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by: Protoclown

Recently I went to see Radiohead play up at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, and it was without a doubt the most horrible concert experience I have ever had. I blame the horrible, wretched little pissant state of Maryland for this. Merriweather is a damned old venue (Hendrix played there), but it's going to be torn down in the near future, and I have to say I'll be glad to see it go. Not only that, but I must insist that the entire state of Maryland be destroyed as well.

The concert was on a Wednesday night, so I'd taken the entire day off work to have plenty of time to drive from Richmond, Virginia up to the show and avoid DC rush hour traffic. There was only one hitch: a friend of mine who works in DC had our group's tickets, so I was going to have to swing up there and pick him up on the way to the show. This would involve some rush hour traffic, but the show was at 6:30 with two opening bands (or so I thought), so I figured we'd still have plenty of time to get there without missing anything important.

Everything was going wonderfully, and despite DC being layed out in such a labyrinthine manner that you'd expect to run into a wandering minotaur, we managed to follow my friend's directions and get to his workplace with relative ease. It was at this point that my friend, let's call him Dead Meat, decided to inform us that he had forgotten the tickets at home and we were going to have to drive back to his home in northern Virginia to get them. Our evening was quickly turning into the plot of a bad Ashton Kutcher movie. After several threats of grievous bodily harm, we were on our way in the exact opposite direction of the concert. This whole little excursion cost us an hour. Much as I would like to blame Maryland for this, even my sheer hatred for that state will not allow such false accusations.

One interesting thing happened on the way up the gigantic traffic jam around DC known as the Beltway that we all mistakenly took for a good omen, which we were desperate for as we were running late. We were listening to a cd brought by the other guy in my car (let's call him Other Guy) by The Persuasions, called "Frankly Acapella", where they do a whole lot of acapella Frank Zappa covers. We had just gotten go the song "You Are What You Is" when in the left lane passed a car with two cute girls, a "Zappa Lives" sign in the back window, and a license plate URWTUIS or some such that was unmistakably an abbreviation of the song we were listening to at that very moment. Holy shit! What are the odds of that?

We then made the rather poor decision of getting off I-95 and taking an alternate route to Columbia, which eventually led to our sitting on the exit ramp to get into Columbia for an hour and a half (I know this because we got through NOFX's "So Long and Thanks For All the Shoes" two and a half times). We even saw people pulling their cars off to the side and abandoning them to walk to the concert. When we FINALLY got to the end of the exit ramp, we saw what was causing the insane delay. Some fuckhead's car had died RIGHT at the end of the exit ramp, and they just abandoned it and left it there! He couldn't be bothered to actually push the car OFF the road so he just left it there and said "Fuck all the thousands of people behind me! I don't want to miss the concert!"

Not to mention the ever-helpful police. They had set up cones in the OTHER lane on the exit ramp so nobody could use it, instead diverting everyone into the lane with the dead car. Fucking brilliant, guys. They were also ALL over the place, I mean cops were everywhere. But instead of actually directing traffic or doing something useful, they were pulling "guard duty" on the parking lot of Merriweather, which was already full anyway. But they made damn sure nobody tried to get into that overflowing parking lot! Maryland's finest, I salute you!

We finally got to the concert (after parking at the mall across the street) and we were confronted with a solid wall of people the likes of which I have never seen. At least not at Merriweather. Most of the time people have room to lay out blankets and sit down on the lawn if they want to. This night they were packed in like sardines. It was like a frat party up on the hill. We managed to wedge our way into the side of the crowd just in time to enjoy two songs before Radiohead left the stage. What the fuck?? A few minutes later they came back out to play the first encore. I was furious. I was really willing the red eyebeams I've always wanted to finally manifest, so that I could cut down the crowd like Cyclops from the X-Men. This was compounded by the drunken idiot who was standing next to me, loudly exclaiming to his friends that he loved Radiohead because they played weird instruments. He then expressed bewilderment at the "strange sounds" that were coming from the guy who was "pounding a keyboard with a
piece of metal" while those of us with brains clearly saw him playing a xylophone on the giant monitor. Fuck the eyebeams, I would have settled for a powerful fart that smelled like rotting flesh at that point.

Oh, and speaking of the monitor it was the only way to see the band at all. At one point I caught a glimpse of Thom Yorke's head through the crowd, and I became excited. I also thought "Damn, that cat's got a BIG fucking head" before I realized that I was actually seeing ANOTHER large monitor at the back of the stage. Once I think I may have actually seen a real member of the band on the stage itself, but it may have also been a speck of dirt that had gotten on my glasses. I'm not really sure.

After hearing a mere eight songs, the concert was over. Then it was time to get the fuck out of dodge. Given that thousands of other people were also trying to leave the city at the same time, we decided to get some dinner to kill time. After all, it was 10pm, and what better time for dinner is there? We wanted to avoid the Maryland drivers as much as possible, because they all drive like they are playing Grand Theft Auto with all the cheat codes activated simultaneously. Either that or they forget they are driving and decide to play the "let's park on the highway" game. Those are pretty much the only two modes of a Maryland driver. It's like someone flipping a switch.

To top things off, we decided to stop by a Wendy's on the way back and get ourselves some Frosties. After all, we earned them. Unfortunately, this particular Wendy's we stopped at only seemed to have the "tastes almost like really shitty cheesecake but actually more like sour milk" flavor, which is odd since Frosties only come in one flavor (or so I thought) and there is nothing remotely dairy in them. In any event, we could only stomach a few bites before we became disgusted and threw them away. I blame Maryland for that. I think the Wendy's was in Virginia, but the shipment of Frosty mix must have come from Maryland. I'm sure of it.

Yes. Yes you should.
Maryland state bird, the Baltimore Oriole, contemplates
taking a huge dump on Protoclown's head just to make
sure that this was one of the worst days of his life.

I finally got home just after 3am, having to get up for work at 7 the next morning. I also blame Maryland for that. I blame Maryland for the big purple bags that are still under my eyes from lack of sleep, making me look like a zombie extra from a George Romero film. I blame Maryland for the fact that I drove a total of 10 hours to see Radiohead play for 40 minutes. I blame Maryland for tacking on a parking fee to the ticket price and then setting up cops outside the parking lot to specifically ensure that I would NOT park in the lot that I had paid to park in. I blame Maryland for global warming and plate tectonics. I blame Maryland for the fact that a hot dog and beer that a coworker who was also at the show bought cost $16. I blame Maryland for the fact that Radiohead started playing at 7:45 because of some supposed local ordinance prohibiting loud noise after 10pm. Mostly I just blame Maryland for sucking. At least it's not as bad as Delaware. I mean, I've never been to Delaware, it could be really cool. But can you imagine it doing anything BUT sucking?

note: Delaware has no sales tax, unlike Protoclown, who adds on an additional 5% for every trick he pulls.

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