BritBus, it's a tour of English bands who ride around on a double decker bus, and apparently there was going to be free Bass (beer, not fish), so I was interested. I was covering it for DCist (a local DC news blog). It was the 6th week of an 8 week tour, and I hadn't heard of the bands, Jyrojets, The Crave, and Julia Jones (who also founded the tour) but whatever. So I went to the press event at the National Press Club building on 14th street (which was on the 13th floor). It seemed like I was the only "press" person there, and I use that term lightly. Everybody else seemed like post frat and sorority folks who just wanted free beer. And I can't blame them for that, but it was sort of odd.
They had a pretty good spread of English food, like these fried flat potato things, stilton and cheshire cheese, and so on, which was cool. The place was just your average meeting room with some stuff set up, and it was a weird venue for a concert - it was bright, for one thing, and there was carpet and all (see photo at left). The bands played acoustic, and unfortunately I got there late for Jyrojets, who I liked the most based on their myspace page - apparently "Favourite Thing about Jane" is going up the English charts, and they had a lot of positive press after SXSW. There was also a Scottish vicar who had a drawing for a tweed jacket.
We all got goodie bags, which were pretty sweet - a six pack of Bass, scones, jam (or maybe preserves, I dunno) and clotted cream, which is kind of like butter but creamier and tastier, and a few other things. The scones, jam and cream made a good breakfast the next day. The odd thing about the scones was that they were "sultana" scones, which I looked up, and apparently that's the name of that type of scones - strawberries and black pepper. I didn't notice the pepper, but they were tasty. I'd never liked scones before, they were too dry, but I guess I hadn't had the right kind.
So then the idea was that all of us press people (i.e. me and some of the randoms) would get on the bus with the bands, check it out, and ride to Fado, where the bands would play again for anybody who happened to be there. This would be about a 7 block bus ride.
We got on the bus, which was pretty nice. I talked to some of the guys from The Crave, who were friendly, cool guys, and they seemed to like the bus. There wasn't any air conditioning, which the guys from Jyrojets bemoaned in the brief time I talked to them. The bus had some nice benches and stuff on it and tons of flat screen TVs all playing the various bands' music, which must get old for them. Tom, the bassist from The Crave, said the bus was comfortable to sleep on, but they also had Range Rovers for when it took too long - apparently the bus took 4 days to get from Denver to St. Louis.
So it was me, the vicar, a girl from Where magazine and a couple of her friends, and the bands, and away we went. The bus was very bouncy on the ride, and it felt kind of odd to be riding in an obvious doubledecker bus in downtown D.C. We talked some more and then got to Fado. It was The Crave's first U.S. tour and I talked a bit with their drummer Dave about D.C., which was smaller than he expected.
It seemed like most customers at the bar didn't expect a concert, but they got more into it as the show went on. This one was all acoustic too. People seemed to really enjoy Jyrojets' set and were crowding around, and I heard some people asking the various sponsors and tour staff people about them. I ran into a girl I knew with her friend and they told me they came just to see Jyrojets, so that was cool - before I was basically talking to the girl from Where and her pals and being a little bored.
The press lady bought me a beer, which I guess is technically bad ethics for press type folks, but oh well. She also made the point that the bands look like they were straight out of central casting, which was true - it was very easy to pick out band members from non-band members.
I talked with the vicar a bit, who was a really cool guy. He was there as a representative from a Scotland tourism promotion type place, and said he and the bands would go out and drink after the sets and stuff. He was based in Edinburgh and was happy when I told him a lot of my family is Scottish, and he thought Andrew was a good Scottish name, which I guess I never realized before. He gave me a couple books about Scottish geneaology.
He also told me that they stopped at a Fado in almost every city, which was pretty funny - these English bands coming over to the U.S. (and for The Crave, their first U.S. tour) only to play in a chain of fake Irish bars. Luckily they were going to Madam's Organ two days later, so they might get a better idea.
So the show ended and I hung out a bit with the girl I knew and her pal, then took my goodies and went home. Pretty random and fun night. I wrote a less detailed version for DCist too.