Judging Music Venues – Lincoln Theatre

1215 U Street, NW

After a brief attempt at showing movies, last summer we learned that I.M.P., owners of the 9:30 Club, would run and book concerts for the then underutilized Lincoln Theatre. So now that’s it’s been almost a year – what do folks think? Do you like the acts that have been/are being booked? Do you like the venue itself? If you’ve gone who have you seen there? Is there still room for improvement or are you happy with the new management?

33 Comment

  • I saw Sharon Jones there with some visiting family friends, and it was fantastic! I loved the space, there was room for tons of people, and it was just special. Of course, I tend to prefer dirty mosh pits so for my normal music needs, it wouldnt fit the bill. Of note, it was the most diverse concert I have ever seen (as far as the other concertgoers), both in age, color, creed…very cool.

  • I went to Janelle Monae and the sound seemed…high on the trebble. great show though, one of my top 5s.
    I also saw Josh Ritter there and that was good. don’t recall any sound issues. The view from the upper balcony is utter terrible though and the seats are tiny. Will not go to another show there if that’s my only seating choice.

    • +1 regarding the Janelle Monae sound issues. It was soupy and unfocused throughout the show. Not sure if that’s an issue with the space of the sound men. I will say that I don’t recall any sound issues when I saw Sharon Jones.

      I’ve only sat in the orchestra section which is great as long as you get there early enough for seats and has the slight incline, making it easier to deal with taller patrons sitting/standing in front of you.

      My one wish is that they would light the alleys where you’re forced to wait in line prior to doors opening. I’d like to see the rat is approaching before it gets too close. #truestory

  • Love the Lincoln! Went a few weeks ago for Ingrid Michaelson and it was the perfect venue. Even if there was a decent amount of standing, there was something nice about having seats and not feeling as crowded as 9:30 does– great sound as well!

  • Saw Janelle Monae there, a completely unsuitable venue for her, with soupy acoustics and cramped seating. I’m honestly not quite sure what kind of use this theater is good for–it needs a total gut renovation to handle serious music, and it doesn’t have the stage space for serious dance performance. I guess you could do plays here, and I imagine it would make a good sanctuary for a church.

    • I don’t think acoustics were the issue. One of the sound guys was probably having a bad night, could be Janelle’s or the house guy. I saw Midnite there a little over a year ago and the sound was great.

    • Just FYI – there is church at the Lincoln on Sunday mornings at 10:30 (full disclosure: I’m a church member there). National Community Church (theaterchurch.com) has been meeting there since last October. We used to meet in the Gala theater in Columbia Heights, but outgrew that space and moved in at the Lincoln.
      Having spoken to some of the sound guys there, I know some of the difficulties with the acoustics stem from the fact that it is a historic theater, so the amount of changes they are allowed to make is limited. I was there for Dream Theater, and the sound was pretty good, to me.

  • Good venue, large, but still intimate. Like, big enough for a Fiona Apple show, but still small enough for her to personally berate certain members of the audience.

  • I saw Morcheeba there and liked the venue a lot. The sound was good, the sight lines were good. I wish the seating was assigned in advance, and the seats were hard, but these are minor gripes.

    • I like the venue, but it’s a little hard to know which seats are free or taken, especially at a concert where people are trickling in through the opening act. People leave random single seats as if sitting next to someone is a faux pas.

      • It’s assigned seating for most shows. Sounds like “someone” was trying to upgrade their seats. 😉

  • justinbc

    I saw Sara Bareilles there. Great acoustics and lighting.
    Not so great staff who led me up to the top level, when my seats were actually down on the floor (luckily realized before the headline act).

  • I’ve only gone for movies (before IMP took over operations), but the sound was terrible. Hopefully IMP brought in reinforcements – 930 Club and U Street Music Hall both have amazing systems.

  • Sat in the balcony for a musical there… sounds was godawful bad.

  • I’ve seen two shows here and thoroughly enjoyed them. My one complaint: it takes them way too long to get people inside. You wait in line forever. This doesn’t happen at the 9:30 club.

  • Saw Neil Finn there and it was great. One issue, though: we got there during the opener’s set and it was very, very difficult to see where we were going. It was pitch black in the balcony seating area and there were no real lights to guide your way up stairs or to the seats. Surely there’s a way to fix that without affecting the stage lighting!

  • I saw Andrew Bird at Lincoln Theatre last night. It was my first time at Lincoln Theatre and I thought it was really nice. I sat in the balcony and the sound was great. I feel like Andrew Bird is the perfect artist for this venue. The music is not really dance-able so there is no need to stand up, and you can really just sit back in your comfy chair and appreciate Bird’s musicianship. Also for such a large audience, it still felt somewhat intimate.

    • Yes, yes! I saw the Sunday show, and I loved it. It was my first time at the Lincoln, and I was struck dumb at how utterly civilized it was. Seating? Clean sight lines? Many little bars? I will certainly look for more shows to attend at the Lincoln.

      Two gripes:
      1. The selection at the bars is awful. Find something to sell other than Stella for $7 a can.
      2. The water fountain pours water directly on the carpet. If that’s unresolved, the whole place will have mildew lickety-split.

  • i also saw monae there. 930 needs to stop booking ga shows at a seated venue. was completely unacceptable to wait for an hour for doors to open and then only have the remaining seats in the balcony. just sell seats. who cares if people pay four figures for the front row seats, its better than having to wait for hours to get a decent one.

  • I just saw Andrew Bird last night at Lincoln Theater. It was gorgeous in every sense of the word. A great venue to really see what was going on on stage and I thought the sound quality was great, too. It was a good show to have seats for, too, although I think they’d be in the way for other performers. Really enjoyed the Lincoln!

  • Love this venue!! Comedy was great there, one could turn it into a comedy club, work out a partnership with surrounding restaurants for a dinner then show set up, would work out fantastic!!

  • I saw a Pink Floyd cover band here last year and feared the acoustics would be bad, but I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not acoustics maven, but I had a great time there and I loved that we could get great foods moments after leaving the concert!

    In the past, some community board ran the place into the ground. They only had 1-2 events a month and only seemed to have social work type of events like teen stop the violence poetry readings or some youth at risk talent show, Nothing wrong with that at all, but they could have had a ton of popular shows too that would pay the bills, but they didn’t and the board was finally disbanded.

    With their seller location, I hope they keep a good mix of popular, in demand shows as well as some community stuff.

  • A decent venue for the chiller acts, but I find it hard to believe that Lincoln is a suitable venue for others, such as Lauryn Hill, Rat Dog, Dream Theater, etc. Yes, Rat Dog was a great time, but it felt a little out of place nonetheless.

    I’ve gone to a few concerts there in the past year and have to agree, the long wait outside is a bit ridiculous for a venue that has the ability for assigned seats. It was a bit amateur.

    I wish IMP was bringing in less music acts and more comedians, stage shows, etc. IMP is trying to turn the theater into something it’s not, a 9:30 club of sorts.

  • Saw Band of Horses here. Awesome show and venue.

  • Saw Patty Griffin there, and I thought the sound was good; my friends and I were laughing about the fact that we like going to shows now where we can sit so the seats didn’t seem cramped or uncomfortable to us.

    After a great show, we left on a sour note: the venue staff was stationed at the exits, confiscating guests’ water bottles – ones that we had purchased at the show, but were not allowed to take with us when we left the theater. My friend hadn’t even opened her $4 bottle of water yet, but was not allowed to take it with her. does anyone know why this policy exists? has it been that long since I’ve been to a smaller DC venue that I don’t remember that this happens everywhere? If it does happen everywhere, why?

  • lincoln theatre was so legit when I saw DCs best band – WHITE FORD BRONCO – there a couple of weeks ago.

    Also of note: Buy the Natty Bo’s from the floor adjacent bar w/ cash and their super cheap.

  • I saw a couple of Bob Weir shows their earlier this year. I prefer the 930 Club but Lincoln is still a good venue.

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