Dismemberment Plan, D.C. post-punk idols, reunite behind 'Emergency & I' reissue

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 21, 2011; 7:34 AM

As if being invited to a super hush-hush reunion show isn't enough, Jason Caddell offers me his leftovers.

"Cold tater tots?" he asks, weaving through the crowd at Galaxy Hut, the cozy Arlington nightspot where his band, the Dismemberment Plan, is about to launch a hotly anticipated reunion tour with a secret Saturday-night gig.

Tables and chairs have been cleared out to make room for 80 invited guests - not so much a dance floor as a space for oh-my-God-I-haven't-seen-you-in-10-years hugs. The Dismemberment Plan's members aren't the only ones reuniting tonight.

Fans will converge in much greater numbers when the Washington post-punk quartet performs this week in celebration of "Emergency & I," its increasingly legendary 1999 album, just reissued on vinyl.

Among the performances: a Thursday appearance on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon," a Friday show at the Black Cat (sold-out) and a double-header at the 9:30 Club on Saturday and Sunday (also sold-out). Then up the East Coast (Philly, Boston, New York), over to Japan (Kyoto, Nagoya, Tokyo) and back to the states (Seattle, Chicago).

After hours of practice in drummer Joe Easley's basement, tonight is the final run-through.

"It's kind of like kid baseball," frontman Travis Morrison tells me before the show. "Once the games start, no more practice."

At 8 p.m. sharp, Morrison and his bandmates claw through the crowd, take their places in front of Galaxy Hut's broad front window and dive into a 21-song dress rehearsal.

Just like the Toyota Priuses and Blue Top cabs zipping down Wilson Boulevard on the opposite side of the glass, memories start racing past.

From its 1993 formation to its 2003 breakup, the Dismemberment Plan was a culty blog band before we knew what a blog was. I gleefully drank the Kool-Aid: one packet of Prince, two cups Fugazi, one gallon of De La Soul, and stir.

And while many fans' devotion to the group borders on religious, I must express mine in the form of disclosure: In my college years, the Plan invited my old band on tour. I turned 21 opening up for them in Hoboken, N.J. And when they split up, bassist Eric Axelson sold us their tour van, a 2001 Ford Econoline with a CD player and working AC.

But we roll deeper than that. The Dismemberment Plan opened the third punk show I ever saw - a barely attended gig in December 1995, the waning days of the old 9:30 Club.

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