Dott US Tour Diary Part 3 – SXSW & NYC
Words: Anna McCarthy
Hello again. Here is the third and final instalment of the Dott US tour March 2014. This entry sees the gang embark on an adventure to SXSW before playing one final show in New York City.
As usual, I want to thank the lovely people at Culture Ireland who made this entire tour possible. Go to www.cultureireland.ie to find out about the amazing support they provide for Irish artists abroad. This time I also want to give a big thanks to Angela and Steve from First Music Contact who, in collaboration with Culture Ireland, were responsible for bringing all of the Irish bands over to SXSW and organising some fantastic showcase gigs for us while we were there. More about that in a sec.
I’m writing this on the flight back to Ireland trying not to think about going back to real life. Reminisce with me for a while longer…
SXSW Day 1 – March 12th
After a couple days off to make the journey all the way to Texas suddenly we were in Austin with a gig to play in a couple hours. We found our way to our deadly apartment in South Congress and met our host Thomas who greeted us with a goody bag of Austin-made beers, chips, salsa etc… Our first of many freebies while at SXSW. Suddenly it was time to tackle the 45 minute walk into town with all of our gear on our backs. We checked in at the convention centre and made our way to the artist’s lounge where Laura revealed herself as a crazed lover of anything at all that you can have for free. I think she has one rule in life; if it’s free, she’ll take it. While the rest of us were happy with some new guitar strings, plectrums, a couple beers and a jans sport bag, Laura on the other hand came home with towels, doo rags, shot glasses, key rings, biros, condoms and t-shirts of brands she has no idea about. Fair play to you Laura 🙂
Next it was off to Maggie Mae’s to play our first SXSW show at the First Music Contact/ Music From Ireland showcase. We were opening the night and had first-hand experience of the hectic-ness of SXSW. There had been another show in the venue until 6 so everyone had to work their magic to load out/load in and do a complete back line turnaround in time for show time at 8pm. We opened the show and were delighted to hear there had been a queue around the corner to get in… (Although I have a feeling that queue might have had something to do with the fact that a certain fantastic band called Heathers were playing straight after us!) We had so much fun playing this gig, props to Angela for making it all happen. Also thanks to Aaron from Wounds for lending me a tuner while the tuner I had been using on tour was in a bag with the Graveface folk.
After the show we found more of the realities of SXSW; The ever present queue to get in to shows. There had been a couple bands playing in a venue called the Mohawk that we wanted to go see. We queued up for ages without the line moving even an inch and then debated catching a gig in another venue before joining the Mohawk queue again for the 1am show. In the end we changed our plans and decided to see what was going on in the smaller clubs across the river at South Congress to avoid the crazy lines. The next morning the news came in about the awful tragedy of a drunk driver ploughing his car into the queue of people outside the Mohawk waiting for the 1am show. Two people died at the scene and another died a few days later. Disgusted at the actions of one selfish idiot and heartbroken for the people affected, we all felt quite shaken realising that we could have been there when it happened. Our hearts go out to everyone who was affected by this terrible incident.
SXSW Day 2 – March 13th
The next day we had a day off and met Irish expat/Austin resident James Goulden who was taking photos of most of the Irish bands at SXSW. He picked us up and brought us for a drive to the famous Barton Springs. We had seen the “Keep Austin weird” t-shirts and James had warned us of the gentrification of the city in recent years. But we were convinced that Austin was maintaining its weirdness when we arrived at the springs and were greeted by a woman clothed in a tie-dye sarong wading in the water playing a wooden flute. Perfect. James took some pictures of us which included dogs leaping into the water around us and skateboarders almost falling on top of us. James was a complete gent and even dropped us all the way into the city after our shoot, thank you James!
We spent our day off in more lines for shows and by the evening we finally got to see our first bands of the festival. Alvvays, PUP and Off! This venue had unlimited free vodka and a free photo booth so for some reason we ended up staying here for the night.
SXSW Day 3 – March 14th
Today we had two shows to play so we mentally prepared ourselves for the hectic day ahead and started the lengthy trudge into the city. Today’s first show was the much heralded Irish Breakfast showcase organised by those heroes at First Music Contact again. An afternoon show in a Texan-Irish bar full of people eating fry ups might not sound like it should make sense but we absolutely loved this show! The crowd were a pleasure to play to, clapping along for all the right parts making us feel very happy. This time thanks to Eimear from The Wonder Villains For the lend of a tuner today!
After the show it was time to head straight to our next show for the Graveface Records and Noisy Ghost PR showcase at the swanky TenOak bar. After what felt like an eternity we were finally reunited with our Graveface family and were just about caught up with all our stories when it was time to start the showcase! This was also a lovely show to play despite the dodgy sound and sweltering heat on stage, as we met lots of people who were finally seeing us live for their first time. We were very pleased and surprised to hear a group of voices shout along to all of the words of ‘Leave Tonight’. We also really enjoyed this night cos we got to see some of the other deadly bands in the Graveface family such as Creepoid, Gramma’s Boyfriend and Dosh!
SXSW Day 4 – March 15th
With two very hungover boys desperate to catch a glimpse of the Six Nations to contend with, we made it to our last SXSW show by the skin of our teeth. Today the Graveface/Noisy Ghost PR day show happened in the beautiful Tillery Park, a cute little community garden complete with a small stage and a silver Austin caravan as a green-room. This was by far the best show we had ever played in a community garden and it was also the first time playing to dogs and cats (there were some humans there too). I think the little black pug was especially into it. Today we got to see the awesome Creepoid and Dosh again and suddenly we were watching our Graveface tour buddies for the final time. After the gig we all got together for a family portrait, and with plans forming for our next reunion we said our sad goodbyes.
We also said our final goodbyes to Austin and got ready to head to New York for the last show of the tour.
*A note on SXSW
SXSW is such an amazing experience, but if you are going there to play as many shows as you can squeeze in AND see all of your favourite bands playing there, good luck! If anyone asks me what my top picks were from the festival were I’ll either have to lie, or just list off the handful of bands I actually got to see!
New York City – March 16th
After staying up all night to make our flight from Austin to Houston and from Houston to New York we were feeling fairly shattered as we arrived in New York. However, there was no time for feeling tired as we were greeted by a non-tour-fatigued/ready-to-party Andrew from Torche who had flown in from Atlanta to spend a couple days with us in New York.
Tonight’s show was in our favourite New York venue EVER, Cake Shop in the Lower East Village. We had played here once before so we were so excited to be back. Tonight we were supported by two deadly local bands, Rad Dreams and Clairaudience who helped to provide the crowd with an evening of perfect pop. This gig was another contender for a favourite of the whole tour. The crowd were super responsive and perhaps a little excited about seeing an Irish band on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day. This gig involved some interesting interactions about an awkward but hilarious “flailing” mic stand, musings on St. Patrick and shots of whiskey being forced into us on stage. Afterwards we did some bonding over more shots of whiskey with new friends, the other bands, the promoter and lovely bar staff. We ended the tour on such a high thanks to this super fun night.
And that’s the end of our tour story… Now I’m on the flight home wondering where the last three weeks went to and dreading the return of normality. I really recommend any bands out there to find out more about Culture Ireland and see if there’s some way they could help with any upcoming exciting adventures.
And I’ll finish with a few thanks… Thanks to; Culture Ireland & First Music Contact, Ryan from Graveface Records, Michelle from Noisy Ghost PR, John & Kim from The Stargazer Lillies for sharing all of their back line with us, Denis for being our merch man extraordinaire, Andy at Cake Shop, all of the promoters who hosted us, all of the local stations who played our music, We Are Noise for letting us tell you all about the tour and finally to every single person who made the effort to come all the way to see us!
We have some plans for another adventure up our sleeve but for now, give us a bit of time to recuperate after a ridiculously fun three weeks!
Anna / Dott