For the live music junkie: The best music venues in D.C. to scratch your itch

9:30 Club
815 V St., NW

When the Foo Fighters came to D.C. last year, could they have played the Verizon Center in front of ten thousand screaming fans? Sure they could have, but instead, they opted to play at the 9:30 Club, D.C.’s most established rock venue. From Atmosphere to The Deftones, touring artists both big and small make a point to stop at this 1,200-person club when they come through town. If you’re a music fan, it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself there. Legendary for its great sound and unobstructed sight lines throughout, you’re guaranteed a good time. Just watch it with the fake ID, and don’t drink if they paint your hands with the underage stamp- they’ll getcha.

Black Cat
1811 14th St., NW

The Black Cat is a great mid-sized venue right on U Street, D.C.’s up-and-coming hipster paradise that has adopted (and perfected) the dirty-but-not-too-dirty aesthetic. Upstairs is a 600-person capacity venue (which hosts such diverse acts as RJD2 and Wolf Parade), and downstairs you’ll find two bars and a smaller venue with a capacity of 200. The club of choice for seeing the city’s best up and coming bands, The Black Cat also hosts trademark dance parties such as “Oops! I did it Again: 2000’s Dancenight.”

Rock n’Roll Hotel
1353 H St., NE

No, it’s not a real hotel. This relatively new venue in Northeast Washington is in the heart of the Atlas District, a hot new area of bars and clubs that has sprung up about eight blocks east of Union Station. Past the faux lobby, it feels like a miniature version of The Black Cat – low ceiling, small stage, and great sound. With a capacity of about 350, it has been drawing national and local acts. Upstairs from the venue is where the ‘hotel’ thing comes in: a vaulted ceiling with guitars hanging from it juts above the bar and pool tables, and themed party rooms (replete with private bars) are available for rental.

DAR Constitution Hall
1776 D St., NW

It’s unclear why, but it takes the average GW student about 2 years to realize that this huge (capacity of 3,000) venue is in fact five blocks from campus. An antique venue with a storied history, it has recently become one of D.C.’s most popular venues for artists such as Death Cab for Cutie, Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, and The Roots. The sound is great and the location couldn’t possibly be more convenient, but it is admittedly a little bit weird to see your favorite rock band fly around the stage while you sit attentively in the rows of red velvet seating. A bit too proper? Maybe, but worth the trip.

Blues Alley
1073 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Considered to be one of D.C.’s premiere jazz clubs, Blues Alley hosts some of the best jazz to come through D.C, including Kenny Garrett, Joshua Redman and Dr. John. The club gets its name from it’s location – it’s entrance is literally down a hidden alley off Wisconsin Ave. The club doubles as a restaurant serving New Orleans style food, and often there is a food and drink minimum required for bigger shows. Shows can get pretty pricey, so it’s best to go with the parents if you can.

1610 14th St., NW

For the jazz enthusiast who enjoys great live music without breaking the bank, H.R-57 is a great club to catch both touring acts and local D.C. jazz musicians. Named after a resolution passed in the House of Representatives that designates jazz as “a rare and valuable national American treasure,” the club also hosts jazz jam sessions every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights where anyone can come in and shed on their instrument of choice. The club also serves up a tasty, inexpensive soul-food combination plate of fried chicken, collard greens and red beans and rice. Best of all, the club has a BYOB (bring your own booze) policy – because, lets face it, nothing goes better with jazz than a six-pack of your favorite brew. n

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