20 years, black cat, black cat
September 13, 2013 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Great post. Some of the greatest shows I've ever seen were at the Black Cat, and it's on my very short list of reasons I'd consider moving back to DC.
posted by The World Famous at 2:33 PM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

20 years? But I used to go there when it was just a couple of years old... how can this be?

I saw so many great shows there, probably my favorite was Blur in maybe 1994/5.
posted by cell divide at 2:39 PM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh good we're doing favorite shows: From the 90s: Lotion -- 1995. Spearhead (with Aceyalone opening) -- 1995. The Makers -- 1998. Weston -- 1997.
But then probably the best show I ever saw at the cat was the F-Yeah Tour, 2008. DeathSet, Team Robespierre, Dan Deacon, Matt and Kim and motherfucking godamn MONOTONIX. Who broke everything.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:46 PM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Here's a quote from the review I wrote about that Monotonix show way back when, just because looking back on it now, its such a thing that happens every week at the black cat.

...let me give you a quick synopsis of some of the feats of wonder and magic this trio performed (note: all while playing the tightest set of MC5ish brutal psychobilly I have heard since Pussy Galore split up). The lead singer (a necromancer I’m sure) kept moving the drums while the drummer was playing them, whilst he blithely kept following along beating on them and grinning under his handlebar ‘stache. Once ensconced in a new area the singer would bleat an incantation into the echochamber and sneak around inviting people to pour their drinks into his shoe, which he would then ingest, or, more disgustingly, spew into the air over everyone. Once he moved the band (and the following crowd) directly in front of bar and dumped the entire water cooler on the drummer in the middle of the song. Once he stole my friend’s drink like a freaky finger-twiddling Gollum and did god-knows-what with it, possibly putting it down the front of his absurdly tight jeans like he did with his beer and BO soaked shirt. He stood on both bars and howled at us. The guitarist performed an immaculate solo with a full trash can over his upper body. Some of these actions may have been hallucinations...

Then the singer popped up and grabbed the snare, luring the drummer, who started up a military roll, into the scrum of people around the bass drum. A moment or two passed where we couldn’t see anything…then suddenly the drummer rose into the air, sitting cross-legged on his bass drum, carried aloft by a bunch of strangers, one of who hoisted his snare so he could rattle on that some more. More helpful kids fetched the hi-hat and crash and held those up as well…the crash swayed back in forth as it ascended, wavering, until just as it was close enough for him to beat on it, just as the tip of the stick touched the metal, the singer leaped onto our shoulders and started singing and guitar roared back into the main riff of the song and bang bang bang shriek end of show. I told my girlfriend that story when I got home and I’m pretty sure she didn’t believe me. It’s hard to believe it was real myself. I’ll never miss another one of these guys’ concerts, I don’t care if they play in a stadium or at a bar mitzvah, I bet they test the limits of believability every time.

posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:49 PM on September 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

What a fun place to see a show. Although damn, that was the WORST sound system in DC for the first few years. I remember what a joy it was when they finally upgraded it.

Anyone remember Dante's all-night eatery? It opened I think a couple of years before the Black Cat and closed about a year after the Black Cat opened. If you were a late-night person you were pretty much guaranteed to run into everyone you knew there.
posted by rednikki at 2:59 PM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I saw so many great shows there, probably my favorite was Blur in maybe 1994/5.

I was probably at this. I was a big Britpop dork and our parents were terrified of the area, so someone's dad would drop us off and pick us up at the door.
posted by sweetkid at 3:18 PM on September 13, 2013

Oh man, the naked lady cake at the Dismemberment Plan reunion! I still maintain that I made the right choice in not taking any, because I have a policy of not eating food that like a hundred other people have touched. But it was apparently good cake.
posted by nonasuch at 3:24 PM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I miss Peaches O'Dell's Black Cat parties. but I don't really miss living in DC
posted by crush-onastick at 3:33 PM on September 13, 2013

Black Cat, 9:30 Club, U Street Music Hall. DC has three of the best music venues in the country. Three big reasons why this New Yorker likes living here so much.

And, Potomac Avenue--Lotion? Yes! I loved that band. Such a bummer they didn't make it big enough and gave up. I think they have office jobs now. Full Isaac is a classic.
posted by oneironaut at 3:33 PM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

My fave was a Melvins/Jello Biafra double bill. The Melvins laid down an awesome set. Then they backed up Jello with ski masks on. So awesome. The "new" version of California Ueber Alles with Ahnold-centric lyrics was the best.

Although I missed a secret Beck show by 2 people. I was the chair of the board of a local non-profit and we were having our monthly meeting when my friend, who worked at the non-profit texted me: "Secret Beck show Black Cat Backstage, 8:30 PM." I plowed through the agenda and the board was mighty confused. I got there and I was short of the people making it in to the show by two gig-goers! Now my friend doesn't work at the non-profit, he works at the Black Cat.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:34 PM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I got to see both my beloved Holger Czukay and Mouse on Mars (on this tour) there, neatly checking off two of the things I hoped to see before I'm laid low, and was lucky enough to see "Dr. Buck's Letter" performed there live, too, which was like being electrocuted in the best possible way.

After the Mouse on Mars show, I walked back to my then it's-complicated apartment a few blocks away, still riding the spark, stepped in, and he asked "how was the show?"

I just shrugged. You had to be there.

It's a special club, sort of dank and wonderful at once, and I hope the neighborhood will not despoil what there is there. I don't get to shows much anymore because Stereolab is over, and most of my favorites don't tour often, but I still keep an eye on the Black Cat's schedule, just in case.
posted by sonascope at 4:24 PM on September 13, 2013

Anyone remember Dante's all-night eatery?

I remember wondering how that venture was financed.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:29 PM on September 13, 2013

Aw. My husband went down to DC for the shows this weekend.

(well, he went for a conference, but that's really just an excuse.)
posted by gaspode at 4:42 PM on September 13, 2013

In 1998, Elliott Smith played one of his best shows ever at the Black Cat. The audio is available here here at archive.org.
posted by averageamateur at 5:44 PM on September 13, 2013

I was actually at that Elliott Smith show, something really wonderful that night. I went to so many shows there when I was in undergrad (four hour drive one way from Blacksburg) but don't think I've been to five shows there in the past seven years I've lived in DC. I'm still bitter I missed the Texas is the Reason show back in February.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 5:48 PM on September 13, 2013

I've lived in DC ten years. I remember going to a show at the Black Cat my first weekend here, and I would have gone to one last weekend if I hadn't dragged my feet on getting a ticket sold out grumble grumble. I can't think of many other places I've patronized for a solid decade.
posted by troika at 7:42 PM on September 13, 2013

I've been lucky enough to have some great venues in my life, from the Caberet Metro in Chicago where I grew up to the Old and New 9:30 clubs and the Black Cat.

It was weird to have lived in DC from the time Berry marched the crack hookers over the 14th Street bridge until the Whole Foods opened on 14th Street.
posted by C.A.S. at 5:16 AM on September 14, 2013

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