The Nightclub 9:30, originally named and still commonly referred to as the 9:30 Club, also known simply as the 9:30, is a nightclub and concert venue in Washington, D.C., which was originally housed in the ground floor rear room of the Atlantic Building at 930 F Street NW, in the city's downtown area, where it opened on May 31, 1980, with a legal standing capacity of only 199 patrons. In 1996, due to its increasing prominence, the club was moved to a roomier space, its current location at 815 V Street NW, where it anchors the eastern end of the U Street Corridor.
As a special feature, the club, with capacity for up to 1,200 people, has a wheeled stage mounted on rails, which can be moved back and forth as needed. This way, the place can feel as packed with 500 people in attendance as it would during a sold-out, full capacity show.
The 9:30 Club's name was derived from its original street address, as well as the original opening time of 9:30 p.m. Early advertising on D.C.'s WHFS radio featured the slogan "9:30 - a Place and Time!"
Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump once said of the 9:30, "it's got so much character, you wonder if the locals know how lucky they are."
The 9:30 Club was founded by artist and dancer Dody DiSanto and her husband, Jon Bowers, a local real estate developer and music enthusiast who had just purchased the Atlantic Building in 1979. The venue hosted its first show on May 31, 1980, featuring New York-based jazz-punk outfit the Lounge Lizards as headliners, and local new wave band Tiny Desk Unit as opening act. New York's the Fleshtones were the first band ever to be booked at the club.
Since its origins, the 9:30 Club, which allowed fans as young as sixteen to enter, was known as a progressive venue noted for its talent in discovering up-and-coming acts. During the early 1980s, it was the home for alternative music in D.C., just as the genre was beginning to blossom. By that point, the club was based around local bands, mainly from the punk, hardcore, and go-go scenes; D.C.-area acts such as Minor Threat, Fugazi, Government Issue, 9353, the Slickee Boys, the Urban Verbs, Chuck Brown, Maiesha and the Hip Huggers featuring E.U., Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band, and Dain Bramage, whose teenage drummer, Dave Grohl, went on to become part of Nirvana and to found the Foo Fighters. However, in a very short time, the venue also became a regular stopping point for punk and new wave bands touring the East Coast. Some of the most notable performers in the early days of the 9:30 Club were Black Flag, the Bad Brains, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Psychedelic Furs, the Ramones, X, Blue Angel (with lead singer Cyndi Lauper), the Bangles, R.E.M., Hüsker Dü, Erasure, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, the Violent Femmes, the Butthole Surfers, That Petrol Emotion, the Police, the Replacements, Marti Jones, Marshall Crenshaw, Mod Fun, Nash the Slash, the Go-Go's, and BETTY, whose bassist and co-vocalist, Alyson Palmer, tended bar in the club at the time.
On May 21, 1981, Washington music programmer and writer Tom Terrell was instrumental in masterminding the U.S. premiere of reggae band Steel Pulse on the night of Bob Marley's funeral, which was broadcast live worldwide from the 9:30 Club.
In 1986, after six years of operating the club, DiSanto sold it to Seth Hurwitz and Richard Heinecke of It's My Party (IMP), the Maryland-based concert promotion company they co-own.
Over the following years, as the club's prominence and lineup were growing, the need for a bigger space was becoming increasingly evident. The old 9:30 Club closed its doors on December 31, 1995 and moved to a new location.
The club's final shows at the original location were memorialized on a two-CD set released in 1997 and entitled 9:30 Live - A Time, A Place, A Scene. This live CD, recorded between December 28, 1995, and January 1, 1996, includes local music from the Urban Verbs, Tiny Desk Unit, Mother May I, the Insect Surfers, Tru Fax and the Insaniacs, and Black Market Baby.
On January 5, 1996, after receiving extensive remodeling, the former WUST Radio Music Hall at 815 V Street opened as the Nightclub 9:30. The opening night show included the Smashing Pumpkins. Prior to the reopening, the club owners organized a "christening" show for media and friends featuring the Fleshtones and Too Much Joy.
NPR's online music show All Songs Considered had broadcast some concerts at the venue. There is an archive of these shows.
Popular local band emmet swimming played one of the first shows at the new Nightclub 9:30 on a snowy night (shocking the staff with the number of attendees) and recorded part of their live concert CD Ear Plugs 50¢ at the venue.
Bob Dylan played two dates on December 4 and 5, 1997, when he was in Washington, D.C. to receive the Kennedy Center Honors. Dylan returned again for an unannounced show on April 2, 2004, prior to scheduled dates at the Bender Arena and the Warner Theatre. Dylan treated the crowd to a rare performance of "Hazel", a song that had been absent from the set lists of his Never Ending Tour for many years.
On June 12, 1998, the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed a surprise eleven song set at the club. Money Mark and the Propellerheads were the opening acts. The show, which was the band's first ever at the venue (they had previously performed at the old 9:30 club five times from 1985-1987), was their first public performance since recently reuniting with guitarist John Frusciante, who had quit the band in 1992; although the band had performed a short in-studio acoustic set of mostly cover songs a week early for a radio show in Los Angeles. The 9:30 Club show was seen as a warm-up for their performance the next day at the Tibetan Freedom Concert, which was held at the RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.; nevertheless that, due to bad weather, their set at the concert had been cancelled; however, Pearl Jam agreed to perform a shorter set, so the Chili Peppers could perform a few songs.
O.A.R., who grew up in nearby Rockville, Maryland, recorded the live album Any Time Now at the 9:30 Club on November 23 and 24, 2001. The venue was also home to the band's first stop on their 2012 tour, Extended Stay, where O.A.R. played four shows.
On June 2 and 3, 2002, Arizona band Jimmy Eat World recorded their live DVD Believe in What You Want at the nightclub, following the release of their album Bleed American. The video was released on November 26, 2002.
In 2003, local band the Pietasters released their first live video DVD, Live at The 9:30 Club.
The Beastie Boys performed at the club on June 17, 2004, after a five-year hiatus. This was a radio event sponsored by then WHFS 99.1 FM. The station gave away 1,200 passes for the event to listeners. The night did not go without incident, a major thunderstorm had delayed band's travel from New York City to Washington. Radio DJs the Junkies and Tim Virgin read a statement from the Beastie Boys explaining the situation at about 8:30 p.m., including their assurance that they were on the train and that the show would go on at about 11:15 p.m. without a hitch. The crowd was disappointed, but the club immediately relaxed their re-admittance policy and allowed everyone to leave and have dinner if they so desired. In a move to help ease crowd tensions, the Beastie Boys' management had a number of pizzas delivered to the club for fans to eat while they were waiting. Mix Master Mike took the stage at 11:13 p.m. to warm up the crowd. The Beastie Boys came out minutes later on stage in front of a packed house, despite the delay. Posters of this late Nightclub 9:30 performance are in the Beastie Boys' video "Triple Trouble", pasted on the walls of the streets the group walk through at 2:13.
The Smashing Pumpkins celebrated the release of Zeitgeist, their first album in seven years, at the 9:30 Club on July 10, 2007. The event was depicted in the band's 2008 DVD documentary, If All Goes Wrong.
Radiohead played a secret show at the venue on June 13, 1998, in which, Michael Stipe of R.E.M. fame sang with the band on one of their hits. They decided to play this show because their appearance at the Tibetan Freedom Concert held at the RFK Stadium was delayed to the next day due to bad weather. Additionally, the Beastie Boys attended as part of the crowd.
Bob Mould performed at the club on October 7, 2005, and released a subsequent DVD of the concert called Circle of Friends.
On November 24, 2007, Hawthorne Heights guitarist and screamer Casey Calvert was found dead of a drug overdose on their tour bus, which was parked outside the club.
In September 2009, the newly reunited Alice in Chains kicked off their U.S. tour at the 9:30 Club with new singer William DuVall.
On December 28, 2009, Clutch recorded their DVD Live at the 9:30, performing their self-titled album, Clutch, in its entirety.
In May 2010, the legendary reggae band Steel Pulse performed their charity song "Hold On for Haiti" for the first time. All proceeds from the song go to nonprofit organizations Solar Electric Light Fund and Partners In Health, to solar electrify health clinics in Haiti.
In June 2010, Courtney Love and the newly reformed Hole performed a disastrous set described by The Washington Post as a three-hour epic train wreck. A barely coherent Love stumbled, complained and stripped through an entire set composed mostly of incomplete versions of the band's songs. Most members of the audience left before the set ended.
On 30 July 2010, house music producer deadmau5 collapsed on stage in the middle of a set and was rushed to the hospital. He had been suffering from exhaustion and vomiting. This collapse led to the cancellation of the nine shows which followed the event.
In 2011, Adele performed here as part of her 2011 tour. She sold out the venue in less than 2 minutes, and the show grossed $45,000.
On February 24, 2012, the Soul Rebels Brass Band were the subject of an NPR national broadcast of their show with Galactic live from the Nightclub 9:30. The broadcast was syndicated on NPR and through other affiliates across the United States, as well as webcast on NPR.org.
On June 12, 2013, Animal Collective performed a set of songs previously released on their LPs and EPs. The show was documented on the album Live at 9:30.
The Pixies performed a surprise show on May 31, 2015, after their appearance at the Sweetlife Festival the day before.
The Nightclub 9:30 has been awarded Nightclub of the Year honors four times by Pollstar, and it regularly has topped that concert industry trade journal's annual list of the top ticket-selling clubs in the United States. In 2004, the 9:30 sold 236,112 tickets.
The venue won the Top Club awards at the 2007 through 2012 Billboard Touring Awards, except in 2008, when the award was not presented.
Rolling Stone magazine online rated the club the #1 Big Room in America.