The Year in Concerts

I decided early on this year that I would try to see as many concerts as I possibly could. There was a wealth of great bands coming to DC that I really wanted to see, and I ended up going to 17 concerts in all. Here’s a quick (but still long) review of what I liked and didn’t like.
First up was the Verve Pipe at the Barns at Wolf Trap. I had never been to a show at the Barns, only their outdoor venue in the summer. The Barns was a cool place to see a show, and even though I didn’t know all that many songs, it was still a good performance to start the year.
I was surprisingly impressed with We Were Promised Jetpacks at Jammin Java. They ended up playing a show later in the year at the much larger 9:30 Club, so I felt pretty lucky to see them in a smaller venue.
The most fun show of the year had to be the Legwarmers at the State Theatre. I went with a group of friends for my birthday and we went full on 80s retro garb and just had a blast singing along to every hit.
Black Star was the first of several shows at the Anthem, a venue I still can’t quite get behind. The floor is way too big, and I’d rather go to the 9:30 Club, though I understand the desire to sell more tickets. Everyone was super into this one which made it fun.
I took Lisa to see The Accidentals at Jammin Java. They were great performers, even if the crowd was a little restrained. I’d go see them again for sure.
Probably the biggest surprise for me was going to see HAIM at the Anthem and being more entertained by the opening act, Lizzo. She and her dancers and DJ were on fire, it’s too bad there was too long of a gap between them and HAIM, it might have been my favorite show.
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats always put everything out there for their shows, but again, the Anthem just didn’t seem like the right spot for them to play.
We saw three fun bands at the Nottoway Nights concert series this year. Karikatura was a funky sound from a NY band. The Hot Lanes Big Band played just the kind of music you think they would. And Maybe April will probably be big on the country scene in a few years.
We took the kids to see Barenaked Ladies on the lawn at Wolf Trap. They’ve maybe lost a step lately, but still very entertaining. We’ll probably go see them with Hootie next summer.
Japandroids is my favorite band so it’s no surprise that their show at the tiny Rock and Roll Hotel was my favorite this year. I got there early and enjoyed Bacchae from right next to the stage. I chatted with a guy I recognized from the Pup show there the previous year. And then we got sweaty and loud and it was awesome. I even came away with one of David Prowse’s drumsticks!
Weezer and the Pixies and Sleigh Bells was at Jiffy Lube Live, a venue which I probably will only return to when absolutely necessary. Unfortunately a storm made me miss most of the Sleigh Bells set. The Pixies were pretty blah. But Weezer was so great.
Future Islands was another weird Anthem show. It was fun but I still maintain they should have played at 9:30.
The most frustrating show of all was AJJ/Kimya Dawson/Rozwell Kid at the Black Cat. It didn’t help that I was really tired, but after Rozwell Kid got me rocking, I felt like Kimya Dawson was out of place in this lineup, and since she was technically co-headlining, she played for a lot longer than I wanted, and I ended up leaving in the middle of AJJ’s set. Disappointing.
The year almost wrapped up where it began, back at the Barns for The Lone Bellow and Tiny Desk Contest winner Naia Izumi. Izumi is super talented and the Barns was a great place for his voice and guitar to resonate. The Lone Bellow are also fantastic performers who I would recommend anyone see even if you don’t know their music.
The year did close out with The Menzingers at the Black Cat. After getting to the show a little late, I squeezed up toward the front for some last sweaty, loud action. Super fun and energetic performers as well.
All in all, a good year of concerts. Even though next year won’t have as many concerts, I’m sure that music will continue to have a big place in my life.

A Winning Weekend

I’ve been trying to run the EX2 Adventures Hemlock course for at least 5 years now, but something always seemed to get in the way. One year, I had to curl that day and decided to skip it in favor of that. Another couple of times, it was rescheduled due to rain or snow and I couldn’t make the rainout date. This year, it turned out I had a potential curling conflict again, but I was running that course no matter what!

The theme for the Potomac Curling Club‘s Embassy Row bonspiel this year was Scotland. I was playing with the team that I am planning to play in the mixed playdowns with in 2019, and it was our first spiel playing together. We ended up playing pretty well for the first three games, leading us into a matchup with Courtney and Melvin Shaw’s team on Saturday night. If we lost, we would drop into the D event semifinals on Sunday morning at 9am, directly conflicting with the race. Win, and we’d play in the A finals at noon instead. I managed to line up a spare to play just in case we did lose. Luckily for us, our opponents didn’t have a great game and we played well enough to move on, and for me to run my race.

I was originally planning and training to run the 10 mile course, which is essentially two loops of the same 5 mile course. But with a tight window to get up to Laurel from Hemlock Overlook park, I decided to drop down to the shorter distance instead. Since I knew that I was in shape to run 10 miles, I went out hard and tried to keep my petal to the floor the whole way. The hills kicked my butt and I got passed by a couple of folks, but I managed to hang on for 4th place overall and 1st in my age group!

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After a quick shower, I headed up to Laurel for our final against another Potomac team. Alas, for this game, we needed a lot of shots to go our way and it seemed that few of them did. Still, managing to finish second in our first bonspiel together was quite an accomplishment! We’ll be playing together again in Philadelphia in January to continue to tune up for the big event in February.

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Hard to beat a good weekend of trail running and curling!

Social Media hiatus

Boy, has it been a tough year or what? I have had to make a concerted effort to stay positive more than I can remember in a while. Starting a new job helped a lot with that, as the old one was just beating me down. I’ve also continued running a lot, to get back in shape for running the Boston Marathon next April. I haven’t biked as much as I would have liked, even though work is pretty close for me; it always seems like there is something going on before or after the work day that I need to get to, but I will make more of an effort with that. Curling also started again, which is a nice reprieve two or three times a week. After a slow start to the year, I’ve even started reading more regularly. And yet….

I decided that it’s time to get off of social media for a while. Even after culling the people I follow on Twitter, it still makes me angry more than it brings me joy. Facebook has gotten to be mostly useless noise. Half the time I check anything out on there, I’m just scrolling and not really taking anything in. So I’m quitting them, for now. I might occasionally pop on to do a quick update for curling or that sort of thing, but I’m going to make a serious effort to avoid them altogether. I deleted them from my phone even.

So now what? I devote more time and attention to real life. I’m going to keep reading more. I’ll catch up on some TV shows I’ve missed (without looking at my phone the whole time I’m watching!). I’ll dust off that old Raspberry Pi project I was working on before our basement got renovated. But mostly, I’ll just be here, in the present. Sounds pretty great.

Farewell, Office

When I started my new job in June, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had an office of my very own, complete with actual closing door and everything.

Unfortunately, I have to move out next week as renovations begin on our floor, and they convert everything to an “open pod workspace,” which is pretty much my nightmare scenario.

Farewell, sweet private office, I will miss you, and I will probably work from home a lot more in the future whenever I can!

 

Curling Season Begins!

After a long summer, it’s almost time for the curling season to begin once again. The Potomac Curling Club has a whole lot of new members this year, thanks to Team Shuster winning gold at the Olympics. In fairness, we always get a bump post-Olympics, but this seems bigger than usual. All but two of our leagues are completely full, so we basically have seven days a week of constant curling opportunities.

For myself, I’ve already been out on the ice practicing a few times (still need to fix a bit of drift in my slide) and helped teach a Learn to Curl on Tuesday as well. I’ll be up there again tonight to practice with my teams, and will be volunteering tomorrow at our first bonspiel of the year. After that, I’ll be participating in our Embassy Row bonspiel in November, and heading up to Rochester for the GNCC Men’s club playdowns in December. I will probably travel to another bonspiel in January or February before participating in the GNCC Mixed playdowns back at the Potomac club.

My son is also curling and looking forward to the season. He’s probably going to come with me to practice tonight, and juniors will start next weekend. I’m hoping to get him to participate in a junior bonspiel as well, if we can find the time between soccer and basketball.

If you’ve ever wanted to try curling, just click the link above to head over to the Potomac Curling Club website and see what we have to offer. There are open houses coming up on October 20 and again in March. See you there!