Spotlights’ Mario Quintero: 5 Weirdest Places I’ve Slept on Tour

Spotlights, 2019

Tour life might seem glamorous and fun, but it ain’t for the faint of heart. Between the homesickness and long drives, there’s also the issue of where to rest your head each night. Up-and-coming bands cutting their teeth playing tiny gig after tiny gig don’t get to ride in a lux tour bus much less stay in a hotel room every evening. Instead, they get to crash wherever they can while trying to save up gas money. Brooklyn dream-sludge trio Spotlights know all about the trials and travails of life on the road. “Tour can be a weird place,” guitarist-vocalist Mario Quintero reports. “You never know where you’ll end up that night after a show. You’re tired, sweaty and all you want is a shower, and a clean bed to sleep in for a few hours, before waking up and making that four-to-10 hour drive to the next town. Sometimes, you have no idea where you are. Sometimes you think you know where you are, but it all goes to shit. Literally.”

1. PHILADELPHIA MOTOR INN, DEFTONES TOUR, AUGUST 2016: “SHIT PILLOW MOTEL”

This was after the third show of our run with Deftones in 2016. We waited until the last minute to find a room nearby, or just outside of the city. Not an uncommon practice for us, and it usually works out! Unfortunately, everything was like a million dollars or not available that night.  So we went with the “affordable” option of the Motor Inn for $100.

Sketchy. That is the perfect way to describe what we felt when we rolled up to the front desk with an armed guard and bulletproof glass surrounding the front desk. It quickly became clear that this was a local spot to “take a lady” for a couple hours. We were escorted to our room by a guy with a bunch of keys, who proceeded to knock first before entering. “You never know,” he said.  “One time I found a dead body!” Cool? We then learn that we won’t have keys to the room. He was the only one with keys and said he “couldn’t find” our room key. OK, fine.  Onto the rat shit on the pillow cases and the blood-stained shower. To say we got our moneys worth would be the overstatement of the century. But it is a good story, I guess.

2. BUDAPEST, HUNGARY, E.U. TOUR, 2018: “HAUNTED” HOSTEL WITH NO BATHROOMS

This tour was full of surprises.  Like playing a crazy dungeon club in Budapest with no other bands. No support, No headliner. Just us. First time ever playing on the continent. No posters. No promotion. No bands. Just us. The show was actually a success considering all that.

As it goes in Europe, we were given some cash by the promoter for a “hotel” in town. The GPS had quite the time finding this spot. Once we arrived at the estimated location, there were no signs or places that resembled a hotel. But eventually, after asking around, we found it. The guy at the front desk was not very awake. Nice guy, though. Gives us a key and sends us on our way in search of this elusive room. This place looks like it was built to be haunted. Chris [Enriquez, drums] is getting pretty freaked out as we walk around the dark halls looking for room 5D or something like that. All of a sudden, the older man from the front dest appears in front of us. Asking what we’re doing. Well, we’re looking for our room but can’t find it. Apparently, he couldn’t find it either. After trying a few or 10 different doors with the key, we got in! By this point, we all are dying to pee and take showers. And the search was on. Walking around dark hallways for an hour trying every door. By this point, Chris is basically having a panic attack about all the ghosts that are going to attack him when he has to pee in the middle of the night. Luckily, we finally found the bathroom. It was the unmarked for right next to our room.

3. ČADCA, SLOVAKIA, “WALTER WHITE’S HOUSE,” E.U. TOUR, 2018: RANDOM TWEAKER HOUSE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE OF SLOVAKIA

As we continued to bleed money and learn lessons on our lovely, solo tour of the E.U., we arrived in Čadca, Slovakia. Side note: We don’t have any crew with us. We’re driving ourselves, in this giant van, that apparently needs some serious servicing, through the countryside of Eastern Europe. Have you driven in Romania? Holy shit! Anyway, the show in Slovakia was INCREDIBLE. Sold-out, tiny little bar with a DIY type, play on the floor, tiny PA set-up. It was hot, sweaty, people hugging and crowd surfing during our set, just a perfect show. Afterwards … we find out the we’re staying at a random house in the country. A “friend” of the promoter who puts up bands sometimes. The owner of the bar says, “So … you’re staying at Walter White’s House?” Red flag No. 1. Then, we start hearing how “she’s kind of strange and doesn’t speak English, but just go in and she’ll make you food.” Food was not a thing. And we weren’t really interested in food at this point. We go in, and are led to this room with red lights and a few beds. Pretty sticky, pretty gross, but hey, we need to rest. I think we had pillows and some lion print blanket. Then we’re woken up by the woman — Walter White — who seems to be a bit agitated, possibly by the heavy use of methamphetamine. “Leave soon.” “I have to catch train.” So … we did.

4. HAMBURG, GERMANY, “THE BOAT,” E.U. TOUR, 2018Ú THE MOST UNWELCOMING, GIANT, OLD FISHING BOAT

Oh Hamburg … thanks, but maybe no thanks. We are told by our agent that we will be staying on a boat the night before the show. Well, actually, first we were told we were staying with our agent at their house. Seemed like it was going to be great. Unfortunately, that was not the case. So we’re told about the boat. We drive one of our 10-hour-plus “day off” drives, through hideous German traffic, and arrive at this boat. It’s HUGE. Like an old industrial fishing boat. We were told “a friend” would meet us there. Eventually, the friend comes out of this boat. Seems a bit worried about the situation. Like we’re not supposed to be there. We ask where we should park. No real answer to that, just, “not here.” “Maybe in the empty construction site down the street.” Hmm … So we go onto the boat to “check it out,” but we are already pretty sure we’re not staying here.  The friend shows us around the smoky tiny hallways and we see a group of people that seem real pissed to see us. Like, “Who the fuck did you just bring on our boat?” I guess the boat is actually a venue, too? Anyhow, we didn’t stay there. Instead we paid a bunch of money to stay at another shitty hostel in town. The show was, well, not very well attended, which is understandable since there was no promotion and NO OTHER BANDS PLAYING WITH US!

5. BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, MELVINS TOUR, 2017: HOME

This might seem funny to have on this list, but if you’ve toured through New York City, you might understand why. It sucks. We love you to death, New York, but — fuck you. We roll in through the usual shit show to the usual no parking situation at Irving Plaza. Drive around for an hour or so, blah blah … Have an incredible show opening for one of 62 shows with one of our very favorite bands and then … Well, we live in Flatbush, Brooklyn. There is no parking. Especially not for a van. So it’s either we drive around for two hours and look for a spot a mile away from our apartment to sleep for three hours before waking up to move the van so it won’t get ticketed or option 2. We took option 2 — drive the van to Rutherford, New Jersey, and leave it with Marc — our NYC Ipecac dad — and uber over the next day to pick it up on the way out. Easy! And cost more than it would have to just leave and get a hotel an hour away. A $90 uber ride hurts deep when you’re touring. Not to mention trying to get one in Midtown, Manhattan.