9:30 Club co-owner Seth Hurwitz shares stories of some of his favorite shows
Co-owner Seth Hurwitz shares stories and photos from the iconic venue.
Washington D.C.’s vaunted 9:30 Club has played host to legendary performers of all stripes since its inception in 1980 — and now the venue has released a nostalgic oral and pictoral history book to celebrate its 35th anniversary and 20 years at its current location on V Street NW. The offering is packed with behind-the-scenes intel from Club’s owners, rarely seen concert posters and photographs, and tributes from musicians including Dave Grohl, Thurston Moore, and Chuck D. To commemorate the anniversary — and to celebrate the Hall of Records, a massive new library containing a vinyl or CD of every act to ever headline the 9:30 Club — co-owner Seth Hurwitz shared memories and photos of some of his favorite shows with EW.
Hurwitz was a Dylan fan long before the rock icon played at the Club in 1997 and 2004. “I can remember when he toured with The Band and played the old Capital Centre, dutifully sending in a check and hoping I’d get tickets as that would be an insane dream come true,” Hurwitz recalls. “I am sitting in the balcony at soundcheck [at one of his Club shows] and he looks up at me like, ‘Who is that and why is he here?’ And I [was] hoping he doesn’t throw me out of my own club, because he is one of the very few people I would actually obey.”
A drummer himself, Hurwitz was thrilled when Deep Purple — including personal idol and beat extraordinaire Ian Paice — performed at the venue in 9:30 Club in 1996. “People don’t realize how great this band was, as they are often dismissed by those who only knew ‘Smoke on the Water,'” Hurwitz explains. “All these years I thought [Paice] had this lightning fast bass drum foot — it turns out he has a double pedal rigged up there behind a single bass drum. [That] doesn’t diminish his abilities one tiny bit, as I can’t even do that.”
Long lauded for their surreal and immersive concerts, electronic revolutionaries Kraftwerk brought their melodies to the 9:30 Club in 2005 and 2014. “This is another art form entirely,” Hurwitz says of the group’s shows. “You just won’t understand it until you see it. It is so transporting, I was in tears.” One caveat: The seasoned concert promoter adds that he cried at Bambi.
Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl grew up in the D.C. area and attended scores of shows at the 9:30 Club, so it’s no surprise that his own gigs at the venue stand out as some of the best in its history. “Dave Grohl is the nicest guy on the planet,” Hurwitz says. “Combine that with a band full of equally wonderful people … and it just doesn’t get any better. This is the reward you get as a promoter for all of the other crap. … To see the joy from the audience that is a direct connection to Dave, and the love and electricity that is just lighting up the place — whew. Makes me feel like I did when I was down front at a show as a kid.”
Hurwitz remembers that he hadn’t seen Fugazi until they played the new club, even though Ian MacKaye had been a runner for the venue. “One time R.E.M. played at the Capital Centre and everyone had to wait to get their beers iced down while Ian and Michael [Stipe] had sit-down cross-legged indie talk,” he says. But when he finally saw Fugazi play Hurwitz remembers, “I am thinking, yeah yeah it’s gonna be all kind of holier than though minimalist nonsense and [Fugazi] blew the doors off, went on and was absolute intense essence of greatness and power. I just think of it and grind my teeth.”