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Dispatch from D.C.: The Big Shoulders Ball

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 23, 2009 4:40PM

At first we wondered how a bus-full of rowdy Hideout regulars -- musicians, employees, and employees -- would be greeted by a city like D.C. We pictured streams of lobbyists and grumpy Republicans growling with disdain at a ragtag group dressed up in their finest duds of proms long past.

We ventured out into the city the evening before and our fears were allayed when the first bar we stumbled into had a DJ playing rock music to a throbbing and sweaty crowd of dancers that looked as if they be equally at home in either Chicago's Wicker Park or its Viagra Triangle. Surely a city this diverse would dig the Hideout crew, right?


The Black Cat, chosen venue of The Big Shoulders Ball presented by Hideout in conjunction with Interchange, sold out ahead of everyone's arrival so anticipation was high for incendiary sets and lots of collaboration. Tortoise worked as Andrew Bird's backing band for a while. Ted Leo roped in members of the Waco Brothers ... even an ecstatic Tim Tuten was backed by What's The Matter With Kansas' Tom Frank. The spirit of the City That Works Together infused the merry band of musicians throwing their instrumental positions into unlikely alignments.

If there was any downside to the evening it was that much of the room -- that obviously came to see the massively high buzz-riding Bird -- had departed before Chicago legends Eleventh Dream Day threw down a set that had us trembling in both fright and ecstasy as their raging guitars tore from one end of the Black Cat's music room to the other. In our estimation, the D.C. crowd packing the room earlier had lots of heart, but they didn't have half the stamina of a hard drinkin' Chicago crew. No matter .. we're glad they were such gracious hosts to this party in the first place.