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The local bike-courier band Grand National headlined a set last Saturday mounted to entertain travel-weary radicals, who are in town to disrupt next weekend’s meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The first contingent of anti-imperialist warriors made its way to a platform stage at Malcolm X Park at midday, wielding signs bearing slogans such as “Defund the Fund” and “More World, Less Bank.” One man passed out fliers complaining about how gentrification in Dupont Circle is a conspiracy against gay men.
But the sparsely attended rally didn’t seem to discourage the throng of reporters, cameramen, and sound engineers on hand. When one television producer was offered “free vegan food,” he politely declined, citing “ethics” and “objectivism.” “I can’t accept any free gifts,” he said.
No such problems for the Washington City Paper. This reporter was happy to sample the vegan fare and, at the same time, satisfy a disturbing and painful hunger. A woman in line wore a shirt that read “Club Sandwiches, Not Seals.” Ah, club sandwiches were not available.
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Even so, the organic mixed baby greens contained sufficient color and flavor between the purple olives and yellow bell peppers to please any discriminating palate. Despite the presence of a few wilted spinach leaves and the odd brownish broccoli floret, the salad was light, crisp, and well-dressed—delicious! Perfect fuel for a nonviolent afternoon protest. But if the mixed baby greens were good, the vegan eggplant salad was great: comfortably warm, oily, and rich, with just the right touch of cumin and the welcome addition of caramelized onions. The scrambled tofu looked a bit too adventurous, but the reporter’s guest insisted that it, too, was a winner.
Before the main-stage show, a troupe called Guerrilla Theatre warmed the crowd up. The actors told “The Story of the WTO [World Trade Organization]—all in the Name of Profit.” Although the narrators were energetic, they had not rehearsed properly. One actor stumbled on the phrase “international socialists.” The set—a large flip-book made from canvas—was too high and thus disrupted the show’s pacing as actors struggled to turn the pages.
Grand National singer Zac Eller has been compared to Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye. The band’s five-song set was pleasant enough, but it was clear that the band was still trying to break out of its “post-rock” sound. Eller was not on hand to “Break the Bank”; rather, he had shown for the “opportunity to play outdoors,” he said. The local indie heroes of Trans Am provided a nice contrast, with their computer-enhanced vocals and synthesized noises. They also performed five tracks, most of which were about summer.—Guy Raz