Toby and I are pretty big Aimee Mann fans. We certainly love her enough to spend $53 each on tickets for her show at The Birchmere. I would copy-and-paste the conversation we had when I purchased the tickets but it's filled with so many Aimee Mann puns that showing it to the general public would be needlessly embarrassing.

I've never been to The Birchmere. There's an automatic strike against it for not being remotely Metro accessible. I've always considered it to be a place where artists that skew towards older audiences can go to sap cash out of their boomer fans. A quick look at their schedule shows that to be an accurate description of this venue. For sixty bucks you can see ASIA with all four original members. How effing sweet is that!?

Seriously. Sixty bucks for ASIA!

So, I was checking out The Birchmere website to see exactly how to get to this place. Pentagon City and then a cab. Great. I can say that The Birchmere, at least according to the website, seems like the strangest venue in all of the land. I mean, every venue has rules. Most of the time they're along the lines of "No Drugs" and so forth. The Birchmere has this:
  • Silence is requested while the performers are on stage
  • You must remain seated during the performance (Unless the dance floor is set up)
Yeah. That sounds pretty sweet. Nothing like total silence and sitting down at a concert. I can feel the adrenaline pumping already. It's not like Aimee Mann plays Top 40 dance music, but, dammit, I want to sing along. I know the fucking lyrics and I want to sing. If she plays "Voices Carry" during her (presumed) encore, I am standing and screaming the lyrics at the end of the song. Just like in the video.

Hey! I embedded something!

Perhaps the most hilarious part of their no standing or making noise rule is their menu. That's right, their menu. Look at it. As Toby pointed out, it sure looks like everyone inside is having a good time standing up and being loud. Come on, Birchmere. You can't have it both ways.

And how can I bring up the menu without noting this totally bizarre rule:

There is no outside food or drink allowed. This includes birthday cakes.

What the Hell? "QUICK! BLOW OUT THE CANDLES BEFORE SECURITY SEES YOU!" Why do they take extra care to point out that you can't bring birthday cakes? Can you buy birthday cakes inside? Who the Hell brings a birthday cake to a concert!?

This venue seems like it's in an alternate reality (which is as good a way to describe Virginia as anything else). Someone please tell me that the acoustics here are great and that I'll be super-close to Aimee Mann. Because this sounds like the stuffiest concert venue on the planet and I need something, other than the delightful Mrs. Mann of course, to get me pumped for the show.


  1. AnonymousMay 08, 2007

    Well I can say that they will have to cancel that ASIA show because NO ONE in their RIGHT MIND can SIT DOWN & BE SILENT during "Heat of the Moment". NO ONE I SAY!

  2. Those are indeed odd rules. People most definitely stood up and got down during the David Byrne show I went to there a couple years ago. Maybe the rules are there to make aging boomers feel edgy when the break them...

    It's a bit like watching a concert at a dinner theater, but it IS a fairly intimate venue.

    Oh, and thank you, anonymous, for putting the Eric Cartman at Congress version of "Heat of the Moment" in my head...

    I never meant to be so bad to you
    One thing I said that I would never do
    One look from you and I would fall from grace
    And that would wipe this smile right from my face

  3. AnonymousMay 08, 2007

    The "silence, please" rule is a little uptight, but I can appreciate they're trying to make sure everyone can hear and enjoy the music. Can't tell you the number of shows I've been to at the 9:30 where some hipster douchebag behind me has talked (yelled) to his friends the whole time.

  4. AnonymousMay 08, 2007

    Love the menu. "Goodness Gracious great bowls of 'beef prison chili'"

  5. It's actually not that bad. But the food is horrible.

  6. So wait... are guns allowed?

    Because I'm pretty sure Virginians have no problem checking thier birthday cake at the door.

  7. Weeeeeeeee I just bought my tickets! I can't wait to see her. Last time was in 2000 in Boston.

  8. Actually, the acoustics ARE pretty great and you will, indeed, be pretty close to Aimee Mann.

  9. cathy lanier's big choppersMay 09, 2007

    Did someone say fooooooooood?

  10. AnonymousMay 09, 2007

    You can't be that big of an Aimee Mann fan if you think 'Voices Carry' will be the encore.

  11. AnonymousMay 09, 2007

    I wrote the encore part because that way if I get kicked out for standing and singing at least I will have seen the entire show.

    If she opens with it (assuming she plays it) I will remain sitting and behaved.

    As for being a fan, I have no idea what she plays or what she will play. I don't obsessively check set lists.


  12. Get there early for the best seats. Aimee is relatively quiet so you'll appreciate the house rules. Food sucks; beer is good. She will not play "Voices Carry" no matter how loud you scream for it. Just saw her last December at the Birchmere and she rocked.

  13. AnonymousMay 09, 2007

    Rusty is a Douche .....

  14. AnonymousMay 09, 2007

    I can live w/o Voices Carry. She played it when my friends saw her in 2002 and 2004 (2003?) and the video works perfectly with the Birch rules so I went for the easy joke.

    And I do plan on getting there early.


  15. Ahhh the Birchmere. Yes, the acoustics are pretty good. Yes, you will be close to Aimee (if you get there early enough you may be within a few short feet of her). Yes, the Birchmere is DEFINITELY an alternate universe. Enjoy the surreality.

  16. AnonymousMay 09, 2007

    Since when does chief Laniers teeth have access to the internet?

  17. i'm sure the silence thing doesn't refer to singing, but instead to loud talking and yelling, which is something i've experienced at 930 many a time. at a ben kweller concert i actually had to threaten someone (i am not into threatening at all, but i kind of look imposing) that i'd find him after the show if he didn't stop heckling the band.

  18. cathy lanier's big choppersMay 09, 2007

    We been done havin internet access bitch!!!

    Where the fuck you been at?

  19. AnonymousMay 09, 2007

    "ben kweller concert." LOL!

  20. Uldsbnmw the WiseMay 09, 2007

    I'll refrain from just calling Rusty a stupid hypocrite for dissing "aging boomers" and Virginians while wetting his pants about native Virginian Aimee Mann ("1985 ROCKED dude.."), and offer some useful advice instead:

    1. Get a bike.
    2. Take it on the Metro to Braddock Road Station.
    3. Get off Metro.
    4. Ride up Mt. Vernon Avenue.
    5. Stop at the Evening Star for a beer along the way.
    6. Continue north until you reach the Birchmere.
    7. At the end of the show, reverse this process.
    8. Stop being such a whiny-ass pussy

  21. AnonymousMay 09, 2007

    yeah i've been to the birchmere twice and it SUCKS for atmosphere... i think the only good thing about it is that you can go and sit at the bar there and watch whatever performance is going on inside on the tv. for free without paying... except for whatever drinks or food you order. but still, it's stupid.

  22. AnonymousMay 09, 2007

    Native Virginian but she came out of the Boston music scene. Also, I had no idea Aimee Mann was even in 'Til Tuesday until after I had I'm With Stupid and Magnolia. I greatly prefer her work from the mid-90s to the early-00s.


  23. AnonymousMay 09, 2007

    Rusty, you spend a lot of time talking about how boring and vanilla and lacking in personality DC is, then you blog about going to the Birchmere and Wolf Trap? You seriously need to move on out to Reston and be done with it. I heard there's some great outlet shopping out in Leesburg if that's more your speed.....

  24. AnonymousMay 09, 2007

    Also, he lives in friendship heights. Ew.

  25. bswmy the bosomyMay 09, 2007

    Speaking of '90's rocker grrls who don't get enough credit, check out Bettie Serveert sometime. They played a kick-ass show at the Iota last winter.

  26. AnonymousMay 10, 2007

    "Rusty, you spend a lot of time talking about how boring and vanilla and lacking in personality DC is, then you blog about going to the Birchmere and Wolf Trap? You seriously need to move on out to Reston and be done with it. I heard there's some great outlet shopping out in Leesburg if that's more your speed."

    You dork. God forbid someone EVER leave the city limits. Verizon Center's roster is filled of shitty shows like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Justin Timberlake. That is basically one big bowl of NoVa and date rape. 930 Club, Black Cat and Rock and Roll Hotel are cool, but sometime's one's taste transcends the indie rock scene.

    People like you who scoff any time someone goes somewhere that's not in D.C. try waayyyy too hard. Nerd.

  27. ben kweller is awesome. and rock and roll hotel is a terrible venue. it made me rethink menomena, and i hate it for that.

  28. AnonymousMay 10, 2007

    Please leave The Birchmere out of any plans you beer soaked, crying for mommy (homesick boy), parent paid educated fuck. The Birchmere has been and will be the place to avoid college dreck such as yourself. I will however wrap my tattoed fingers around your scrawny assed neck to enforce the "quiet" rule.

  29. AnonymousMay 10, 2007

    Indie rock sucks. Shaggy haired hipster 4 piece bands get old really quick. I prefer the Kennedy Center where I can listen to and watch full piece orchestras perform.

  30. AnonymousMay 10, 2007

    Whats wrong with friendship heights???
    I think i may like (ok, maybe tolerate) this hellhole if i lived in friendship heights!
    instead i live in the ghetto.
    to poor for friendship heights.

  31. go enjoy your full orchestra you 40-year-old-virgin twatsicle.

  32. tattooed fingers? right..

  33. AnonymousMay 10, 2007

    "People like you who scoff any time someone goes somewhere that's not in D.C. try waayyyy too hard. Nerd."

    Actually, you missed my point, but maybe I wasn't clear.

    If the Birchmere or Wolf Trap were in the city, they'd still be lame venues for lame music, and Rusty would be lame for lamenting the lack or personality in this town, all the while continuing to go to boring concert venues with ridiculously stuffy rules. (And let's not get into his habit of hanging out at the Rhino).

    In point of fact, I'm not adverse whatsoever to a night out at Iota. Other than the stupid post in the middle of the room.

    And Rock and Roll Hotel kind of sucks, no matter what city its in. You can cram as many emo-looking frat boys in there as you want, and the sound will still blow.

  34. Birchin' Nachos! Get it? Do ya get it?!?!?!?!

  35. AnonymousMay 11, 2007

    "(And let's not get into his habit of hanging out at the Rhino)."

    Rusty hangs out at the Rhino? LOL.

    And yes, I did miss your point...I apologize.

  36. AnonymousMay 11, 2007

    I actually agree with Rusty?!

    Saw a show at the Birchmere last night in the sit down dining room area. And, yes, it is totally lame to be sitting at fucking cafeteria style tables during a concert. The other times I've been to the Birchmere the shows were in the main room with a dance floor.


    BTW - Bus #'s 10A and E get you from Pentagon Metro to the Birchmere in about 10 minutes.

  37. AnonymousMay 11, 2007

    It's not the height of hipness but the Birchmere has been around a long time and knows its market.

    Its not all that hard to get to either. You could possibly walk from Braddock Rd, but give yourself 30 minutes. Otherwise, depending on the time of day the easiest thing is take 10A or 10B from Braddock Road. 10E is rush-only from the Pentagon, so probably won't work. Cabs are easy to get at Braddock, or you can get a freaking Zipcar there. Stop whining and enjoy the show.

  38. AnonymousMay 12, 2007

    also known as the Shushmere.