Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Washington, DC

Woke up in a friend's house in Washington DC. The advantage to sporadic touring when you're older is that you may still have some friendships that will yield a comfy guest room, clean towels and no hepatitis when you're crashing at their place. The disadvantage? "Cool so I get the kids out the door by 8:20 so do you want to set your alarm for 7:45?"

We got to DC around rush hour yesterday and were utterly jammed on Constitution Ave due to a Presidential helicopter landing at the White House. (Literal "Thanks Obama") We were a bit ragged as we pulled up to DC9 - the narrow bar packed into a row of shops along one of DC's arterial roads. Thad tells me today that the place is one of several in town owned by Dave Grohl although we did not see him at the show. As a former drummer, perhaps he does not like our band on principle.

At the club we met the sworn enemy of our band: the simple, cruel stair. This band will not break up due to drugs or family pressures or creative differences. No, the day when we throw in the towel will a day we are playing a new place. We'll pull up in front of the venue and be greeted by 21 steps, each with an 8 inch rise height and no banister anywhere in sight. Thad and I will look at one another with the sad knowing gaze of a hospice nurse. One of us will gently pat the drum machine rig and whisper "it's time to say goodbye now." And then we will simply walk away from all of the gear and one another and that will just be ... it.

Last night wasn't that night but the load in was not particularly jubilant. Wung Yidows were sound checking when we wheeled the heaviest of our gear into the second-floor performance space and, to a man, they all gave us a quick "ha ha" smirk. The sounddude was the textbook example of ambivalent about everything but by that point we didn't really care. Got the car/trailer combo parked on a not terribly sketchy spot and got set to play.

Fun time. We did not emit arcing, blue electricity like the night before but we were still locked in. I did have a hitch actually playing my guitar for the first song or two. I also spotted Evan Widow watching from the back and that didn't help at the moment; he can actually play his guitar for real while singing so I wondered if he was thinking "boy, Justin is not so good at the proficiency part of this." You'll have to ask him if you see him.

Hey, speaking of Evan, I ran into him a little later in the night during Shannon Wright's harrowingly good set. Turns out YW stopped off at Cracker Barrel (yuk) earlier and picked up a mascot for the night - a wind up yapping puppy they christened "Chi Chi". Todd, bassist for Shannon Wright, came over after they wrapped up; he and Evan hatched a plan to get Chi Chi on stage during some quiet part of the Widows performance.

Meanwhile, back out in the club, almost everyone in the audience was charmed and a little horrified by one member of the crowd: a 5 year old girl named Daphne. It may have been 11:30 on a Wednesday night, but Daphne and her presumed dad had watched all of Shannon's set (noise protecting earmuffs on the whole time) and were getting set for the evening's headliners. Pigtails, a pink dress and no sign that this was anything other than a regular weeknight for her. Best dad or worst dad?

As planned, Chi Chi did do a turn on stage 2/3 of the way through the Widows set, her mechanical "yip yip yip yip" audibly popping up during a few dead silent pauses in the band's songs. But the intended plan of humorous dissonance (dumb fucking toy vs scary testosterone machine band) was upended when Chi Chi had scooted far enough across stage to get within Daphne's grabbing range. Between songs, Evan looked up to see the young girl tenderly cradling the crappy piece of incessant, dog shaped plastic. "I think this is the most adorable thing I've ever seen," he said, and Chi Chi went home with Daphne. Late.

Last thing: Thad and I are now in a contest to see who can pull the best gas mileage for a driving shift over 60 minutes. He may have already won, logging a ridiculously good 25.2 from nearly all of DC to Richmond. If I'd known we were gonna do this before starting the drive, I absolutely would have kept my window open the whole time and probably let some air out of the tires. Pray for a tailwind for me, friends.

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