If you're going to take someone on a first date and impress them, tonight was the time to do it.
It was the monthly installment of Live at Ipanema and Way, Shape or Form was playing.
The name meant nothing to me but Allen, the guy who chooses the bands and records the show, has an unerring ear for choosing the best local music to showcase.
So my companion and I made sure to arrive in time to grab a prime seat and munch on some focaccia and sip Dolcetta d'Alba while the band set up.
My carefully-laid plan was for naught, though, when all at once an influx of people, no doubt fans and friends of the band, showed up en masse and my view was lost.
On the bright side, a girlfriend showed up unexpectedly, so her company helped compensate for the tallest man on earth deciding to stand directly in front of me.
It was about 30 seconds in when the music-lover I'd brought with me turned, grinned and acknowledged, "This is right up your alley. This is Karen music."
And, boy, was it ever.
Ipanema is a small space and the band was a four-piece with drums.
While the drummer definitely qualified as a hard-hitter and he'd covered his drums to soften the sound, it was the interesting time signatures that got my attention.
"The drummer is holding it down," my friend said.
I admit I'm a sucker for electronica and the band's poppy songs used it brilliantly to move the songs forward.
The jazzy guitars did the same, never too loud or intrusive, but always winding their way into my ear.
There was so much going on that I felt like I was listening to math rock filtered through a pop punk aesthetic (and I say pop punk rather than just pop due to their ages) and the result was speaking to my inner music geek directly.
I was pretty much in heaven, but as I soon noticed, so were the people on either side of me.
Some songs had lyrics, some didn't, but the rapt crowd was as engaged with one as the other.
As I listened to leader Troy's confessional-sounding vocals, I marveled at how I hadn't yet heard of these guys.
I am, after all, out hearing live music three or four nights a week.
Let's just say I've already put their vinyl release show into my calendar (or, as my fellow Gemini called it, my "prehistoric Blackberry."), very much looking forward to hearing a longer set next time.
Tonight's ended way too soon and Troy said, "It's really packed in here. Thanks! We have t-shirts for sale, long sleeves for the cool times."
Except that the room was anything but cool because of the mass of humanity who had crowded in to hear these guys.
Mingling afterwards, I was curious as to what Troy had been listening to and wasn't the least surprised to hear that we'd both been to Pinback, Tortoise and Minus the Bear shows.
Even later still, I ran into a favorite friend coming in, only to learn he'd been on a date there the whole time.
He'd brought his date for dinner and music, and she, being a relative newcomer to Richmond's scene, had marveled at what a great show it had been, wondering how often stuff like this happened.
"Pretty much all the time, if you know where to go," my bearded friend had assured her.
All I can say is if a guy took me on a first date to an intimate show at Ipanema featuring a local band as talented/catchy/listenable as Way, Shape or Form, I'd ask him for a second date.
And that's saying something.