Arts,  Featured

9:30 World’s Fair: Documenting the 9:30 Club’s double-anniversary exhibition

A view from the stage with the crowd cheering for you
That time I took the mic onstage at the 9:30 Club and they all cheered


The 9:30 Club is filled with DC music memories and last week they opened their doors for a free interactive, multimedia look back at its 35 years here in DC. When I heard they added extra tickets to the already sold out time slots, I quick snagged a couple and took my camera with me on Saturday afternoon for some low light shooting and a memorabilia-filled, immersive trip through the club.

From the phone booth at the original 9:30 Club F st location
Don’t forget your quarters: from the phone booth at the original 9:30 Club F St location


My first 9:30 Club experience was back in college at the original location at 930 F St to see They Might Be Giants. At that time it held only 199 people and I remember it being a small, dark indie sort of a place. They Might Be Giants were a new discovery to me; I loved that they sang smart songs and John Linnell made the accordion seem really cool. Memorable also that night was almost getting kicked out before the show started. It was back when DC had a beer and wine drinking age of 18 and everything else was 21. In a moment of genuinely naive forgetfulness, I ordered a mixed drink to copy my 21 year old friend and after being served was immediately taken to a small room and threatened with being thrown out and who knows what all. Somehow we got to stay but seeing the original phone booth on display brought back the memory of thinking I might need to use it to call my parents to get me out of trouble that night.

A wall filled with copies of monthly volume newsletters
A wall filled with old copies of monthly volume newsletters
Looking at CDs in The Hall of Records
CDs in The Hall of Records: a collection of records and CDs from every show


The whole exhibit was packed with so many pieces of memorabilia–old postcard schedules, colorful newsletters, video and audio clips of performances and interviews. I loved getting to go backstage to see what it looked like back there–cozy with bunk bed lounging areas–and getting to read through some tour riders from some of the bands. There was also an area set aside for free permanent and temporary 9:30 tattoos. But I think the best immersive experience was getting to stand onstage at the microphone and seeing video clips of the crowd on their feet screaming and cheering; a couple moments to be a 9:30 Club star. And, like the bands get, they even handed out a free cupcake to us at the end of the exhibit.

All images @ Lorie Shaull. 

Backstage: best seat (lounging area) in the house
Backstage: best seat (lounging area) in the house
Listening to some sounds from the past
Listening to some sounds from the past
9:30 Club tattoo in the making
A free 9:30 Club tattoo in the making
Cupcake display backstage
Fake cupcake display backstage: the real ones were delicious

Photographer, icon-maker & videographer. Many of my projects are licensed under Creative Commons.