The 9:30 Club turns 40 this Sunday, May 31st, which is MONUMENTAL.
In their own words, that first night open at 930 F Street NW looked a little something like this:
“The nation’s capital was still scarred by domestic upheaval that left its downtown with burned buildings, squalor, and rats. Lots of rats. In other words, the perfect place for a rock club to stuff in 199 sweaty kids. The NY new wave band Lounge Lizards (whose name was misspelled on the ticket) was the first headliner, but their opener – the very first band to take the stage – was the D.C. band Tiny Desk Unit. The synthesizer player, Bob Boilen, needs no introduction to anyone familiar with the music industry. He’s the beloved, fedora-wearing fellow who created National Public Radio’s All Songs Considered and NPR’s enormously successful Tiny Desk Concert series.”
There have been countless legendary performances in the time since then, whether at the OG location, or at the current V Street NW location, which opened in 1996.
The first time I personally went to 9:30 was in 2004; I was 15 years old, and Rooney and Phantom Planet were performing. I actually remember very little about the performance except for that afterward, we waited for a really long time to have Robert Schwartzman sign my shoes outside the tour bus. #COOLTEEN
I quickly caught the 9:30 bug, though, and kept going back (even though it was over an hour away from my house) for shows throughout high school and college, and even after my move to NYC. And while I’ve only gotten glimpses (v. epic ones, mind you) of 17 of the venue’s 40 years in business, I feel super grateful that I’ve been able to witness so many incredible shows thanks to the strength of this space.
I, for one, cannot wait to get back and celebrate properly when we’re able. For the time being, though, there are some solid socially distant ways to celebrate:
- We’ve got a whole huge treasure trove of photos and words from 9:30 shows over the years, so cruise the tag on BYT for a hefty dose o’ nostalgia!
- (And here’s a recap of 9:30’s 30th Anniversary // TIME FLIES!)
- NPR is doing an All Songs homage to 9:30 Club’s 40th Anniversary on Saturday, May 30th! They’re going to be resurfacing material from 100 of the concerts they broadcast there between 2005 and 2016, so prepare for everybody from Toots and the Maytals to Sonic Youth to Sleater-Kinney to The Black Keys to The National to…well, you name it, basically. (V. AMPED FOR THIS.)
- Starting Sunday, May 31st, you can head over to the 9:30 website for new feature “This Day in 9:30 Club History”, an exploration of the venue’s most notable shows from the past 40 years.
- You can also snag this dope as hell 40th Anniversary Tee via the merch department!