Rock On: D.C.’s Venerable 9:30 Club Still Going Strong

Metric at the 9:30 Club

Soft rock star: Canada's Emily Haines and Metric on stage at the 9:30 Club. (boboroshi via Flickr)

The 9:30 Club has been around quite a while for a Washington, D.C., rock venue. It’s even been around long enough to have moved. In rock-club years, that counts for something.

In fact, it’s been around for, get this, three decades!

In my opinion, the 9:30 Club is probably as responsible, indirectly at least, for the continual rise of the U Street Corridor in Northwest (or comeback, whatever you wanna call it) as any other business or civic organization.

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Long before it was fashionable, and even when it wasn’t that safe or sanitary (I remember seeing a rat scurry along in an alleyway when I attended some long-forgotten show years ago), the 9:30 Club – both in its current location and the old one – packed the kids in to see the best in alternative rock back when it really was alternative to the mainstream.

The list of artists who’ve played there reads like an alt-rock who’s who: R.E.M., Supersuckers, Sonic Youth, Weezer and Smashing Pumpkins. (Incidentally, the Pumpkins opened the current location in 1996, back when they were briefly the biggest band in the world. Guess who’s back for more 15 years later on October 17?)


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9:30 Club
815 V St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001

While the place might have lost some of its cool cachet to the Black Cat or even tiny Velvet Lounge, it’s still the biggest club player in the city, though along with alt and indie acts, it’s widened its net a bit to catch some other flavors.

Still, it’s indie rockers and shaggy heads who’re catered to on most nights – that and college kids who may or may not be cool (depends on your definition), but who are good-looking and ready to spend some money and energy being part of something larger than themselves.

The 9:30 Club offers shows nearly every night of the week. Taking a look at its loaded calendar for September proves no exception, with the likes of Buckethead, Elbow and Mogwai performing. Further down the road, the nightspot will welcome The Bangles, Loretta Lynn, GWAR and Willie Nelson.

If that’s not variety, I don’t know what is.

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While live music and grown-up drinks are the reason for the season, the 9:30 can and will feed you too. Like a lot of places, they’ve jumped onto the whole free range, preservative-free, health-conscious food train, offering a menu full of hummus, Veganini, Pizzanini and Weinernini, though curiously, no linguini. But the joint makes up for it with the Great Balls of Liar … The 9:30 Vegetalian Meatball Sub.

But you’re not there to eat. You’re there to let your hair down, have a pint or two or six, and who’s counting? I’ll take a cab or Metro home … and what are you, my mom? Shut up!

If you’re a rock fan or just a person in their 20s or 30s (heck, you can be 90 for all we at ApartmentShowcase.com care) who wants to experience some tribal communion, you should check out this place.

It’d be a shame to rent an apartment near U Street and never make it out here.