Rams Head Live (Photo by David LaMason)
Rams Head Live! has been around since 2004, but it feels like it’s been around for much longer. Since the closing of Hammerjacks the first time in 1997, there have been few places in Baltimore with the capacity of Rams Head that brings in some big (and future big) names in music with acts like the Beastie Boys, Lizzo, Jay-Z, and the Black Keys.
Betty Who performs at 9:30 Club, a NIVA member, in 2017. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), whose members, employees, artists and local communities are facing an existential crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, yesterday sent a letter to Washington leadership proposing solutions to address the unique and dire situation facing the industry.
The Anthem (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
On Oct. 12, 2017, the Foo Fighters headlined the first night at The Anthem at the shiny new Wharf development, and nothing in DC concert was ever the same again.
Promotions company IMP, the owners of 9:30 Club, had an ambitious goal. The principals would build a tremendous theatre to hold 6,000 seats in the newly recapitalized southwest neighborhood, providing ample space for bands that appreciate a general admission experience but might be too big for one night at 9:30 Club.
It was a smashing success.
National Independent Venue Association just formed and already has more than 450 charter members in 43 states, including 9:30 Club in D.C., First Avenue in Minneapolis, Chicago Independent Venue League, World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, Pabst Theater Group in Milwaukee, Red River Cultural District in Austin, and Exit/In in Nashville.
Pearl Street Warehouse (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Pearl Street Warehouse, located in The Wharf at DC’s Southwest waterfront, could just as easily be at home in Nashville. When I walk up to it, I certainly feel as if I’m off the side streets around Lower Broadway, perhaps around the corner from Acme Feed and Seed along 2nd Ave.
As it happens, Pearl Street Warehouse keeps the vibe going with its selection of touring arts performing country, folk, and Americana.
Songbyrd Music House (Photo by Ben Eisendrath/ Instagram+Twitter: Insomnigraphic/ GrillworksBen)
For music lovers, Songbyrd Music House feeds the body, mind, and soul.
The versatile music venue is divided into three distinct parts — a restaurant, a cafe, and a theatre. In any one of these spaces, you can find music to comfort your ears as well as food and drink to slake your appetite.
The Ottobar (Photo by David LaMason)
There have been few places that have been around in this town as long as the Ottobar.
Union Stage (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Union Stage is perhaps the most pleasantly surprising music venue in DC.
Opened at The Wharf, located in southwest DC in December 2017, Union Stage was founded by brothers Jonathan, Luke, and Daniel Brindley, who have owned and operated Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Virginia, since 2001.
If you’ve never been to Union Stage, you might wonder if it radiates the same chill coffee house vibes as Jammin’ Java. To its credit, the 7,500 sq. ft. subterranean venue does its own thing and does it with style.
9:30 Club (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Places have power.
At the very least, entering particular locations steeps you in the sense of the place. Your mind becomes open to the possibilities of what that place has to offer.
Nowhere is this truer than 9:30 Club, the most renowned of DC’s music venues. When you enter 9:30 Club, you’ve entered a place wired for performance, and you feel it right away.
The Metro Gallery (Photo by David LaMason)
Baltimore has been host to some legendary musicians and, I’d say, just as legendary music clubs. In addition to being a gallery space for the visual arts, the Metro Gallery, which is a mixed media space in the heart of Baltimore’s Station North Arts District, has been putting on some of the most eclectic performances by the best artists — local and international — you’ve ever heard of (or shortly will).