Posts Tagged: built environment

Built Environment Introduction: The Evolution of U Street Entertainment

U Street has been an entertainment hub of Washington D.C. for almost one hundred years, evolving from a mostly black community to a diverse scene for D.C.’s nightlife. While much of the area has been taken over by new apartments and stores, a few relics of the past still stand tall on the street. The Lincoln Theatre and the updated 9:30 Club give visitors a chance to stand in the same rooms as some of the greats and gain insight into D.C’s music history. Yet, the way people have experienced those venues have drastically changed over time, from the grand outings of the 1920s to the basement shows of the 1980s to the multifaceted events of today. As the neighborhoods of U Street modernism so do the mindsets of the people living within it. Attending a concert or show in a historical venue has become less of a whole experience and more of a simple outing; people want to capture the moment instead of being in a fully immersive environment. So, the question is, can these historical venues be brought back into the art? Will artists take advantage of these spaces and use them as assets? Or will U Street fall into the pit of crowd pleasing concerts?

Built Environment Analysis Bibliography

Background:

Boese, Kent. “Then and Now: Lincoln Theatre – Greater Greater Washington,” April 27, 2009. http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/2147/then-and-now-lincoln-theatre/.

Boese aims to show the structural differences of the Lincoln Theatre between its initial building in 1921 and the publishing of the article in 2009. He outlines some of the history of the building as well, giving context for the social barriers present within the building as well as its uses in the community.

While visiting the Lincoln Theatre, I took pictures of its outside features, and I plan on analyzing its evolution within my essay. Even though Google Maps can show me the building over the past few years, Boese’ article allows me to see its original form.

“Lincoln Theatre (Washington, D.C.).” Wikipedia, September 30, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Theatre_(Washington,_D.C.)

In addition to some historical background on the theatre, Wikipedia includes many key points about its restoration and aquirerence by I.M.P in 2013.

Since my paper aims to prove how outdated the theatre is and how its structure is a hard sell to younger musicians, the information surrounding its revival is key to my argument. Through the article, I can find facts about its past financial struggles and recent notable performers, both of which I can use for evidence for how it is falling behind in today’s music world.

“The Lincoln Theatre.” The Lincoln Theatre. Accessed September 30, 2016. http://www.thelincolndc.com/.

The schedule on the front page of The Lincoln Theatre web page allows visitors to see who is heading to the venue over the next nine months.

The schedule is an important resource because it not only allows me to see the artist demographic but also allows me to gauge of the types of audiences the venue attracts. It is vital to my argument to know who goes into the venue (to see if they are appealing to the surrounding neighborhood or a more diverse group outside of the immediate area).

“9:30 Club.” Wikipedia, October 22, 2016.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9:30_Club

The Wikipedia page for the 9:30 Club provides a thorough look at the venue’s history in both its former and present locations. A whole section is dedicated to ‘Significant Moments’ which gives a reader an idea of just who and what the club has hosted.

I plan on comparing and contrasting the musicians that have played at the Lincoln Theatre and the 9:30 Club in order to argue that the club hosts much newer and varied performances than the theatre. Since the article gives me such specific information about the club’s significant performances, I can utilize them as evidence to back up my claim.

Exhibit:

Bray, Ryan, and Len Comaratta. “All Access: An Oral History of DC’s 9:30 Club.” Consequence of Sound, 19 May 2014. www.consequenceofsound.net/2014/05/all-access-an-oral-history-of-dcs-930-club/2/.

The article takes a new turn on the history of the 9:30 Club by getting the views from various professionals involved with the club (photographers, record label owners, etc). Each provides a unique narrative of the club as it evolved from a small venue in the 80s to a well known large scale club.

I found it very interesting that, despite its short life of forty years, the club has such a rich history and deep impact on the music community of D.C. In comparison to the Lincoln Theatre which has been open for almost a hundred years, more people seem to speak out more about the local scene of the club than the contributions of the theatre to ‘Black Broadway’. Therefore, I think that the article will provide evidence (and good quotations) for my argument surrounding the relevance of the two structures.

DeTogne, Greg. “Live Sound: Staple Of The Circuit: Inside The System At D.C.‘s 9:30 Club – Pro Sound Web.” ProSoundWeb, January 17, 2011. http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/print/the_staple_of_the_circuit.

The article on ProSoundWeb gives key insight into the technical aspects of the 9:30 Club. From the sound system to the lights, the author dives deep into why the Club’s set up is so unique.

Since the Lincoln Theatre and the 9:30 Club clearly differ so much in their interior, I want to utilize this article to back up my claim that the club is a superior technical venue in comparison (which makes it so popular for new acts). In addition to the written text, the article provides some interesting pictures of the sound equipment and layout of the club that I can use in my final essay post.

Fischer, Jonathan L. “I.M.P. Productions to Take Over Operations of Lincoln Theatre.” Washington City Paper, 27 June 2013. www.washingtoncitypaper.com/arts/music/blog/13079440/i-m-p-productions-to-take-over-operations-of-lincoln-theatre.

The Washington City Paper’s article includes an overview of I.M.P’s acquisition of the Lincoln Theatre’s operations in 2013. In addition to the write up, the author includes the official press release from the former mayor of D.C., Vincent C. Gray.

The shift of power to I.M.P Productions is an important part of why the Lincoln Theatre is still running today and what ties it to the 9:30 Club. I intend on using to press release to support the claim that the Lincoln Theatre is tied to the historical side of D.C. (since the mayor declared the shift) and that I.M.P. is shift it away from its roots.

Ramanathan, Lavanya. “Lincoln Theatre’s Revival Ushers in a Gilded Age for Music Fans – The Washington Post.” Washington Post, August 29, 2013. https://www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/lincoln-theatres-revival-ushers-in-a-gilded-age-for-music-fans/2013/08/29/3535627a-09b6-11e3-b87c-476db8ac34cd_story.html.

Ramanathan provides information about The Lincoln Theatre’s shift into the 21st century concert world by diving into its history and comparing it to other venues. The author also dives into the business side of the venue, details it owners/renters over the years and methods of attracting customers in an age of spectacle and luxury.

I plan on utilizing this article as context for the Lincoln Theatre today and its inner operations. Also, the comparative part of the article may provide useful when talking about the theatre’s amenities.

Argument:

Schweitzer, Ally. “On Its 35th Anniversary, Is The 9:30 Club Whitewashing Its

History?” WAMU Bandwidth, 7 Jan. 2016.

bandwidth.wamu.org/on-its-35th-anniversary-is-the-930-club-whitewashing-its-history/.

This opinion piece questions whether the 9:30 Club was erasing the black performers from its history during its 35th anniversary event which showcases the many memories of the venue. Schweitzer interviews Kristi Riggs, a long time attendant of the club, who was surprised by the lack of colored performers featured in the exhibit. The author also goes on to examine the venue’s place in the black cultural that has thrived in that neighborhood.

The article makes sure to explain that this diversity problem is not just one of the 9:30 Club but also of the Lincoln Theatre. I want to highlight how I.M.P. is causing both venues to erase vital parts of their history and move in the direction of the popular music world, a plan that does not seem to be working very well for the Lincoln,

West, Michael J., and Ally Schweitzer. “How Not to Screw up the Howard Theatre.” Washington City Paper, 6 Apr. 2012, www.washingtoncitypaper.com/news/article/13042334/how-not-to-screw-up-the-howard-theatre.

The article functions as an opinion piece where the author gives five tips for how the revival of the Howard Theatre in 2012 can be successful. From serving food and drink to investing in good PR, the article lays out the best way for the theatre to thrive in today’s D.C.

Even though the authors focus on the Howard Theatre, they do mention the Lincoln and its recent failures connect to the lack of PR, its city ties, and other aspects. Many of the suggestions that the authors bring up are key aspects that the Lincoln lacks, and I plan on bringing up as main points in my paper. I will definitely use the 9:30 Club as the example that does fulfill these suggestions, but I might research the Howard Theatre to see how it is functioning today (especially since it is so similar to the Lincoln).

The 9:30 Club: Bigger on the Inside

It is easy to miss the 9:30 Club in the dead of night. Washington’s famous nightclub is a plain, square faced building that one could easily mistake for an old factory if it weren’t for the line of people snaked out the front door. Though, anyone heading there to see a concert will know that there is much more going on behind the bricks.

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I went to see a band called LANY at the 9:30 Club. The three LA natives are working on their first full length album due out next year.

Upon entering, besides being greeted by a ticket scanner and two very large hand stamps, you are immediately drawn into the small front lobby. Walking away from the door’s white fluorescent lights, one can begin to see the dark grunge look that most city venues have. Advertisements and signs for upcoming tours line a perfectly arranged bulletin board on the left, and those still lingering in the front pass glances at the dates. As a concert goer running late, I rushed into the darkness towards the stage so my time in the lobby was cut short.

When talking about the club, Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump said, “It’s got so much character, you wonder if the locals know how lucky they are,” and that statement could not be more true (Rolling Stone 2013). The club itself is a lot bigger than one might expect, hosting a huge floor and a decent sized stage that I later found out is movable (DeTogne 2011). As I walked in, I unknowingly did one of those cliche 360 degree spins to take everything in. With a capacity of 1,200, you would expect to feel lost in a swaying sea of tightly packed people, yet there is plenty of room to spare (Rolling Stone 2013). Above the main space is a second level that surrounds the room on three sides with a high balcony, providing the perfect overlooking view for those perched on one of the many seats. On both sides sat dimly lit bars with rows of bottles and bartenders mixing drinks while the back hosted the merch stand and chatty groups leaning against the wall. Directly up front, around one hundred eager fans had begun pressing themselves up against the barricade, trying to get the best view possible. I, of course, joined them, settling into a spot in the middle.

The band utilized the stage’s large, spacious accommodations and put up three large video screens that played different images during each song. Basically, each song had its own aesthetic.

img_8006

Lead singer Paul Klein took advantage of the club’s intimacy and interacted with the crowd during a few songs.

While times seems to move the slowest at the hour before a concert, there is a certain electricity in the air that is contagious in smaller, intimate venues like the 9:30 Club. With smooth jazz playing in the background (an odd choice that the audience of millennials constantly complained about), people talked amongst themselves in excited voices and took group selfies while the crews finished setting up the stage. The testing of lights and instruments brought on a wave of screams, only to be silenced again by realizing the wait was not over.

There is something special about concert venues because they act as a gathering space and facilitating entity. That night at the 9:30 Club, a thousand people united at one place for one reason only: to see a band play. The club provided a vessel for which the band could share their art and the crowd could consume it. When you go there, you are living future music history. Bob Dylan, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, and even NPR alls have history embedded in the walls of the club (Wikipedia 2016). So, as the lights went down and the LA based band, LANY, stepped on the stage to perform, one question remained in our minds: what history will we witness here tonight?

Works Cited

“9:30 Club.” Wikipedia, October 22, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=9:30_Club&oldid=745625386.

“9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.” Rolling Stone, April 25, 2013. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/the-best-big-rooms-in-america-20130425/9-30-club-in-washington-d-c-19691231.

DeTogne, Greg. “Live Sound: Staple Of The Circuit: Inside The System At D.C.‘s 9:30 Club – Pro Sound Web.” ProSoundWeb, January 17, 2011. http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/print/the_staple_of_the_circuit.

Built Environment Annotated Bibliography

Works Cited

“Then and Now: Lincoln Theatre – Greater Greater Washington.” Accessed September 30, 2016. http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/2147/then-and-now-lincoln-theatre/.

  • Boese aims to show the structural differences of the Lincoln Theatre between its initial building in 1921 and the publishing of the article in 2009. He outlines some of the history of the building as well, giving context for the social barriers present within the building as well as its uses in the community.
  • While visiting the Lincoln Theatre, I took pictures of its outside features, and I plan on analyzing its evolution within my essay. Even though Google Maps can show me the building over the past few years, Boese’s article allows me to see its original form.

 

“The Lincoln Theatre.” The Lincoln Theatre. Accessed September 30, 2016. http://www.thelincolndc.com/.

  • The schedule on the front page of The Lincoln Theatre webpage allows visitors to see who is heading to the venue over the next nine months.
  • The schedule is an important resource because it not only allows me to see the artist demographic but also allows me to gauge of the types of audiences the venue attracts. Even though I am describing the outside of the venue, it is vital for me to know who goes into the venue (to see if they are appealing to the surrounding neighborhood or a more diverse group outside of the immediate area). I can compare this speculation to some of the information in Boese’s article where he talks about who was included/discluded from the audiences in the 1920s.

 

Ramanathan, Lavanya. “Lincoln Theatre’s Revival Ushers in a Gilded Age for Music Fans – The Washington Post.” Washington Post, August 29, 2013. https://www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/lincoln-theatres-revival-ushers-in-a-gilded-age-for-music-fans/2013/08/29/3535627a-09b6-11e3-b87c-476db8ac34cd_story.html.

  • Ramanathan provides information about The Lincoln Theatre’s shift into the 21st century concert world by diving into its history and comparing it to other venues. The author also dives into the business side of the venue, details it owners/renters over the years and methods of attracting customers in an age of spectacle and luxury.
  • I plan on utilizing this article as context for the Lincoln Theatre today and its inner operations. Also, the comparative part of the article may provide useful when talking about the theatre’s amenities.