Adios, Gold Leaf Studios. Farewell, Subterranean A. Nice knowing you, Warehouse. D.C.’s DIY spaces got the shit kicked out of them this year, and unlike in past years, there’s not an abundant supply of neglected real estate to take their places. Gold Leaf, a collection of art studios in Mount Vernon Square that hosted some of the city’s most vital underground concerts for roughly a decade, closed to make way for a new development at the end of January. The U Street-area basement apartment and show space called Subterranean A wrapped up two years of creative show bookings this summer. And this fall, one of D.C.’s only raw spaces for all-night house and techno parties, the Warehouse Loft on New York Avenue NE, shut down after a nonfatal shooting outside its doors.
Now, private houses, stores, and restaurants remain the ad-hoc venues for cool bands—that is, until those bands get an 8.0 on Pitchfork and upgrade to international tours. Unfortunately, houses and restaurants can be even dicier than your average warehouse: Just take the recent cases of Ras Restaurant & Lounge in Petworth and El Caracol in Silver Spring, which had been hosting shows until a family dispute over money and a cover-blowing blog post on DCheavymetal.com, respectively, put an end to their hospitality.
2012 did produce at least one glimmer of hope for the all-ages crowd: 9th & Beats, a DIY space spearheaded by Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Festival founder Dave Mann, opened in mid-December. Its digs—a room inside Mount Vernon Square’s thoroughly uncool Old Dominion Brewhouse—are a little odd, but no one could complain about its accessible location. On the other hand, “centrality” is being redefined each day, and it’s no longer tethered to proximity to trendy neighborhoods or Northwest’s central business district. With H Street Playhouse moving east of the river, why shouldn’t a Gold Leaf Studios: Congress Heights edition be far off?