First Jump, High Dive

Five years of giving local bands their first try.

Five years ago, Eric Poll purchased a space on 36th Street in lower Fremont and opened a bar. On the bar's first night of live music, a band called Horses played the new stage.

"I think there were 25 people there," says Poll of the show featuring the band that was renamed Band of Horses when it signed to Sub Pop. "Maybe 30. It wasn't crazy."

Since then, the High Dive has been the starting place for many local bands to cut their teeth, including, Poll says, about half the bands playing Sasquatch! this year.

"It's a good place for bands to get their feet wet and start playing their first shows," says Greg Garcia, the booking agent for the High Dive and the Tractor Tavern. "We've had the Fleet Foxes play there. I think Thee Emergency's first show was there. One of Hey Marseilles' very first shows was there."

These days, Poll says he feels a good symbiosis between the High Dive and places like the Tractor and the Crocodile, particularly since he's got Garcia working for him ("He eats, breathes, and sleeps booking. Without him, I don't know where I'd go.") "The Tractor has less of a focus on the local scene. But the High Dive has always been a place where you know you can go and see up-and-coming local bands," Garcia says. "That's what we've always prided ourselves on, is building local bands and seeing them grow."

Dita Vox of Thee Emergency was one of those up-and-coming acts. "The thing I like about that club is they treat their bands really well," she says. "It was always really fun. It's a smaller venue, but it's easier for a smaller band that's just starting out to play and get some people to come out to."

On April 30, the venue will celebrate its half-decade anniversary with old-school local rockers Satchel. As for the next five years, the High Dive is currently improving their sound system and toying with the idea of a few other changes, like redoing the entryway, brewing their own beer, and adding extra seating.

"We don't want to become old and tired," says Poll. "I came up with the idea that working in a bar is more of a family atmosphere than a job. We've always been fair, and we've always put the band first."

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