Growing up in Northern Virginia and going to high school in DC from ’95-’99, The Pietasters‘ name was definitely well known to me. I wasn’t a particularly huge fan, but I remember classmates always talking about them and their music would always be on mix-tapes playing in our darkroom during photography class. A few of my friends would go to their concerts and rave about what a good live act they were, but I never got a chance to see them. While I was in college in North Carolina, one of my friends was a big fan so their songs like “One Dollar Bill”, “Maggie Mae”, and “Movin’ On Up” became staples of our car rides back to Northern VA.
I appreciate ska music but it’s never really been in my constant rotation and since college The Pietasters have drifted off my radar. But when I was picking and choosing what bands to cover for WLDC a couple weeks ago and saw that they were playing a hometown show at the 9:30 Club on January 8th, I knew it was an opportunity for a fun night.
“The reason this is the best club in America is the people that work here. Trust me, most nightclubs are terrible places. You don’t want to go there.” – Neill Fallon of Clutch.
“I can not imagine a DC without the 9:30 Club. It is unimaginable. It’s just unimaginable” – Mark Noone of The Slickee Boys.
“I love the fact that I’m from DC!” – Henry Rollins
“Let’s kick on the way back machine and get this thing over with.” – Bob Mould.
One of the truly singular music events I have ever attended took place on Monday night at the 9:30 Club. It was a special free concert held in celebration of this legendary club’s 30th anniversary. The night was also a celebration of the people who work (and have worked) there, the icons who got their start there, and the wonderful music that has been played there over the last 30 years. The night was full of anecdotes and music from 13 bands and artists that have strong ties to both the old and new 9:30 Club locations. For some the evening was a living, breathing, crash course in DC music history; for others it was a fun and at times even emotional trip down memory lane.
The 9:30 Club (original location) is the nightclub I cut my teeth on when I moved here in 1993. Within a few days of arriving I was catching my first show there (British twee-band Heavenly); and in the months and years after many, many more shows followed. I once took a date there to see The Boredoms and she left with a black-eye. My little brother did his first stage dive when I took him there to see Helmet. I was completely enthralled with industrial music after hearing Einstruzende Neubauten on the PA before the melodramatic, dynamite-strapped Sheep on Drugs brought the house down with their industrial-dance mayhem. And I was seduced along with everyone else in the crowd by Toni Halliday and the sounds of Curve. The old club opened my mind to most of the music that I still passionately love today.
The V st. location is without a doubt the best club-venue in the country. I’ve been to concert halls all over the U.S.A. and it always comes back to the 9:30 Club’s awesome sound-system (which I have written/gushed about at length over the years). Seeing a concert at the 9:30 Club is a sublime experience for a die-hard music fan. Perhaps none more-so than the amazing show that club-owner Seth Hurwitz treated dedicated DC music fans to on Monday night.