SHARING THE SHOWS
I had never seen Bob Dylan live, but he’s a common bucket list item. So when Johnny invited me to see him, I said, “Of course!” Sadly, Johnny couldn’t make it due to family obligations, but I’m always happy to hit a show solo.
This was the last week of classes, and I’m happy that I’m scheduled to go back to in-person teaching next semester. Three and a half of semesters of teaching to video screens is more than enough for this cat. After my hours ended, I walked down to the 3321 Bistro in Cleveland Park for some finger-lickin’ fajitas. I chatted with my server, a sweet young woman named Diary, who filled me in on a Bottomless Sunday Brunch. I’ll be sure to bring my appetite for that.
Some of the Metro trains have been down, so my transfer at Gallery Place was delayed by 22 minutes, but I’ll still take that over having to fight the fifth circle of hell that is DC rush hour traffic. After a quick pass through the vaccine card check line, I made it into the Anthem at 7:53, with seven minutes to spare.
What is normally the dance floor was filled by seats. Since I had a measly GA standing ticket, I was relegated to a heightened platform, but no matter. I could hear them, I could kinda see them, and I was pleased to see that despite Mayor Bowser’s decision to drop the mask requirement, about ¾ of the concertgoers were masked. I doubled up in this case.
I didn’t recognize any of the songs Dylan played (staples like “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Tangled Up in Blue,” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” didn’t show up, but there seemed to be a standardized setlist, like there is when most bands tour, which is on this link. Dylan’s known for his songwriting, and his “I Contain Multitudes” indicate he clearly knows his Walt Whitman.
It was a good show, not great, but good. It was mellow, and I bopped my head a bit, and apparently I couldn’t make out his version of “When I Paint My Masterpiece.” But I did have the experience of seeing Dylan, and what I did love is that it started on time and it was only ninety minutes, so this introvert was happy to exit the venue at 9:30. As much as I love my jam bands, occasionally, some of their two-set shows feel a bit…drawn out.
At any rate, the ride back is always a good people-watching experience, especially when the platforms are packed with drunken Caps fans, which reminds me of the Caps game my friend Ellen and I attended when I visited her back in 2014.
The post-show ritual of snacking and Netflix is one I enjoy immensely. Some pumpkin pie and Simpsons were great for mellowing me back out. As far as I know, this will be my last show of 2021, and a show usually does get me to a place of introspection.
These past couple of years have been difficult for everyone in COVID, myself included, but I’ve found hitting the occasional show has helped bring me some sense of normalcy, although lately, I find going outside of DC for a show isn’t all that enticing, because, well, I’ve got all the shows I need right here. Anywho, here’s to (hopefully, a better) 2022 for all of us.
A little tidbit about November 11: China declared it to be Singles Day because of all the shopping singles do. We are a boon to our economies. This day opened things up for stores to create Singles Day sales and specials. It’s much like Valentine’s Day, but still, it’s nice to have a day that’s for us. And I won’t forget to acknowledge the veterans that serve our country. Thank you for your service.
Veterans Day is also a nice day for me, because I work for the city of DC, which declared it a Federal holiday. I slept in (8:30), went for a run, and went to a focus group for extra cash. I can’t write about what went on; otherwise, the people in charge will find me and cut off my hands so I can’t type, and I need these hands to continue write and raising my fist at shows, so I’ll just say I was stoked to receive the extra cash.
I hopped the Metro to the Shaw section of DC, a section I haven’t frequented that much. I got to Busboys and Poets at about 5:30, a half hour before Pete’s dinner reservation. I browsed the bookstore and was pleased to see some books featuring LGBTQ+ protagonists. I placed two business cards on the table outside and asked one of the clerks about the possibility of giving a reading of my book. Gotta keep pluggin’…
Pete arrived at about 6, and we ordered our food. I’m a big eater, but I tapped out about halfway through this ginormous plate of nachos. I also tried Harira soup, which was perfect for the increasingly chilly weather we’re having here.
Our conversation topics were varied and full, but when we started talking about COVID, my heart stopped and I suddenly realized I had left my vaccination card on my fridge. Pete assured me they’d take the photograph of it on my phone; I was skeptical, but was glad to be proven wrong, after the circuitous route we took to the venue.
When we arrived, we sat at the bar downstairs, and the pungent odor of stale beer transported me back to the early 2000s, when I was in my early 20s and frequenting dingy dive bars with that spell. 9:30 Club is probably one of my favorite venues to see music because of its storied history, and I got some photos of a couple of their calendars from the 1980s.
After a few minutes, we went up and were greeted by some peppy sounds of acoustic instruments from the opening band, Fireside Collective. I was blown away, and upon hearing me, I judged them to be better than I ever remember YMSB being. Their version of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” was pretty kickass, and while I don’t normally buy CDs at shows, I do like to support local acts, and this band deserved it.
YMSB took the stage at about 9:10, and they were as awesome as I remember. I give my props to the 9:30 Club for being consistent with their mask enforcement. One person was removed from the venue for repeated disobedience (the security staff had talked to him multiple times), and I saw one lady get pulled aside. I left the show at 10:45 (damn lack of late-night Metro combined with morning work meetings), and Pete informed me two others were removed later on. Venues (not naming names, Union Stage SW, Pearl Street Warehouse, and Elevation 27), take notes!
The band introduced Nick Piccinni, their new bass player, who did a great job. Songs I recognized included “Left Me in a Hole” and “Angel,” a trippy tune that brought me to a transcendental place when I saw them in Richmond back in 2017.
At around 10:45, I bounced out. The way I figure, I saw an awesome opening band and got most of a set of the show, as well as an evening out with a good friend; I was satiated. One of the things I love about walking and Metro in DC is the opportunities for people-watching. I heard a black man say, “White people are always wasting food.” Yes, this is true. Wasting food is a pet peeve of mine, particularly when there are people throughout the world who dig through the dumpsters for scraps. Wasting food is a sad feature of white privilege, and as I write this, I realize my own hypocrisy. Normally, I get a to-go box when I have leftovers, but since the venue wouldn’t have allowed my food in, I denied the restaurant’s offer for one. I now realize I could have given it to one of the many people asking for change on the street, or even one of the bouncers at the venue (both of which I’ve done, before). Live and learn, Craig, live and learn.
The ride home from the show is always a place for me to wind down from the show’s energy. It was only a 40-minute ride back. Home at 11:30, I curled up on the couch to turn on Netflix and watch that episode of Seinfeld in which George and Jerry pitch that episode about “nothing” to the NBC execs. I’m over 20 years late to that party, but I’m glad I arrived.
A final note: I’ve had a superstition regarding YMSB, because at every show I’ve been to, something negative has been associated with it. I’d seen them five times before tonight. Three of those shows were with people I was dating (those relationships did not end well). When I saw them open up for String Cheese Incident in Portsmouth in 2016, I parked my car at Mark/Brodysseus’s place, and I learned it was towed due to it being in one of the “complex’s spaces.” Last year, that car was totaled coming out of B Chord Brewing Company, so I was apprehensive about coming tonight.
I’m glad the venue accepted my photo card. Note to self: put it in your wallet day of show.
I was never fully immersed in the punk movement, but I can get into the music when the mood suits me right. I had bought a cassette tape of All Ages, a greatest hits compilation of Bad Religion’s songs when I was in high school, and my angsty teenage self played that tape multiple times, along with albums from other artists like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols.
When I saw Bad Religion would be performing at a venue near a Metro stop, I thought, why not? That seems to be a gauge for whether I go to a show these days. I mean, I can enjoy music and relax on my favorite mode of transportation not have to deal with the hassles of traffic and parking. For me, that’s just a no-brainer.
I had been running on about four hours sleep due to the intrusive nature of my late-night thoughts, but that’s never stopped me from a show before. One of my favorite things about the Metro is the opportunities to observe human behavior. On this Red Line trip out to Silver Spring, conversations included law school stress from a group of 20somethings and a girl talking about how her female friend had a crush on another friend’s sister, even though said sister was not gay. I also saw some cool costumes, including one of the Joker, a young girl wearing cat ears, another with Playboy bunny ears, and one wearing a blouse made out of the British flag.
I arrived at the stop about a half hour before my planned dinner outing with my friend Jason. Silver Spring is a pretty up-and-coming place; I dug the downtown vibe (minus all the chain stores), but it was cool to see a street performer singing R&B, accompanied by skateboards in the pavilion down below. Jason lives there and was able to give me an interesting history of how the town has developed in recent years. Having lived in DC for over thirty years, he’s also filled with knowledge of the history of punk rock in DC, which I love. I never got into Bad Brains, Fugazi, or Minor Threat, but I would have enjoyed seeing their shows in DC back in the 80s at clubs like The Black Cat (I’m hoping the Circle Jerks keep their April date for that show). He informed me of free punk shows at Fort Reno Park, walking distance from me. Even better than Metro! There also used to be a walking tour of DC Hardcore History, and I now have a new book add to my queue: Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation’s Capital. The conversation was even better than the food, and with Pho, that’s saying something:
At around 7:40, I was met with a long, long line going around the corner of the Fillmore. One line: “I tore my whole house apart looking for my vaccination card!” Another conversation involved a young woman looking to paint bricks for Bad Religion. The line did move fast, and I was in the hall promptly at 8, and met by a woman screaming. I couldn’t’ quite understand the lyrics, but I loved when the singer yelled, “Fuck white supremacy, fuck the patriarchy!” They’re all about activism, and while I couldn’t hear the words, I loved the vibe. I learned the band was called War on Women, and they’re a “feminist ,co-ed hardcore punk band from Baltimore” as Wikipedia described them. I don’t normally buy CDs, but I was hoping to support them. Sadly, nothing of theirs at the merch table.
There was plenty of gear from the second band, Alkaline Trio, at the table, but I didn’t care. They mostly sounded like a generic early 2000s band, a la Blink 182 or Sum 41. Many in the crowd knew the words to their songs, and for the first time, I felt like a true outsider in the scene. Not saddening, but humbling, and I started to wonder how many times I made people at Phish shows feel like outsiders with my yells of “Wooo!” and “Boy! Man! God! Shit!”. I thought of this clip.
I was pretty spent by the time Bad Religion took the stance, but I was determined to last the entire set. I did see people walking out, which made me feel less like the “old guy at the shows filled with post-millennials” and more like “a badass older dude at the shows filled with post-millennials who can’t hang.”
Okay, enough peacocking on my end. But I perked up during their set, which included social commentary-infused tunes , such as “No Control,” “I Want to Conquer the World,” “Better Off Dead,” “Do What You Want,” “The Enemy Within,” “Los Angeles is Burning,” and my favorite, “21st-Century Digital Boy,” which I sang along with them. That song was released in 1994; its relevance today has only multiplied (do I contribute to that with my blog?).
My enjoyment of people-watching was satiated by all the T-shirts, costumes, and other paraphernalia, which included a Hanson Brothers jersey, skeleton makeup, a Beavis and Butthead T-shirt, and a jacket sporting a pin that read “I Don’t Wanna Be a Pinhead.” I talked to a dude named Jeremy who asked if I was a reporter. I love getting that question because it gives me a certain identity at shows. I told him about the blog, which includes observations; he pointed out a dude nearby looking at the stage with a small telescope.
The show ended with “We’re Only Gonna Die (From Our Own Arrogance,” and I felt satisfied as I headed toward Metro with several other concertgoers. I felt like one of the smiling zombies I’ve seen on Misfits T-shirts as I headed home. When I got there, I did my favorite post-show thing: Netflix and Chill. I was out like a light by my third Seinfeld episode.
My first exposure to the Velvet Underground came when I heard Phish play “Rock and Roll” for the big Y2K extravaganza at Big Cypress. I then heard them bust out other tunes like “Sweet Jane” and “Sunday Morning” which I heard with Drew/Brometheus when they played it for the Baker’s Dozen. The theme that night: Velvet (i.e., red velvet donuts). As I thought of that, I devised a joke. If I bought something with velvet, and buried it underground, would I have “velvet underground?” I LOVE those lame puns!
At any rate, I love rockumentaries, as indicated by my last post, so when I saw a movie being released on the Velvet Underground, I figured, why not? I prepared by listening to their self-titled debut (as indicated by the banana up top), and kinda dug their psychedelic vibe that was indicative of the late 60s/early 70s. The interview with Sterling Morrison indicated that he was one of the main facilitators behind the sound of one note extending for several beats, which was a feature of psychedelic rock (hear the extended G on Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” for an example).
After a morning conversing with fellow aces and aros at a Meetup and a short hike at Rock Creek Park, I returned to E Street Cinema and was, once again, delighted to find mostly solo theatergoers, along with two couples in the theater. This is my element.
I didn’t know much about the Velvet Underground, but I learned they were managed by avant-garde artist Andy Warhol (who I’ll always associate with Crispin Glover’s portrayal of him in The Doors) and were intertwined with his films that often utilized their music. We were treated to a bunch of shots of 1970s New York City, which always has character for me, along with some of their performances, most notably at the Boston Tea Party (I would have loved to hit a show there back in the day).. I learned some other interesting things about the artists, such as Lou Reed growing up in the suburban landscape of Freeport, Long Island, him breaking his hand before a performance and being told by a manager to play anyway because his guitar would sound “just as shitty” as with a functioning hand. They also hated that “flower power garbage” that came from the 60s hippies. “Handing out a flower’s not gonna stop some bozo that wants to shoot you,” is what one band member said.
During the film, I got to hear some of the songs I’d been prepping with: “Run Run Run,” “Heroin,” “Rock and Roll,” “Sweet Jane,” “Sunday Morning” (which was in my head as I woke up this morning), and many others. The movie closed with Lou Reed giving an acoustic performance.
All in all, I wouldn’t go out of my way to see a Velvet Underground tribute or spend money on them, but I gained a newfound appreciation and respect for their artistry or musicianship.
My weeknight routine usually consists of me eating dinner, watching TV, and reading, so I like the occasional break in it. I was stoked to see Somewhere You Feel Free. I always liked and respected Tom Petty, but was never a diehard. My first exposure to him was when he released his hit, “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” back in 1994. I was a sixteen-year-old metalhead; my gods were Megadeth, Iron Maiden, and White Zombie, and judging from that song, Tom Petty fell into the “wuss rock” category for me. Of course, I gained a little respect when I heard the rocking “You Wreck Me.” Over the years, as I became exposed, I started to like him, and I witnessed Widespread Panic perform some kickass covers of “You Wreck Me” and “Honey Bee.”
I got off at the Metro Center stop to try a pizza place called &pizza. As a New Yorker, I wasn’t expecting tip-top pizza, but I was disappointed. All crust, very little cheese and sauce, and what kind of pizzeria doesn’t sell diet soda? And why wouldn’t they have plasticware? Surely, when one orders a grilled chicken pizza, those chunks of chicken will fall, right? And the patron will want to scoop them up with a fork, or barring that, a spoon? Anyway, I’m glad I tried it, but not my cup of tea.
I walked into the theater, and even though I’m a teetotaler, I was pretty impressed by the bottles of wine and champagne they had displayed at the concession stand. The showings were of independent films and sported titles by quirky filmmakers like Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson (who, as far as I know, aren’t related by blood).
I found a spot in the back of the empty theater, and I was elated to see mostly solo theatergoers. A few couples, one pair of apparently platonic friends, but mostly solo flyers, many of whom were reading something other than a phone screen. During that waiting period, I broke out Robert Boice’s Advice for New Faculty Members, a how-to guide for new professors trying to manage the trifecta of teaching, research, and service. Even though I’m relatively seasoned, I can still benefit from the advice.
When the lights went down, we were met by a birthday tribute to Tom Petty from his fans, as well as Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, set to a tear-inducing “Wildflowers.” I had heard that song many times before, but this was the first time my eyes ever got misty from it.
The film is a documentary that revolved around the conception and production of his 1994 Wildflowers album, which spawned “You Don’t Know How It Feels.” It was compiled of found footage, which was edited in black-and-white (most films that go with B/W go up on the “hip” scale from me). I learned that it was symbolic of a transitional period Petty was going through. He wanted to break off from his Heartbreakers, at least for that album, so he could stretch himself artistically. He was also going through a divorce; his daughter Adria cited “Time to Move On” and “To Find a Friend” as having been inspired by his disenchantment in his marriage.
Rick Rubin, his producer (as well as cofounder of Def Jam Recordings), showed up frequently to talk about the album and his friendship with Petty. The artist described Rubin as “not having a musical bone” in his body, but he loved music anyway, which has spurred a great career for him. A very interesting dude.
We also got to see footage of Petty’s concert performances, which included “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” “Refugee,” and the little-known “Girl on LSD,” a cautionary tale that plays like an upbeat ditty. Speaking of which, we also saw part of an alternate version of “I Won’t Back Down” that sounded like a nursery rhyme.
I love movies, especially movies about rock music. I viewed a Petty performance in preparation for the film, and I do regret never having seen Petty live. But…I’ve seen all these other groups, so I suppose that cancels it out. But I’m glad to have gotten a deeper look into an album I had only listened to while driving in rural areas. It’s complex and appears to have left behind a legacy that is still appreciated and loved.
All in all, a great cinematic experience. Next time I go to that theater, though, I think I’ll try Harry’s for the preshow eats.
Before we start, I just have to show this picture of my cat/son Chester trying to manipulate me into staying home. I know cats have servants, and he usually does call the shots, but if he thinks he can keep me from going to a concert, he’s sorely mistaken.
So, it was show time again. I had heard of Perpetual Groove before, but hadn’t listened to much of their music before I got tickets to their show. I saw the announcement back in June, before all these bands started announcing shows in DC. I was jonesing for some music, so I just slapped the $25 down for the ticket. Upon listening to their music, I wondered if I made the right decision. It was okay, but didn’t really blow me away. But, I had already paid the money, and at the very least, it was an evening out and a writing opportunity.
On the ride down, I saw a bunch of people getting off at the Gallery Place stop to see the Capitals play. I harkened back to when my good friend Ellen and I saw the Caps take on the Devils back in 2014, when I met up with her for the Society of Neuroscience Conference.
I headed to the Waterfront for dinner, and I’d heard great reviews of Hank’s Oyster Bar. Sadly, the line to get in was crazy, and I was too famished to deal with a line to (more than likely) get a seat at the bar. So I settled for MI VIDA, a chic Mexican restaurant. I grabbed a seat at the bar, and the bartender/waiter, Arturo, introduced himself and shook my hand. I started out with that tried and true appetizer, chips and guac, and then chowed down on some Enchiladas Suizas. The sauce was a bit tart for my liking, but I still enjoyed. And an enjoyable exchange between me and a gentleman, who asked, “Wait, you’re leaving!?” “Oh, I’m just getting warmed up. Concert right down the street,” I said. “Right on,” he said, as we fist-bumped. I missed that type of interaction during lockdown.
From there, I saw a stand advertising Smores. I had seen it a few times before, but this time, I thought I’d try it. I paid $3.50 to have a dude hand me a paper bag with graham crackers, a marshmallow, two pieces of a Hershey chocolate bar, and a stick. The fire pit was nearby. It was actually pretty cool to toast a marshmallow (hadn’t done that since college), but overall, not worth $3.50; for that price, I’d like my Smore to be already done. Still, worth a try.
I got into the venue at about 10 to 8, and there was another solo traveler, along with two (apparent) couples. I ordered a club soda and lime, hung out by the bar, and wrote in my notepad, which is always a nice conversation-starter. I was met by two younger dudes, one of whom complimented my Grateful Dead shirt. We talked music for a bit, and they introduced themselves as Justin and Jim (the latter of whom hugged me during the set; conclusion: ecstasy). Jim recommended a group called Consider the Source, a jazz trio. I’m always up for new music, so thanks, dude!
As the band started playing, I immediately recognized my original thoughts about them weren’t accurate. I found myself really getting into their trancey style of playing, and the second song had me completely connected spiritually (sadly, there is no setlist available online, and I didn’t think to ask anybody what it was called). This brings me back to 10/11/20, when I totaled my car coming out of the Yonder Mountain String Band show. Since then, I’ve had some hesitancy about driving, but as a therapeutic exercise, I drove back to the exact spot where I had the accident, and without going into too much detail, I found that while legally I was “at fault,” I may not have been completely responsible for what happened. That being said, it felt good doing that, and during the song, I concluded that I’m a f****ing WARRIOR for doing that. And for other things, but I won’t brag too much here.
During setbreak, I took a walk around the Waterfront, and the music was great. The only songs by the group I know by sound are “Teakwood Betz” and “Walking in Place” the former of which is my favorite. Those songs opened and closed the second set, respectively. During that same set, the band surprised us with the Beastie Boys’s “Paul Revere,” and they encored with Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade,” which had me simultaneously banging my head and trying to avoid the tall guy jumping all over the place in anticipation that he might crash into any one of us.
The show ended at around 10:45 (the introvert in me LOVES when shows end early, because I NEED that alone time after the show like people need air), and I winded down on the Metro ride home. I was feeling like some pizza after the show, but didn’t want to pay those outrageous DoorDash fees. Luckily for me, the Giant Food me near me closes at midnight, and I got to my Metro stop, which is right next to it, at 11:45. So I picked up a personal DiGiorno’s pie and some brie (thank you, Emily, for having it at your place last week, which has set me off on a brie spree).
I enjoyed my munchies as I alternated watching Dear White People (a perfect show for our time) and Saved by the Bell (a show from a completely different time, and the jokes and portrayals of the characters indicate that, yet, for some reason, I just can’t stop watching, much like a car wreck).
I’m glad to have been proven wrong about Perpetual Groove. I’ll definitely see them again if they come to town.
It’s been too long since I’ve had one of these ticket stubs, thanks to eTickets, but I remember having a bulletin board full of these; this one will find a good home somewhere in my archives.
It’s also been too long since I’ve been to a large indoor show (Silversun Pickups 3/5/20, just before the pandemic). But after a week of work-related stress (enhanced by COVID), I was looking forward to getting my groove on. After getting in my show gear, I hopped my favorite mode of transport down to the Waterfront and decided to avoid the waterfront dining crowd by going to Masala Art, an Indian restaurant near the Metro stop. Once inside, a gentleman commented on my shirt and before I knew it, we were talking music. I sat a small table across from him, and we conversed as we ate. He introduced himself as Pete. Retired, he goes to a lot of shows, shows I could never get to with my work; I want that life someday.
We decided to head to the show, and I just can’t rave enough about those beautiful waterfront views. We had to present our vax cards to a kiosk around the corner of the venue in order to get a wristband, and then we were inside. Pete hooked me up with this membership to a club called Friends with Benefits, which gives you points every time you scan your ticket, which you can use toward a discount on a ticket (sorta like a supermarket card). You can also get a free cupcake if you go to a show during your birthday month. I can get on board with that.
We staked out a spot toward the back, near the tapers. I prefer the back in larger general admission venues, as there’s generally more room to dance. The show was supposed to start at 8, but true to form, they began at 8:25 (IMHO, during COVID, bands should really try to begin as close to the scheduled time as possible so fans aren’t packed in for longer than they should be, especially tonight, as the place was full).
Jon Fishman sat in on drums due to Russ Lawton being out with COVID, and there was no horn section due to trumpeter Jen Hartswick suffering from the same affliction. So it was essentially a Phish show. The band opened up with “Sand,” during which I was spinning. Over a month without live music will build all kinds of excess energy that leads to that very thing. I did the same thing during “The Moma Dance” and “Set Your Soul Free.” The band slowed with “Quantegy” and “About to Run,” two Trey tunes. “Carini,” a true rocker, closed the set.
During setbreak, I started chatting with a dude named Stephen, a local realtor, and I mentioned I was new to the area and might be looking to property in the next couple of years. Of course, I gave him my business card.
“Everything’s Right” opened the second set; that one always gets my legs in gear. “Death Don’t Hurt Very Long,” “Farmhouse,” and “No Men in No Man’s Land” are tunes I’m neutral about, but they still played them well. “Blaze On,” always welcome, closed the set. “Wolfman’s Brother” made for a rocking encore and I sang “A Life Beyond the Dream” as Pete and I walked back toward the Metro and were met by a screaming group of drunk 20something young women. Ahhhh, DC nightlife.
I found myself nodding off on the Metro ride home, but Pete inspired me to finally give in and order a ticket for Yonder Mountain String Band next month. I have some superstitions about them, which I’ll get into when I blog about that show, but this was one of the best nights I’d had in a long time. Good eats, great tunes, and two new friends.
I got home at about 1, grabbed some munchies, turned on Seinfeld on Netflix (that good ol’ show about nothing) and drifted while I slept. I’d be getting up early for the Women’s March the next day, so whatever I’d do, I’d need to take care of my feet.
Rush: Cinema Strangiato - Director's Cut - Regal Rockville Center - Rockville, MD - September 9, 2021
When I was doing my morning stretches on Labor Day, I checked my phone to see an ad for a screening of the new director’s cut of Rush: Cinema Strangiato. I decided it was important for me to give myself a fun thing to do, so there I went. I had seen it two years earlier with Maggie (8/21/19), but why not see it again? I didn’t see Rush enough when they toured. And it would give me an excuse to explore more of the DMV.
After a particularly trying day at work, I was psyched to hop the Metro up to Rockville, MD, where upon my exit from the train, I was met with Giuseppe’s Pizza Plus, who promoted an appealing special: two NY-style slices and a soda for $6. Sold! It wasn’t La Gondola or Tarantella, but it was the closest thing I’ve had to a good NY-style slice since I’ve been here. When I passed the theater’s concession stand, I tried to resist but was immediately drawn in by a box of Butterfinger Bites.
I was in the first one in the theater, but soon after, I was met by another male solo viewer (I tried to invite my new friends, Stephen and John, but alas, they’re not Rush fans!). And then a female. Both who seen Rush live thirty-two and thirty-five times, respectively. There were a couple of families, a few groups of friends, what appeared to be a couple, and a lot of solo viewers, which gave me a nice sense of community. There are many loners (myself included) among us Rush fans, and I’ve often felt like that kid in the “Subdivisions” video, even as an adult.
After what felt like about an hour of commercials (a line I wrote the last time I saw this; Homer Simpson’s cries of “Start the movie!” came to mind), we were finally greeted by that Jacob’s Ladder” soundcheck. Some new songs in this version included “Animate” (the first Rush song I ever heard after I purchased Counterparts), “One Little Victory” and “Red Barchetta.”
As I’ve read through my post from the last viewing of this, it’s mostly the same film, so I won’t highlight everything, but it felt like I got zapped with one of those ray guns from Men in Black and was seeing it for the first time. I stayed until the end credits, which consisted of what appeared to be a motorcycle ride from Neal Peart’s POV (may he Rest in Peace). The last shot was a graphic that read “See You Next Year!”
You’d better not be teasing us! We can’t just “roll the bones” on that one.
So after JRAD, I decided it was essential for my well-being to get tickets for the Allman Others Band/Better Off Dead show. And after the first week of classes, followed by a day of navigating DMV traffic to shop for myself and Chester, I was even more psyched to get down!
The Metro stop by me was closed due to the Tunnel Ventilation Project, so I got to take a free shuttle down to Dupont Circle (I’m trying to use the phrase “get to” instead of “have to” in order to practice gratitude for the things I have, in this case, the gift of living in a city with awesome public transportation).
In an effort to get more riders onto Metro, it only costs $2 to go anywhere on weekends, which makes me happy, as opposed to that ridiculous $45 parking fee at the Waterfront’s garage. Another gift is the interesting things I see and experience. Tonight, an older black gentleman complimented my T-shirt and expressed regret that he missed out on seeing the Dead back in ’89. He and I talked about how a lot of kids wear band T-shirts (i.e,; Metallica, Pink Floyd) for fashion without actually knowing the bands. When I taught at Hampton, I saw a lot of that, but hey, fashion is fashion, and who knows? Maybe wearing the shirts will one day turn the kids onto that music.
I did my preshow chow at Kirwan’s on the Wharf. I tried haddock chowder, which tasted like the New England kind, but it was just as awesome. I talked with Maggie on the phone as I enjoyed and gave her some tips on her upcoming trip to New York City. I wish I were in her shoes just so I could experience it through the eyes of a tourist for the first time. The main course was a chicken pot pie with mixed greens. The former had some nice chunks of chicken, celery, and carrots, so I felt like I actually ate healthily.
After walking my meal off down the Waterfront, I showed my vaccination card to the bouncers and got inside at promptly 6:30, which is when the Allman Others Band started (as an introvert, I LOVE when shows start and end on time). There were three other people in the room, and of course, that made me ecstatic to have an abundance of dance space. The group was in the opening chords of “Don’t Want You No More” which melded into “It’s Not My Cross To Bear.” “Done Someday Wrong”, “Kind Hearted Woman,” “Dreams, and “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” (which the singer described as a protest song) followed. As I danced, I made a few stray observations: a mother brought her two kids, one of whom had his head in his heads the entire time and couldn’t have looked more bored, and the other who was just walking around in circles. Well…I give her points for trying to turn them onto the tunes; maybe when they become teenagers? Another older gentleman walked around with a cane that looked like a shillelagh, like I used to take hiking. More Brothers’s classics followed (“Blue Sky,” “Trouble No More,” “Stand Back,” “Jessica”, “Revival,” and “Midnight Rider”, the latter being two favs of mine). The guitarist then teased Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker” before launching into “One Way Out.” After the crowd’s demand of one more song, they encored with “Soulshine.” During setbreak, we got to hear 70s staples like “We Want the Funk” and “Bounce, Rock, Skate,” and Roll.”
My buddy John showed up just as Better Off Dead busted out a “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad” opener. The next song “Man Smart Woman Smarter” is one of my favorites because it’s based on science. The singer then commented “It’s been toasty, right?” I’m part of a FB group called I Hate Summer, because, well, I just don’t like this heat at all. Fall and spring are my jams, and I can tolerate winter because it gives me an excuse to read, write, and binge of Netflix. And I’ll brave the cold to go to shows.
The band slowed the tempo with “Loser.” Outside the bathroom, I talked to a guy about last weekend JRAD’s shows and I mentioned having just moved to DC. Another man said, “Oh, so you’re here post-Gypsy Sally’s?” Yep. I would have LOVED to have seen a show there. But hey, plenty of other cool venues, so I move on…
“Jack Straw” and “Stagger Lee,” two more favs, followed. While the latter played, a guy came up to me and said, “I’m afraid to touch people now because of all of these damn masks.” I wore mine, while he didn’t, which is where I now go into my opinion.
DC’s recently placed an indoor mask mandate, which I support due to this new Delta variant. Most of the crowd ignored the mandate (there were maybe about ten of us wearing them out of fifty). The venue wasn’t enforcing it, because I’m guessing the bartenders don’t want to get into it with drunk concertgoers and they figured the vaccine requirement was enough, so I could’ve gotten away with not wearing one. That being said, this variant is affecting vaccinated people, and bands are already cancelling shows because of it (String Cheese Incident and Limp Bizkit, for example). I love being able to go to shows again, and I want to continue to do so, so I wear my mask to protect others. I wish others would do the same, but I’m only one person. I do think the bands could help by wearing them and encouraging their fans to do the same, but I guess that’s wishful thinking.
Anyway, “Peggy-O” slowed things down, but we were perked back up by “Beat It On Down the Line” “Jack-a-Roe” and a “Hard to Handle” closer. During the setbreak, John and I talked about the shows and the possibility of jamming. I played a lot of guitar during the lockdown, but haven’t played as much recently, so playing with another person could be a great thing. At around 10:30, my energy was faded, and the Metro’s last trains were heading home, so I made my way back.
Whenever I’m out, I need at least an hour or two of alone time vegging before I actually head to sleep. So I turned on an episode of this new Netflix miniseries called Clickbait while I munched out on potato chips and chocolate, thus cancelling out my “healthy” dinner. This morning, I’m definitely feeling the burn, but it’s worth it.
Shows are essential to my well-being; that’s what I’ve been missing during the pandemic. Mark came up to me at around 4 p.m., and we took off. The last big show I was at ended with me totaling my last car, so I was apprehensive about driving up to Baltimore, but I decided to face my demons, and conversation with Mark helped.
After negotiating the traffic that characterizes I-495, parts of I-95, and downtown Baltimore, we were able to find a parking space directly across the street from MECU Pavilion. Had we had more time, I would have loved for us to go to Fells Point for some real crab cakes, but we had a little less than an hour till showtime, so we walked to a nearby Chipotle and chowed down on some of their trademark burritos.
From there, we made it to the venue, which overlooks the Inner Harbor. The set started at 7:13, only thirteen minutes after the scheduled start time. The “Alligator” opener got me moving, as did the “St. Stephen” (of which I sent a video to Maggie) and “The Wheel” that followed. Things slowed down with “Row Jimmy,” and that’s when I started yawning. I started work this week, and this is the first time I’ve met with most of my colleagues in person. I also made a presentation on my work to colleagues who I’ve never met, and while it went well, it stressed me out. Combined with the trepidation of this drive to Baltimore, it was a recipe for exhaustion.
Fortunately, the Diet Pepsi I got during setbreak helped perk me back up for Set Two. I was rocking for “The Music Never Stopped” and “Help on the Way,” which went into “Slipknot.” One of the unique things about JRAD, which Mark pointed out, is that they always surprise the audience. They had teases of the Allman Brothers’s “Mountain Jam” and “Jessica”, and I’m sure I heard one of Phish’s “End of Session” (playing a Phish song at a Dead show is sacrilege, habnabit!). In this tease, rather than going into “Franklin’s Tower,” they launched into “Feel Like a Stranger.” They alleviated the tempo with “Peggy-O” and brought the expected “Franklin’s Tower.” “Touch of Grey” closed the set. During this song, an older gentlemen pointed to Mark and said, “That dude’s a maniac!” I said, “I would love to be able to keep up with his energy.” “Impossible,” he said. After the set, I told him to tell Mark what he told me. While that happened, his daughter asked me if I was taking notes, and I informed her about the blog. When she asked for the name, I gave it to her on a piece of paper, and I made a note to myself: carry your new business cards so you can write it on the back whilst getting your business’ name out there.
The encore was new to me, but Mark’s research indicated it was a Bob Dylan cover entitled “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You.” Mark pointed out it was funny because he would be staying at my place with me that night. And then we both laughed for ten minutes. True story.
I was still a little out of it, so Mark helped me out by driving back to DC. We encountered three street racers and an accident on 495 involving two SUVs. Ahhh, the fun of DMV traffic (why I’ve been opting for bicycling and public transportation more and more). We took some munchies back to my place and popped on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on Netflix. So many quotables in that movie (“Bueller…Bueller”), although that scene where Principal Rooney eyes Ferris and Sloane making out has not aged well.
Sunday morning was spent with me getting to know one of Mark’s mountain bikes and now wishing to move beyond Bikesharing (I’ve fallen in love with bicycling since moving to DC) into owning my own bike so I can trail ride (it’s awesome not having to look my shoulder every five seconds for cars). It also included me getting a ticket to a performance of Better Off Dead and the Allman Others Band next Saturday. I’m learning these shows are quite beneficial for my well-being, particularly in a time of transition. Especially when I can take Metro.
Having Mark come over was awesome too, a nice break from the pandemic. The second person to stay at my place (the first being Maggie for Born Cross-Eyed), we caught up on lost times and joked, laughed, and bonded. Those good times rolled.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.