Concerts in the Capital: DC’s Best Music Venues

At a glance, Washington D.C., seems like a fairly straight-laced district; think black suits, pink cherry blossoms and one very famous White House. Yet, beyond the eye-catching landmarks, historic monuments, and cultural museums, there’s a lively music scene waiting to be discovered. Then again, we should expect nothing less of the birthplace of Duke Ellington.

When heading out to Washington’s best concert halls, try splitting your fare with fellow music fans via uberPOOL. When you choose uberPOOL, you’ll be paired up with other Uber riders heading the same way—not only is it environmentally friendly to ride-share, you stand a good chance of meeting some fellow music lovers heading to the same venue.

The District truly lights up at night, so sit back and enjoy the window-seat view along the way—whether you’re in the mood for a low-key evening of jazz or a head-banging night of punk-rock, these five music venues won’t disappoint.

Gypsy Sally’s

Georgetown is hands-down one of Washington‘s most beautiful neighborhoods, with romantic cobbled streets and rainbow-colored buildings out of a fairy tale. Most people head to this posh pocket of town to shop by day and wine-and-dine by night, never knowing that there’s an indie music venue in their midst. Located along the Georgetown waterfront, Gypsy Sally’s stands out among high-end boutiques and fancy restaurants. On a given night, you can hear anything from reggae to jam bands in this comfortable space.

The Howard Theatre

Like many buildings in Washington, DC, The Howard Theatre has an impressive history. It first opened in 1910, where it quickly became home to some of the best black musicians of the time; acts like James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and even the famed Duke Ellington all performed here. It was eventually closed in 1980 but reopened in 2012. Since then, everyone from Kendrick Lamar to The Roots have graced the stage. Despite having a larger capacity of 1,242 people, the Howard’s tickets tend to sell out fast.

Blues Alley

For an intimate concert experience, head to Blues Alley on Wisconsin Avenue. Since it opened in 1965, the venue has played host to some of the world’s top jazz performers—Tony Bennett and Eva Cassidy to name two. Unlike larger concert halls, Blues Alley takes a more mellow approach. It doubles as a dinner spot and nightclub, with patrons sitting at tables and bar stools during the performance. Live jazz coupled with a candlelit dinner makes this an ideal date-night spot.

9:30 Club

No roundup of DC music venues is complete without at least a mention of the 9:30 Club. For 35 years and counting, this concert hall has served as the District’s premier live music venue. The 1980s here saw many hard-core punk acts take the stage, and rock bands like Smashing Pumpkins stole the show in the late ’90s. The space is well-designed, with a main level and a balcony, giving concert-goers a good view no matter where they’re standing. As the area’s top venue, tickets sell out quickly.

The Kennedy Center

Last but certainly not least, The Kennedy Center remains one of the District’s most beloved landmarks, and for good reason. Located on the Potomac River near the Watergate complex, the view is tough to top. In fact, there’s an open-air rooftop terrace free of charge and open to the public. In terms of performances, the Kennedy Center offers quite the selection: theater, dance, ballet, orchestral, chamber, jazz, folk, and more. Performances are held in one of three venues: the Concert Hall, the Opera House, or the Eisenhower Theatre.

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