The venue U Street Music Hall announced Monday that it will close permanently: “due to the pandemic, mounting operational costs that never paused even while we were closed, and no clear timeline for when clubs like ours can safely reopen, we had no choice recently but to make this heartbreaking decision,” a statement on the club’s website reads.
The Washington Post reports the club, which went dark in March alongside all DC venues, went several months without paying its rent, and owner Will Eastman told the paper that “senseless litigation” with the club’s landlord contributed to the decision to close. “We had four years left on our lease,” Eastman told Fritz Hahn. “If it wasn’t for covid, we would have been there for at least four more years.”
U Hall had a long-standing partnership with I.M.P., which booked the venue. “This is another heartbreak,” I.M.P. spokesperson Audrey Fix Schaefer tells Washingtonian. “We booked hundreds of shows at U Street Music Hall each year, so it’s like losing a member of the family. When the world opens up again, we’ll have a plan on where to put 500-capacity shows. But right now, this leaves a hole in the DC music scene. I hope Congress gets it together soon or there will be a lot more venues across the country that will be forced out, too.”
Fix Schaefer is referring to the “Save Our Stages” act, which Eastman supports. Last month, Slate reported that hundreds of venues and theaters have already closed due to the pandemic, and many others are at risk.
You can signal your support for the legislation to your elected representatives (I know, I know) here. In the meantime, I’m curious what your best memory at U Hall was. For me it was seeing Low in November 2018 after the band released Double Negative. The club’s justly famous sound system embedded the Duluth band’s songs in my bones. I asked people on Twitter what some of their best nights at U Hall were. Here’s a selection–please email me yours!
Robyn, 2013 (?). She was on tour with Coldplay I think and played a late set after playing at Verizon Center. Set was short but the energy was amazing.
— 🕸 Br🎃ke R🎃yals 🦇 (@BrokeRoyals) October 5, 2020
Beauty Pill played a show with Bella Donna, an all female go-go band. They absolutely destroyed us. In the most beautiful way.
Within the first minute, they OWNED the stage and the entire night.
It is not easy to destroy Beauty Pill.
It was lovely. https://t.co/QxduAj5W4t
— Beauty Pill (@beautypill) October 5, 2020
Met Chris Baio from Vampire Weekend when he was doing a solo set! He was so nice and signed all my Vampire Weekend records
— Maria Carrasco (@mariaspov) October 5, 2020
Kelela ~2 months after Hallucinogen was released was incredible. You could sense that she was about to breakthrough https://t.co/y3gBTEed5m
— David (@_davidrohmer) October 5, 2020
I saw their first ever metal show there on 4/8/2012 which was also Easter. The bands were Onslaught and M:Pire of Evil (a Venom spinoff that now goes by Venom Inc.). It was a fun night of thrash and speed metal! I wrote a review of it here: https://t.co/fqyil80ThA
— DC Heavy Metal (@MetalChris) October 5, 2020
Beth Orton, Book of Love, Of Montreal, White Denim, Cloud Nothings and too many more to recount!
— Julie Karant (@Julie32BJ) October 5, 2020
Misterwives in April 2015. Loudest most energetic crowd I’ve ever been a part of. Pure energy.
— Grant Klein (@GrantKbh) October 5, 2020
William Basinski. A dance club that can also house great experimental music? It was a treat.
— Justin Anderson-Weber (@jl_weber) October 5, 2020