Housing Complex

Do Rock Clubs Have to Be Daytime Blights?

So bright! So welcoming! (Darrow Montgomery)

Music halls, as lively as they are at nighttime, tend to have a pretty deathly effect on the streetscape when the tour buses roll out. Think about the 9:30 Club just off U Street, or the Black Cat on 14th Street, both long blank expanses while the sun is shining. It's almost part of their appeal: What could pass for an empty warehouse, which your eyes skip over while walking beside it, suddenly roars to life at around 8 p.m. (even though 9:30 Club owner Seth Hurwitz told me, somewhat testily, that he thought his club's shadowy location had nothing to do with the experience when I asked about JBG's plans for the vacant buildings that now surround it).

Anyway, Dan Reed at Just Up the Pike says the Fillmore Silver Spring shows that rock clubs can rock during the daytime, too. And windows certainly help dissipate the empty warehouse feel—though, I would submit, not any more than your average office building.

  • Paul S

    I'd like to see 930 Club atleast invest in a nice large neon sign.

  • http://www.lenorable.net ian

    I much prefer my rock venues to look like multiplex movie theaters. A nice clean lobby, maybe a marquee sign, lots of windows.
    I mean seriously, how am I supposed to enjoy Gwar's performance if there isn't a flashy sign outside above the door?

  • er

    not everything needs to be pretty. nor every area.

  • Drez

    Yeah, but they should probably roll with the changes on the rest of the block. Not look like the fugliest thing, right?

  • MBC

    Generally rock clubs minimize the cost of real estate. They need low rents to reduce overhead. They are really risky business propositions as it is. Owners can't afford the real estate, plain and simple.

  • ?

    also! graveyards are really scary at night!

    nightclubs already have to deal with liquor boards and ANCs, do we really need to dump more demands on them? like the people who go there live here too, you know?

  • Kevin

    As much as I love both Black Cat and the 9:30 Club I've long thought that their exteriors are hideous. And I don't understand why that has to be. Black Cat's front would be a great canvas for a talented artist to put a music-inspired mural on, for example. (yeah, I know there is some lame black-on-black thing there now but what's the point if you can't even see it?)

    And for what it's worth, I have lived blocks from the 9:30 Club for 10 years, have been going there since it was WUST Radio Music Hall, and have performed on stage there numerous times (and at the original F Street Club and Black Cat). I'm no johnny-come-lately gentrifying whiner. Those buildings just look like shit on the outside.

  • er

    drez,
    even as shabby as the 930 is, it's way more attractive than the gas station or the hud building and parking garage.

  • Java Master

    The 9:30 club is a dump, both inside and out.
    Hurwitz should be ashamed of himself, foistering this grungy dump on music-hungry fans.
    I have been to rock clubs in several cities, and some of them are very well maintained and offer fan amenities that Seth should have invested in long ago. So I welcome venues such as Birchmere and the new Fillmore in Silver Spring. I know where I will spend my money.

  • T

    The awful exterior of 9:30 club = reason why Douglas will never lease/sell the Uline to Hurwitz. That building currently looks bad too, but it's not "done" like the 9:30 is supposed to be.

  • Hillman

    Music clubs seem to get a pass because it's 'cool' to be dirty and look like crap.

    They are also dead spaces during the day.

    Shame on both counts.

    I've always thought many of these places would make terrific daytime coffee houses. They already have liquor licenses, which I suppose could be altered to allow daytime serving. But I suspect their revenue would be less.

  • http://marketurbanism.com Stephen Smith

    lol @ "rock club." Note to Seattlites and DC hipsters: Not all modern music is rock!

  • Lydia DePillis

    @Stephen Smith

    :P

    I never pretended to know anything about music.

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