If you’re interested in checking out live acts but aren’t into the whole stadium/arena environment, there are a bunch of DC-area clubs worth visiting. Wannabe scenesters can listen to up-and-coming bands, dance to DJ’ed theme nights, and maybe even learn a thing or two about science, all while having a drink and a bite. See below for five of the top venues in the area to catch smaller-scale live acts.
The Red & the Black – take a trip to the buzzy Atlas District in Northeast to see a show on the upstairs stage at this rough-and-ready, Cajun-infused bar. There are live acts almost very night; check the bar’s website for details. Must be 21 to enter.
Galaxy Hut – this cosy Arlington restaurant hosts live acts on Sunday and Monday nights. They also have a great imported beer selection and several cocktail arcade tables, so you can get your Ms. Pac-Man on. Must be 21 to enter.
Black Cat – while probably the most established spot in our list, this club also hosts lesser-known acts on its smaller backstage venue. The club also hosts frequent theme music nights (think Britpop or Indie); their Food for Thought Cafe specializes in vegetarian and vegan food, and their Red Room bar has a pool table and no cover charge.
IOTA – there’s live music just about every night in this club, which is right near Galaxy Hut in the Clarendon section of Arlington. You can only buy tickets at the door, so arrive early if you really want to see a show. All shows are 21+.
DC9 – dance parties and quirky live performances dominate the scene at this club in the U Street Corridor. Check out their “Nerd Nite” – where people gather to have a few beers and listen to special presenters talk about everything from physics to stem-cell research (seriously). Shows are 21 and over unless specified.