9:30 Club: The First Avenue of D.C.

Fugazi at 930 Club DC.jpg
For the rat stories, the stink stories, the great footage of Scream, Rites of Spring, Embrace, Fugazi, and others, tonight's screening of 2005's 930 F Streeet (9:30 p.m. at Bryant-Lake Bowl) is essential punk rock viewing. (Here's Lindsey's review.) Listen to the audio archive of this week's Radio Riot on KFAI as prep: "Dance of Death: Radio Riot D.C. Hardcore Special," co-hosted by former Washington, D.C. resident Felix Havoc, who plays the first Bad Brains demo and other goodies (full archive here). The film itself (like the Minutemen movie, and the opening work-in-progress on Mission of Burma, Inexplicable--click for trailer) rocks enough to make up for being way talky. Only other complaint: For me, the club was a D.C. First Avenue circa 1988-1990, and I wish the film had broached the crucial topic of non-rock/non-live music. The 9:30 DJs, along with their counterparts at First Ave in Minneapolis and (so I gather) at Danceteria in New York (check the old flyers), pretty much created cosmopolitan alt-club culture as we knew it in the '90s, which also happens to be the way most people now listen to music at home--mixing hip hop and punk and ska and goth all on one dance floor...


The sound fit with my idea of punk rock as it had been shaped in Madison, Wisconsin, and dovetailed with me really getting into the Clash's Sandinista for the first time. I still remember nights in '88 or so where you'd hear "Talkin' All That Jazz" and "Waiting Room" and "Hustle to the Music" and "Punk Rock Girl" and "D.C. Don't Stand For Dodge City" in one set. In fact, I completely missed the post-hardcore scene in my many memorable nights at the old 9:30--I didn't see Fugazi until they came to Madison in 1990 (the last great show I saw at Turner Hall, before it was torn down). Another thing worth mentioning: The club paved the way for mixing all-ages and ID crowds in one place, an arrangement that remains illegal here in Minnesota, right? Fondest 9:30 memory not having to do with girls wearing black: I went up to a Trent Reznor-looking DJ one night and yelled, "Can I ask you what song this is you're playing?" He barely glanced up, kept working the controls, and said: "No." Here's a Washington Post piece on the club, the full schedule of Sound Unseen movies and music through Sunday, Oct. 16, and a selective guide at Complicatedfun.com.


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