As I slumped back in my chair, exhausted from the six hours already spent on the bus – complete with two-and-a-half hours stuck in traffic – and with at least another five ahead of me, I didn’t expect to find out, that in just over 48 hours I would be able to see some of the biggest names in world entertainment, for free just a 20 minute walk from my apartment. But that is when I found out about the Concert for Valor.

The concert, which featured Eminem, Dave Grohl, Rihanna, Bruce Springsteen, The Black Keys, Zac Brown Band, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Metallica, and Jessie J, and hosts included Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, and John Oliver. It was as bizarre as it was awesome.

A lot of my friends who now live in DC warned me about the potential madness of 800,000 people descending on the place but I thought about how unique an opportunity this was. It wouldn’t be unusual to have any of these acts play back in Edinburgh, the majority have but all of them in the one place at the same time was too much to miss.

The temperature has well and truly dropped here now, but we were given a day off from the blistering cold and it was comfortable enough to stand for those several hours in the elements. The event too was also remarkably well managed, with despite the amount of people, it was well sectioned off so it never got too crowded.

My cell died very early in the evening, but this is the Black Keys sound-check:


As I thought about writing the blog on the concert, I realized that I hadn’t really mentioned music here at all, which is shocking because the scene here is very good. I had expected the city to be lively and eagerly anticipated being able to attend major sports here in DC, but I hadn’t really thought about the potential to see so many world-class music acts.

Within a month of arriving, a host of my favorite bands were playing within stones-throwing of distance of my apartment. Grouplove, the Foo Fighters, Vance Joy – there’s been some fantastic performances which I really didn’t expect to get a chance to see during my time here.

Even the biggest Scottish names are playing closer to where I live here, than they’ve ever had back in Scotland. I just found out that two of my Dad’s former employees’ band is playing at 9:30 club this week. From the U Street Music hall, to the Verizon Center, there’s always something going on and for every taste.

The rest of the week was spent working out Thanksgiving plans, a study schedule and looking at plane tickets home for Christmas. I can’t believe that I’ll be home in a little over a month from now, it really feels like my time here has just begun… Luckily, I have another semester.

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