How do you toast to 35 years as the epicenter of DC’s music scene? The 9:30 Club is marking the anniversary by turning itself into a walkthrough history exhibition, giving attendees the opportunity to see rare club memorabilia, watch old concert films, and stand onstage next to Brendan Canty’s Fugazi-era drum set. Dubbed the “World’s Fair,” this free installation, which opened Tuesday night, will run through Saturday at 9:30, which is also using the festival to celebrate 20 years on V St., Northwest.
The exhibition starts in the Backbar with a video introduction from club owners Rich Heinecke and Seth Hurwitz, and founder Dody DiSanto. From there, you’re whisked upstairs past panels of concert posters, photos of old staffers, and setlists from some of the thousands of bands that have played 9:30 over the decades, like X and Public Enemy.
There are plenty of interactive stations too—such as a mosh-pit simulator set up on the main floor featuring intimate footage of 9:30 performances by Leon Bridges, Garbage, and the Cold War Kids—but the exhibition’s biggest treats come from touring its more hidden, VIP regions. Even if you’ve been attending shows at 9:30 for years, chances are you haven’t seen the backstage dressing rooms or what the view from behind the stage is like.
Some guests at Tuesday’s opening party who wanted a more permanent memento than the custom prints, shirts, and coffee-table books got free tattoos of 9:30’s insignia. There wasn’t much room for customization—the only ink color was black—but people could choose between the club’s original, rounded-edge logo or the current, sharp-cornered design.
Jeff Everett, a local artist who designed two of the prints on sale at the World’s Fair this week, went with the new logo. He had good reason to get inked: The 9:30 Club influenced his decision to move to DC in the first place.
“I moved from Massachusetts down here because of the DC music scene,” Everett said. “And when I was first visiting I made sure I went to the 9:30 Club.”