After a day of walking around the city of taxation without representation in the sweltering heat and ninety percent humidity, the feeling was one of understanding. After foraging through all the jagged, struggling, persevering cities which bid us welcome we found ourselves face to face with the symbols of American culture. Walking from the Lincoln memorial, to the Washington monument, past the Vietnam Memorial and the new WWII memorial, I couldn't help but marvel at feelings invoked in myself, the french family standing next to me, and the group of 100 Koreans as we all stood there together watching the Washington monument and the dome of capitol hill in the background.
In spite of the stalinesque WWII monument (built in 2004!?) the smell of recession lurks even here, and the further away from Constitution park we walked, the more Washington DC began to look like many of the cities we've been to.
By the time we got to U street where we were to play in the Velvet lounge, we were very much at home in the familiar dingy street where the empty lots and tattoo parlors take up the space between the bars, and the cars alternate between massive SUV's with gold rims and 24 inch subs and rusty honda accords with loud (missing?) mufflers.
As we began to set up for the evening it seemed that the lineup had changed from an experimental electronic evening, to a local death-metal show with us and one other noise art duo to bring variety to the stage. Unfortunately, in the small-time circuit which we find ourselves, this isn't the first time its happened; earlier experience has taught us that in this predicament we should not play after the death metal- if for no other reason than to spare the 4 people who came to see us. After arranging to play first, we had the luxury of a sound check (probably the only real benefit of being the opening act.) While still configuring the mysteries of the current PA system, we were called downstairs by the bouncer, claiming there is someone here to see a certain Tommy...
It was Michelle. All the way from Minneapolis. Apparently, my sister has just left her comfortable predictable life to pursue an opportunity in the equestrian world of Virginia and happened to be close enough to DC to surprise us! All of these things together held the promise of a truly unique event.
As we crawled to the small stage on the second floor, most of the metalheads quietly drifted downstairs to the bar to wait for the real music. But as our first song filled the PA with heavy distortion, the hall began to fill. By the time we quoted Kurt Kobain's "but I can't see you every night..." everyone from the bar was upstairs again. As the last bass note ended, a thick infinite silence filled the space; no one knew what to do, or what had just happened. Slowly, someone in the back began to clap. More people joined in. we couldn't see their faces, but we could hear them. someone whooped. We realized at once that our little oiled machine is working, even in the face of the long haired, short lived mosh pit lovers. By the time we finished our set with I can't deny it, there was a pulsating unity of everyone in the club, lots of moving heads and hips, and an overall slightly pop drunk joy.
Later, packing and taking turns keeping an eye on our merch table, we were still surprised to see t-shirts & buttons finding their new homes in DC. Lots of people came to congratulate us and tell us what they thought, what it meant to them, express their frustration that we had no Cd's and promise to stay in touch.
At 3am, we rolled into a kebab joint down the street from the Velvet and filled up on a strange mix of Mediterranean goods. We quietly walked into Tamar & Uri's studio. We slept deeply, dreaming that we too had a long dark hair, an old slayer T shirt and a secret love of pop music.