Foo Fighters acoustic

Last night we went to see the Foo Fighters play an acoustic show at Constitution Hall. I got home around 5:30, and we left soon after. I’d planned on parking at Constitution Hall and walking to Chef Geoff’s. I’d made reservations at for 6:30, and it was just before that when we got to the area. There were no spots on 18th Street (where the entrance to Constitution Hall is), but as we pulled on to 17th Street, there was a line of cars taking unclaimed spots, and I quickly realized these were the spots that have to be cleared during rush hour, but it’s free to park there starting at 6:30. Of course it was 6:30 on the dot, so that was sweet.

We parked and walked across the Ellipse. Chef Geoff’s is across the street from the Warner Theatre, and we were just a little late for our reservation. We were seated right away – there were no shows at the Warner or National theaters, and the restaurant was only 2/3s full. The main reason I picked Chef Geoff’s (besides being close) is that they were participating in Restaurant Week, so we knew they’d have some good food for a reasonable price. And it was delicious. We started with pints of Magic Hat #9 (check out their new site design for a new section that tells you where places are near you that serve and sell it), then I had duck spring rolls and Jill had fried shrimp and calamari. Jill had a roasted turkey club (which she described as the best ever) and I had more duck, served on a bed of roasted vegetables and surrounded by an avocado puree and roasted chipotle barbecue sauce. Both were great, but we wished we’d stopped there. Not that the mango sorbet (for Jill) or the blueberry and pear crisp (for me) weren’t good (’cause they were), but we were full already, and we walked out feeling very bloated. The walk back across the Ellipse helped, though.

We got to Constitution Hall about 8:45, having completely missed Frank Black. I know he’s the legendary leader of the Pixies, but I’ve never been able to get into the Pixies or his solo work (best thing about the Pixies is Kim Deal, and I prefer her in the Breeders anyway). I even bought his new CD to give him another chance, but it left me cold. So no big loss to miss him, so we were in our seats with plent of time to spare before the lights went out.

They went up to reveal Dave Grohl walking on stage alone with an acoustic guitar, taking a seat, and launching right into “Razor”, off their latest CD, then joined over the song by the rest of the band plus several other musicians. If you’re not aware, the new CD is a actually a double CD, with a rock CD and an acoustic CD. This first ever acoustic tour was to play the bulk of the second disc, as well as some of the older songs that had never been played live due to not fitting with the traditional rock show. “Miracle” and “Virginia Moon” were the highlights from the new CD, while their second CD, The Colour and the Shape was the source of some other standouts, including “Walking After You”, “See You”, and “My Hero”.

What I was not expecting was the influence of the evening by Nirvana. Rarely brought up, the first reminder was the presence of the first Foo Fighters second guitarist (and also Nirvana’s last), Pat Smear. The appearance of “Marigold” (the only Nirvana song written and sung by Dave, from the b-side of “Heart-Shaped Box”) was another. But the most moving was the first song of the encore, “Friend Of A Friend”. Dave came out solo, and told of how his band had broken up and he was in California, far from home, when he heard Nirvana needed a drummer. The song is his description of what it was like go to Washington and move in with Krist and Kurt, and the audience watched it in rapt silence. He finished by following with an incendiary solo version of “Best Of You” and a softer “Everlong”. Great show, and due to our great parking spot, it was a quick trip out of DC and home afterwards.

Umphrey’s McGee

I went to Wolf Trap last night to see Umphrey’s McGee. Bela Fleck & The Flecktones were headlining but I’d seen them before, and Marc Broussard was opening and I wanted to see him, but it was all about Umphrey’s. They first caught my ear when I read they were described as Rush meets Grateful Dead. That led me to pick up their last CD, Anchor Drops. A jaw dropping mixture of progressive rock and a jam band, I was hooked, although they’re of a new generation and I would submit a more likely characterization is Dream Theater meets Phish. I hadn’t seen them live yet – no one else caught my enthusiasm, and I’m not a huge fan of heading over to a show alone, especially at a place like the 9:30 Club where you’re hanging out between bands and sets with nothing to do (which turned out not to be a problem last night), and the danger of losing your place if you move. I picked up their new CD, Safety In Numbers, and waited for them to come around again.

So last night I got going a little late, not making it to Wolf Trap until 7:10, and Marc Broussard was already on stage. I’d waited until the last minute for a ticket which turned in my favor – when I bought one online Saturday, I got row A (4th row becasue of the orchestra pit). I was soon in my seat, grooving to Marc, and was glad I arrived when I did, because he brought Bela Fleck out on the next song. Later on, Jake Cinninger and Kris Myers of Umphrey’s McGee joined in on stage. Now it was closing in on 8PM, and there were still two bands, both known for improvisation, still to come. I was wondering how they were going to get both on before the 11PM curfew when they pulled the sweetest switch, right at 8PM. Bassist Ryan Stasik from Umphrey’s came on stage as Marc’s wandered off, then one by one they switched members – never losing the beat, until only Umphrey’s McGee was left on stage.

They brought that jam to a close, then went almost nonstop for the next hour. The musicianship they displayed was tremendous, and I’d never seen that applied to the jam band format before. Bela Fleck joined them as well, then right at 9PM (I was expecting it this time), they switched with Bela Fleck & The Flecktones. Now it’s not that I don’t like The Flecktones – I think they’re very talented players, and I greatly enjoyed watching them last night. Bela Fleck on banjo and Victor Wooten are bass are just monsters. But their style of music (heavily jazz influenced) and their (mostly) absence of vocals doesn’t give me a something to latch onto like a Dave Matthews Band (who I love seeing Bela Fleck play with). I stayed until they brought Marc Broussard back out to cover “Come Together”, then left to try and have an early night (and failed, but it could’ve been even later).

I’m definitely going to try and catch Umphrey’s McGee again next time they’re in town, wasn’t expecting to be so impressed by them.

Quick weekend summary

Friday I was wiped out after ending my week with another lovely phone call to Dell, so I grabbed a beer and read the paper on the porch. Jill made pasta as I did so, then later we watched “40 Year Old Virgin” – funny, but not uncomfortably so like “The Office”.

Saturday I got up and made egg sandwiches, then watched Daily Show/CR and caught up on Hex and the paper. Jill got up around 3, but neither of us did too much. I made a chicken rub that wasn’t a winner for dinner, then we went over to coworker Dave and Michelle’s for a games night. Unlike our last attempt at the same, we actually played games. I forgot how much I enjoyed Settlers of Catan – maybe enough to buy a copy (but probably not the deluxe version). We also stuffed ourselves with food, including some tasty homemade salsa.

Sunday was the “early” day – I got up at 10:30 and made pancakes. Didn’t do too much, made lime grilled chicken for dinner and cleaned the kitchen while Jill got groceries. I went to Wolf Trap to see Marc Broussard, Umphrey’s McGee, and Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, but that deserves its own entry.

And I need to go to bed now that I’ve sent all my eBay invoices out…

Karma

So I wasted most of yesterday on the phone with Dell technical support, trying to get them to acknowledge they have a bug with their PDAs. Nice they charge $99 to allow you to talk with a software support guy – that would sure cut down on the number of bugs I deal with.

Anyway, at the end of the day a buddy calls and says he’s going out of town – do I want tix to the first Redskins game? Score!

And I didn’t realize the preseason starts Sunday. Going to a concert that night, but I should be home in time to catch most of the second half.

Chicks, cleaning and cooking

Friday night I got home around 5:15 to grab Jill, we got going close to 6. She drove and her car was more shaky than usual on the Toll Roda, but fine otherwise, so we kept going. We went to Elevation Burger in Falls Church to try their burgers. It was laid out like Potbelly’s, but with burgers (made with organic beef). Jill had a Cheeseburger and I had a Big Phat Burger, we split the fries (cooked in olive oil), and I had a soda and Jill had a vanilla shake. It was decent, but Jill wasn’t a big fan of the fries, and it’s got a very small parking lot.

A quick trip to Metro and we were soon on the train – a long wait to transfer at Metro Center was the only reason we didn’t get there until the middle of Bob Schneider‘s first song. He’s an Austin singer songwriter – sometime I’ll have to tell about the last time I saw him. He was good, but the crowd was pumped for the Dixie Chicks. The last tour was after their previous remarks that got them in hot water, but this time they were loud and proud with their views (and songs), and the crowd was very supportive, giving them a standing ovation after “Not Ready To Make Nice”. A good show, and we headed home. Or almost home, as we had decided to drop Jill’s car at the mechanic, and dropped me off at home so I could follow her over.

Saturday was the first of two consecutive days sleeping in. It’d been a while since I had, and it was great. He did get a phone call about Jill’s car – $1400 of brake and tire work. Expensive, but we can’t afford another car now. I made an egg sandwich for breakfast whle watching “Daily Show”, then started watching “War Of The Worlds” (not bad, but I probably won’t watch it again) and reading mail while Jill went to the grocery store. I spent the rest of the afternoon rearranging and repacking the camping supplies in their corner of the basement while Jill made crab dip. I grilled some steaks while she made salad, then we went to Arlington. One of her coworkers from Georgetown was throwing a party, and we hung out and talked for a while. It was good because we had a chance to chat with several people who are almost done with the anesthesiologist program Jill’s about to start. We may change some of our upcoming vacation plans as a result, not certain yet.

We came home and were hungry – I was still full from steak, and only got a little of the crab dip at the party. We had poppers and leftover birthday cake (good thing ice cream doesn’t go bad). We weren’t sleepy, and decided to watch a movie. “Napoleon Dynamite” was the shortest (and oldest – from February) thing on the DVR. We were behind the times on that one, it did have some laugh out loud moments, but again I don’t know if I’d watch it a second time.

Sunday Jill wanted a bagel so she went out and I made schmorgles (she’s not a breakfast person) while I watched some “Justice League”. Next, we tackled cleaning out the hall closet, then ran the leftovers over to Goodwill. Since we had the vacuum out, I ran it, then noticed some strange noises and smells and decided it was time to take it apart while I watched TV. I lost track of time and didn’t get the pork shoulder ribs on the grill in time to eat them, just packed some for Jill. I finished cooking them and had them with a cucumber salad she made that was tasty and tangy, then cleaned the kitchen. I just finished starting an eBay auction of comics and putting some CDs on half.com – next dessert (ice cream and a banana for me, pork fat for Illa), then bed.