Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Where to Rock Out in the District

Until Saturday, I had only left the beltway twice in 2012 - both times via an airplane headed to the South. So, you can imagine how often I've ventured out to Jiffy Lube LiveWolf Trap, or Merriweather Post Pavilion to see a band in concert this year. Exactly never.

I'm not saying this is a good thing (in fact, it's pretty damn depressing), but I can say that I haven't missed out on the opportunity to rock out. Because there are dozens of great concert spaces within the district, hosting names both big and small, there's little need to go very far to satisfy your musical cravings.

Rather than draw you an exhaustive map (you can work the Google on your own), I thought I'd share just a few of my favorites - they're sure to become yours too!

Mike Doughty at the 9:30 Club
in November 2011.
Source: ME!
The 9:30 Club is the most notable, and I hope I'm not the first to tell you this. It's known as one of the best clubs in the country and is a favorite stop for many top artists. There aren't any bad seats in the house. Technically, there aren't any good seats either - it's standing room only (except for the VIPs on the upstairs bar stools). Still, pick any spot away from that smelly guy (you know who I'm talking about), and you'll have a great view of the stage.

My first 9:30 concert, more than a decade ago, was Good Charlotte. "Walking on the streets of D.C., on the East Coast where I live..."

Ok, now I feel old ... but at least that means I can now take advantage of their great beer menu!

Kingsley Flood at The Black Cat in July 2012.
I was there but this isn't mine. Source

Down the street and around the corner is the Black Cat, whose multiple stages tend to attract more indie acts. For a smaller venue, the sound is big. My tip: about twenty feet straight out from center stage is a large air vent - stand here and hog the cold air!

A hard-to-beat backdrop for the Court Yard Hounds
(Yeah, I had to Google them too.)
Sixth & I, a working synagogue, is definitely one of the more unusual options, which makes it one of my favorites. If you haven't been, GO!

If Jazz is more your speed, then Blues Alley and HR-57 are about as close to NOLA's Preservation Hall as you can get without leaving D.C. I haven't been to HR-57 since it moved to its second H Street NE location, but I checked and it's still BYOB. Tickets aren't expensive and the corking fee is only $3 per person - considerably cheaper than most nights out in the district!

Where's your favorite venue to catch a show?

Rock on,


  1. You're forgetting:

    Rock & Roll Hotel
    Red Palace
    U Street Music Hall
    Bohemian Caverns
    Subterranean A (although I think they just had their last show there)
    Lincoln Theatre
    Howard Theatre
    The Hamilton (if you like sitting around for shows and/or middle-aged people music)

    Inside the Beltway but not DC:
    Galaxy Hut
    The Birchmere
    Fillmore Silver Spring

    Outside the Beltway:
    Jammin Java
    The State Theatre

    And I am inevitably missing some in there as well.

  2. I didn't forget them, but they are great options as well!

  3. Such a fun post! The backstage at Black Cat is great for intimate shows as well as Hill Country BBQ :)

    1. And we have a winner for best commenter name!