After the business meeting, we moved to the adjacent room for the concert of Lady X and the Positive Eigenvalues. We were not supposed to bring alcohol in the conference rooms. There was of course beer at the business meeting, but only because Satish had smuggled it in. But there is a hotel security guy in the hallway, and he should not see us walk out of one conference room and then into another with our beer. And so, following directions given by Satish, a group of distinguished theoreticians, plus me, with their unfinished drinks, takes a back door and tries to get to the next room via the kitchens. This is a worthy start for the rest of the night. (The detour is ultimately unsuccessful, because the back door of the other conference room is locked, so we have to wait for the security guy to leave.)

Lady X is the lead singer, and the band, the Positive Eigenvalues, includes Christos Papadimitriou, Mike Jordan, guest star Anna Karlin, and a number of other Berkeleites (for some reason, all Italians).

They play a number of covers of rock songs that everybody but me recognizes. The crowd of theoreticians sings along, gets warmer and warmer, and starts dancing. The program committee chair surveys the room standing on an eponymous.

Then they play Smells like teen spirit, that even I recognize, a theory pogo breaks out, and those pogoing next to James Lee fly off in all directions. I make my way to the opposite side of the stage.

They also have one original song, titled In Theory. It starts

Picture a carpenter of sorts
he has the flu, he has the blues
he burns his oil every night
all night frustrated and confused

and worst of all he can’t complain
in theory his job is plain

At the end, the crowd keeps asking for encores, and, by the time the concert ends, it is almost midnight.

(Pictures courtesy of Madhur Tulsiani.)

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