Q: What do you wear when your evening starts with a Poetic Principles reading at the Virginia Museum and ends with a show at the Canal Club?
A: Something that makes the guard at the museum say to you, "You look mighty nice for a poetry reading," when what he really means is, "That's not how folks usually dress to come here, miss."
And actually it wasn't a poetry reading because Christine Schutt is no longer writing poetry; her latest book is "All Souls," a novel set in an all-girls' school.
As she read selections from it, though, her poetic roots became obvious. Her cadences were completely poetic.
Every sentence came across as a phrase in a poem; it was lovely. Reading about a group of feckless girls, she referenced their "wayward society swagger;" it's practically a poem title itself.
Tonight was the last of this year's Poetic Principles, a series that will restart in October.
Then I headed east to meet a friend at Sette Pizza before the music portion of the evening.
I began with a half Sette Chopped Salad (lettuce, tomato, Gorgonzola and bacon with a balsamic vinaigrette) because I was starving and couldn't wait for my friend any longer.
When he did arrive, we decided (SPOILER ALERT: Pizza purists, stop reading now) on the Florentine (white sauce, baby spinach, and goat cheese) and, with all the nerve in the world, we had them put bacon on it.
The bartender grinned at me and said, "Bacon is gooood," which supports my argument that bacon makes everything better.
The pizza was delicious, gooey with the two cheeses and amply sprinkled with the tiniest bacon bits.
When we got to the Canal Club, The Dig was midway through their set; I'd seen this NYC group before and was sorry to have missed all of their set.
Next up was Port O'Brien and I can see why people like M. Ward are calling them their favorite new band.
Their combination of folk and indie rock, drawing as much from the 60s as from 80s bands like the Replacements, is pure ear candy.
In talking to the audience, they asked if Richmond had lots of good things to do.
Someone shouted out GWAR and the lead singer said, "Really? GWAR is from here? That just made my day!"
Toward the end of their set, a box of sound was distributed to the audience, including pots, pans and spoons for us to make noise with.
They closed by saying, "Goodnight Richmond, home of GWAR!"
And then it was something completely different, the headliner, Portugal the Man.
Whereas Port O'Brien pulled from 60s and 80s pop, PtM is much more experimental and psychedelic.
There were even elements of prog rock; at one point, my friend said that the sound reminded him of early Yes and Genesis, extremely complex.
To complement such complexity, lead singer John Gourley even adopted a sideways stance throughout the show, facing stage left and his backup singer rather than the audience.
The crowd wasn't huge; it was St. Patrick's Day after all and plenty of people had green beer to drink, but the people who were there were clearly fans, singing along to almost every song and cheering the band raucously.
An audience of true fans is always the best kind anyway for their contagious enthusiasm.
Let's just say we all left completely satisfied, even the friend I ran into who cut out a bit early (she knows who she is).
Most importantly, the designated duds did a seamless job of taking me from the literary to prog rock.
Not that anyone was looking.