All words: Jessica Garson
All photos: Stephanie Breijo
To me, the one thing that is emblematic of summer in D.C. is Fort Reno. I grew up in the suburbs and started to attend shows at Fort Reno when I was in high school. What I love about the series is that it’s a place to hear music where nobody is trying to sell me anything. The experience is all about seeing a good local band and catching up with old friends and the first show of the season last Monday night was no exception.
When I first started seeing shows at Fort Reno, Fugazi played the last show of the summer every year, and when I was older it became the Evens, both of which feature Ian MacKaye. This year the Evens played the first show of the summer though last summer the Evens were noticeably absent from the Fort Reno line-up. Usually three bands play at Fort Reno on a given night; this time it was just one.
The husband and wife duo of the Evens is the perfect fit for the first show. I think I’ve seen Ian MacKaye and Amy Farina at every Fort Reno show I’ve been to. They decorate the stage as if it was a living room and they are inviting you into it.
What I love about seeing the Evens is the way that Ian MacKaye encourages you to participate. He mentioned several times during the set that “we’re going to have a show” and the “we” is not just himself and Amy; it’s you the audience member as well. You get dragged into and the act of seeing of show and it is not just a passive act.
Ian always brings up an issue that outrages him at his shows. On Monday night it was the issue of “murderous flying robots,” otherwise known as drone warfare–he does it in a way that is unoffensive but strong, like he was an outspoken guest at a dinner party.
The Evens played all of my favorites including “Wanted Criminals” and “If It’s Water” and I usually don’t sing at shows but while seeing the Evens, I felt like it was the right thing to do. At one point he made us sing “Shelter Two” with the chorus “It’s all downhill from here” and when we were not loud enough he made us to do it again. In 2011 when the Evens last played Fort Reno, he made us sing the song “Mount Pleasant Isn’t” with the chorus “The police will not be excused, the police will not behave.”
Ian at one point marveled at how odd it was that we were all sitting in a field looking at a random platform. The simplicity of people gathering just to watch bands hints at why Fort Reno has become an event that I look forward to all year. To me Fort Reno feels like one big family reunion. I now come with a blanket and plenty of food from the Whole Foods around the corner.
For weather updates or other breaking information, contact the Fort Reno Concert Line at 202-355-6356.