The Unbridled Pragmatist
smart enough to know how dumb we are

Shooting in Reno

 I rarely make the trip over the river; Virginia is almost as exotic to me as Burkina Faso.  The combination of my buddy’s band, Tom McBride & the Atomic, and my first visit to Iota proved enough to make the trip to Arlington. 

Iota is a cool venue, maybe 1/3 the size of the main stage at Black Cat.  The club offered a good beer selection, bars flanking the stage on each side, exposed brick with various murals painted.  The acoustics were good, not too loud which often happens in small clubs, with appropriate lighting; the stage decorated by blue and white Christmas lights.  The bartenders were friendly and service was good, a nice contrast to other venues in the city where hipster condescension is the attitude of choice.  The club was comfortable in its simplicity, allowing intimacy between the band and audience.  My only complaint is smoking indoors, you forget about it until that first person lights up next to you.  The high ceilings allowed most smoke to dissipate, but upon leaving the bar that unfortunate familiar smell lingered on my shirt, I realized another reason to stay north of the Potomac. 

McBride and Co. put on a good performance despite only playing one previous show.  The five piece band included keyboards and sax accompanying the traditional bass, guitar/vocals, drums.  Mostly McBride originals were played, a cohesion belying the band’s lack of familiarity, a Ween cover mixed in riled up the crowd.  The sax player, Colin Crawford, provided a distinct sound, his addition a certain asset to the band.  The final two songs of the night brought the most reaction from the crowd.  The first a McBride original, Flying Pete, featured strong vocals from McBride with each band member playing a brief solo.  The crowd yelling for one more song, the band happily obliged with the Johnny Cash classic Folsom Prison Blues.  When McBride belted out “I hear the train a coming” smiles flashed across many in the crowd, others sang along — nothing beats live music and cold Budweiser.

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