23 June 2009

Matt & Kim, Major Lazer, and Phoenix, oh my!

It was a big weekend for awesome music in DC. Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head is still going strong in their June Friday night residency at DC9, Bacardi put on a free show at Rock n Roll Hotel Saturday night, and Camera Obscura played the 9:30 club Sunday night while Phoenix played RnR. I made it to the Bacardi show (Matt & Kim and Major Lazer) Saturday and the Phoenix show Sunday. I booked a room at the RnR Hotel Saturday night to cut down on travel time.

Hot, Sweaty, Smiley Dance Party with Matt & Kim

I want you to think back to all the shows you’ve seen in small clubs. Remember them? Don’t forget when you saw the Kings of Leon under their original name, Three Brothers and a Cousin from Hendersonville. Ok, good. Now think about the most fun of all those shows. Got it? Now, tally up all of the smile-hours emitted by the audience during that show. Get out your times tables, I’ll wait. Perfect. Take that number and multiply it by two. That’s how much Matt Johnson and Kim Schilfino smiled during their set at the Rock n Roll Hotel Saturday night.

In addition to being smiling goons, Matt & Kim are very proficient, energetic, personable musicians and performers. Matt told a story about the roots of the Rock n Roll Hotel–that it had most recently been a funeral home–and suggested that they change the name to Rock n Roll Funeral Home. Sounds pretty swish if you ask me.

Matt & Kim

Matt & Kim

Kim is all smiles, all the time

Kim is all smiles, all the time

Moral of the story: Matt & Kim put on an awesome show and you should go see them if you every have the chance. No exceptions.

Bacardi B-Live Tour

So I mentioned M&K and Major Lazer were part of a Bacardi tour… the only thing I’ll say about this part of the night is that the mixologists Bacardi makes you wait 20 minutes for are worth it. Holy shit. Bell peppers, pineapple, cilantro, honey, jalapeno, blood orange soda, and rum makes a delicious cocktail.

Guns Don’t Kill People, LAZERS DO!

Major Lazer are Diplo and Switch, two British DJs who had nothing better to do with their summer than pretend to be a Reggaeton dance group. I used to pretend to be a DJ (look for dj sun on the imadj record label. you won’t find anything), so I dig live DJ sets. It was cool when they would get into songs that were recognizable from their album, but it was basically just a dark, sweaty, hip hop dance party with a potentially-Jamaican emcee. The visual entertainment was provided by two dancers (I’ll imagine they’re Jamaican too) and some drunk and suggestable audience members. Their photos are omitted, just in case.

Diplo and Switch are behind that big boombox. Promise.

Diplo and Switch are behind that big boombox. Promise.

Dancers. Presumably Jamaican.

Dancers. Presumably Jamaican.

Phoenix–More than just a Dot on the Map in Arizona

Phoenix are a 6-piece French band out of Versailles that the Decider calls the “un-French French band.” I don’t know what that means.

The first thing I’ll say about Phoenix is they’re all excellent musicians. Thomas Mars sounds live exactly like he sounds on studio albums. It’s really remarkable. I’m not sure if vox just generally go uncorrected with this hipster music (Matt sounded pretty spot-on Saturday), but Mars has the kind of voice that sounds like it’s totally uneffected by seasonal allergies. So clear. All said, good show, would’ve liked to have been a little better versed in their catalogue, but not knowing songs doesn’t really take away from a great performance.

Phoenix were more interested in seeing us than in us seeing them.

Phoenix were more interested in seeing us than in us seeing them.

If anyone when to see Camera Obscura Sunday night, I’d love to hear how the show was. Listening to French Navy for posterity's sake.

19 June 2009

What suffering looks like

It looks like I've started a little bit of a discussion on the role that suffering and anger plays on the bike in my last post and in Siggy's blog. I found a picture on cyclingfans.com today from the Tour de Suisse that shows what suffering looks like and reminds me that no pro is immune to the feelings that hit all of us in the saddle. Just look at Ryder Hesjedal, he looks like he's on the verge of tears.

Good luck to everyone racing in Washington County this weekend. Check out Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. I by the Flaming Lips. If Yoshimi can do it, so can you.

18 June 2009

On "turning your pedals in anger"

The first time I came across the phrase "turning your pedals in anger," I was struck by its beauty. It's so simple, so elegant, and so neatly links our most turbulent of emotions to the sport about which we feel so passionate.

I've only once had the pleasure of truly turning my pedals in anger. It happened in February of this year at an end-of-season cross race. Coming into the final lap, I had come to realize my positioning in the field was all but sealed. Barring a major crash in on my part or on the part of an unseen rider in front of me, I would finish in what turned out to be 21st place. I was coming off the final dismount portion of the course that led to the ascent to the finish. I was having trouble clipping my muddy cleat back into the slimy stomper at the end of my left crankarm when a Proteus rider passed me on the right. Almost immediately, I clipped in and let loose a deafening snarl I was previously unaware my body could produce. My legs surged with a violent electricity and I nipped the Proteus rider at the line. Each time I relived the final sprint over the next 48 hours, I felt the same charge of adrenaline course through my body.

In my 10 or so road races this spring, I've yet to recapture that same feeling. I wish I could channel it into a 40+ mph sprint at the finish line at every pack finish like Mark Cavendish, but that is unfortunately not in the cards. I know that our fair region is by no means devoid of pro-caliber sprinters and rouleurs who can put the hurt on the fittest continental pros. My question to you is this: how do you do it? Are your bodies just designed to ride a bicycle faster than the rest of us? Maybe you're better at ignoring the warning flares your bodies fire off as your extremities fill with lactose. Perhaps you're more the method actor types, channeling some misplaced rage from your childhood into your carbon cranks. In any case, it's something I've yet to add to my ready arsenal on the bike.

Listening to Leyendecker by Battles, hoping to learn to crush my pedals the way John Stanier crushes the drums.

14 June 2009

Murad first place (minus 500m)

I really like racing bikes. Training hurts and cuts into my DC socialite schedule. Racing hurts and makes me drive more than I want. Still, I really like racing bikes.

When I rolled into the parking lot in Poolesville this morning, I panicked that I had forgotten my cross bike. That "parking lot" would make for a fun, fast cyclocross course. Focus, Rich, you're writing about a road race.

The Men's 5 race was a smallish field--the final results showed 30 guys. Right off the bat, I felt good about my chances at a top 25 finish. My last two weeks of training were pretty shite what with the rain and all, so top 25 was about all I was expecting. I had a good ride with the group over at HP Thursday night, so I knew I had a little gas in my tank, but how much remained to be seen.

I played yo-yo on the back of the field for the first two eight-mile laps before I decided that was just too much work. On the long back side of the course, I moved up to about eighth wheel. Over the next ten miles, I stayed in the front third of the pack and pulling the group for about a mile. Most importantly, I let off the throttle before I popped. Lesson learned.

So I wheelsurfed around a bit until mile 35 or so, when I jumped up to second wheel. I shared it with another guy--I don't remember what team--and we exchanged a couple of friendly shoulder bumps while we waited for a move to go. In retrospect, I should have tried to bring him with me on my attack. With about 2500m to go, I saw an NCVC guy approach on our right, and he looked strong. Here is my chance, I think. I knew I didn't have enough gas to solo for the win, but I thought if I could trade pulls with one or two other guys, I could stick away from the pack. So I lurch over towards the NCVC guy, and...

me: You wanna have a go? Trade pulls?
NCVC guy: [pause] Uh... yeah, sure.

Great. So I turn on the jets for about 3 seconds and look over my shoulder to make sure I've brought him with me and no one else. Let me tell you how disappointing seeing no one on my wheel was: very. Very disappointing. So I'm all alone and I've got about three seconds on the field with 1500m to go. Well shit, at this point, I may as well make like Andy Schleck at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and just win the race myself. That plan was working swimmingly until I got swarmed with 500m to go. Dammit. So I settled for a 16th place finish with the pack, a pair of burning quads, and a 7 hour traffic-assisted drive to the Outer Banks to round out my Sunday.

I'm at the beach, so of course I'm listening to Girls by the Beastie Boys.

In other news, I went to see a show last week at DC9... 2AM Club. Look 'em up and get on the bandwagon now. It will be full soon enough.

08 June 2009


I love to talk shit about interns at work, at home, and at the bars. I have been loathe to talk about anything work-related here, because I don't think it's professional to air my grievances on the subject in this forum.

I've made a discovery that will surely delight anyone who's worked on or around the Hill: dcinterns. Enjoy.

Sidenote: can anyone recommend any good bicycling books? I've got the Joe Parkin book on my radar, and the Simon Burney cyclocross book on my Library of Congress queue.

Listen to Santigold. And take me with you to her show Wednesday night if you've got an extra ticket.

Three things I don't like

1. Paying for haircuts
2. Going out in Georgetown
3. My dogs dying

I've been subjected to all three in the last 48 hours. I'll miss Daisy a lot.

After reading a couple of the posts about Ride Sally Ride this weekend, I think I'm lucky to have not raced, or I could add "4. Crashing" that list. My next and final race for the season is next weekend in Poolesville, and my body is absolutely not ready to race. Anybody want to donate a wheel to me for a couple of hours next weekend?

Watching the video for Two Weeks by Grizzly Bear over and over.