Around Town: 2017 Venue of the Year @ MGM National Harbor

Deftones @ MGM National Harbor, 14/06/2017
The Deftones perform at MGM National Harbor on June 14, 2017. (Photo by Paivi)

As 2017 closed, quite a few new concert venues opened their doors in the DC metropolitan area. So we got to thinking how concert venues are such invaluable friends to concert attendees (and bloggers)! With the close of the year, Parklife DC would like to start a tradition of recognizing great concert venues with our Venue of the Year Award.

We salute The Theater at MGM National Harbor as Parklife DC’s 2017 Venue of the Year for going above and beyond expectations in its first full year operating at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

From the first time we saw it, we were stuck how The Theater at MGM National Harbor was so brilliantly simple. With its proscenium along the widest side of the room, The Theater invites roughly 4,000 people to enjoy good views from anywhere within its confines. Seating in The Theater is comfortable but it also has the capability to clear the floor of chairs to convert into a general admissions configuration.

The sound and video at The Theater at MGM National Harbor are first rate. Every concert there over the past year has benefited from the venue’s state of the art sound system. Crystal clear video screens carry the action forward from the rear of the stage as well as from the sides. I’ve never experienced a situation where you are forced to watch a video screen instead of the stage, however, as the sightlines throughout The Theater are clear and uninterrupted.

The Theater at MGM National Harbor (Photo courtesy Whiting-Turner)

The staff at The Theater at MGM National Harbor are friendly and effective. They earnestly guide folks to their seats and assist with keeping the aisles clear. Still, the ushers and guards know how to read a room: I’ve seen dancing break out in those aisles. And the staff always react with the appropriate amount of restraint in those situations, allowing the action to unfold when its harmless but moving to curtail it when appropriate.

Getting in and out of The Theater at MGM National Harbor is easy. As it is located on the casino level of MGM National Harbor below the hotel lobby, people can quickly access the restaurant row, the casino, or the hotel above. We particularly recommend grabbing dinner at Fish by Jose Andres or the Voltaggio Brothers Steak House prior to a show.

Now, The Theater does have some of the best security measures I’ve seen for a DC-area concert venue, so it pays to queue up early or to wait until most of the crowd has entered if you want to avoid time in a line. But given the venue has “federal building” levels of security measures in place, staff move patrons through those lines with care and efficiency. As bloggers, we are thankful that The Theater at MGM National Harbor has set a gold standard for press access and procedures for reviewing and photographing concerts.

Over the course of 2017, it has been a pleasure to see quite a few shows at The Theater at MGM National Harbor. Check out our Parklife DC coverage of concerts there with our “MGM National Harbor” tag. You’ll be impressed as to the array of talent appearing at The Theater.

Which brings us to a closing note. With the muscle of the MGM brand, The Theater has been able to bring concert residents from Las Vegas to DC for multiple performances, presenting us with extraordinary opportunities to see talent like Cher and Ricky Martin in a relatively intimate setting. We’ve also covered Tori Amos, The Roots, Joey Bada$$, Logic, Jill Scott, Deftones, Rise Against, Earth Wind & Fire, Duran Duran, and others at The Theater at MGM National Harbor this year. Again, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the intimacy and warmth of The Theater if you haven’t yet seen a show there.

Cheers, MGM National Harbor, and thank you for making 2017 a very good year indeed for concerts.

The Theater at MGM National Harbor (Photo by Tracey Brown)


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