Our story begins at the Future of Music office in Washington DC yesterday afternoon. After getting off work, Nelson and I, along with various other telecommunications/new media-related interns and activists (all of whom, coming straight from the office, were better dressed than we were) to mingle and meet the members of OK Go, who had been on Capitol Hill that day with Future of Music lobbying Congress about net neutrality and so forth. Nelson and I were talking to Andy, the lead guitar/keyboardist, and got very confused because he was talking about being a coder for Open Congress, a Sunlight Foundation project that filters through THOMAS data to make it digestible for humans and inform people what's really going on on the Hill. It was like, wait, you're part of the band, right? You don't usually find rockers who are also code monkeys on the side...
Ironically enough, I had the opportunity to see another code monkey rocker for free that evening. Digital Freedom was having a band showcase the same night as OK Go's concert that included Jonathan Coulton. However, you can't meet a band and not go to their concert--besides, it was a golden opportunity to swagger up and tell the ticket people, "We're on the guest list." So Gavin, Nelson, two interns we'd just met (Sarah and Sara), and I decided to go to the OK Go concert, which was in Columbia, MD.
So how do we get there?
Gavin was convinced that the Beltway traffic would be suicidal, so we should find a way to get there by public transit. I looked up a route there, and off we went. A Red Line subway packed like sardines in a crushed tin box. An unairconditioned MARC train up to Laurel, MD. (It was 97Â° and steamy that day.)
The final leg was supposed to be the E bus. According to the transit authority's website, the E bus stop was at Main and Washington. WRONG. It was a block or so away. Eventually a friendly Metrobus driver let us on (for free!) and drove us to the E bus stop on his route.
Maybe the broken WMATA database was telling us that we didn't really want to take the E bus. We got on and got lost. Multiple times. I'm going to assume the driver was new, at least to the route, because he really didn't know where he was going. The other passengers had to give him directions, which sometimes he followed. Also, the *heater* was on. Some of the passengers were pretty frustrated, since they were likely to miss their connections due to his screw-ups, and he was totally rude in response, threatening to kick complaining passengers off the bus from Hell.
Finally we made it to the concert venue. Doors had opened at 6; we didn't get there until around 8, so we missed the first opening band, Mae. But whatever. We were there for OK Go.
What can I say? They totally rocked, playing 'Invincible,' 'Do What You Want,' and an absolutely nuts cover of 'Don't Bring Me Down' by Electric Light Orchestra. It was Tim's birthday, so they brought out a chocolate cake and sang 'Happy Birthday' for him. In the middle of the set it started raining a little, which cooled the air down a lot...thank God.
Stolen joke from Damian: So apparently there's a city in Washington state that's located right in the middle between Seattle and Tacoma. It's called Seatac. So what do you call the area between Baltimore and Washington DC? Obviously, we need to create a city called Ballwash.
OK Go was the second opening band, opening for The Fray, a band that I'd never heard of but recognized a couple songs from the radio. They seemed okay. We only listened for a little while, before it was time to go hang with the band.
Yep. We had backstage passes.
Probably my greatest impression of OK Go was how normal they were. Other than their paisley pseudo-oxford attire, it wasn't readily apparent that they were rockers. In person they just seemed like cool dudes who would open you a beer with a bottled water cap, ask a roadie to get you a free t-shirt, offer to check out your album once it comes out, and take you backstage (like, on the actual stage, behind the equipment) for a bit to watch the Fray.
We left around 11:15 or so, and realized we had no way to get home. All the Future of Music people had come in one full car--no room for five hapless interns. We had no faith in the E bus, even if we could find the stop (we're pretty sure the driver just left us off wherever, as there was no bus stop sign), and the last MARC train left at 11:30. Crap.
Some of us wanted to take a taxi to DC, but I knew there was no way I could afford that, even split five ways. Standing in the divider of a road in the rain late at night, I was preparing myself to sleep in the mall parking garage or something. Until...
"Hey, do you know where we could find a gas station?"
A car pulled up, headed to Fairfax. The dude and lady in the car were very cool people, and upon hearing our plight offered us a ride in exchange for gas once we found a station. So five of us piled into the backseat of their car, getting to know each other and howling along to "I Want You to Want Me" on the radio. It was a miracle.
Colt and Allison dropped us off at the apartment, Nelson and I drove the Sara(h)s home to Georgetown, and everyone collapsed for the night. I'm still surprised that we survived. But we did, and it was totally excellent!