Inside D.C.’s new 6,000-seat music venue

Media Credit: Jack Borowiak | Staff Photographer

The 6,000-seat venue opened Thursday with a sold out debut performance by the Foo Fighters.

Updated: Oct. 13, 2017 at 12:25 p.m.

Attendees dodged raindrops and donned ponchos for the official unveiling of D.C.’s latest commercial and residential area, The Wharf, Thursday morning.

The Wharf’s phase one grand opening marked the ribbon cutting for many of the main businesses in the development, including a state-of-the-art music venue – The Anthem. The 6,000-seat venue opened Thursday with a sold-out debut performance by the Foo Fighters. After the opening ceremony, visitors got a behind the scenes look at the new venue.

Upon entering the lobby of the venue, visitors are greeted by drum cymbals suspended like chandeliers from the ceiling.

The main concert area has a spacious general admission section about the size of a gymnasium that will hold half of the venue’s capacity. The large stage is bordered by a curtain and the balcony edges are shaped out of perforated metal with light poking through the holes that change color to set the mood. Chandeliers hang close to the cavernous ceiling above where the audience stands.

The other half of the total occupancy is housed along the upper floors, which includes the venue’s trademarked “super excellent seats.” These seats are placed in sections that jut out and circle the stage so that each seat provides a near-perfect view.

Over the next two months, acts like Bon Iver, Bob Dylan & His Band and even the Pod Saves America tour, dubbed Pod Tours America, will take the stage at the new venue.

The lighting and audio rigs are mobile, so the venue can move the lights and speakers to accommodate smaller occupancies. With that feature, when a show isn’t sold out, the venue can adjust the lights, speakers and stage to create an intimate space for any audience size.

Seth Hurwitz, the founder of a concert production company called I.M.P. that is behind popular D.C. venues like 9:30 Club and Lincoln Theatre, led the tour Thursday morning. While showing visitors around the venue, he said the building was built from the ground up, which is different from other music venues in D.C. that are most often renovated from older buildings.

Jack Borowiak | Staff Photographer

Seth Hurwitz, the founder of a concert production company, led the tour Thursday morning.

When creating the new venue, he sought to provide a home for larger acts to play because big name musicians will sometimes skip D.C. in lieu of nearby cities with larger venues, he said.

“To find something with a footprint this size is hard, there’s not a lot of empty buildings sitting around,” Hurwitz said.

Hurwitz said they spared no expense in making the venue as sound-proof as possible, a necessary feature given the stacked proximity to other new establishments.

​The new development, which has been in talks for more than a decade and finally broke ground in 2014, will be “transformative,” according to speakers that kicked off the unveiling ceremony including Brian Kenner, the deputy mayor for Planning and Economic Development, and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. The new business and housing center holds 53 new establishments, including restaurants, hotels and apartments with waterfront views.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser emphasized at the opening that almost a quarter of the residential developments are for affordable housing and the center brings 6,000 permanent jobs, along with 1,100 construction jobs in the first phase of development, almost half of which went to D.C. residents.

“This is one of the best times in the history of our city,” Bowser said. “We’ve never been stronger.”

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