Now that we have that cleared up, let me address those of you who do remember them. Yes, BNL is still together. Yes, they are still making music. Yes, they still put on one of the most entertaining live shows you'll ever see... with one major exception. They're now touring without co-front man Steve Page.
Since it was one of the first concerts we ever enjoyed as a couple, J and I are big fans of the Barenaked Ladies (see the picture below) . However, we were worried that the experience would be incomplete now that they had parted ways with Steve. Thankfully, those concerns were completely unfounded. This is not to say that there wasn't a noticeable difference, because there was, but the group still has all of the magic that it originally did.
Ed Robertson (the other lead singer in BNL's original lineup) carried a much heavier load of the singing and playful banter that the group is known for. Kevin Hearn was also noticeably more involved. But like I said, the roles had changed but the fun remained. Never was this more apparent than during the end of show mash-up that featured half a dozen current pop hits done in typical BNL silliness. (I would encourage some time on YouTube for anyone interested in a good laugh)
This is not to say that the show didn't display some serious musical chops. As much fun as the guys have on stage, they are still accomplished musicians who tackle complex and very serious topics. It is this contrast of the serious and the silly, the traumatic and the tender, that keeps their portfolio prominently played in our home.
The Merriweather Post Pavilion is located in Columbia, Maryland, about 45 minutes from D.C. I like to think of it as a hippie version of Wolf Trap. Like Wolf Trap, the parking is free (!) and the venue is open air, but Post Pavilion feels like a little gem you stumbled across in the woods rather than a huge, polished venue. As you enter, you pass a mossy pond and signs that tell you Post Pavilion facts like that Jackson Browne recorded portions of Running on Empty here in 1977.
Like Wolf Trap, Post Pavilion has both a huge lawn and covered seating area. With the lawn seats you run the risk of sitting in the mud if a summer thunderstorm strikes. The covered seats are a safer bet, but it was a bit stuffy under the awning. We were pleased with the amount of room between the rows and the sightlines from the seats. Two large video screens in the covered seating area bring you up close and personal. The video screens also provide a forum for text message thoughts before the show (see B's text message above).
You can bring along one sealed or empty water bottle per person (no other outside beverages allowed) and food in "clear, disposable, non-glass containers." While a picnic would've been fun, this wouldn't be a Two DC post if we didn't check out the available food stands. After finding the BBQ stand to be closed, B opted for a gyro which was surprisingly flavorful and served on thick, soft pita bread. I went with the standard chicken tenders and Boardwalk Fries option which was not interesting but tasty. Because this is Maryland, they have large Old Bay containers sitting around so you can douse your food in salty, orange goodness.
Ever since I read an Express article about Maryland Snowballs last summer, I've been dying to try one. I finally got the opportunity at Post Pavilion. For the uninitiated, a snowball is a shaved ice treat topped with marshmallow cream. It was just as creamy and delicious as I hoped it would be. We also snacked on a bag of fresh-popped kettle corn that lasted us through the show and made a fun snack to bring to work over the course of the next week.
While the food options weren't particularly unique, we did appreciate that they were reasonably priced (at least as far as concerts go). Also, when parking is free, it's much easier to fork out some cash for food.
As Labor Day is fast approaching, the opportunities for seeing music outdoors are slipping away. Lucky for you, a musical secret garden is waiting just up the road.