9:30 Club vs. The Black Cat – Ding! Ding!

Or should I say, “Kick ass concert venue versus a bar with a crappy stage?” Yes, I may indeed be comparing apples to oranges here, but they’re both fruit that I like to eat, so by God I’ll compare them if I want to.

OK, OK. I know I may be touching a raw nerve here, one that might get a pie thrown in my face. There are some of you who will probably agree with my assessment, while others may be deeply offended. However in my small concert-going world, these are basically my only two venue choices*, and I far prefer one over the other.

For me there are many factors that take an average concert venue and make it great, a few of them being as follows.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs
First and foremost a venue has to attract good talent because duh, isn’t it all about the music? Yes it’s true, if you’re playing on the main stage at either of these places you no doubt have talent, but the 9:30 Club manages to attract the elite bands, the cream of the crop. Like Super Diamond for example. And Justin Timberlake.

Continuing along with the music theme, another key factor in whether a venue is great or not is their sound system and acoustics. For those of you who’ve been to both of these places, you know that the Black Cat doesn’t hold a match to the 9:30 Club in this arena. The muddy, undecernable sound that reverberates from the stage at the Black Cat reminds me of hearing my ugly cousin practice his drums in the basement while I played Pitfall on my Atari. The video game’s soundtrack sounded much better, even on our 1981 Trinitron’s low-fi speakers. Conversely, when I saw Zero 7 at the 9:30 Club last year the sound was almost CD quality. I kid you not.

OK, enough about the music. What else does everyone else like to do when they go to concerts? Drink massive quantities of alcohol of course. Both venues are properly equipped to accommodate you on your quest for drunkenness, but I have to give the edge to the Black Cat on this one. They have a better selection of beer on tap and they’ll even serve it to you in a proper pint glass. As I recall, your choice at the 9:30 Club consists of Heineken and Sierra Nevada, which is why I go straight for the hard stuff instead.

Have I mentioned how awesome the light shows are at the 9:30 Club? When I saw Massive Attack there last year I thought the lights were going to induce an epileptic fit. Oh, and the lights at the Black Cat? I think they’re very similar to the lights that my dad uses when he changes the oil on his car. I’m pretty sure your local hardware store sells them, although I’m not sure where you buy red light bulbs.

I guess this all goes to show that you get what you pay for. The average ticket price at the Black Cat is around 10 bones, whereas you can expect to shell out at least 20 for a show at the 9:30 Club. It just depends on whether you’re on a mission to drink or on a mission to listen to great music.

In summary, The Black Cat is a dingy, smelly place with a good beer selection and cheap ticket prices. If you don’t know your date very well and aren’t sure how much time or money you want to invest in her, take her to a show here and snog her in a dark corner. On the other hand, if you appreciate hearing music as it’s meant to be heard, you fancy wicked cool light shows, and don’t mind drinking Heineken out of a plastic cup, the 9:30 Club is the place for you my friend. It’s the dog’s bollocks of the DC music scene, don’t you think?

* I’ll obviously go to the Verizon Center to see a big named band like U2 or Megadeth, but Mozart would have to resurrect himself from the dead for me to drive all the way out to the Patriot Center, and I’ve decided to focus only on venues that are inside The District and that can accommodate more than a hundred people.

Photo by Reza Vaziri

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

Hailing from the Mile High City, Max has also lived in Tinsel Town, the Emerald City, as well as the City of Brotherly Love. Now a District resident, he likes to write about cool photos by local photographers, the DC restaurant and bar scene, or anything else that pops into his mind.

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