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As you may have noticed, our 3rd annual D.C. Emerging Artists Super Sampler extravaganza takes place this weekend at the Howard Theatre. We obviously want you to come to that show, not only because we are great at throwing parties, but because you should actively support your local artists. Without art (specifically the musical variety) D.C. would be a soulless hole politicians lived in part for of the year and that would be terrible. So don’t just show your love to our thriving music scene once a year, show it every goddamn week. Check out all the house / DIY / small venue places you can. Before the bands you love headline 9:30 Club and Howard and Rock & Roll Hotel, they’re in venues much smaller and much more intimate. Support your scene and it will support you back.

Black Cat Backstage
Metro Stop / Address: U Street / 1811 14th Street NW
Age: All ages, if under 18 please be accompanied by an adult
Capacity: 80-200 depending on seats
What to expect: A much smaller space than their main stage, the backstage is downstairs next to the Red Room.
Average show price: Free-$15
Notable shows you may have missed: Some low-fi punk, Chain and the Gang
Upcoming shows: The backstage at Black Cat is one of the cheapest places to see local bands, watch local film screenings and burlesque (especially since Red Palace is closed). If you’re into something softer, check out Bellows (August 12th), who were recently featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts. -Maddie Clybourn


BDU House
Metro Stop / Address: Ask for address
Age: All ages
Capacity: 85
What to expect: DIY house shows, super underground, hush hush.
Average Show Price: Depends. Bring cash.
Notable shows you may have missed: Static Scene + Boris Milic + Pendrifter, Beasts of No Nation, The Holy Mess, Polyon
Upcoming shows: BDU House is another sparkling example of the D.C. area DIY movement recently picking up full steam. House shows are happening everywhere right now, and I can’t think of a more exciting time to be in DC where it feels like a full on punk resurgence is boiling as we type this guide. You can’t find BDU house on Facebook or any other social media, and they certainly have no website to go off of. This place is mostly word of mouth. You’ll hear about show details from the bands themselves so keep your eyes peeled on this one and if you end up at BDU house, be respectful to the hood and it’s neighbors. -Maddie Clybourn

Comet Ping Pong
Metro Stop/Address: Tenleytown-AU / 5037 Connecticut Avenue NW
Age: All ages
Type of Venue: Pizza Café and Ping Pong Palace
Capacity: 150 (or eight simultaneous pizza parties)
What to expect: Touring and local bands, amazing pizza
Average show price: $10-12

Long a bastion for touring bands, local acts, pizza lovers, families and ping-pong enthusiasts, the eclectic atmosphere fostered by Comet Ping Pong has proved its mettle and lasting resilience time and time again. For over a decade now, the Chevy Chase dining room and performance slash ping-pong space in the back have showcased the weird, the punk, the rock, the indie, and the experimental that D.C. and the eastern seaboard has to offer. Sasha Lord’s booking prowess, the undefeated combination of great pizza and beer, and the resolute group of artists, families, and neighbors that call Comet home will assure the continued success as one of the most unique venues in D.C. -Josh Phelps


Metro stop / Address: U Street / 1940 9th St NW
Age: Varies with show, most all ages
Type of venue: nightclub, bar
Capacity: about 200
What to expect: Cheap happy hour, lots of local DJ’s, unpretentious staff, decent bar menu and a welcoming atmosphere, small (but solid) rooftop space.
Average show price: free-$25

The first time you go to DC9 it feels like someone is letting you in on a secret that somehow reached everyone but you. It’s a second-floor venue, sandwiched between a great bar with the greatest and greasiest food imaginable and a really lovely roof that should be your first stop upon the arrival of t-shirt weather. The room itself fills up quick no matter who’s playing, and since the stage is barely raised two feet, you might be better off watching the gig on the giant analog projector than trying to crane your neck in between the pack of six foot dudes in front of you (why do they always travel together?). But also, because the stage is barely raised two feet, you get to basically look an act in the eye, and there is a level of intimacy here that a venue even one size up can’t provide. DC9 tends to be a last step before a bigger stage like 9:30, so catch your favorites before there’s a physical barrier between you. -Tam Sackman


Dew Drop Inn
Metro Stop / Address: Rhode Island Avenue / 2801 8th St NE
Ages: 21+
Capacity: 80
What to expect: Rock and roll
Average show price: $5-10

From the outside, Dew Drop Inn looks like an architectural anomaly that definitely has no business still standing. The inside of Dew Drop Inn reminds me of The Alibi Room from Shameless and I like that a lot. Bar venues are often hit or miss, but Dew Drop Inn is always a hit in my book. The naturally low light creates automatic ambiance and everyone I have ever met there is incredibly kind. The rooftop is a great place for little acoustic shows as well. -Allison Desy


The Dougout
Metro Stop / Address: Rhode Island Avenue / 1498 Douglas Street NE
Ages: All ages
Capacity: 80
What to expect: Shoegaze, alt rock, good vibes
Average show price: $5-10
Notable shows you may have missed: Speedy Ortiz, Krill
Upcoming shows: Two Inch Astronaut (August 16)
The Dougout has all the tropes of a good DIY space: sticky floors, 1950s wood paneling and no barrier between the band and the audience. The small space gets a lot of up and coming bands as they break from their original local scenes, like Krill and Speedy Ortiz, but it is strictly a basement space so it can get pretty loud and crowded. Plus if you do go, bring donations for the touring bands (don’t be a jerk). -Connor McInerney

Electric Maid
Metro Stop / Address: Takoma Park / 268 Carroll St. NW
Ages: All ages
Type of Venue: Community meeting space a.k.a. a single room storefront
Capacity: 80
What to expect: Some weirdo, hippie Takoma Park antics
Average show price: Free – $10
Notable shows you may have missed: I don’t really know. You tell me.
Upcoming shows: Your friend’s little brother’s teenage rock band.
This place embodies the ethos of Takoma Park. Anyone and everyone is welcome here. This is where my first band played. This is where all my friends’ teenage garage bands played. There’s nothing to this place other than a stage and four walls. There also used to be a busted-ass orange plush couch. That couch is probably long gone. At least I hope it’s long gone.

Fort Reno
Metro stop/address: Tenleytown-AU / Corner of 41st and Wisconsin Ave NW
Age: All ages
Capacity: 300? 500? 10,000? It’s in a field.
What to expect: Punk, local acts
Notable shows you may have missed: Incredible Change, Polyon, Fugazi (in 2002)
Upcoming shows: Check back next summer
Lots of space to sit on the grass, lots of local acts, and it’s always free. It’s been a fixture of summer in D.C. for a while and hopefully will continue. You’ll have to wait until next year to attend another show. -Connor McInerney


453 Florida Avenue
Metro stop / address: Shaw-Howard U / 453 Florida Avenue
Age: All Ages
Capacity: 60-80
What to expect: Alt-rock, twee, Babe City
Notable shows you may have missed: Go Cozy, Sealab
Upcoming shows: Bueno, Witch Coast, August 14th.
David Lesser of BRNDA hosts shows at 453, and therefore the small house space on Florida sees a lot of Babe City’s roster coming through. That being said, they’ve hosted a number of shows from different scenes throughout the eastern seaboard, like Cigarette and Bless, so they keep things interesting. Much like Babe City and Above the Bayou, space is limited so if there’s an out of town group you’re jonesing to see, be punctual.

Gypsy Sally’s Vinyl Lounge
Metro stop / address: No Metro because Georgetown doesn’t want you to visit / 3401 K St NW
Age: 21+
Type of venue: Venue
Capacity: Roughly 100
What to expect: Folk, jam bands
Average show price: No cover

Escape the world of chubby shorts, fragile masculinity, and Lilly Pulitzer vomit and come to this very groovy spot for Georgetown! Gypsy Sally’s is a wonderful escape by the waterfront having an unassuming exterior with a unexpected flashback interior, it’s a must see even if its just for open mics. They’ve got a cute little VW bus and a wall of vinyls they play in the least pretentious way possible (cough Songbyrd cough). No where else have I been given the opportunity to jam to a full Jonny Cash album while drinking at the bar. It’s not the biggest stage but there’s real nice classic rock vibe all around that gives the space a very friendly feeling. There is also a much larger stage that Gypsys has resurrected some of the great like the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd with the cover bands as well as other like minded bands that come through. The vinyl lounge is always free with shows happening multiple days a week and its an amazing spot for locals to come show their stuff at an open mic. -Nicolla Etzion

Hole in the Sky
Metro stop / address: Rhode Island Avenue / The alley between 4th + 5th and W + V.
Age: All ages
Type of venue: DIY Space
Capacity: Roughly 150
What to expect: Art, rock and IDM
Average show price: $5-10
Notable shows you may have missed: Two Inch Astronaut, Polygon, Green God, Artshow_13: Going Out of Business
Upcoming shows: Turnip King, Bless, Teen Liver (August 9)

I am partial to anywhere with a pinball machine, but that’s not the only reason why Hole in the Sky is cool. With non-residential DIY spaces closing left and right around the city, HITS is a diamond in the rough. I have been to both visual art shows and concerts here and truly feel that the space itself plays a crucial role in the experience. Where else are stark white walls acceptable at a DIY show? -Allison Desy


Metro Stop / Address: Clarendon / 2832 Wilson Blvd Arlington VA
Ages: 21+
Type of Venue: Restaurant/Bar/Music venue
Capacity: 180
What to expect: Local and touring bands of all genres, but mostly rock, bluegrass, blues, singer-songwriter, etc. Music made with instruments by people who play instruments. Also festivals and tribute shows. Tickets are sold at the door (very rarely in advance), cash only.
Average show price: $8-12
Upcoming shows: The Beanstalk Library with Quiet Hollers and Miss Shevaughan and Yuma Wray (August 8th).
My first trip to Iota was in November 2013 to see These Future Saints (now disbanded), and it’s been my go-to ever since. I’ll stop by on a whim on a weekend night and have been consistently impressed by the caliber of artist onstage. It’s an intimate space without being cramped. Plus it’s low key and the people who work there are super nice. The venue is unassuming from the street, but it’s without a doubt the best live music spot in the area. The tickets are usually $12 or less for three bands. They’ve also got great food (the fries; put them in your mouth hole), and while it’s mostly standing room for live shows, there is also a lot of seating at either of the two bars and around the perimeter of the space. Plus an enclosed patio at the front where you can watch hooligans stroll by, or the recently opened bar and patio in the back alley. -Melissa Groth

Jammin Java
Metro Stop / Address: Not Metro train accessible /  227 Maple Ave E Vienna
Age: All ages
Type of Venue: coffeehouse type music venue
Capacity: 200
What to Expect: chill vibes, all ages, the suburbs
Average Show price: free-$75
Notable shows you may have missed: Ballyhoo! are frequent reggae/punker performers from Aberdeen, MD
Upcoming shows: One of the few all-ages venues we featured on this list, although you’ll have to venture out to the burbs. It’s a place that welcomes all – the children can get a cup of coffee while the adults imbibe. JJ books a lot of folky, bluesy groups like our recently interviewed Annie Stokes as well as oddball acts like The Doubleclicks. This might be a place you land once you’ve stopped caring about being young and cool. But since nobody’s cool, venture out to Vienna once in awhile. -Maddie Clybourn



Joe’s Record Paradise
Metro Stop/Address: Silver Spring / 8216 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, MD
Age: All ages
Type of Venue: Record shop
Capacity: 50ish
What to Expect: Come in, hear some music, buy some music.
Average Show Price: Free-$5 (donations to bands are always appreciated)
Notable shows you may have missed: Record Store Day in April is the best.
Upcoming shows: Check their FB page for rolling and sporadic events.
The Vinyl resurgence may be in danger, but the neighborhood record shop serves as more than just a place to pick up where Echo and the Bunnymen left off. Your local record store is a pillar of culture within the community. Some of my fondest musical memories are from sitting on the floor of my college town record shop, nodding along with my friends in support of local and passing bands. Joe’s Record Paradise is no exception, hosting a variety of acts ranging from your neighborhood teenage punk band to rotating DJ sets (check out their lineups from previous Record Store Days). -Maddie Clybourn

Luce Foundation Center for American Art
Metro Stop / Address: Gallery Place – Chinatown / 8th and F Streets, NW.
Age: All ages
Type of Venue: Museum
Capacity: 500
What to expect: Everything and everyone
Average show price: Free!
Notable shows you may have missed: Baby Bry Bry & the Apologists, Paperhaus
Upcoming shows: First week of September
The Luce Foundation is kind of a mixed bag in terms of specific genres of music they have perform, but it tends to oscillate between well-produced acoustic and experimental electronic. In terms of local acts, they’ve featured bands like Young Rapids, Tomás Pagán Motta, and Olivia Neutron-John. The space is absolutely beautiful and has a much higher capacity, allowing local bands to play in a more polished space than the house show circuit. -Connor McInerey

The Pinch
Metro stop / Address: Georgia Avenue-Petworth or Columbia Heights / 3548 14th Street NW
Age: 21+
Type of venue: Dive bar
Capacity: 60
What to expect: Dark noise and shades of hardcore
Average show price: $10
Notable shows you might have missed: Teen Mom, Lubec, Swings
Upcoming shows: Beheading the Prophets (August 8th) Shark Week (August 17th)
The Pinch probably hosts the widest range of bands within the alternative rock subgenre-sphere. On one hand you hear a lot of D.C. fuzz that you might encounter at any other DIY space, but more eclectically you hear a lot more hardcore and metal than is typically heard within the scene. Which is great if that’s your preference, because, combined with the classic dive-y nature of the bar/restaurant, you really can’t get a better venue. The main downsides of the space is the limited capacity and the fact that sometimes the shows are not all-ages. -Connor McInerey


Slash Run
Metro Stop / Address: 201 Upshur St NW
Age: All ages
Capacity: 30
What to expect: Great burgers, great beer and stupidly good whiskey
Average show price: $5-$10, although they are not very pushy and it is easy to accidentally not pay

Slash Run is D.C.’s perfect small venue. Following in the footsteps of DC9 (but with far less space), they combine fun local and non local bands with really good food, beer and whiskey. Chill back at the bar and drink something craft and delicious or get all the way up front and dance until you need to refuel with a burger, either way you’re going to have a good time. It doesn’t hurt that Slash Run features such a weird variety of bands (leaning toward punk / metal / whatever) that I always walk away discovering something new. -Kaylee Dugan

Smash! Records
Metro stop / address: U Street / 2314 18th St NW
Age: All ages
Capacity: 30
What to expect: Proto-punk, Punk, Post-punk, Pop Punk
Notable shows you may have missed: Katherine, Homosuperior, DC Zinefest

I will always be indebted to Smash! Because that is where I got my very own copy of Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. Smash is just as cool of an art space as it is record/vintage junk shop. The red and black color scheme screams “trashy punk charm” in a way that makes me feel very at home. Though the space is snug, it makes for a really intimate setting with house show vibes. Their dedication to local art and music is very honorable and results in the coolest collection of zines in the area. -Allison Desy


Metro Stop / Address: Columbia Heights / Woodley Park 2477 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Age: All ages
Type of Venue: nightclub, bar
Capacity: about 200
What to Expect: hip-hop, indie rock and soul on the rise
Average Show Price: $10

Still relatively new-ish Adams Morgan venue/bar/cafe/restaurant/record shop Songbyrd has filled a niche gap in DC’s scene: the space between house venue and small room. Kind of like Comet, in a way, but more centrally located for most, it’s easy to begin or end your night at a Songbyrd show and continue onwards without a trek to the other side of town. The bookers manage to maintain a diverse roster that covers any genre you might desire (and some you didn’t even know existed) as well as some well-curated theme nights. There’s always space at the back of the room to take a breather. And when there’s not a show, there’s a nice little selection of records to browse as you wait for your shitty friends to get there for brunch 20 minutes late.  -Tam Sackman


St. Stephens
Metro Stop / Address: Columbia Heights / 1525 Newton St NW, Washington, DC 20010
Age: All ages
Type of Venue: Church
Capacity: about 280
What to Expect: punk charity shows with a tie to Positive Force
Average Show Price: $5-10. Donations for the most part.
Notable shows you may have missed: Two Inch Astronaut, Pygmy Lush, Baby Bry Bry & the Apologists, Damaged City Fest (annual event), DC Zine Fest
Upcoming shows: Boardroom Heroes (August 15th) -Clarissa Villondo


U Street Music Hall
Metro Stop/Address: U Street / 1115 U Street, NW
Age: Varies with show, most 18+
Type of Venue: Dance hall, concert venue
Capacity: 400
What to expect: Mostly DJ’s, dance parties and dancey things. A lot of great local acts open up for national tours.
Average show price: $10-20
Notable shows you may have missed: Pretty much any local DJ opening act.
Upcoming Shows: Jermaine Crawford (August 8th), Rock Creek Social Club 5 year anniversary with Spinser Tracy (August 11th)
Back in the day when I lived closer to Baltimore, I went to Sonar for my local dance needs. Sonar is shut down, and thankfully U Hall opened to fill the void. I’ve seen so many DJ’s at this place, it’s hard to keep track, but I’m always impressed and surprised by the local acts who come through to open for bigger tours. U Hall also has their fair share of regulars in the crowd, so its easy to become friendly with other patrons, talk music and dance it out. -Maddie Clybourn



The Velvet Lounge
Metro Stop / Address: U Street / 915 U Street NW
Age: Varies with show, no all ages, most 18+
Capacity: 200
What to expect: No online sales, tickets are at the door, cash only.
Average show price: Free-$20

“You can park near there, it just might get stolen.” A true and fair warning from D.C.’s own artist Justin Jones, uttered sometime not far from the turn of the century when I first stepped through Velvet Lounge’s doorway into the glow from their signature neon light. A lot has changed since then. Where you might have found a gentleman hawking his wares in the shadows on a back seat is now the path to the requisite bar patio. The price of a cheap light beer may have gone up a buck. Fortunately, what hasn’t changed is the dark, gritty dive atmosphere serving up a cheap place to drink and dance every weekend with a smattering of bands tossed in the mix every week. Entrenched in the shadows of new D.C. concrete and glass, Velvet will always prove you don’t have to be overwrought to be badass and fun. -Josh Phelps


The Void
Metro Stop / Address: College Park? It’s easier to drive.
Age: All ages
Capacity: 40? 50? Infinite?
What to expect: Very nice people and lots of sweat
Average show price: $5-$10

This was not my first house show venue but it would be the perfect first house show. Sure, it might be a little far away, but they make up for the distance by drawing the nicest crowds you ever did meet. This is the kind of show you could hit up alone without worry, because you’d definitely make a few friends by the end of the night. -Kaylee Dugan

If your favorite local music venue isn’t included in this piece, please check out the DC DIT Facebook page. The local collective of musicians and house programmers is the best resource for all things D.C. DIY music.