DC at Night

DC at Night

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Rocking at the 9:30 Club

It can get wild at the 9:30 Club, but they do offer earplugs for sale
The Washington DC area has several distinctive music venues. There are landmarks like the Birchmere, the longtime home of alt, roots, folk, country, and blues. There are halls now restored to their former glory like the Howard Theater. There are new locations, like the Hamilton, created from the cavernous basement of an old Borders store.

But none have quite as storied a history as the 9:30 Club, located in the musically hip U Street corridor in northwest DC.  Earlier this year, Pollstar named the 9:30 Club as the music nightclub of the year. It was 5th time the the venue has won the prestigious award. Last year, Billboard gave the 9:30 Club its top club award based on total attendance. It has been one of the top-attended clubs in the world for years.

Founded by Dody DiSanto and Jon Bowers, the 9:30 Club was the home for alternative, punk, and Go-Go music in D.C. during the early 1980s. The club's name was derived from its original street address, 930 F St NW, as well as the original show starting time of 9:30 p.m. The new 9:30 Club opened at its present V Street location in 1996. The opening night show was headlined by The Smashing Pumpkins.
Railroad Earth live
Tonight, I attended my 1st 9:30 performance when I accompanied my South Jersey friend and former teaching colleague Tarin Mason to see one of her favorite bands, the blue-grassy, Celtic-tinged, jamming Railroad Earth.

Even though I wasn't familiar with the songs, I enjoyed the performance which sounded like a cross-pollination of the Grateful Dead with Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Breakdown Boys. As befitting a band that has become a staple of the summer festival music scene, there was a ton of tie dye draped over many members of the noodle dancing crowd.

As for the club itself, it was crowded. The show was a sellout and empty space was hard to find. There are no seats, which was a plus for the spinning, weaving noodlers. The sightlines are great with the best vantage points for those who don't want to be directly in front of the stage available in the upstairs section. The bar was busy all night.  The club has a strict policy - you will be carded at the door, even if you are a 60-year-old attending a show with a friend younger than your son. So make sure to bring ID.

Tales, Tips, and Tidbits
If you want to take in a concert at a specific DC venue you can always check the venue website. But, if you want to seek out all the options, here are 2 good websites. The 1st is Eventful.com.  The 2nd is Songkick.

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