Saturday, February 6, 2016

Blow Out the Candles

The thing is, you can't not go.

How can anyone in this town justify not supporting a WRIR fundraiser? Where is there a better deal for the money than eight bands, comedy and assorted DJs for only 15 bucks? Why would I skip a party barely four blocks from home? Who doesn't love multiple kinds of birthday cake?

Walking over to WRIR's 11th annual Party for the Rest of Us, I ran into the photographer/printmaker I'd seen already twice this week. She attributed it to my presence at everything. "We need to make you a shirt that says EG - Everything Girl."

Once at the Renaissance, I was one of the early ones, meaning I could hear the DJ by the buffet and it was still full of food. As a favorite DJ put it, "I realized I'm here in time for the cheese cubes!" Her excitement was palpable.

The party's organizer walked by, enthusing, "Oh, my god, Karen, your tights!" I'd pulled out the Barcelona tights for the occasion, always an attention-getter.

Music began with Half Bascule, the quasi metal improv project of Dave and Nathaniel that always kicks ass. No surprise given Dave's massive pedal board and Nathaniel's exuberant drumming (his flannel shirt came off after the first song), but the two demonstrate remarkable compatibility considering how infrequently they play or rehearse.

From an improvised duo of two, I moved over to the ballroom for Brunswick, a 13-piece complete with jazz training, music stands and the inimitable (and noticeably slimmer) Reggie on percussion. For many, it was their first time seeing the band and they were clearly impressed, asking strangers who they were.

Lucy Dacus and her coat-clad band (sparkly t-shirts were revealed once they got hot enough to doff the coats) were next and seeing as Rolling Stone recently dubbed them a band to watch in 2016, the room filled up quickly.

I'd already run into Lucy in the loo, telling her I recall the first time I saw her play (long before the band stage) at Ghost Light Afterparty, where her acoustic cover of Prince's "I Would Die 4 U" made me weak in the knees. Now she's talking about the band soon making music full-time.

They grow up so fast, don't they?

Checking out the comedy showcase, I head a woman talking about her West Virginia/Muslim roots and somehow turning it into humor ("I moved to Richmond so now I drink craft beer and have cats tattooed on my back") before heading out for birthday cake.

With four kinds of cake, I chose chocolate chocolate, but had to cool my heels with other cake lovers until forks were brought out to eat it with. You want to eat with dignity when you're scarfing cake in front of hundreds of people.

Back in the ballroom, the all-female band Christi won my ears with a combination of girl group and punk influences, although as more than one friend pointed out, the incredibly high ceiling in that room compromised the sound quality ("They sound much better at Strange Matter," Paul told me and he would know) somewhat.

But their energy was terrific, the songs were all three minutes or less and lyrics resonated for those of us with girl parts. Besides, it's just such a treat to see an all female lineup, especially rocking that hard. You go, girls.

Night Idea played to a selection of silent movies behind them and their familiar math rock/proggy sound was well-suited to the black and white classics. "I think Richmond has more prog bands than metal bands these days," the film lover whispered to me.

I think Richmond has more independent radio fans than anything else and I can always count on seeing them at this birthday party.

From the dance party king just back from a shoot in Tidewater to the scooter queen recently back from a trip to Costa Rica to the literate guitarist with whom I discussed Elvis Costello's autobiography and Donald Fagen's charisma to the Australian I'd last met in a borrowed suit to the Gen X birthday boy whose party I have to miss Sunday to the former neighbor dapper in polka dots and boots to the various DJs I've come to know to the smiling friends I only saw in passing, it's a guaranteed get-together of just the kind of people you'd want at your own party, aka the rest of us.

You can count Everything Girl as happily part of that rest.

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