casket Girls. Although the people might be the same across the three bands, their sounds couldn’t be more different. They all played brilliant sets. We played to a crowd featuring a posse of Irish friends visiting from Seattle, Vancouver, Calgary and Galway. A great start to the tour!
Other highlights and lowlights from Seattle included spending ages searching for a bar that didn’t exist anymore, drinking in a bar that served a burger and chips for $2.75 and had a juke box full of Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys and Van Halen, hanging out with Ben from Helms Alee, seeing friends we hadn’t seen in ages and saying goodbye to friends we won’t see again for ages.
Portland, Sun March 2nd
On Sunday we picked up the most deceptively big-looking car and squeezed in to make our journey to Portland. We stopped at a family-run diner called Country Cousin that had a bacon happy hour (including a bloody Mary served with bacon!!) and a chicken coup outside. Our kind of place! In Portland we stayed in these really cool pink and green cottages I’d found on Air B&B but couldn’t get in for ages so we lost time to explore Portland. We did squeeze in a quick drink in the Green Dragon Brewery before the show and Laura has learned that she will never order rice flavoured beer again!
We played our show in a venue called Holocene which was an absolute pleasure to play. Free food and free beer will always make an Irish band happy. We felt very at home on a wet and windy Sunday night in Portland playing to such a warm crowd. After the show we headed for a dive bar called The Know where an epic Karaoke session took place. Evan sang ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, the girls murdered ‘The Chain’ and I (Anna) finished the night with a massacre of ‘Billie Jean’ including attempts at moonwalking (we’re sorry Portland!)
As we left Portland the next morning we came to the conclusion that Amish hipster is the new hot style right now. We can’t wait to see it catch on in Ireland.
Drive day, Mon March 3rd
Our next show was San Francisco on Tuesday so we had the day off to cover as much road as possible. At the time it seemed like a really good idea to take a slightly longer route so we could see the Redwood Forest, but in the end we spent about ten hours in the car. Well done to Evan for carrying us through the hair pin turns and ridiculous fog and rain. The highlight of this journey was stopping at a gas station in the middle of nowhere and meeting Norm and his array of cats and Sadie the dog. In the bathroom he had sellotaped loads of pictures of puppies and kittens to the wall and given them speech bubbles like “I have a manicure at 10” or “I like to hide”. The lowlight of today was when I typed in the wrong address to our gps and we thought we were staying at the end of the sketchiest and dodgiest laneway. We also came to the conclusion that hotels in the middle of nowhere are the best ever. We splashed out and got TWO rooms for the five of us and managed to battle scurvy with the free fresh fruit breakfast!
San Francisco, March 4th
We started the final leg of our journey to San Francisco with a drive through the Avenue of the Giants, a visit to the drive-through redwood tree and a gander around the Legend of Bigfoot centre. We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco and had been driving through the city for no more than 5minutes when we got pulled over by the cops!! Evan had followed a bus through a junction and didn’t see the red light… But the cop did. I think our Irish accents and the massive copy of Lonely Planet USA on my lap helped us charm our way out of a ticket. Phew!
Tonight’s show was at the Bottom of the Hill which was probably our favourite show so far. They have an amazing sound engineer called Barrett, the venue was awesome and the bar staff were the nicest people too! It was also our biggest crowd so far and really fun to play. The venue just happens to be right next door to Pirates Press, the people who printed our album and EP on vinyl. We called in for a snoop around and we were finally reunited with the mysterious package that was meant to arrive before our album launch last year. They said the box arrived to them in smithereens but somehow the records and CDs were undamaged! Hooray! We also got to meet fellow Gravefacer Devan from Whirr. Fun night.
Santa Cruz, March 5th
After some unfortunate choices of lodging and dining destinations we were happy to be moving on from San Francisco. Today was our shortest drive and we got to Santa Cruz with plenty of time to walk around and act like tourists. This made us very happy. And we were even happier again after we all ate the best burritos we had ever eaten in our lives at Planet Fresh. It was almost like a religious experience.
We played a venue called the Crepe Place in Santa Cruz across the road from an Ani Di Franco concert . It was definitely the best show we had ever played in a crepe place. Again, we were made happy with lots of free food and drinks. I ordered a salad the size of a mountain. Tonight was a fun show but the heavens opened for our load out to remind us of where we came from lest we forget. Next stop, LA!