From Verizon Center to Blues Alley: Your DC Concerts Survival Guide

Your Guide To Live Music In The DC AreaEntertainment options in DC are practically endless, but you can’t go wrong with live music! There are tons of opportunities for finding DC concerts, thanks to the stellar slew of diverse and interesting venues. Whether you’re a fan of the huge artists that tour through the Verizon Center or prefer intimate, calmer shows like those at Bohemian Caverns, a night out enjoying music is always worth it.

But to truly enjoy yourself, make sure you think ahead! Check out the following tips to make sure you get the most out of your concert experience, by being prepared ahead of time, having a blast at the show, and making the memories last afterward.

Getting Ready

Logistics can make or break your night, so make sure you know what you’re getting into.

  • Look up parking information ahead of time, to avoid any hassle or unexpected expenses. Also make sure you can re-enter the venue if you expect to go get something from the car during the evening.

  • Plan what to wear. You’ll need comfortable shoes, and if you’re going to a crowded show, you might want to avoid clothing that could be damaged by a spilled drink.

  • Make sure you have what you need in your pockets, like your ID, keys, cash, and earplugs if you want them. If you’re dressing up, it can be easy to forget your usual pocket inventory.

  • For big DC-area festivals, like ShamrockFest or Maryland Deathfest, make sure you’ve done your research about the logistics (especially if you’re camping), and that you bring enough water, food, sunscreen, and other necessities.

  • If you’re bringing children along with you, make sure the venue is all-ages, and that the show is appropriate. Always bring ear protection for kids, as well.

  • If anyone in your group has special needs, make sure the venue can accommodate them. Always call ahead instead of finding out at the door.

  • Take out cash before you go, so that you don’t have to spend ATM fees when you want to check out band merch and tip the bartender.

  • Don’t forget the tickets! If you need to pick them up at will call, be sure you know where to do so and what name they’re under.

Enjoying the Show

This is best part – making the most of the night, and having an awesome experience!

  • Save your phone battery by turning off extra apps and Wi-Fi searching, or perhaps just turning off the whole phone! Some venues (like the Kennedy Center) barely have any signal anyway, so you might as well just plan to enjoy the show!

  • Check out the whole venue so that you don’t miss anything cool! Most venues have interesting posters and other pieces of history from DC concerts gone by, and some, like the Black Cat, might have an extra floor with a different show going on!

  • Identify important places right away, like the restrooms, smoking section, and any extra exits. If your group gets separated, these will be the best places to meet up. Most DC concerts get pretty packed, so be prepared for this scenario.

  • Pace yourself! It’s easy to get wrapped up in the sound and the intimate atmosphere at the famous9:30 Club or small low-ceilinged venues like DC9. Make sure you stay hydrated, especially if you’re having a few drinks at the bar.

  • Make friends with your fellow concertgoers! It’s okay for your group to split apart and run into other friends, too. On the other hand, if you have other friends attending the same show, don’t spend your entire night trying to find all of them and end up missing your band!

Making the Night Last

As long as you’re not in the way of the clean-up crew, you don’t have to bail after the last drum stick or guitar pick hits the floor!

  • Stay at the bar for a minute. Especially at historic venues like Blues Alley or other small clubs in DC, the bartender might have a great story or two to share, and you might even meet a performer.

  • Hit an afterparty, or if there isn’t one, invite your new friends out to an all-night diner nearby.

  • Keep an eye out for last-minute free swag, like freshly-outdated posters from the concert, or stickers from the bands.

  • Support the artists you liked by finding them online before you forget their names! Venues and performers always appreciate a note of thanks or a good review of your favorite DC concerts.

  • Share online about the fun you had. Some bands post pictures of their fans and invite further interaction, and it might convince your friends who missed out on the show to join you next time!

Listening to music and going to concerts is good for your stress levels and your well-being – plus they’re just plain fun! Whether you’re a seasoned musician and concertgoer, or can’t carry a tune to save your life, you can still get out and enjoy the music. So break up your routine – invite some friends, get out of the house, and have a blast at one of many DC concerts!


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 Photo by IntangibleArts

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