A New Occasional PoP Feature: Notes From My Attorney

This is not my alter ego, this really is my attorney, a degenerate but my attorney nonetheless. As you may have guessed, this feature is in part a tribute to the late great Hunter S. Thompson. To answer his question up front – Drive by Truckers from July 2006 was the greatest show I’ve ever caught at 9:30 club. Add your favorite shows in the comments section.

Hey PoP…
So I’m sitting here enjoying a fine glass of Powers and
sorting through a week’s worth of emailed gibberish…it seems last
week was “What White People Like” week since every other fool with an
email account sent me a link to that site or passed along their
favorite one. But, it got me thinking and laughing about a list of
“What DC People Like” which, of course, led to the obligatory
political jokes and some thoughts about the sweating, jabbering hordes
of perpetually lost tourists that descend on our fair city around this
time of year.

But as I thought about it further — and maybe it was at least helped
by the whiskey — my mind kind of drifted into some reminiscing and
more serious thoughts about what I really liked about DC. So allow me
to bend your ear (er, eye?) for a minute on this since one thing in
particular kept floating up to the top of my thoughts: the 9:30 Club.
As a self-confessed and unrepentant music addict, I feel qualified to
sing the praises of what I consider to be the single best spot for
live music in the city. The sound in that place is simply unrivaled.
They pull in great bands that just seem to really enjoy playing in
that place. I’d love to know the secret to the sound in there and
what bands actually think of it. Praise for 9:30 Club Continues After the Jump

I can remember my first 9:30 Club experience…back in the fall of
1998 as a wet-behind-the-ears, first-year law student just getting
acclimated to DC. Me and a couple of intrepid music fans ventured up
to the place to see Widespread Panic…and they put on a great show
even though the place was nowhere near capacity. I can still see in
my mind’s eye the late Mike Houser (seated due to the battle with
cancer that eventually took his life) just hammering away at the
guitar as he jammed through the set list. Of course, we were more
than a bit nervous when we left the place and found ourselves a bit
lost in what were then pretty desolate and deserted
streets…searching for a cab with little luck and trying get our
bearings in a new city with a bad reputation. We kept our spirits up
by talking about the show and what an incredible find that place
was…or at least a find to us.

Over the years, I’ve caught some great shows at 9:30 and have never
left disappointed. A few Wilco shows come to mind…as does that
Drive-by Truckers show the other July, when it was hotter than hell
and it seemed as if the Truckers were going to blow the roof off the
place…I think I lost 10 pounds from sweating, along with my voice
(and probably a couple of months off my life)! We rolled into that
place with a roving band of drunken degenerates, most of them in town
from various parts of the hinterlands…all of us turned loose with
heads full of booze and enough energy to light up the eastern seaboard
for a few hours. The boys from Alabama didn’t disappoint and neither
did the 9:30 Club!

And one more for the record (and one to rub in since you missed the
show): My Morning Jacket last year. Of all the concerts I’ve ever
seen at 9:30 no band has ever filled the place with more sound than
MMJ. It was easily the loudest concert I’ve experienced…but not a
loud based purely on volume…no sir, that night the speakers went to
eleven! It felt like they had somehow managed to occupy every cubic
centimeter of air in the place with their driving, soaring music. It
was simply incredible and, I dare say, the best I’ve heard the sound
there. It almost seemed like the place wasn’t big enough to hold what
we were hearing.

Well, I’ve probably rambled on long enough…but as the neighborhood
around it has changed substantially and for the better, it is great to
know that the 9:30 Club remains and continues to offer up incredible
live music. If I had to pull together a list of my favorite things
about DC, I might just have to kick it off with the 9:30 Club. What
about you? What shows stick out in your mind?

I see the hour is late and my eyelids have grown heavy. So enough of
this jabbering for now…but I thought I’d pass it along…for what
it’s worth.

Res Ipsa Loquitor.


Your Attorney.

8 Comment

  • My DC show experience is pretty limited: Jamiroquai at Cap City Ballroom, Moby at the original Buzz, Pizzicato Five at the original 9:30 (I believe), Pet Shop Boys at the original 9:30. Super Furry Animals and Manitouba at 9:30 club, The Gossip at Black Cat. Of those, probably Pizzicato Five was the best.

    Perhaps this is just my general none enthusiasm for DC, but none of those shows (or the local venues) compare to seeing shows in Chicago and San Francisco. We just don’t have anything along the lines of all the great music venues in SF. Beautiful old Western-style dance halls, like the Fillmore or the Great American Music Hall. These are fantastic places to see shows. Bottom of the Hill is another favorite in SF, for the small venue/bar location. Or going to see punk shows at Gilman Street. (Even if it was past its hey day.)

    Or the Cafe DuNord with it’s speakeasy/bordello feel — all wood and red velvet and at which I met my partner at a Black Cat Music show.

    Nothing in DC feels as “nice” — poor attention to detail, spaces that are just big warehouses and sound quality that is sort of subpar.

  • I think the 9:30 club is generally recognized as one of the best small venues for seeing live music in the country. They certainly get a lot of great press, and I really love it. A great moment for me was seeing Belle and Sebastian there…but I’m probably aging myself.

    As for the original post what are you talking about w/ all this “my attorney” stuff?? I don’t get it….

  • A point of reference:

    [On Nov. 11, 1971, Rolling Stone published the first of Hunter S. Thompson’s two-part Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (RS 95). Following, is the story’s epic beginning.]

    We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like, “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive . . .”And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about 100 miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?”

    Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. “What the hell are you yelling about,” he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. “Never mind,” I said. “It’s your turn to drive.” I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.

    It was almost noon, and we still had more than 100 miles to go. They would be tough miles. Very soon, I knew, we would both be completely twisted. But there was no going back, and no time to rest. We would have to ride it out. Press registration for the fabulous Mint 400 was already under way, and we had to get there by 4 to claim our soundproof suite. A fashionable sporting magazine in New York had taken care of the reservations, along with this huge red Chevy convertible we’d just rented off a lot on the Sunset Strip . . . and I was, after all, a professional journalist; so I had an obligation to cover the story for good or ill.

    The sporting editors had also given me $300 in cash, most of which was already spent on extremely dangerous drugs. The trunk of the car looked like a mobile police narcotics lab. We had two bags of grass, 75 pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers . . . and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.

    All this had been rounded up the night before, in a frenzy of high-speed driving all over Los Angeles County — from Topanga to Watts, we picked up everything we could get our hands on. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.

    The only thing that really worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge. And I knew we’d get into that rotten stuff pretty soon. Probably at the next gas station. We had sampled almost everything else, and now — yes, it was time for a long snort of ether. And then do the next 100 miles in a horrible, slobbering sort of spastic stupor. The only way to keep alert on ether is to do up a lot of amyls — not all at once, but steadily, just enough to maintain the focus at 90 miles an hour through Barstow.

    “Man, this is the way to travel,” said my attorney. He leaned over to turn the volume up on the radio, humming along with the rhythm section and kind of moaning the words: “One toke over the line . . . Sweet Jesus . . . One toke over the line . . .”

    One toke? You poor fool! Wait till you see those goddamn bats. I could barely hear the radio . . . slumped over on the far side of the seat, grappling with a tape recorder turned all the way up on “Sympathy for the Devil.” That was the only tape we had, so we played it constantly, over and over, as a kind of demented counterpoint to the radio. And also to maintain our rhythm on the road. A constant speed is good for gas mileage — and for some reason that seemed important at the time. Indeed. On a trip like this, one must be careful about gas consumption. Avoid those quick bursts of acceleration that drag blood to the back of the brain.

    My attorney saw the hitchhiker long before I did. “Let’s give this boy a lift,” he said, and before I could mount any argument he was stopped and this poor Okie kid was running up to the car with a big grin on his face, saying, “Hot damn! I never rode in a convertible before!”

    “Is that right?” I said. “Well, I guess you’re about ready, eh?”

    The kid nodded eagerly as we roared off.

    “We’re your friends,” said my attorney. “We’re not like the others.”

    O Christ, I thought, he’s gone around the bend. “No more of that talk,” I said sharply. “Or I’ll put the leeches on you.” He grinned, seeming to understand. Luckily, the noise in the car was so awful — between the wind and the radio and the tape machine — that the kid in the back seat couldn’t hear a word we were saying. Or could he?

    How long can we maintain? I wondered. How long before one of us starts raving and jabbering at this boy? What will he think then? This same lonely desert was the last known home of the Manson family. Will he make that grim connection when my attorney starts screaming about bats and huge manta rays coming down on the car? If so — well, we’ll just have to cut his head off and bury him somewhere. Because it goes without saying that we can’t turn him loose. He’ll report us at once to some kind of outback Nazi law-enforcement agency, and they’ll run us down like dogs.

    Jesus! Did I say that? Or just think it? Was I talking? Did they hear me? I glanced over at my attorney, but he seemed oblivious — watching the road, driving our Great Red Shark along at 110 or so. There was no sound from the back seat.

    Maybe I’d better have a chat with this boy, I thought. Perhaps if I explain things, he’ll rest easy. . .

  • that movie is out of control…so random, but funny!

  • The DBT show of 2005 and the Black Crowes show of the same year. Two best concerts I’ve ever seen.

  • rock ‘n roll hotel on h street is pretty awesome. i’m not comparing the two, but it’s got amazing sound/space.

    AND, from the looks of it, it’s stealing bands from the 9:30 club. it’s not that far from petworth, and it’s pretty amazing.

    not trying to knock 9:30 (or the black cat), but check it out, if you want an experience that goes beyond the trendy crowd…


  • Cowboy Mouth!

Comments are closed.