Friday Question of the Day – What was the Best Concert You Ever Attended at the 9:30 Club?

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Last month we spoke about concerts we wish we had seen but today let’s talk about one’s we actually have. In honor of the 9:30 Club’s 35th anniversary and 20 years at the current location – what was the greatest show you’ve seen at either spot? I’ll narrow it down to three – Wilco (when it snowed) I think Jan. of 2004 or something like that – was spectacular. Drive By Trucker July 2005 epic. And the first time I saw Thievery Corporation Live my mind was blown (blown to the extent I have no idea what year it was.) So many favorites, really hard to narrow down – anyway try! What was your number 1 or top 3 favorite shows you’ve seen there?

Side note: Anyone get tickets to the “9:30 WORLD’S FAIR” EXHIBITION?

From a press release:

“The 9:30 World’s Fair exhibition runs through January 9 (All tickets are gone). The World’s Fair will be an all-encompassing funhouse including a re-creation of the old 9:30 Club, a tour of the backstage area, a mosh pit re-enactment, rare archival photos and videos and a multimedia cube that simulates a live concert experience. In addition, a tattoo artist will be on-site offering free 9:30 logo tattoos and attendees can get custom-screened T-shirts featuring old show posters.

The Official Hall Of Records—a massive library featuring in chronological order a record or CD for each show, in the order in which the act played the Club since it opened in 1980—will debut tonight at the 9:30 World’s Fair and will continue as a permanent installation. The vast majority of the albums in the Hall of Records are real, though there are some with the 9:30 logo that the Club is still looking to acquire. If fans have the actual album that the library is missing, the 9:30 Club will trade them for free tickets. Each night, the library will grow with the albums of that night’s headliner.

The 9:30 Club’s oral and pictorial history book—celebrating the Club’s 35th anniversary and 20 years in the current location—is now available. The book will feature never-before-seen photos, stories and firsthand accounts of experiences during the Club’s tenure from legends including Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi, Dischord Records), Dave Grohl, Ted Leo, Thurston Moore, HR Hudson, Chuck D of Public Enemy, the Club’s current co-owners Seth Hurwitz and Rich Heinecke and scores more. Fans can buy the limited first edition with 3D hardcover book at www.930book.com.

Founded by Dody DiSanto and Jon Bowers, the 9:30 Club originally opened in 1980 in downtown Washington, D.C. The Club’s name was derived from its street address, 930 F St NW. In 1996, co-owners Rich Heinecke and Seth Hurwitz moved the Club to its current location at the eastern end of the U Street Corridor. Gracing its stage have been legends Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, Al Green, Nirvana, and James Brown; recently-discovered acts like Hozier, Kacey Musgraves, Leon Bridges, Twenty One Pilots, and Halsey; and arena acts looking for an intimate club play such as Justin Timberlake, Jack White, Pink, the Smashing Pumpkins and Foo Fighters. It is the most attended club of its size in the world. The Club has received the highest accolades from some of the most notable names in music—Rolling Stone, Billboard and Pollstar have all named 9:30 Nightclub of the Year.”

182 Comment

  • The Dismemberment Plan, during that set of reunion shows they played in January 2011. They played there two nights in a row, and both nights were awesome.

    • +100 same for me. I went to the Saturday show and was able to get on stage during “Ice of Boston”, something I never thought I’d be able to do. So awesome.

  • Jónsi (of Sigur Ros) back in 2010. NPR streamed it live: http://www.npr.org/2010/11/12/131269558/jonsi-in-concert

  • Guess it depends if the question is for the best concert at the “OLD 9:30” or the “NEW 9:30”?

    Either way, I would say the best was at the OLD 9:30 when the Toadies opened for Bush [before they hit it big].

  • The Dream Warriors in 1991. And Now the Legacy Begins. Fun stuff.

  • Anonynon

    Volcano Choir

  • Scott Stapp. Nobody tops that.

  • I realize I might get flak for this, but no shame – Justin Timberlake’s show there in 2006 was amazing!

  • Gotan Project.
    .
    Also up there among best concerts: Jonsi, Kings of Convenience.

  • Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa

    • I remember that. Great show. Such a fun vibe and the crowd was feeding off the energy. It was right before Wiz totally blew up in popularity (and in my opinion, his songs went downhill at that point).

  • Adele in 2009. Tickets were $20 and we got to meet her outside by her trailer and shared a cigarette.

  • Old 9:30 – Front Line Assembly (1993)
    New 9:30 – Fatboy Slim (2012)

  • john spencer blues explosion, 1997

  • Big KRIT with Smoke Dza, Fiend, and Method Man.

  • I have seen a lot of shows, but it comes down to catching people you like at the right time.

    Favorite Concert = Lucinda Williams in ’99 right after the “Car Wheels” release.

    Favorite Moment = John Doe (of X) joining Juliana Hatfield on stage for a great take on “When will I be Loved”

  • john spencer blues explosion old 930 club.

  • The loudest, Sleigh Bells in 2011, the whole room was on fire. And the quietest, Kings of Convenience. And the first two Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and of Montreal, and Tallest Man, Toro y Moi, Dirty Projectors, Beach House, Vampire Weekend. Damn it I’ve had a ton of good times there.

    But maybe the best was my first. Emmet Swimming recording their live album. I remember looking forward to being at the club for the first time as much as seeing the show.

    We should all be grateful that we have one of the best clubs in the country in our back yard. Thank you 9:30 Club. Thank you many wonderful bands. Thank you music!

  • Live – right after Throwing Copper was released, but before any of the songs (I Alone, Lightning Crashes, etc.) hit. Circa 1993. There was a definite sense of catching a band just before they made it super big. Great show.

  • Stereolab, spring 2004. Incredible.

  • Smashing Pumpkins

  • Easy. Clutch and Slayer in 1998.

  • Radiohead in 1996.

  • emvee

    Destroyer, but I don’t even remember what year. Maybe 2010? Or 2012? It was definitely before I moved to DC and I made the trip just for the show. St Paul and the Broken Bones were pretty spectacular on NYE, but nothing can really compare to that Destroyer show.

  • Jesus Lizard in 2009 or Clutch (also in 2009, recorded and sold as Clutch – Live at the 9:30 Club).

  • It’s got to be a tie between Ben Harper (97?) and Trey Anastasio Band during Snowmagedon where the club was only half full!

  • It’s all about time & place in your life. Old 9:30 Club, Suede circa 1993 and Kitchens of Distinction 1994 or 95.

    • Suede at the old 9:30?!?!?!? OMFG. Didn’t they also play at WUST on the DOGMANSTAR tour with a full orchestra? Jeesh. I’m old.

  • Josh Ritter on Valentine’s Day 2011.

    • Hell yes – this is definitely on my list. Reading those Valentines day notes. Encouraging people to slow dance. What a great performer.

    • I was there. So fun! Great performer. Didn’t someone propose on one of the notes he read?

    • That was a great show. One of the notes he read was for a couple with the same names as my (now) husband and I. We both looked at each other like, “did you write that?”, but no. It was a funny coincidence.

  • My Morning Jacket — the “Z” tour, 2005. You knew full well that they’d never play a venue that small (“intimate”) again. The next few times I saw them was at DAR and at other outdoor venues. And it just wasn’t the same…

  • So many memories, but I guess the one that comes to mind first must be the best, right?
    -/-
    From England: Jools Holland and his Millionaires (featuring The Wealthy Tarts) with opening act DC favorities Tru Fax and the Insaniacs.
    -/-
    That would be the old 9:30 club, natch.

  • George Clinton and P-Funk.. Back before all the shows stopped at 1AM.. I remember them pausing to announce that if you needed metro, you had to leave right then.. and then he kept going for 2.5 more hours. One of the only 930 club shows that I left and went right to breakfast. How that man kept going for a show that long is still a marvel.

  • The best concert I’ve ever seen anywhere was and still is LCD Soundsystem May 13, 2017. Awesome, sweaty dance party. James Murphy blew his voice out early in the show but still killed the rest of it.

    Close second was The Stooges on their reunion tour just a month before that one. That was as packed as I’ve ever seen it.

  • Interpol, Kings of Leon, The War on Drugs, The Walkmen, Jose Gonzalez…

  • Ben Harper. Can’t wait to see him in April.
    Only Tipitina’s can compare to 9:30 as the best place to see live music.

  • Gogol Bordello, New Years Eve, 2010.

  • Flaming Lips. Spring ’03.

  • Drive-by Truckers with Booker T and Alabama Shakes as the opener on NYE 2012. “Green Onions” as the balloons dropped at midnight. Patterson Hood and Brittany Howard combining forces for “Angels and Fuselage” towards the end of the evening. Goddamn that was a helluva night.

  • Hard to remember tooo far back, but:

    Hot chip – 2013
    Old 77’s – Too Far Too Care tour (album in full)
    Built to Spill – 2015

  • Hands down, the Moby concert for Obama’s Inauguration. Power blew and we got an acapella drum concert until power came back on and he cranked it up.

  • Sonic Youth w/Stereolab, June 2000. About a year before Mary Hansen died, so she was still with Stereolab, and Jim O’Rourke was in SY at the time.

  • Bon Iver on his 2nd album tour.

    archived at npr too

  • Iggy and The Stooges in 2007

  • Adele. Hands down. Need I say more?

  • Jamie Cullum in 2004. Fantastic show. Also, 2008 Super Furry Animals with my best friend, who is a super furry super fan. We actually hung out with them after the show, drinking beers. I think it must have been one of her best nights ever.

  • 12-7-2002 was my first Disco Biscuits show at 930 club. Since then, I have seen them maybe 300 times. it started an obsession.

    Also, always fun for bands like the Hold Steady, Matt and Kim, and Deer Tick.

    • Matt & Kim shows there are always great!

      Went to a great Edward Sharpe show there a few years ago too. Probably my favorite so far, but I’ve only been here since 2009.

  • Man, this is tough. Been to a lot of music venues in my day, and 930 club truly does top them all. Place is special.

    I really don’t know where to start…. One underrated show there that usually comes once a year is Starfucker. Strange dudes but the place bumps when they are on. By no means is it the best show I’ve seen there but I feel like those guys never really get their due.

  • Macklemore 11/13/12 – tickets were $15. I bought them one night after having a few too many to drink – so glad I did. Incredibly energetic show.

  • Michael Buble

  • Sigur Ros, 2003 and Mogwai, also 2003.

  • Rufus Wainwright, sometime over 10 years ago just as he was beginning to become better-known. It was also my only concert at the 9:30 Club, but it was one of the best nights of my life.

  • Old 9:30 — Rickie Lee Jones (she wore a slip and came out with a bottle of Jack, I was in love)
    New 9:30 — George Clinton/Funkadelic

  • madness back in 1999, and any of the hot chip concerts. i think their best show was when the xx opened for them.

  • Bob Dylan April 2004. He played two other dates that week in DC and announced the 9:30 show the day before. I skipped classes and went down and hung out in line for a few hours. Met a guy there who drove up from VA Beach for the show. He was in his 50’s and told me his wife “let him off the leash” for the special event. We staked out space right up front and he treated me to the “you fly, I buy policy.” Bob was no more than 5 feet away from us, and he played a handful of tunes he wasn’t playing regularly, couple from Planet Waves if I remember correctly. I’ve seen Bob probably 25 or 30 times. This will always be a special one. Would love if Bob would come back again!

  • New Pornographers! Every show since I moved to DC in 2007!

  • Afghan Whigs 1965 Tour
    Smashing Pumpkins Arising Tour 1999
    Lemonheads 1997
    Andrew WK ‘I Get Wet’ 10th Anniversary show
    Hum 1998
    Foo Fighters 2005
    Every Nada Surf show

    So many

  • Tough question. A few shows from The National, the best was when they told their Slow Show story from the previous week’s concert in Boston. James was unexpectedly an incredible show — most surprising really good show, for sure. Tears for Fears was also a surprisingly great show. Several great New Pornographers shows. Fleet Foxes was amazing — not my favorite band, but live, so so beautiful. The Good the Bad and the Queen was great. TV on the Radio. Magnetic Fields, many years ago. But if I had to pick one, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Hearing Cave do The Mercy Seat in that venue was mind-blowing.

  • strike anywhere/ignite/modern life is war, september 2006. There was no barrier and i was able to stage dive and get into the singer of Strike Anywhere’s face during the breakdown of SST, which remains my very favorite show memory. the adrenaline is surging just thinking about it. I also love modern life is war and ignite, so the lineup overall was super.

  • Melissa Etheridge in 2002

  • The Prodigy & Meatbeat Manifesto – 1998
    Esthero – 1999
    Flying Lotus – 2013
    Hatebreed – 2003
    Peter Hook & The Light – 2011
    Every Time I Die & Gwar – 2011
    Leon Bridges – 2015
    Jedi Mindtricks, Immortal Technique – 2005

    • If you are a Gwar fan, you’d be amused if you met me to know that my sister just co-authored the Gwar book. I am about as straight lace/boring as you get. She is the opposite. 🙂

      • ha. never been a huge fan, but i will say, the live shows are fun. i was mainly there for the opening band, every time i die. i didn’t even know there was one. i’ll have to look it up.

    • jim_ed

      Ah man I was at the Jedi Mind Tricks/Immortal Technique show. Tech spent like 60% of his time listing things he wanted to boycott. Jedi Mind Tricks was incredible though.

      • haha yea he did! like i get it, but he overdid it. JMT def brought it that night. def didn’t expect the “all ladies get on stage and dance” part at the end of the set tho. fun times.

  • It would have to be Beck at the old 9:30 when, at the end of his set, he piled all the instruments on the stage and lit them on fire. Good times!

  • Ghostland Observatory, twice.

  • Kraftwerk

  • October 2005 – Bob Mould on the “Body of Song” tour, when I only knew the “Zen Arcade” album and this immediately became my favorite concert of all time.

    October 2009 – Gaslight Anthem with the Loved Ones

    September 2012 – Bob Mould playing on the 20th Anniversary of Copper Blue by Sugar, my all time favorite album. Went by myself and it was perfect.

    • Both of those Bob shows were great, but he’s my #1 guy so I’m biased.

      Most memorable for me might be the Scott Weiland show where he was backed by a jazz orchestra and sang Christmas classics.

      Or getting spattered with faux bodily fluids by GWAR at the old 9:30.

  • SOOOO hard to pick, but I’d have to say Nick Cave in 2008 — two shows (and especially the second one, when he played Jesus of the Moon and Today’s Lesson). Close seconds are probably The Hives and My Chemical Romance.

  • Tracy Chapman. I can’t remember exactly when it was but I remember she requested that it be no smoking that night (so it was a while ago!). I love, love her voice and wish she would tour again.

  • Bad Brains on Election Night 2008.

  • My favorite show there was Chromeo, in maybe 2012? I don’t go to 930 Club enough 🙁

  • Old 9:30: NIN on Easter Sunday, with Peter Murphy (I think)
    New 9:30: Hives, Kaiser Chiefs, Fishbone (one word: THERAMIN), Tom Jones (not even kidding), Gogol Bordello…

    Going to the World’s Fair tonight, and cannot wait!

  • Lyricist Lounge Tour 1998 (KRS-One / Eminem / Black Moon / Kid Capri)
    Natalie Cole (RIP) – She did not perform any of the jazz standards. She said would do that at Wolf Trap but not the 9:30. She was great
    Goapele – First time I saw her live, she made me a fan, also my daughter’s first show @ 9:30.

  • POP, please tally all the concerts that receive multiple mentions on this thread, I’d be curious to see which shows inspire multiple posters — and vote on the all-time best at the end!

  • Kukki Bakemono

    Matt and Kim

  • I’ve been goimg since turn of the century but Jamie Cullum 2014 rose to the top. He was truly in awe of playing there.

  • Last February the Punch Brothers played 3 nights in a row (first time playing a 3X run at any venue). Borderline religious experience. Went all three nights, saved the stubs and framed ’em alongside the limited press tour poster. Potato photo of frame here: https://www.instagram.com/p/3owjZcphhe/?taken-by=br_james

  • As a patron: Johnny Cash 1995, Bob Dylan 1997

    As an employee, in no particular order:
    Aforementioned Drive By Truckers/Alabama Shakes NYE show, or any DBT show for that matter.
    Aforementioned Adele show 2009
    Beastie Boys 2004
    Juno Reactor 200?
    Elvis Costello 2007
    Chuck Berry 2001
    Slayer 2001
    Robbie Williams 1999
    Eddie Floyd with Booker T and the MG’s 2008
    Nick Cave and Bad Seeds with Neko Case opening 2002
    James Brown 2001
    Courtney Love 2010 (not a great show, but happy to witness the train wreck)

  • Peter Hook in 2012 (or13?) when he played “Closer” front to back. Sonic Youth/Sterolab in 2000 (or maybe 01) is a close second.

  • Motorhead! It was so loud that it made my buddy get sick and he had to stand outside and listen. R.I.P.

  • A lot of good ones have been named. That MMJ show. That Destroyer show.

    I’ll add:
    Wilco in 2005. Great show.
    The Black Keys in 2008. The whole place was bouncing for their entire set. It was awesome.
    Phosphorescent in 2013. Sold out venue was mesmerized the entire time.
    Sturgill Simpson last year. Love that guy. Will probably not play a venue this size for a while.

    • Do you remember when in 2008 Black Keys played? I’m trying to remember if I was there

    • Still mad I couldn’t get tickets to that Sturgill 9:30 show last year (saw him at Lincoln Theater, but wish I had seen him at 9:30). That was an impossible ticket to get if you didn’t jump right on it … he kind of came out of nowhere to get huge really, really fast.

  • Goldfrapp – June 2010. Alison’s voice = amazing, hypnotic.
    The Kelis concert last summer was a lot of fun too, her band was great and her voice sounds even better live than on record!

  • Drive By Truckers – 2014
    Dandy Warhols – 2008 (?)

  • Can’t believe no one has said Arcade Fire on the Funeral tour 2004 or 2005? They walked through the crowd singing Wake Up. Also have to mention Sunny Day Real Estate, Hot Chip, Erasure, Kraftwerk….ugh, too many to choose from.

  • Cassandra Wilson right around the time she hit it “big” with “New Moon Daughter.” 9:30 was the perfect size for the crowds she was getting at the time.

  • The band I saw was so cool that I’m not going to even list them on here because you wouldn’t understand. And it was way before you got to DC.

  • nightborn

    2006 – 311
    2011 – VNV Nation
    2011 – Peter Murphy & She Wants Revenge

  • Definitely not the best in terms of musical ability, but one my favorite things is the Girls Rock DC show, which the 9:30 Club lets them put on during the day at the end of camp.
    .
    For an actual concert, the best was probably Iron & Wine in 2011. Or the Josh Ritter concert on Valentine’s Day mentioned above.

  • James Blake a few years ago. The bass on Retrograde rattled my rib cage.

  • Toss up between Fishbone in 1993 and Parliament in 1994

  • Dilated Peoples 2003 (i think) Babu killed it

  • -Pink
    -Blondie and X
    -George Clinton’s P-Funk All Stars

  • Public Enemy

  • Sonic Youth 2001 or 2002. Its foggy.

  • George Clinton and P-funk several years
    King Crimson in 2000
    Tenacious D
    David Byrne in 98 perhaps? Encored with the best version of Whitney Houston’s “I wanna dance with somebody ” I’ve ever heard

  • old 930–X on their “acoustic” tour with the release of Unclogged, 1995. Exene signed my CD!
    new 930–I miss the old 930.

  • saf

    I don’t remember years, and I’ve seen a lot of great concerts there. Highlights include:

    Old space:
    King Missile
    They Might Be Giants

    New space:
    The Pogues
    Black 47

    I used to spend a lot of time at the Bayou too.

  • Rites of Spring…revolution summer. The strobe light was on for the entire show and all these sweet emo punk boys were in front of the stage weeping. It was unforgettable.

  • So many shows….so hard to say. The Orb at the old 930 Club? The first time Hot Chip played at the current venue? The first time LCD Soundsystem played there? The “surprise” Radiohead show with Michael Stipe singing acapella as the show opener (and Krist Novocelic from Nirvana watching from the balcony) after the first day of the Tibetan Freedom concert was cancelled due to a storm? The list goes on and on and….

  • 2 Skinnee J’s. May 2012. Amazing as always.

  • Old club, Marti Jones & Don Dixon, before they were a couple
    New club, Dylan in 1997

    plus lots of other great memories

  • So many good ones, but Panic at the Disco on Halloween night. The lead singer dressed at the lead singer from the opening act. The bassist (male) dressed as Hit Girl from Kick Ass and they did a stunning version of The Darkness’ I Believe in a Thing Called Love in the encore.

    Other notables: Scissor Sister’s last show at the 9:30 and Courtney Love. I’m still impressed she made it through the whole show.

  • Either ZZ Topp or Megadeth 20th Anniversary Rust In Peace

  • Adding to an earlier comment…it almost hurts to admit this but the first Third Eye Blind show after their mega-huge debut album (1997) was incredible. The energy was incredible and they blew the roof off the place. It was a really fun, bring-a-smile-to-your-face, dance-until-you’re-drenched show.

  • I love seeing Garbage anytime they are in town. Also, I loved Years & Years this fall.

  • For me it was Underworld on April 20, 1999, the first U.S. stop on their Beaucoup Fish tour. It was also the same day as Columbine and I think the intensity of those events spilled into the show and made it unforgettable.

  • Maaaaan, so many. Arcade Fire in January 2004, just after Funeral came out, for $10, was transcendent. I’ve never seen anything as bracing as the Boredoms in 2008. The Afghan Whigs closing with the immaculate Bulletproof/Summer’s Kiss/Faded trio during their first 9:30 reunion show. I could list 40 more.

  • great qod!

    1998 Lou Reed
    2005 Black Crowes
    +1 on Trey Snowmagedon, Jonsi and Wilco!

  • I Dont Get It

    Believe it or not–Dolly Parton. She was doing a tour of smaller venues. I wasn’t really a fan but went with a friend and she was amazing! So real despite her drag and she left no doubt that she was the smartest person in the room.

  • The White Stripes in 2002. Amazing show just as they were starting to get national attention.

  • Patti Smith

  • Loved seeing some 90s faves at 9:30 including Foo Fighters (2005), Placebo, and then some reunions with The Cranberries and Garbage. Been to many 9:30 shows and even my adopted kitties were born/found in the alley by the club and lived in their box office for a few days!

    Going to the fair tonight, sounds like it will be a great time.

  • Broken Social Scene circa 2006/7/8…

  • So late to this party but I’m going to have to go with Courtney Love and her version of a reformed Hole in 2010. Not because it was good, but because it was a trainwreck in the most perfect sense. It ended up being the most memorable of all my many moments at 9:30 club. The Washington Post destroyed her afterwards: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/28/AR2010062804908.html

  • Chuck Brown!

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (I see they finally changed their name to JR JR!) and Father John Misty. Both weird names…

  • Vic Chestnutt opening for Jonathan Richman and playing to crowd of 50.

  • How has no one mentioned Justin Timberlake? He did a small club tour when he release SexyBack right before he released the rest of the album. That boy is talented.

  • Bob Dylan, April 2, 2004. The perfect Dylan venue.

  • old club: The Slickee Boys!

  • Luka Bloom 1994, a number of Chris Isaak shows at the old one. The Godfathers. I’ve only been to Brandi Carlile at the new one (solid show)

  • Teenage Jesus and the Jerks
    Indoor Life
    Special Beat Service (Group formed from The Specials and The English Beat)

  • justinbc

    Florence + The Machine in 2012, opening act was The Weekend. Managed to get tickets for $40 same day before they all got jacked up to like $250-300+ on Craigslist .

  • OLD 9:30- Digable Planets (circa 1993) and The Roots (circa 1994…..pre-Jimmy Fallon background music….which despite my understanding that they need a paycheck as a fan I still find a bit offensive….).

    NEW 9:30- St. Germain, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest (Love Movement album; farewell tour), “Godfather of Go-Go vs. Godfather of Soul” (RIP Chuck and JB!)…..

  • Robyn and Kelis –or– Scissor Sisters

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