We might not live in Austin or New York City, but that doesn’t mean D.C. isn’t a popular stop for some most excellent music acts. Let The Scene present some of the most popular venues in the D.C. area, both big and small.
The 9:30 Club
815 V St., NW
(202) 393-0930 or http://www.930.com
Metro: U Street-Cardozo (green line)
This venue has deep historical roots in the D.C. independent music scene. Its name comes from the venue’s original address before relocating to its current warehouse location near Howard University hospital. Almost all shows are standing room only, and between the balcony and main floor there isn’t a bad seat in the house.
The club is well known for drawing great acts at reasonable ticket prices, and many shows tend to sell out. Recent past acts include the Fiery Furnaces, Air, Dinosaur, Jr., Badly Drawn Boy, The Killers, Bright Eyes, Doves, Flogging Molly and Rilo Kiley.
Ticket price range: Most tickets go for $10-$25. Very rarely is it necessary to shell out up to $50. 9:30 Club tickets are only available at the box office or through tickets.com.
Hottest upcoming shows: The indie crowd will say “Yes!” to Michigan when Sufjan Stevens rolls in on Sept. 27. Also keep an eye out for Our Lady Peace (Sept. 22), the Decemberists (Oct. 2), the New Pornographers (EDITORS PICK- Oct. 15) and NYC rockers *stellastar (Oct. 3).
EDITOR’S PICK: Black Cat
1811 14th St., NW
(202) 667-7960 or http://www.blackcatdc.com
Metro: U Street-Cardozo (green line)
No-namers and big acts alike have all graced the Mainstage at the Black Cat. Although it doesn’t have a balcony, the barely-elevated stage is perfectly visible from any corner of the room. Downstairs is the Backstage, where shows, soul music dance parties and indie movie screenings are held. The Red Room bar is the popular point of gravitation after performances, although each area of the club has a full stocked bar of its own.
In addition to recent shows by OK GO, Ben Lee, Har Mar Superstar, Bloc Party and Q and not U, one Saturday a month the club hosts the ever-popular Mousetrap, D.C.‘s biggest Britpop dance party. Don’t plan on standing on the wall for that one.
Ticket price range: Cheap. Rarely will entry to a night at the Black Cat cost more than $8-$12.
Hottest upcoming shows: Fall at the Black Cat promises all kinds of goodness with performances by the Lemonheads (Sept. 28), Electric 6 (Oct. 1), Architecture in Helsinki (EDITORS PICK- Oct. 7), Ambulance, Ltd. (Oct. 22), and Local H (Oct. 23).
601 F St., NW
(202) 628-3200 or http://www.mcicenter.com
Metro: Metro Center (red line)
Your standard friendly local arena, the MCI Center seats 20,000 and is home to all those sports teams that D.C. has kicking around (The Mystics, The Wizards and the Capitals). When it’s not made up like a basketball arena or skating rink, it pulls in major acts from all over the place.
Ticket price range: No indie cred here. The masses are at the mercy of Ticketmaster on this one, evil service charges and all.
Hottest upcoming shows: Since getting a ticket to one of U2’s two back-to-back concerts in October might require cutting off an arm and a leg (and even that’s not promising much), settle for when Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails stop by on Nov. 2. Oldies fans will find solace with Elton John (Sept. 10), The Rolling Stones (Oct. 3) and Paul McCartney (Oct. 10).
However, be advised that tickets for the Dalai Lama’s Nov. 13 talk on “Global Peace Through Compassion” are still available, starting as low as $16.
Strathmore Concert Hall
5301 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda, Md.
(301) 581-5200 or http://www.strathmore.org
Metro: Grosvenor-Strathmore (red line)
Founded in and operated since 1981 by an independent, nonprofit organization, Strathmore brings in “major national artists of folk, blues, pop, jazz, show tunes and classical music,” according to its website. It also sells tickets for afternoon tea at the adjoining Strathmore Mansion, which we can only imagine being a lavish way to drop some cash. Its location, just north of the District in Bethesda removes it from city life and makes for a nice evening or afternoon in a different environment. Scared of being lost in suburban Maryland wilderness? Perhaps buying a friend with a car a ticket to the upcoming Sigur Ros performance on Sept. 11 will coerce them into offering a lift.
Ticket price range: The nosebleed seats for most classical performances will run about $35, while the orchestra section and promenade boxes will set you back anywhere from $80 and above, depending on the act. Remember its all for a good cause. And think how nice that luxurious seat will feel!
Hottest upcoming shows: Ravi Shankar on Oct. 16, Kenny Rogers on Oct. 20, Vienna Boys Choir on Dec. 11, Chaka Khan on Jan. 5 and various performances by the National Philharmonic.
1073 Wisconsin Ave., NW
(202) 337-4141 or http://www.bluesalley.com
Metro: Buses 32, 34 or 36 to Georgetown from Tenleytown
Ever wondered why the bridge on Calvert Street is named after Duke Ellington? Because tons of classic jazz greats got their start in D.C. Blues Alley follows the tradition by featuring a rotating bill of top-name jazz musicians in a cozy setting. Past performers include Dizzy Gillespie and Wynton Marsalis. Although its not the cheapest dive in town, the Alley also serves up super Creole cooking and has a full-service cocktail bar.
Ticket price range: Cover prices fluctuate.
Hottest upcoming shows: King James and the Serfs of Swing, winners of The Scene’s impromptu “Best Band Name, Ever” contest (Sept. 6), Brazilian vocalist Celso Fonseca (Sept. 14) and Regina Belle (Sept. 15-18).
Merriweather Post Pavilion
10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, Md.
(410) 715-5550 or http://www.merrieweathermusic.com
Metro: What Metro?
Unfortunately, getting out to Columbia almost certainly means access to a vehicle is needed to see a show at Merriweather, but if you make it out there you’ll find covered sections of actual seats surrounded by an expanse of “lawn,” making for a communal concert-going experience. The acts are all large names who usually sell out.
Ticket price range: Handled by Ticketmaster.
Hottest upcoming shows: Green Day (Aug. 30), The White Stripes, with The Shins and M. Ward (Sept. 27) and Oasis (Sept. 29).
D.A.R. Constitution Hall
1776 D St., NW
(202) 628-1776 or http://www.dar.org
Metro: Farragut West (orange and blue lines)
First Lady Mrs. Calvin Coolidge laid the cornerstone for the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in 1928 using the same trowel that George Washington used to lay the cornerstone at the Capitol in 1793. The National Symphony Orchestra was founded and played there for over 40 years, and National Geographic films were screened inside. Plus, episodes of “Jeopardy!” have been filmed at the D.A.R., upping its cool factor even more. It’s also still considered the largest venue in the District.
Past performers include the Bee Gees, Duke Ellington, Bill Cosby, Rodney Dangerfield and more recently, Ashlee Simpson.
Ticket price range: Talk to Ticketmaster.
Hottest upcoming shows: A ticket to see Dolly Parton on Aug. 23 is $75. If country (and silicone) doesn’t sound appealing, opt for a chill evening with David Gray on Oct. 3, instead.
GMU Patriot Center
4500 Patriot Circle, Fairfax, Va.
(703) 993-3000 or http://www.patriotcenter.com
Metro: Vienna (orange line)
Getting to George Mason University’s 10,000 seat arena is adventure in itself: take the Metro all the way to Vienna, pray to get on right CUE bus and then walk around GMU’s campus aimlessly until seeing something that looks roughly like an arena. But hey, adventures can be fun! And considering big names like the Beastie Boys have graced the stage in the past, making the trek can be worth it. Just be sure to factor getting really, really lost into your travel time.
Ticket price range: Once again, thank Ticketmaster and corporate America for whatever exorbitant fees you’ll be charged to see your fave artists in the flesh.
Hottest upcoming shows: Beck brings his latest helping of funky beats to the floor on Oct. 5. If beats alone are more your thing, don’t miss Gwen Stefani and the Black Eyed Peas on Nov. 5.