Deli Magazine

All Ages Venue 9th & Beats Opens Doors in DC
- by Natan Press

I saw two things I had never seen before at Wednesday night’s soft open for 9th and Beats, in the Old Dominion Brewhouse at 1219 9th St. NW. I had never seen a sushi bar in a sports bar. I was pretty excited about it, but not as excited as I was when I walked into yet another, much larger room, beyond the sushi bar, and witnessed the miracle of a music venue being born.

It was, apparently, a long labor (as those things go). For the previous 48 hours, Dave Mann and partners Rachel Eisley and Greg Roth, along with a cadre of volunteers, worked non-stop to get the room ready for those of us too impatient to wait until January (when their plans will truly come to fruition). A stage was built, PA’s were procured, and the room was (sort of) made ready for show-time; all for a grand total of $2500. This might not strike some as very promising, and, at this point there’s not much to write regarding the décor. That will soon change. The stage will be extended, the floor renovated, two projectors added, and the space will likely look fantastically unique.

Before the bands played, Dave, Rachel, and Greg took the stage to present the audience their plans for the venue. 9th and Beats will primarily be an all-ages music venue. “All the shows that will involve music, will be all-ages shows,” says Dave. Thursday nights (dubbed "Rebels with a Cause"), in particular, will be reserved for bands with younger members and no alcohol will be served in the space on those nights. The space is meant to “cater to the kids” and the show will be followed with DJ sets put on by a company called In Cahoots, that sets up a “silent disco” show wherein the audience listens to the music through headphones. “You’ll walk into a sports bar, you’ll walk into a sushi bar, and then you’ll walk into a space where you can’t hear any music but you see people bobbing their heads back and forth. This is going to be the weirdest space in DC, but you’re gonna love it.” Dave later told me that for nights when national bands play, he’ll try to bill them with a sympathetic local band. Sounds good so far.

The plans for the space reach beyond music, however. Rachel is a local photographer and an art & photography teacher at an Arlington public school. She will be building a “pallet infrastructure” on the walls of the room on which local artists may hang their visions, with a focus on street art, photography, installation art and sculpture. “I want to see the space as where you can come and look at art, but it doesn’t distract you from what is going on in the room. I really want to create a dynamic environment where artists have the freedom to try new ideas out.” She will be accepting submissions on a rolling basis, probably monthly, so if one’s ideas can’t be tried out one month, there’s a good chance there will be room sometime down the road. Furthermore, her students are currently working on constructing chandeliers and other pieces to decorate the room.

Rachel will also be promoting theater and burlesque shows at the space (sorry kids, the burlesque will not be all-ages). “A lot of you guys probably know that a lot of DC theaters are shutting their doors or it’s become more difficult to perform there for indie theater groups…We really want this to be a space where people can express themselves in the performing arts as well.” With the Red Palace on H Street soon to close, it’s good to know that a new music AND burlesque venue is opening to fulfill our needs, liven our hearts and enrich our souls.

Greg will be the king of 9th and Beats’ comedy shows; he loves game shows, sketch comedy, and lots of other stuff. When he heard about the space, he talked to Dave about it and became motivated and enthusiastic by the potential. “This place is big, right? We could do a lot of things with this space!” For his part, Greg wants to do shows at 9th and Beats that are “a little bit different.” He wants to work with show producers, experienced in comedy and variety performance, that want to provide a unique experience, and he’ll be doing a show himself called “Who In The What Now?” (I think this is a Simpsons reference, and, if I’ve caught the reference correctly, I get “extra points,” though he was unclear on what I could spend them).

All this potential excitement aside, the most important aspect of any music venue is the sound. The room may not look too promising yet, but when the bands started to play I was more than pleasantly surprised. I don’t know if there are plans to improve the sound system that was in place for this show, but there’s not much need. The PAs were loud, crisp and clear. The bands that played, Go Cosy and The Sea Life (pictured), like their reverb loud, deep and wavy, and the room adequately sopped up the noise and let us float on their pretty sounds without drowning in froth and foam. Every instrument and voice could be clearly heard from any spot in the room. The sound will only improve once the walls are covered in pallets and art.

As venues continue to close, and artists have more and more trouble finding outlets in DC, it’s a great joy to see a project like this, focused on cultivating local arts for both the young and old. The space is ripe with potential. The calendar is already filling up. And there’s sushi!






The Sea Life