Category Archives: TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live Shots: The 50th anniversary of Big Star’s #1 Record at Union Stage, 12/7

PHOTOS: RACHEL LANGE | DC’s Union Stage is an unassuming venue hidden in the maze of walkways that weave between buildings on the Wharf. Compared with the flashier Anthem, with its blazing marquee and baroque chandeliers, the vibe at Union is refreshingly chill. There’s no line at the door, security is a nice man in a beanie who casually checks IDs and handbags, and the lobby is sparsely occupied by people in Big Sar T-shirts pre-gaming with pints and pizza at tiny high-top tables. It has the homey, familiar feeling of a neighborhood bar where everyone’s a regular, even if they’re not.

Downstairs there’s more beer, more pizza, an unobtrusive merch table, and a few dozen people juggling cups and plates and comparing notes on what brought them here. Folks who don’t know each other slap backs and crack jokes like they do. For the most part they seem to fall into two categories: people old enough to be Big Star’s contemporaries (the majority) and people young enough to be partly responsible for the popular rediscovery of the band over the last three decades (a significant minority).

As the room fills it also shrinks, the crowd pushing up against a stage that seems to too small for the sheer number of instruments there. Besides a small army of guitars waiting in the nonexistent wings, there are at least six microphones, a keyboard, and, of course, the drum kit. It’s pleasantly cramped, and conspicuously Brechtian. Nothing is out of sight or out of mind, including the stage crew and guest performers who blithely come and go through the rear doors and curtain, or linger on the edges of the light to watch the action onstage or on the floor. It feels like a culty underground club show, which feels exactly right.

Despite the charmingly modest digs, Big Star’s #1 Record 50th anniversary tour is a star-studded affair. This iteration of the lineup includes—besides last surviving founding member Jody Stephens—Jon Auer of the Posies, Wilco’s Pat Sansone, Chris Stamey (whose musical endeavors and collaborators are too many to list), and R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, with Low Cut Connie’s Adam Weiner guesting on keys and vocals. The band plays through the entire album in their first set, before returning after a brief intermission for a more eclectic second set, which leans heavily on the late Chris Bell’s catalog. It’s one part tribute act, one part supergroup.

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TVD Live Shots: Suede and Manic Street Preachers at the Fillmore Silver Spring, 11/18

PHOTOS: RACHEL LANGE | It’s a frigid November evening and the line outside the Fillmore Silver Spring stretches down the block and around the corner. Ticketholders squeeze through the doors one at a time, torn between anger and amusement at the exhaustive absurdity of the security checkpoint. It takes less time to get into the Vatican. Bags are dumped out, bodies patted down, each individual key on every keyring inspected with meticulous attention. “I’ve been waiting in this line longer than I’ve been waiting to see Suede!” someone jokes, loudly. A few people laugh, but others are beginning to grumble. They can hear the music from inside already, and they’re justifiably pissed to be missing it.

Some of them have waited decades for this. While the Manics have made their way Stateside a couple of times in recent memory, Suede hasn’t made landfall (except a one-off appearance at Coachella in 2011) in a quarter-century. The fans are out in full force, and while some are local to the DMV, others have traveled from much further afield. They have plenty of time to swap stories while they wait to have their keys and their tickets and probably their fillings examined. A couple on my left tells me they drove four hours to be here. They, at least, don’t seem to mind waiting a little longer.

When I finally make my way through the doors, the vibe inside is, well, manic. Nobody’s here just for the hell of it. Most of the crowd is about the same age as Suede and the Manics themselves, but they all seem to be seventeen again for the evening. They’re double-fisting 40s, sucking on vape pens somehow smuggled past the gestapo, hollering along to every song, and underscoring every riff with roars of adulation. Welsh flags wave from the balcony. A man wears an empty cup on his head like a party hat. People snap selfies like downtown tourists in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The guy beside me, already too drunk to stand up without leaning on his girlfriend or the bar, is criminally tone deaf but he’s having so much fun it’s hard to fault him for it. “This is the best night of my life,” he announces, to no one in particular.

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TVD Live Shots: Mercyful Fate with Kreator and Midnight
at the Fillmore Silver Spring, 11/8

In the early ’80s, a new form of heavy metal music emerged with the first wave of black metal bands. Characterized by a thrash or speed metal sound, the lyrics of black metal songs were defined by the use of anti-Christian and Satanic themes. The term “black metal” was coined by the English band Venom, with their 1982 album Black Metal, and the first wave of black metal bands came from Europe. Mercyful Fate, hailing from Denmark, was part of this first wave.

After a career spent influencing bands like Metallica and Slayer, Mercyful Fate went on hiatus in 1999 and, after regrouping a for a few performances, returned to performing on a more permanent basis in 2019. In October, Mercyful Fate kicked off their first official North American tour since 1999 and brought the black metal party to the Fillmore Silver Spring on Tuesday night.

The Fillmore was packed to the point of making me feel claustrophobic and was filled with fans who ranged from the (very) old school to kids with corpse paint. With beer flowing from the bars, it was carefully controlled chaos. At 9:20, the curtain dropped from the stage revealing an elaborate stage set, complete with an upside down cross. The band (comprised of founding guitarist Hank Shermann, drummer Bjarne T. Holm, guitarist Mike Wead, and bassist Becky Baldwin) took their positions on stage first.

King Diamond, in full makeup and a horned mask (he’s thought to be the first in metal to don corpse paint), then floated down a staircase and the crowd went wild. The performance lasted just over an hour with a set list of only eleven songs, with a large chunk coming from their 1983 album Melissa. It was a memorable and historic show, a fantastic performance by one of heavy metal’s greatest bands.

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TVD Live Shots: Iron Maiden at Capital One Arena, 10/23

Iron Maiden, the heavy metal titans from East London made Capital One Arena in Washington, DC their home last Sunday evening for their Legacy of the Beast World Tour 2022. Playing to a sold out crowd of 20,000+, Steve Harris and the boys filled every seat clear up to the nosebleed sessions.

Fortunately, no matter where you were in the arena on Sunday night, there’s two things that were undeniable. First, the energy (and volume) of Iron Maiden’s performance was a spectacle in itself. Secondly, the electricity that the crowd gave back to the band was uncanny. It’s a rare gift when these elements come together—and Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson owns it, feeding the crowd exactly what they wanted with seemingly endless stamina.

In distinctly good form, Iron Maiden blazed through the evening’s setlist which spanned material both old and new(er). One song after another, the audience hung right with the band, singing along with every word of every song. The magic didn’t stop there. An Iron Maiden show wouldn’t be complete without tons of props, background changes, large scale pyrotechnics, fog machines, bone chilling theatrics, and enough raw pageantry to make even John Cena jealous.

Iron Maiden wasted no time bringing their beloved mascot, Eddie to the stage to join his bandmates. During the very first song of the set, “Sanjutsu,” Eddie appeared in full Samurai armor wielding a blood covered sword. He took turns battling band members one by one before he retreated backstage. Not to worry though, Eddie would appear throughout the night in some form or another.

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The Fall 2022 DC Record Fair in Photos

PHOTOS: RACHEL LANGE | The DC Record Fair returned to Eaton DC on October 16th, 2022. The usual attractions—drinks, DJs, and the best of the waxmongers from all around the DMV—took over the second-floor exhibition space, with a special preview of what’s to come at next month’s Capital Audiofest, which runs from November 11–13th at the Twinbrook Hilton in Rockville.

The District always brings out a strong showing of hip-hop, blues, soul, funk, and punk, and a few hours’ crate-digging doubles as a crash course in the sonic history of the city. However, the 2022 turnout skewed younger and more diverse than ever before, and sellers came prepared with a healthy inventory of alternative, indie, pop, and new releases.

It’s a snapshot of the vinyl resurgence in action, veteran collectors bumping elbows—literally—with teens and twentysomething neophytes on the hunt for the freshest pressing of their favorite artist. But classic acts and albums are finding a new audience, too. A young couple on my left is delighted to find one of the two dozen copies of Bridge Over Troubled Water floating around, while a redhead with a nose ring on my right wants the Replacements and only the Replacements.

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The DC Record Fair returns to the Eaton DC with a special Capital Audiofest preview, 10/16

Back in its 13th year is DC’s twice yearly record dig, The DC Record Fair which comes to Washington’s vinyl and community-centric Eaton Hotel on Sunday, October 16, 2022. As with each event, we’ll have 35+ vinyl vendors from up and down the East Coast, the special DJ line up—and hey, keep your wallet in your pocket for this one as the event is free of charge for the entire day.

In addition, we’re pleased to welcome an advance on-site preview of November’s Capital Audiofest, Washington DC’s premier high-end audio festival. As such, expect thousands of records and hi-fi options for your enjoyment of them.

Our friends at the Fillmore Silver Spring put together the above feature a little while back that provides a handy overview of the event for the uninitiated.

THE DC RECORD FAIR FALL 2022 DJ LINEUP:
RWeOnTheAir: 11:00-12:00
John Murph: 12:00-1:00
Cinema Hearts: 1:00-2:00
Pharoah Haqq: 2:00-3:00
DJ Test Patterns: 3:00-4:00
Brandon Grover / We Fought the Big One: 4:00-5:00

Mark your calendars! 
THE DC RECORD FAIR

Sunday, October 16, 2022 at the Eaton DC, 1201 K Street, NW DC
11:00AM–5:00PM—and free all day!

RSVP and follow via the Facebook invite!

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TVD Live: Tav Falco and His Panther Burns at The Runaway, 9/21

Rock ’n’ roll is a sound and it is a style, and Tav Falco’s been straddling both since the late 1970s.

The latest version of Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, on a cross country tour, stopped at The Runaway in DC for a midweek show that was strangely mesmerizing and altogether rocking thanks largely to his straight-outta-Rome backing trio led by Mario Monterosso. At 77, Falco doesn’t look all that different than he did when Alex Chilton joined forces with him to form Panther Burns back in Memphis. Minus his pencil mustache, he’s maintained his black pompadour, and certainly his style.

With only a subtle croon, he does a lot with his moves, taking the stage with maracas—that forgotten engine of old Bo Diddley songs—before slowly putting on his Hofner guitar to add rhythm to the stinging lead that Monterosso had already nailed down (the length of time it took him to get the guitar over his head and adjusted was the only giveaway to his advancing age).

There’s a lot to be said about the guy’s taste. Panther Burns got its name after a legendary cat set afire on a Southern plantation, and the band has similarly mined the swampy and mysterious sounds of the American South for its inspiration.

There was so much ground to cover, Falco played exactly nothing from his latest release, the 2021 EP “Club Car Zodiac” on ORG Music. Instead he dived into his story about a New Orleans voodoo queen and his version of the classic bolero “Sway” before the somewhat surprising, straight ahead version of the Honeycombs’ 1964 chart topper “Have I the Right?” with a 1-2-3-4 countdown right from the Ramones. Then, as if another inspired turn of a jukebox, over to the 1950s country standard “He’ll Have to Go,” before his own throbbing tune of existential anguish, as he described it, “Born Too Late.”

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The DC Record Fair returns to the Eaton DC with a special Capital Audiofest on-site preview, 10/16

Back in its 13th year is DC’s twice yearly record dig, The DC Record Fair which comes to Washington’s vinyl and community-centric Eaton Hotel on Sunday, October 16, 2022. As with each event, we’ll have 35+ vinyl vendors from up and down the East Coast, the special DJ line up—and hey, keep your wallet in your pocket for this one as the event is free of charge for the entire day.

In addition, we’re pleased to welcome an advance on-site preview of November’s Capital Audiofest, Washington DC’s premier high-end audio festival. As such, expect thousands of records and hi-fi options for your enjoyment of them.

Our friends at the Fillmore Silver Spring put together the above feature a little while back that provides a handy overview of the event for the uninitiated.

Mark your calendars! 
THE DC RECORD FAIR

Sunday, October 16, 2022 at the Eaton DC, 1201 K Street, NW DC
11:00AM–5:00PM—and free all day!

RSVP and follow via the Facebook invite!

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TVD Live Shots: Meshuggah with Converge and Torche
at the Fillmore Silver Spring, 9/20

Swedish metal legends Meshuggah, after having to postpone original tour dates, finally landed at the Fillmore Silver Spring Tuesday night, assaulting the stoked audience with their brand of extreme metal. Joining them on their US tour are Converge and Torche.

Three bands on the bill means the night got started early. Torche (Steve Brooks, Rick Smith, Jonathan Nuñez, and Eric Hernandez) set the tone for the crowd with their heavy, grinding sound—everyone in the still-assembling crowd was banging their heads in unison. Torche sounded great; sadly, this is to be their last tour. Earlier this year, singer-guitarist Brooks announced he’d be leaving after touring as support for Meshuggah this year. Later, it was confirmed that the band would be calling it quits entirely. Torche’s last album was 2019’s Admission.

Sandwiched in between acts was Converge (Jacob Bannon, Kurt Ballou, Nate Newton, and Ben Koller). Formed in Massachusetts in 1990, Converge’s roots are in both hardcore punk and heavy metal, and they are considered one of the earliest and most influential metalcore bands. Vocalist Bannon paced the stage like an animal, barely pausing so we could get our shots, and swung the microphone cord around like a whip (I got knocked in the head a few times). The crowd responded with gusto and expressed thanks in the form of headbanging and crowd surfing.

Finally, Meshuggah. The anticipation in the crowd was palpable and rightfully so. Formed in 1987, Meshuggah is known for their innovative style and the band has been identified as among the most important bands in metal. They’ve even inspired a metal sub genre—djent—characterized by its complex rhythm patterns.

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TVD Live Shots: Lake Street Dive with Allen Stone at the Anthem, 9/9

Lake Street Dive sold out yet another venue when the band stopped by Washington, DC’s Anthem last Friday night, offering up a night of jazz and soul-inspired music to the happy and enthusiastic crowd.

Supporting Lake Street Dive on this tour is Washington state native Allen Stone. It’s not the first time Stone has treated Washington, DC to his old school funk and soul sounds; he’s headlined in town before, having most recently played the Lincoln Theatre last December and the 9:30 Club just before the pandemic shut everything down.

So the crowd was already happy to see him and eager to hear his gorgeous voice, often compared to Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. This was my first time seeing Stone; the voice stopped me dead in my tracks. Stone’s latest album, released in November 2021, is APART, featuring acoustic versions of fan favorites spanning his catalog. Friday night, Stone filled The Anthem with his sweet melodies and even sang his thanks to everyone present, from the crowd, to the bartenders, and even the venue’s custodians.

The Brooklyn-based, multi-genre band (Rachael Price, Bridget Kearney, Mike Calbrese, Akie Bermiss, and James Cornelison) packed much into their set—plenty of the setlist came from their 2021 release Obviously (“Hypotheticals,” “Hush Money,” and “Same Old News,” among others). In addition, the set was sprinkled with cover tunes—the Jackson 5’s “Want You Back” made an appearance, as did Carole King’s “So Far Away,” and Bonnie Raitt’s “Nick of Time.”

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TVD Live Shots:
At The Gates, Municipal Waste, and Enforced at the Fillmore Silver Spring, 8/29

The unofficial last week of summer kicked off with a treat for metal fans at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland. Swedish death metal legends At The Gates performed their 1995 album, Slaughter of the Soul, in its entirety and brought along Municipal Waste and Enforced for the ride.

Virginia-based Enforced took the stage at 8PM, assaulting the still assembling crowd with its thrash metal. Formed in Richmond in 2017, Enforced (Knox Colby, Will Wagstaff, Zack Monahan, Ethan Gensurowsky, and Alex Bishop) came together from the ashes of other hardcore and punk bands. Their latest album is Kill Grid, released last year, said to be a “nine-song cluster-bomb of thrashing death on apathetic times.” Vocalist Knox Colby marched back and forth across the stage like a beast, an animal roaring at the crowd. I can honestly say this was one of the most intense sets I’ve seen in recent years.

Virginia was represented yet again with Municipal Waste, who treated the Fillmore to a whopping nineteen song setlist, crammed into 45 minutes. The thrash outfit (Tony Foresta, Ryan Waste, Philip Hall, Dave Witte, and Nick Poulos), which formed in Richmond back in 2000, traffics in aggressive yet fun material. Labeled “party thrash” by the media, the band includes songs like “Beer Pressure” and “The Art of Partying” in their setlist, along with new tunes from their latest album, Electrified Brain, such as “Demoralizer” and “Electric Brain.”

The Monday night, first-day-of-school crowd had to be nudged a bit by vocalist Foresta to get the circle pit and crowd surfing going, but they got up to speed in short order. If you’re unfamiliar with Municipal Waste, it might be easy to write off their music based solely on the party hardy subject matter of their songs. That would be a mistake. Underneath that partying is heavy, hard driving, ass kicking musicianship. While Municipal Waste counts bands like Anthrax and Slayer as influences, I also picked up a heavy dose of Judas Priest in their sound; if you know me at all you know this is high praise on my part. Municipal Waste picked up a new fan in me Monday night; I’m sorry I forgot to buy a shirt!

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TVD Live: The Decemberists with
Jake Xerxes Fussell
at Wolf Trap, 8/24

The Decemberists, the charming chamber folk-rock band from out of Portlandia, became famous for live performances as elaborate and detailed as their ornate songs, staging obscure battles or sea scenes with sudden appearances by man-eating whales into their shows.

There was none of that Wednesday as the band took the stage at Wolf Trap in Virginia, two years after they were originally supposed to play there, during the time when everything disappeared. The title of the current excursion, “Arise from the Bunkers! 2022” was just about the most florid part of the tour. It was enough to be present, at long last, alive and performing before thousands of fans in the Virginia woods, even as they have given up for now the costumed accessories or even the notion of promoting any particular release — I’ll Be Your Girl, their eighth full length album, came out a full four years ago now.

But certainly the audience had no complaints about their straightforward approach to their solid, 17-song, 105 minute show. The band has been sprinkling its sets this summer with selections from throughout its career (though sadly, nothing from 2015’s What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World). “Hope you like the old ones,” said frontman Colin Meloy, as keyboardist Jenny Conlee strapped on her accordion and Chris Funk sat down to the pedal steel guitar for “Shiny,” the oldest song from their repertoire, from an an album that was mostly demos before they had a full recording contract. They followed it, though, with a new song, about meeting someone at a burial ground.

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TVD Live Shots: Duran Duran with Nile Rodgers & Chic at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 8/23

It’s been a busy year for Duran Duran. Last October, the legendary band (Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, and Roger Taylor) from Birmingham, England released their 15th album, Future Past, one that they say is a nod to their past while embracing their future. It makes sense. Duran Duran have always had an eye to the horizon; they were famously among the first to embrace the music video. That willingness to look ahead has contributed to their longevity as a band, but mostly they just make great music that stands the test of time.

But I digress. Back in June, the band performed at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebration outside Buckingham Palace, celebrating the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Last month, Duran Duran kicked off the 2022 Commonwealth Games with a headline performance in Birmingham. To top it all off, Duran Duran—one of my all-time favorite bands and my first true musical love—were announced as one of 2022’s inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That honor will be formally bestowed on them November 5th in Los Angeles.

Amidst all of that, the band found time for a tour to promote the newest album; the Future Past tour made a stop at Maryland’s Merriweather Post Pavilion Tuesday night. Duran Duran brought down the house with their mix of old and new. I expected nothing less.

As in the past, Nile Rodgers & Chic joined the tour as support. What a pleasure and a privilege it is to see Rodgers perform. The man’s career has been simply mind boggling—the record producer, composer and co-founder of Chic has contributed to records that have sold over 500 million albums and 75 million singles worldwide. He co-produced Duran Duran’s 1986 album Notorious, and remixed “The Reflex,” their biggest-selling single. Grammys? He’s got three of them. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? He was inducted in 2017. If you’ve ever liked a great pop/ funk/ disco/ soul song that was made at any point since the ’70s, chances are Nile Rodgers had a hand in the creation of it—the man’s abilities are just jaw dropping.

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TVD Live: Blondie
with The Damned at
the Anthem, 8/21

The crowd lined up outside the Anthem to see Blondie on a Sunday night in DC is about what you’d expect, which is to say eclectic. Some are there for the opening act, The Damned—for instance, the thoroughly bald but Viking-bearded man wearing his sunglasses inside, or my friend Marcus, a less conspicuous veteran of the punk scene.

The Damned themselves have aged with unexpected grace, despite a few tired jokes about not remembering the Sixties even if you were there. Dave Vanian’s vampiric melodrama and the mad scientist antics of Monty Oxymoron make it strongly reminiscent of The Rocky Horror Picture Show—as camp as it is macabre. Vanian’s voice isn’t what it was, but his performance is thoroughly committed and the set so thoroughly entertaining that it’s impossible to care if “Eloise” is missing a few fermatas.

Except for a nondescript white man memorable only because shitfaced and the woman in the ten-gallon hat who appeared to be his date, a good time was had by all. When the Damned left the stage, a slight shift in audience composition sent the Vikings back to the bar and brought GenX girls’ nights out and Blondie die-hards in old tour T-shirts to the front.

The third most populous group was young women somewhere between teenage and twenty-something, who’ve discovered in Debbie Harry a crush, a role model, or both. I’m one of the odd ones out—too old to get carded but too young for GenX, inkmonkey at large and garden variety vinyl dork, with more than the obvious Blondie records in my collection.

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TVD Live: Elvis Costello with Nick Lowe and Los Straightjackets at Wolf Trap, 8/18

It’s gratifying to have any Elvis Costello concert come around after two years of pandemic postponements. But the one that finally took the stage at Wolf Trap in Virginia last week had the added advantage of being opened by Nick Lowe, his longtime colleague, producer, and influencer.

It was a version of “Surrender to the Rhythm” originated by Lowe’s old band Brinsley Schwarz that was playing as Costello appeared on stage. Costello’s version came on his latest recording, marking 50 years since he and a friend recording under the name Rusty tried to release a record of such covers they did at the time.

Costello told a story about approaching Lowe back then as fans and hopefuls and being shooed off. Eventually Lowe would produce six Costello albums, play bass on a dozen of his songs, and otherwise cross paths through the years.

It was Lowe’s ringing “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding?” that was the climax of the rewarding show with the two trading its memorable, ever-timely verses. Lowe had come back on stage (in a third dashing outfit) to duet on “Indoor Fireworks,” a Costello song that Lowe had released a year before its author did on The King of America. Frankly their harmonies weren’t great, but it was almost touching to see the two together on stage making an effort.

Costello’s headlining set was a freewheeling one for the huge crowd (who looked to be averaging the singer’s age, which turns 68 this week). As such, they wanted to hear songs that ignited his aggressively creative career. They were rewarded with the frequent concert-starter “Accidents will Happen” (likely because of its irresistible opening line, “I just don’t know where to begin”). But also “Green Shirt” and, before long, “Mystery Dance.” In between, he’d fit in songs from this century that few seemed very familiar with, such as “Hetty O’Hara’s Confidential” and “Either Side of the Same Town.”

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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