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9:30 Club

Submitted by on March 13, 2010 – 4:27 PMNo Comment
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815 V St.
Washington, DC

Hours of Operation: Varies per concert

Best time to visit: When a good band is playing

The 9:30 Club is universally regarded as one of DC’s best places to see live music; big enough for well-known bands, small enough to look up their nostrils. More importantly, the beer selection is unlike that of any other concert hall.
Given the wholly nondescript facade on a fairly run-down looking block off of U Street, the 9:30 Club makes a lot of its interior. As gritty and sticky as a concert hall should be, it also has an old theater sensibility. Huge bars reside under the left and right sides of the balcony (with an additional bar) which encircles three-quarters of the hall. A number of frantic bartenders scurry behind each, sorting through the crowd’s requests in waves.
For a more peaceful experience, there is a secluded downstairs bar – virtually a green room, where you’ll sit expecting your musical heroes to join you after the show, which they probably won’t. Yet in itself this would be a great place to spend an evening, if you could get in without paying.
So assume that there’s a band playing that you like. (The club gets all sorts, so someone you’re into will show up sooner or later.) For your sake, a less-popular band would be advisable; large though the club is, it can get full. When it’s full, waiting in line for beer can become a significant time-drain.

But if you’ve decided to live it up and spend your time and money on a beer, there are many that are worth the wait, if not necessarily the seven bucks or so you can expect to pay. Beers from Dogfish, Abita, and Leinenkugel make up a small part of the tap list. More than two dozen beers are available, including Newcastle, Anchor Steam, Pilsner Urquell, and others, changing seasonally.

As you reach the front of the line, a major drawback looms: you’ll probably get your beer served in plastic. Luckily, if you feel this is morally wrong, there are bottles of high caliber to be found. Modelo, Skullsplitter, and several Sam Smith’s varieties are still no bargain, but maybe they’ll let you keep the bottle.

Depending on the event, you may choose not to get plastered. Or, if you’ve already spent your allowance on your ticket, maybe you can’t afford to. So pick one or two beers to try, nurse them through the evening, and enjoy the show.

The 9:30 Club would make a great bar, if they didn’t do such good business presenting concerts. Having one of the fine beers they offer out of a pint glass with some friends would make a nice, low-key evening. Instead, consider the beer – Its quality on one hand, it price on the other – an added attraction at DC’s premiere music venue.

Pros: Great venue for music; impressive beer selection.

Cons: Overpriced; plastic cups

Rating: 3 out of 5