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DC's Best Rock and Roll Bars, Clubs and Venues


While bigger pop du jour acts of the JonasGaGaCollective variety traditionally play at bigger DC area venues like the 9:30 Club, DAR Constitution Hall or Merriweather Post Pavilion, the Washington area still has more than enough places to catch up-and-coming bands of the hard rock, indie, metal and punk persuasions. CBGB’s they may not be, but we can still hold our own here in DC and here’s five reasons why. On with the show:

The Rock and Roll Hotel

Despite the name, this not an actual hotel, but, the rock and roll part is certainly dead on. This H Street, NE hangout offers shows by touring indie/ rock acts or a DJ dance nights almost every night of the week, not mention a swank second story bar/lounge divided up into lounge “rooms” – hence the hotel moniker. From the same folks behind other Atlas District mainstays, including the Palace of Wonders, The Red & The Black and the H Street Country Club.

1353 H St NE, Washington, DC
(202) 388-7625

Galaxy Hut

In a town almost entirely populated by Dave Matthews Band fans, Clarendon’s Galaxy Hut is Northern Virginia’s sole claim to rock and roll street cred. Harder-edged acts of both local and national stature join the Hut’s impressive array of old school arcade games nightly at this local institution. Plus, they offer over twenty kinds of beer, a kick-ass jukebox and the ability to smoke inside (until the Virginia ban goes into effect, that is). If the management could just get around to posting their schedule online, this place would be just about perfect.

2711 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA
(703) 525-8646

Quarry House Tavern

Though glaringly omitted from CultureMob‘s rundown of DC’s Best Dive Bars, this Silver Spring tabernacle is finally getting its due. Picking up up where tiny metro area punk clubs of days past left off (RIP Phantasmagoria), the Quarry House is now DC’s designated go-to for everything from rockabilly Saturday nights to Sunday hardcore matinees. Located, appropriately enough, at the bottom of thirteen steps, this self-proclaimed dive also offers a “Beericulum Vitae” with more than fifty brews.

8401 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD
(301) 587-8350

The Velvet Lounge

Since coming under new ownership a few years back, the Velvet Lounge has changed from an under-performing local dive to a U Street area landmark and fixture of the DC rock scene. Whether it’s snotty garage rock, experimental electronica, ear-bleeding black metal or eclectic post-punk, this is downtown Washington’s best forum for new and undiscovered acts of all shades, sounds and statures. Plus, it’s dark and cheap, like a good bar should be.

915 U Street NW, Washington, DC
(202) 462-3213

The Black Cat

With an ownership that includes Dante Ferrando (Iron Cross/Gray Matter) and Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters/Nirvana), the Black Cat clearly knows it stuff. Its two stages regularly feature the best line-up of shows in the metro area, in addition to a cadre of monthly dance parties that include The Wag (garage and soul), The Soulfuck (60s funk), Mousetrap (britpop) and Kicks! (punk, rock’n’roll and power pop). The in-house eatery, Food for Thought, is also the 14th Street area’s go-to for vegetarian/vegan cuisine on the go.

1811 14th Street NW, Washington, DC
(202) 667-4490