Best concert venue: 9:30 Club

Media Credit: Krishna Rajpara | Photographer

Bill and Hillary Clinton chose the 9:30 club as the venue for a private party they threw in 2001.

Location: 815 V St. NW

Reader’s Pick: 9:30 Club

From the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana to Kacey Musgraves and Rainbow Kitten Surprise, the 9:30 Club has hosted some music powerhouses in its intimate yet energetic environment.

The concert venue was founded in 1980, hosting just six concerts in its first two years operating but has put on more than 2,700 since. The 9:30 club tends to attract smaller, independent artists, providing the concert-goers get an interactive, immersive experience with the artist, earning it The Hatchet’s pick for best concert venue.

The 9:30 Club shares an owner with The Anthem, but the experiences at the two venues couldn’t be more different. The massive size of The Anthem attracts more mainstream artists, and the line to get in is long, the crowd can be overwhelming and you usually don’t have a great view of the artist.

While the 9:30 Club’s original venue was a cultural center for The District’s emerging punk-rock scene in the 1980s, the steady increase in the club’s notoriety and performances led to its 1996 shift to a location with more capacity. By that time the club had hosted artists including The Ramones and REM, even featuring the Smashing Pumpkins in its opening show for the new location.

Today, the 9:30 Club continues to host a variety of artists and events, it even served as the venue for a private party the Clintons threw in 2001.

The outside of the club is simplistic in nature, echoing similar brick stone buildings without a window in sight. Yet the interior of the club really shines through with the ensemble of lighting and sound systems, including a unique rolling stage experience that lets the 9:30 Club create a more intimate setting.

The 9:30 Club continues this simplicity in its presentation of artists, relying on the musicians and crowd to set the mood and ambiance rather than over-the-top special effects, but the stage is usually decorated minimally to fit each headliner’s vibe. The 9:30 Club’s emphasis on the artists makes for an open and inclusive atmosphere that can highlight an audience’s love for the artists at its core.

Aside from the main stage and the performances of the various artists hosted by the 9:30 Club, the venue also runs two full service bars and operates a merchandise booth for artists to stock with their merch each show.

The next time you’re looking for concert tickets, check if your artist of choice will be making appearance at the 9:30 Club – you won’t regret it.

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