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4/26/05 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C.
Opening for Ratdog

Way Back When, Blue Sky, Seems to Want to Hurt This Time, I Don't Need a Riddle, Conscious Evolution, Rock of Ages>Family Picture, Mystic Water, Hey Trudy tease, Part-time Lover

By Dwight Holmes

This was weird. When I got inside about 7, there were already about three rows of people camped out on the rail. Didn't know a soul. They were all Ratheads (or whatever they're called!). A few had seen Donna, most had not. Everyone was agreed that it would be better to have no warm-up band. The crowd filtered in slowly. Even by the time Donna started, the place was sparsely populated. Surprising, given that Ratdog always packs the place to the gills. Turns out I guess they just weren't in a hurry to get there for the warmup band. By the time Donna finished it was, yes, packed to the gills.

OK, the music. Jamie agreed with me, the band--all of 'em--looked really tired when they came out. I'd say the first two songs were a little, uh, tepid. The crowd was downright frigid. A tough crowd. It was feeling a little weird (to me, of course. All subjective.). Seems to Wanna Hurt got things moving a bit--Tara really got swaying during the break and the crowd, at least some of them up front, responded. Riddle really got things riled up. Accordion music can do that. I think it was after Riddle that Jeb made a comment that he had sweat dripping into his eyes, and that this was the job of the warm-up band, to get the crowd warmed up. Maybe folks aren't quite tuned into Jeb's sense of humor. There were a few giggles here and there...

CE tore the place apart. Short, very sweet. People were rockin'. Bob Weir came out during CE and was watching from the dressing room balcony, which is above and behind the stage. He left when the next song started, but Mark Karan remained for most of the rest of the set.

Rock of Ages rocked, and as they were winding it up, Jeb called an audible and they went straight into Family Picture. I actually thought it was a pretty tame Family Picture, and definitely not the peak of the set. Mystic Water may have been the peak. This really had the crowd responding both with dancing during, and cheering afterwards.

Jeb then announced they had time for one more, and he hoped to see everyone again tomorrow night. Tara started out with the riff for Hey Trudy, then suddenly did an about -ace and broke out Part-time Lover. Had they purposely tricked Bill? Kinda looked that way--he looked just a bit surprised! But he stepped right up, and they had a raucous time. Bill got so animated toward the end that he slipped and started to fall backwards, accidentally knocking one of Tom's tom-toms off the drum kit on to the floor. Ka-boom! Ooops. Anyway the music continued. Literally the biggest cheer of the night was right as Tara started playing the scrubboard midway through PTL. Seriously, it was funny. I guess this was a novel thing for 95% of the people there!

All in all I'd say it was an excellent set--they packed about as much into an hour as they could. I dare say they won some new fans. Oh--before the last song, Jeb came back to the mic and said something like, "Over the years we've been together we've made a few CDs, and I think they're available somewhere there in the back." NOTE TO JEB: TODAY IS APRIL 26th. YOUR NEW ALBUM'S OFFICIAL RELEASE DAY! HEL-LOOO! ROTFLMAO!!! Tom did his bit; he was sporting a T-shirt with the new album cover on the front.

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