Two new music venues at The Wharf provide space for alternative acts

Media Credit: Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

Pearl Street Warehouse opened its doors in October and has been hosting small rock, country, folk, soul, bluegrass and R&B acts ever since.

Updated: Jan. 16, 2018 at 8:57 p.m.

As it continues to expand, The Wharf – the District’s new Southwest waterfront development – is quickly becoming the trendiest spot for musicians.

A large music venue called The Anthem opened in October, but two new smaller music venues have opened just in time for the new year. The two more intimate performance spaces house lesser-known bands in a bar-like setting with new artists rolling through the venue almost nightly.

Pearl Street Warehouse and Union Stage have quickly become part of D.C.’s alternative music scene. Here’s everything you need to know about your favorite little-known artists’ new venues.

Pearl Street Warehouse
Pearl Street Warehouse opened its doors in October and has been hosting small rock, country, folk, soul, bluegrass and R&B acts ever since.

The space – located at 33 Pearl St. SW – was founded by co-owners Nicholas Fontana, Bruce Gates and Henry Gandy, who previously partnered on Cantina Marina, a restaurant and bar that was also located on the District waterfront.

Fontana said the addition of Pearl Street will help contribute to the rapid development of the waterfront area.

“D.C.’s pretty much had a very underutilized waterfront for years and years, so to have a whole new mini city built all at the same time and open at the same time is a perfect opportunity,” Fontana said. “It’s also a great location for getting in and out of the city from any part of town.”

The venue sticks with a vintage Americana theme through its decor as well as its acts. The space combines modern technology with an old school aesthetic with features like high-quality sound and lights corrugated metal, neon signs and a white and black checkered floor.

“We didn’t want it to be honky tonk. We kinda want that Austin, Nashville vibe,” Fontana said. “In the end, it’s just a big old music hall.”

The small space has a capacity of about 250 people at tables around the space and most shows are 21+ unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The venue has a bar with draft and canned beer, wine by the glass and cocktails, but people looking for a pre-show meal can eat in the diner near Pearl Street Warehouse’s box office that is open to the public.

While shows are going on inside the venue, patrons can watch on monitors while they eat in the restaurant. The diner serves breakfast, sandwiches and gourmet snacks for about $10. The hours vary depending on the season. The diner is open from 8:30 a.m. until midnight or 1 a.m. this month.

Some notable upcoming performers include the Season 7 winner of American Idol, David Cook, Feb. 23 and blues singer Robert Lighthouse Feb. 15. Tickets typically cost between $15 and $30, but the venue will host several free shows in the spring and summer.

Morgan Southern | Hatchet Photographer

Union Stage opened Dec. 28 to host musicians from a wide variety of genres just across the street from Pearl Street Warehouse in a basement space.

Union Stage
Union Stage opened Dec. 28 to host musicians from a wide variety of genres just across the street from Pearl Street Warehouse in a basement space.

The three brothers behind Jammin Java in Vienna, Va. and the Miracle Theater on Eighth Street – Daniel, John and Luke Brindley – opened the third venue at The Wharf. Union Stage is about the same size as the Miracle Theater, but nearly double the size of Jammin Java.

The 7,500-square-foot space can hold up to 450 people standing or 225 people in seats. Union Stage does not cater to a specific genre of artists but instead hosts diverse acts from local bands to live recordings of popular podcasts.

On the ground level, Union Stage has a small restaurant called The Taproom that serves a simple menu of five types of pizza (about $12 each), a house salad ($8) and two flavors of sorbet ($5). The restaurant also serves craft beer, coffee and other drinks, and the entire menu Taproom menu is served downstairs in the concert space as well.

Some of the most exciting upcoming attractions are a storyslam from the popular podcast “The Moth” on Jan. 18, up-and-coming indie band Homeshake Feb. 17 and a Caribbean relief concert to benefit hurricane victims Jan. 19. Tickets cost between $10 and $30 depending on the show.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported the hours for the diner located in Pearl Street Warehouse. We regret this error.

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