Dress up with The Dude as ‘The Lebowski Experience’ returns to DC

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'The Lebowski Experience' (Part 1)


"The Lebowski Experience" performs at Pearl Street Warehouse. (Josh Brick)(Courtesy Josh Brick)

Last year, they banded together to mark 25 years of the Coen Brothers movie “The Big Lebowski” (1998).

This Saturday, “The Lebowski Experience” celebrates its own fifth anniversary as the live concert tribute to the film’s music returns to Pearl Street Warehouse in D.C., fittingly on 4/20.

Chris Boesen plays The Dude, an L.A. slacker mistaken for a millionaire as he seeks restitution for a rug peed on by debt collectors, all while trying to find the millionaire’s missing wife between frames of bowling. The Dude has become an alternate persona for Boesen, officiating weddings as a “Dudist” priest practicing Dudeism.

“When we started this, it was just a fun little project among friends. We thought it would be a laugh. Nobody would get the joke,” Boesen told WTOP. “It turns out there’s such a huge community of folks that really love the movie and love the characters and created a religion around it that it just turns into this festival-like atmosphere with people in costumes. It’s just sort of strange and exciting to be in the center of all that as The Dude.”

Jackie Treehorn is portrayed by Louis Bayard, an author of such historical fiction as the 2006 novel “The Pale Blue Eye,” a mystery riff on Edgar Allan Poe that became a 2022 film starring Christian Bale and Gillian Anderson.

“The thing about ‘Lebowski,’ it was tough for me at first because it was a noir that doesn’t want to solve itself, it’s a mystery that won’t get solved,” Bayard told WTOP. “It took me a while to warm to it, but I think they were ahead of time in some ways with that movie. Now, people are still catching up to it and it definitely has a huge cult out there, but it is a cult, there are people who aren’t ever going to warm to this movie because it’s just so weird!”

The set list includes favorites from the movie soundtrack, including Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me,” Kenny Rogers & The First Edition’s “Just Dropped In (to See What Condition My Condition Was In)” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Run Through the Jungle,” as well as The Gypsy Kings’ cover of “Hotel California” by The Eagles.

“Obviously the songs that everybody knows, Bob Dylan, Kenny & First Edition for the dream sequence, but there’s other stuff that’s not quite rock ‘n’ roll,” Boesen said. “There’s proto-punk with The Monks, then you get some jazzy stuff with Nina Simone and ’50s exotica with Yma Sumac, it’s a huge variety of music. The stuff that people know and sing along with is Creedence. … We also do some Eagles, which is difficult for me because ‘I hate The Eagles, man.'”

Of course, the audience is encouraged to dress up just like the band members on stage.

“The whole cast, everybody’s in costume but also in character. So while we’re playing the music, we’re also doing bits from the film,” Boesen said. “The highlight is usually the costume contest because I bet a third or half of the people come to the show in costume. … Last year I think the costume contest was won by a guy dressed as a rug.”

“He tied the room together,” Bayard joked. “This is some of the best musicians in the DMV area. These are extraordinary players, so even if you don’t want to dress up and do the cosplay, you can come enjoy a really great show.”

Find ticket information here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'The Lebowski Experience' (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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