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The crown jewel of Glover Park’s humdrum retail strip, the Grog & Tankard has long labored under its reputation as the worst live-music venue in Washington, D.C. While the 150-capacity room is well-positioned to host Georgetown University bands and other natives of upper Wisconsin Avenue’s burgeoning indie scene, touring musicians who find themselves booked on a weekday at the Grog are most assuredly in for a bad time. As the venue’s informative booking website explains, “The Grog and Tankard does not have a built-in crowd.”

Bob Spires of the jangly, R.E.M.-associated Athens quintet Nutria rocked the Grog as best he could on Wednesday, July 11, and came back with this report. Here it is, warts and all:


The show bit the big one because the guy at the Grog and Tankard booked a surf guitarist from Brazil, who played to backing tracks on his laptop, and after us we had a rap duo and a hip-hop DJ. There were three Japanese businessmen at the bar who looked stunned while we played. The hip-hop DJ’s dad and uncle were there. They were the only ones that paid attention to us. The hip-hop DJ had his high school entourage with him and was wearing some sweet baggy pants that covered up his shoes. The rap group just yelled and you couldn’t hear a word. It just sounded like ‘WAH WAH WAWAWAWA WAH WAH WAWAWA’. One guy had a Mohawk, or more of a Frohawk. We got $4 beers, pretty sweet, huh. And this guy in a white suit bought us all beers, but wouldn’t tell us what he did for a living. He said he can’t discuss it since he works for a law firm that does work for the Federal Government. He looked like he probably cleaned toilets for the federal government. Then this short fat white guy and his friend who looked like Obama, came up to us and said they heard a few songs. The white dude said he wanted to be our manager, and when I tried to get him to buy a CD, he changed the subject. The Obama look-alike said he didn’t buy CD’s because he downloads everything for free on Limewire.

It made we think about the downloading and sharing that probably goes on at the Pentagon and the Capitol. The grunts with data entry jobs are getting the Shins’ new album or live Coldplay for free while they plug demographic info into a database that probably tells them who is a possible terrorist. We left the club and went through DC to see the sites. We stopped at the White House, which I had never seen. I was kinda taken aback by the fact that it is so close to all the downtown DC hubbub. All the lights were off so our cellphone pics look like shit. We drove to Richmond and slept in a reststop on 95. Pretty sweet.