Red, White, & Bluegrass

Red, White, & Bluegrass

All photos taken by me unless linked somewhere else.
Now usually I'm not the type to waive flags and sing songs about "Old Glory" and whatnot. Don't get me wrong: I understand the privilege of being born in this great country and the sacrifices of the men and women in the United States Armed Forces, it's just I'm usually not very inclined to be explicitly patriotic. I'm also not one to play tourist; I would prefer to see the more, shall we say, obscure or lesser-known places in the capital before seeing the usual postcard locales (insert hipster joke here).  But when you live in the D.C. area, especially at this time of the year, you can't help but get caught up in the energy and omnipresent spirit of patriotism that are shared by Americans nationwide on the Fourth of July (just ignore the fact that according to one poll one-fourth of Americans don't actually know who we fought to gain our independence. Hint: it's definitely not Sweden).
Such a wonderful country.

On top of that, I don't know for sure if I will ever get another chance to celebrete America's birthday in the political nerve center of the country. And so, my friends and I embarked on a grand, magical journey to the United States Capitol for the Capitol Fourth Concert and the fireworks at the National Mall.

Funny story, actually. As much as I would like to build up my trek towards the big event, I must say much of that earlier pre-event stuff is all a blur to me. Perhaps it is because I only got like 4 or 5 hours of sleep the night before. Or maybe it was because I spent a good deal of the day running on lukewarm bottled water and homemade cookies. Or maybe, just maybe, it is because I made the mistake of wearing jeans to an event held on a hot and humid day with a huge source of heat - I mean crowds. Don't even get me started on the sick vibes I got from eating at a McDonald's close by (note: this is the second time it has happened in relatively short time. I'm probably never going to eat McDonald's again. Ever. Or at least for another couple of months. I am totally not loving it).
The more you stare the creepier it gets.
Basically, all I can remember is waking up (read: rolling out of bed) at around 6 am to get on a surprisingly empty Metro and then spend a good deal of time searching for Constitution Ave. We failed to take a left turn at Albuquerque and ended up in Anacostia. No harm done, however, and we soon found our way to a sweet little parade:

Oddly enough the one thing I remember the most about the parade (apart from the awesome dudes in the vintage bikes, an uncomfortable cover of Katy Perry's "Firework", and a DeLorean) is the presence of a multitude of religious and political groups showering us with pamphlets. One really humorous example to illustrate this was the efforts of the Obama 2012 volunteers to garner support for the President's re-election. They must have been either very zealous or just eager for contact info for they even sought support from my roommate, a full and honest Canadian. The first wave of volunteers didn't even ask me if I was interested (Yes. That's right. A Canadian was tapped for presidential support before an American. Interesting).

While the parade was still going on we decided to leave and camp out near the Capitol to secure spots for the concert that night. After a two-hour wait the floodgates opened and flocks of people swarmed in (wait,  "flocks" that "swarm"? Does that grouping even make sense? Oh nevermind...).

Our gradually growing group secured a nice spot where we could see both the concert and teh fireworks. During that downtime (a measly five hours), I managed to escape the heat and pop my head into the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum (but more on that later). When I came back, the teem of people became...well, I'll just let this before/after picture illustrate the masses:

A one hour difference makes ALL the difference.
A little before 8 o'clock our hours of walking and waiting finally paid off. The super happy fun time (or concert as you normal people like to call them) began. The concert was a good surprise for me; I think it was way better than the fire works! Although a good deal of the concert featured *insert singer/artist I really don't know here*, there are a couple stand out performances. Josh Groban, apart from being quite dreamy in the eyes of many, performed a nice tribute song to our wounded veterans. Matthew Morrison of Glee fame sang a couple of songs, including "Tonight" from West Side Story with Kelli O'Hara. Lil' Richard was, well, being Lil' Richard (OOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!).

However, for me the artists that stole the show were Steve Martin's bluegrass band (with the funny man himself on banjo) and his epic fiddler. I swear, he fiddled so well that Thor himself thundered with dance. Dances of joy that is. Like, literally. It rained a little when they played, but just enough not for it to be annoying but ~magical~. And while the fireworks were pretty forgettable, the bluegrass tunes of Steve Martin and his band continue to jive up my mind (I would have taken pictures of them but it started raining a bit and I didn't want to risk it). All in all, it was such a wonderful experience that will in no doubt be one of the highlights of my time here. Trust me; if you ever get the chance, even if you aren't the most patriotic citizen out there, you will have a good and not regret a thing. Who knows, maybe you'll get as caught up in the nationalistic euporia as much as I did.


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