9:30 Club Replica The Atlantis Opens May 30
May 5, 2023 @ 11:00am
Ahead of the highly-anticipated opening, District Fray has the inside scoop on what to expect at this intimate nostalgic venue.
In September 2021, when the 9:30 Club officially reopened post-pandemic, the Foo Fighters (unsurprisingly) played a surprise sold-out show. But that wasn’t the biggest jaw dropper of the magical evening.
Springfield, Virginia’s own favorite son Dave Grohl made a huge announcement: The defunct venue next door (most recently the Satellite Room) was going to be reimagined as The Atlantis, a new version of the legendary OG 9:30 Club.
“Who remembers the old 9:30 Club?” Grohl asked. “That was our church. That’s where we got to see every f–king band. That’s where we all played first [in D.C.]. That’s where R.E.M. played first. That’s where the Chili Peppers played first. That’s where Nirvana played first. Magic happened in that room.”
And, just like magic, we all received word that the new old 9:30 Club was going to open on May 30 with 44 nights of amazing acts and tickets priced at $44 each in celebration of 9:30 Club’s 44th anniversary. The club made the announcement on the apropos date of April 4 (4/4, get it?).
Of course, the Foos would be invited to headline the opening night at The Atlantis (they also famously christened The Anthem in 2017 and have played numerous surprise concerts at the 9:30 Club over the years). But the full roster stands out as nothing less than stellar.
The lineup of phenomenal artists represents the venue’s deep past, present and future. That’s why we see old-school rock pioneers like Living Colour and X, but also new breakthrough successes, such as District Fray’s November cover star and D.C.-based fave Bartees Strange, who kicked off his first headlining tour at 9:30 Club last fall. Just as many of us head to the 9:30 Hall of Records before a show to trace the venue’s concert history, we can outline four decades of music, mayhem and memories all sketched out in The Atlantis’ performance schedule.
The Atlantis — named after the short-lived spot that preceded the original 9:30 Club on F Street — is the newest and smallest venue in the extended I.M.P. musicverse, with capacity for 450 music lovers.
And yes, size does matter.
Despite their incredibly different vibes, acts and concert histories, Lincoln Theatre and 9:30 Club both host up to 1,200 music goers, The Anthem can hold up to 6,000 concert fans and the massive Merriweather Post Pavilion can seat up to 18,000. The inaugural roster at The Atlantis is bringing some of the biggest acts back into a small venue.
For example, indie icon Ben Gibbard plays The Atlantis at the beginning of September for a crowd equivalent to three maxed-out Metro cars. At that range, you can hear every sullen sigh between verses, catch a thrown guitar pick, be as close to melancholy glory as possible. A few nights later, Gibbard’s two bands — Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service — will play at Merriweather for a crowd of up to 18,000, the equivalent of Georgetown University’s entire student body.
Replicating the small scale of the original 9:30 Club on F Street, concerts at The Atlantis become intimate, intense, immersive. There’s nothing between you and the music. For 44 nights, fans will be as close as they’ll perhaps ever be to Gary Clark Jr. or the Pixies or Jenny Lewis or Joan Jett.
But what comes after this grand opening is a focus on the future of music. Audrey Fix Schaefer, communications director for I.M.P., shares that the smaller space is essential for emerging artists, since their first step to establish themselves is playing in a well-known and vetted venue.
“We will be selecting artists that we think are going to have the chance to be a big thing down the line,” Fix Schaefer explains. Playing at The Atlantis, she continues, will “help them grow, develop their career in the greater Washington-area and create an industry history, a relationship with us for future shows in larger I.M.P. venues down the line.”
By the time this article is published, you’ll already know if you’re the Charlie Bucket who scored any shows during the venue’s anti-scalper golden-ticket lottery. There were over half a million entries for fewer than 20,000 tickets. In an upcoming article, we take a deeper dive into The Atlantis: What’s up next for the much-anticipated and high-stakes venue?
The ticket lottery for the first 44 shows closed on April 7, but The Atlantis will announce new artists and shows soon. Follow at theatlantis.com and on Instagram @theatlantis_dc.
The Atlantis: 2047 9th St. NW, DC; theatlantis.com // @theatlantis_dc
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