Below is a list of DNC-related concerts I should have tried to check out last night, Wednesday, August 27, the third day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver:
1. Unconventional '08, a music-and-art event featuring Silversun Pickups, Cold War Kids, Nada Surf, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, DJ Z-Trip, and celebrities like Thurston Moore and Sarah Silverman judging art and hanging around being cool and stuff.
2. The Unconventional '08 afterparty, an invite-only soiree featuring acoustic sets from Zooey Deschanel, Jenny Lewis, Jonathan Rice, Matthew Caws of Nada Surf, and Ben Gibbard and Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie.
3. A DNC fundraiser featuring a DJ set by Moby.
4. Rage Against The Machine.
Instead of seeing any of the above, I spent most of yesterday in a big white van with a man named Dan. Dan is fucking cool, maybe even cooler than Sarah Silverman. Dan is the professional driver The A.V. Club hired to pick up Ted Leo And The Pharmacists–the headliners of our DNC party in Denver tonight–from the airport. As the duly deputized representative of The A.V. Club in Denver and its environs, I rode with Dan in his big white van to shuttle Mr. Leo and crew to their hotel. And we did exactly that–after which I showed the band the best vegan food and cheap beer Denver has to offer.
Ergo no concert review this morning. But I'm sure Rage raged. And Moby Mobied. And Clap Your Hands Say Yeah clapped their hands and said, "Yeah! I can't believe people are still paying us to play shows!"
Ted Leo And The Pharmacists, it turns out, are a bunch of incredibly swell dudes. So is Dan the driver. But Dan's an incredibly swell dude for an entirely different reason. On the way to the airport, Dan–a gentleman of approximately 50 years of age with white hair and a deep love of Rush and The Grateful Dead–brought up the presidential campaign. Discussing politics with a total stranger is always a tricky proposition, but even more so when that stranger is commanding a vehicle that you're a mere passenger in. So when the subject of John McCain's war record randomly came up, I figured I'd test the waters with a relatively innocuous statement.
"I appreciate," I said to Dan as we hurtled down the highway toward the airport, "the fact that John McCain made a great sacrifice in the service of his country. But I don't see how McCain's experience as a POW, despite his campaign's exploitation of it, makes him necessarily more qualified to handle national security and foreign policy than Barack Obama."
Dan glanced up in his rearview mirror at me. Then, with a straight face, he said, "If you don't mind me saying, the only thing John McCain's POW experience says about him is that he knows how to suck dick."
Then he laughed insanely and kept on driving.
And that's why Dan is so cool.
As for Ted Leo And The Pharmacists (and Eugene Mirman and Neil Hamburger, both of whom are also playing The A.V. Club's sold-out DNC party tonight)–more on them tomorrow morning. In the meantime, I'm taking a nap.