The 9:30 Club, located in NW DC, is one of the cities most storied venues. Originally opening its doors in 1980, off F street, across from the theatre where Lincoln was shot, the club relocated in 1996 to its current local, off V street. This building had previously served as Duke Ellington’s club and was reopened with a sold out, 2-night run, by the Smashing Pumpkins.
Named the # 1 nightclub multiple times, by the likes of Rolling Stone, Billboard, and Pollstar, at a rate that no other club in the country even comes close to, the 9:30 Club has also been deemed the most attended club of its size, in the entire world. This makes a lot of sense once you realize that everyone from Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and Al green, to Nirvana, Adele, and the boi, Drake (and countless other acts), have all made it a point to pay homage to the history of such a legendary stage.
Like many other music fans that grew up across the DMV, this venue has provided me with some of my most fond memories and has played such an impactful role in allowing live music to have the stranglehold that it does over my life. For every beautiful memory, as is true with most things in life, the club has had its fair share of heart-breaking moments. None more sobering than learning of the tragedy that struck every sad boy’s favorite emo band, Hawthorne Heights in 2007. Those were some of the darkest daze at school, rivaled only by the news of Sean Taylor passing. Salute to the God, Casey Calvert.
As Covid took its toll on most industries, across the entirety of the world, the DC night life and music scene eventually reopened, but not without causalities. U Street Music Hall was another amazing venue of epic proportions, that never had the opportunity to reopen its doors, after that fateful night of March 15th, 2020. Many were worried that the 9:30 Club would face a similar fate, especially when the Okay to reopen was given and months had passed without a return show. Virginia’s finest, Dave Grohl, who was first introduced to the masses, playing drums with Kurt Cobain in Nirvana, made sure that his “home field” venue would bounce back. The Arlington native and now front man of the Foo Fighters kicked off the first leg of their new tour, in a Surprise! show, to reopen the iconic venue, September 9th, 2021.
With that being said, the irony of A & V belting out their hit from The Juice, Volume 2, Iconic, whilst making their DC debut at the 9:30 Club, was never lost upon me. There are levels to this shit and with Rory McNasty managing these two icons, it’s just another part of the story in a Layer Cake that even the latest 007 would be proud of.
Thursday, October 7th, 2021, the Sad Fruit Tour came through DC, with an incredibly long overdue visit to the 9:30 Club. The duos’ Avant Garden label mates, Unusual Demont, were up first. The line to get it in, which was wrapped around the block, due to the additional security check of covid vaccines or proof of a negative test (super appreciate the staff that made this feel safe, given the current world order), didn’t allow me to catch the entire set. I did walk in on them crushing a Prince cover, which was followed by some super positive words of encouragement, that I think damn near everyone in the building could relate to. Go purchase / stream their debut EP, ‘Hues,’ which the Baltimore natives just dropped in September.
Up next was Biig Piig. Real name Jess Smyth, who was born in Ireland and relocated to Spain with her family, as the warmer climate would benefit her brother who had severe asthma, is slated to open only the first half of the Sad Fruit tour. This 21-year-old kicks the neo soul vibes that I would imagine Rors blasts, while cleaning barefoot, before taking to live to share these tunes, as he contemplates life, over a bottle of whiskey. Accompanied on stage by a keyboardist who also played bass and another bassist that also played brass, who the crowd deemed to be Taylor, The Sexy Saxest, really set the tone for the night, even without the high end set production of the head liners. I swear that Biig Piig could see through my soul, while serenading the almost packed dance floor. It was dope af catching all three of them throughout the crowd, after their set. Biig Piig is featured on the EO track Body & Soul, off The Juicebox. Go stream her latest single 405.
Emotional Oranges first started making some noise in a major way around 2018. Things seemed to really start progressing once Rory got involved. Can’t begin to tell you how long it took me to rip the tracks from the sleepers that Sunset would play at his previous place of podding. When the Juice dropped in 2019, I was still finishing up at VCU and was unable to travel to catch them live in the 3 US dates they had booked. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to find out they would be making a stop in DC on their first tour, post quarantine.
One of the things that makes A & V so unique, is the way they have been able to maintain their anonymity, while still ascending billboard charts, where their debut project peaked at # 36. They aren’t out here running around in matching Maison Margiela masks à la Mr. and Ms. West, but for the most part, they have been able to remain low key. Even took me a solid hour or so to find their personal IG accounts. For more on that, the best explantion I’ve heard on the matter, comes from an interview with the duo, that Rory himself, conducted (conductor we have a problem, would be a dope collab, just saying, iykyk).
The place went nuts as it was lit up with a giant orange backdrop, across a multi leveled screen. To my amusement, they kicked things off with 3 straight tracks from Vol. 1 and sprinkled the rest of the tracks from that album in, throughout the set. Two of the most impressive parts of the show came when the duo flexed their individual prowess, if you will. A, represented for the men, with a dope cover of a popular ditty by Sean Combs, that we all needed and V, absolutely Killed em so hard, with an epic rendition of a popular Fugees track. As they were getting into left side, right side, make some noise. Now the fellas, ey ladies (which always makes me feel awkward as shit, since that episode of New Rory and Mal, thinking they’re both just staring at the crowd waiting to see if I yell some weird shit back, so, I just keep my mask on and wave my drink, y’all won’t catch me slipping), A, brought to our attention that the men in the building, outnumbered the women 17:1…
Now, this is when the wheels in my yacked-out mind, got to spinning, double time. Yes, there were a good number of men in the building, but even so, not in the same way as when men outnumber the women at any given stop on the Love Will Get You Killed tour. Hold You Back is a song in their set that sticks out to me as being a track that is super inclusive to everyone. Again, I had my Cookies purse on me, which has been known to pack a punch with enough self-loathing and fear to keep Hunter S. Thompson happy, so, I could be way off, but the way that they interchange the pronouns in specific parts of the song, given who is singing, may imply that there are various kinds of love and at the end of the day, love is love. EO is the perfect soundtrack to celebrate all kinds of love. So, I hope A, understood that it was just all love in the building! Alright, lovely…
The duo shut things down with their original single and the very first EO track to hit DSPs, Personal. Personally, I was upset that they didn’t come back out for an Encore (I would have paid whatever to hear em run back Corners of My Mind), but the show had started later than planned and being that it was in DC on a weeknight, I get that they had to end in time for people to catch the metro back. Overall, it was probably the best performance I have seen in years. The energy was unreal, and I know that artists always say, “Wow you guys are the best stop of the tour,” to every room they play, but for some reason, when A & V both said it, I really believed them. It was a special kind of buzz in there! Idk if they will be able to play rooms this size, again in the future. Might be an Anthem or Echostage type tour, next time they come through the district. Happy bday to V!!!! I know y’all will kill it in Atlanta tonight! Go download volume 1 and 2 and the Juicebox.