Near replica of original 9:30 Club opening with Foo Fighters concert

Near replica of original 9:30 Club opening with Foo Fighters concert

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In September 2021, as the 9:30 Club was celebrating its grand reopening after a 17-month pandemic shutdown, Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl casually announced that the venue’s owners would be “opening an exact replica of the old 9:30 Club” at the site neighbor .

“We’ll probably be the band to open it, right?” Grohl said to loud cheers. “Is that what’s going to happen?”

Almost 18 months later, that’s exactly what’s happening. And they will be followed by a line-up of amazing acts including the Pixies, the Walkmen, Billy Idol and Joan Jett.

The new live music venue, dubbed Atlantis — after the club that operated at 930 F St. iconic music venue that operated there from 1980 to 1995, hosting the DC debuts of countless big-name artists, including REM, Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

But Atlantis, which is adjacent to the bar’s current location at Ninth and V streets NW, is better described as an homage to the 9:30 Club, rather than an exact replica. For one thing, it has a capacity of 450 – more than twice as many people as the old club’s 199, although that number often felt more like a suggestion than a hard-and-fast cap. Atlantis will also have a second-floor balcony overlooking the stage, a feature reminiscent of the current 9:30. But on a tour of the still-under-construction site last week, Seth Hurwitz, the owner of the 9:30 Club and Anthem, pointed out the similarities: The stage sits in a nook in a corner, not facing the front of the room. . The public will walk down a hallway to enter, though not as long as the F Street entrance, before walking past the front desk from the old club. And there’s a pillar in front of the stage – but more on that below.

As expected, Foo Fighters, who also played Anthem opening night, are performing at the grand opening on May 30, giving their fans an incredible chance to see the band in an intimate setting. But it’s the following 43 shows, running through the end of September — 44 concerts, all $44 tickets, to celebrate 9:30’s 44 years in business — that are really the headliners. Parliament Funkadelic. Maggie Rogers. Sylvan Esso. Franz Ferdinand. Jenny Lewis. Jeff Tweedy. Thievery Corporation. The busy schedule is full of artists who could easily sell out the 9:30 Club, Anthem or even bigger venues, but they’re performing in a small sized club.

In the concert business, this is what’s known as an “underplay,” or, as Hurwitz puts it, “deliberately playing a small venue just to create a buzz.” He tells of Rolling Stones concerts at the Warner Theater in 1978 and at a club called Toad’s in New Haven, Conn., in 1989. That Warner show, Hurwitz says, “was just a big crazy deal. I wanted to recreate it for the opening, but I didn’t want it to be just one night – I wanted it to be as much as we could get out of it. So I came up with that gimmick” of 44 shows over 44 years.

With the theme in place, Hurwitz; his son Sam Hurwitz, who will be the general manager at Atlantis; and Zhubin Aghamolla, the venue’s talent booker, began compiling a list of artists they thought would be a good fit for Atlantis, and Seth Hurwitz sent an email to the band’s booking agents and managers explaining his idea.

“The people we called either got it or they didn’t,” Hurwitz continues. Some agents turned them down because the gig wouldn’t pay much, or because of the schedule. But the others, Hurwitz says, were all inside. One of them was Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and the Postal Service, whom Hurwitz approached backstage at an Anthem concert.

“You know, he’s a very confident man, which is probably one of the many reasons he’s been so successful in his line of work,” Gibbard says. “He says, ‘I need you to come play [the Atlantis].’ And I’m like, ‘Ok, man, I’ll do it.'” Never mind that, in September, Gibbard is already playing three sold-out shows in the DC area — two at Anthem and one at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Hurwitz convinced Gibbard to add a solo show at Atlantis on September 2nd. “The guy knows what he’s doing and he cares about his artists. It’s one of the reasons the 9:30 Club had and still has the reputation of being one of the best clubs in America.”

Obviously, there will be a lot of interest in these concerts and IMP is trying hard to ensure that tickets are not resold for high fees on the secondary market. Instead of throwing all the tickets on sale online at once, or making fans line up at a box office, there will be an online lottery for all 44 shows, opening Tuesday morning and running through at 23:59 on Friday. Users will sign up through the Atlantis website, providing their credit card information, before choosing up to 12 shows they want to attend, and whether they want a ticket or two – or whether they want to buy a package which includes one ticket for all 44 concerts.

Raffle winners will be notified over several days, beginning Monday, April 10, and will be required to purchase their tickets. (So ​​if you win a pair of tickets to five concerts, your credit or debit card will be charged $440 plus fees.) The ticket buyer must attend the show. A caveat: Because some of these concerts are months away and plans can change, anyone who buys tickets but can’t attend will be able to sell the tickets for face value at a fan swap with fan starting May 1st.

During an interview last week at IMP’s offices across from the 9:30 Club, Hurwitz, who bought the original 9:30 in 1986 with partner Rich Heinecke, said he couldn’t remember when the idea came to recreate the old club. . was created, although the inspiration may have come from the 35th anniversary celebration of the 9:30 World Tour, when a miniature version of the old venue was recreated inside the current clubhouse. “That always stayed with me,” Hurwitz said.

Beyond nostalgia, however, there’s also a practical reason: “We realized we needed our own club” of this size, Hurwitz says, to complement the rest of IMP’s portfolio: not just the 9:30 Club (capacity 1,200) and Anthem ( 2,500). -6,000), but the two venues where it operates, Lincoln Theater (1,200) and Merriweather Post Pavillion (18,000). Before Covid, U Street Music Hall hosted 9:30 Club presents, featuring acts not yet big enough to headline the 9:30 Club, including Lizzo and Sam Smith, but U Hall was closed during the pandemic. “We have everything but a small club,” says Hurwitz. “We need ours because we need ours to stand out. I wanted to have the best small club, like I wanted to have the best medium venue, and the best amphitheater, and so on and so forth.”

Still, nostalgia is powerful. Ask the musicians about their favorite memories and stories of the 9:30 club that’s blowing up. The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser, whose band plays Atlantis on May 31, shortly after four shows at 9:30, grew up in DC and can easily rattle off the names of bands he saw on F Street: Fugazi, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Jonathan Fire*Eater. “It was kind of like Mecca,” he says. “In my mind, it was the only place you could go and see rock-and-roll music.”

His first visit as a teenager, however, didn’t go so well: “The first time I went without my parents was with my friend Hugh and we went to see Superchunk, who he was a fan of. I remember we walked in and we were, I don’t know, 14 or something. … The opening band played and then we realized it was our curfew and we had to leave. We haven’t even seen Superchunk.”

Since Grohl’s announcement, Hurwitz says the same three questions have been asked repeatedly by music fans eager to recreate their nights at the old club.

The first is obvious: Will Atlantis replicate the famous smell of the old club – a strong, suffocating smell of a mixture of spilled beer, cigarettes, disinfectant, bandages, vomit, sweat and God knows what else, which clung to the clothes. day after a concert?

“No,” Hurwitz says, smiling.

“The next one,” he continues, “is, ‘Are there going to be rats?'” referring to the creatures that scurried along the pipes in full view of audience members and backstage crew.

So will there be? “I hope no.”

“Number three,” says Hurwitz, “Is there going to be a pole in front of the stage?” One of the defining features of the 9:30 Club—perhaps the most annoying if you happened upon a show you particularly wanted to see—was a large metal support pole that blocked views of the stage from certain angles.

“There’s going to be a pillar,” Hurwitz says, “that everybody fought me for, but since it’s one of the big questions everybody asks, I say, ‘Well, there you go. That’s why we’re putting the pole there.”

Once the 44-concert run ends, Hurwitz says, Atlantis’ focus will shift to showcasing new bands — the club’s motto is “Where the Music Begins” — though Hurwitz still expects the occasional understudy, too. But he doesn’t expect it to be booked every night: After all, the opening lineup features eight to 14 shows a month. “We’re curating this place so we don’t have to fill up a calendar,” he says. “We’re only going to book bands that we think either matter now, or will matter.”

“These are the next Sleater-Kinneys. This is the next Pixies,” says Hurwitz. “And you don’t know who it will be.” But, he says, it’s worth taking a chance: When you see an artist playing big venues, “how many times have you said, ‘I wish I could have seen them at 9:30?’

Atlantis Opening Lineup:

June 3: Surprise Rainbow Kitten

June 9: Tank and Bangas

June 16: OAR’s Marc Roberge

June 17: Hannibal Buress + Eshu Tune

June 24: Rodrigo y Gabriela

July 7: Head and Heart

July 15: Magnetic fields

July 28: Portugal. husband

August 10: Run by truckers

August 14: Parliament Funkadelic with George Clinton

August 17: Thievery Corporation

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