Musicians of all stripes had the chance to audition Tuesday for the “MetroPerforms!” program, which places volunteer artists at stations around the transit system. One band that didn’t bother to try out? I’m A Circle. The rockers’ goal isn’t really to entertain riders, but to warn them.
The first track off their debut EP is “Redline,” an ode to the oldest of Metro’s color-coded train routes. And the aggressive hook — “God damn you, Red Line /You really screwed me this time” — could easily have been written this week about the two computer malfunctions that shut down the entire Metro system on Saturday, or the separate issues that forced the closure of the Dupont Circle stop twice on Monday.
Inspiration actually came from an incident in October, says Dave Circle (all of the bandmates claim “Circle” is their last name). The 42-year-old bassist got stuck in a tunnel on his way to meet up with his girlfriend. “It seemed like forever. I was watching other people cursing, trying to use their phones. It was claustrophobic,” he says. “I thought, ‘This is a song.’”
His bandmates agreed. “They ride the Red Line and have had trials and tribulations,” says Circle, who recently moved near Forest Glen. He grew up in the D.C. area and still remembers the thrill of taking the Metro with his dad on the day it opened. After being away in Las Vegas for four years, he came back to find out his beloved transit system wasn’t quite the same. “It’s not working anymore,” he says.
That’s all reflected in the tune, which Circle says mimics the feeling of his October Metro ride. “The song starts out in a rush. You’re trying to get somewhere,” he says. Suddenly, the insistent beat stops, making way for wailing guitar solos that signify the despair of a passenger unable to reach a destination. There’s also a slight echo effect to evoke being stuck in a tunnel.
The lyrics don’t resemble poetry as much as they do whiny tweets: “I got stuck on a train. I don’t normally complain. But it was lame. Such a shame. Feel my pain.” At least they’re printable — unlike the name of a certain ditty by some Bloomingdale housemates who decided to call out Pepco’s lousy customer service in a YouTube video. (Google “How hard can it be Pepco.”)
The two songs seem to be forming the basis of a new artistic movement in Washington. It’s not really protest music; it’s complain music. And it’s pretty darned catchy.
You can hear I’m A Circle perform “Redline” live at Friday night’s EP release party at Chief Ike’s Mambo Room ($5, 8 p.m.; 1725 Columbia Road NW), or listen to a recording at Cdbaby.com/cd/imacircle.