A look at some of the most interesting places to experience live music in the area
There are many cool places to watch live music in and around DC, and a lot of them are less expensive than seeing a show at the Silver Spring Fillmore or the Anthem. For a more affordable, fulfilling experience, check out any of these venues.
Rhizome is a small community arts space located on Maple Street, around the Takoma Park Historic District. It’s a small house that hosts live music, poetry readings, workshops and art exhibitions. Founded as a non-profit with the intention of creating a space to share art for non-commercial purposes, Rhizome is famous for its intimate performances and DIY-attitude. It has even been featured in Pitchfork.
Rhizome highlights musicians of many different genres, from folk to noise, and it’s a great place to discover new and interesting artists. They even host a Youth Arts Series, in which a lineup of talented young performers have the opportunity to share their own original music, poetry and art with the community.
Near Gallaudet, the Pocket is part of 7DrumCity, a music school in DC. 7DrumCity also provides musicians with rehearsal spaces for bands on the lower level. Though small, the Pocket makes up for it with great professional lighting and sound, and provides the audience with an opportunity to get up-close with the band. They book some great local bands, providing musicians in the area with lots of opportunities to meet and play together.
They regularly have karaoke and open mic nights, and 7DrumCity runs a program called Flashband. With Flashband, musicians can sign up to join a band featuring a randomly-selected group of other artists to play a themed show at another venue. The next Flashband performance, Flashband Color Party, will be hosted at Songbyrd on May 20.
Songbyrd opened in 2015, and is located in Union Market. Not only is it a music venue, but it’s also a restaurant with delicious food made with fresh local ingredients. They’ve pulled artists like Khalid and Lil Peep before they hit the mainstream, and continue to book cool up-and-coming artists from across the country. Visitors can also check out Byrdland, the record store down the street run by the same team, where they can browse the over 5,000 records in their collection.
Slash Run and The Runaway
Slash Run, which opened in 2015, is both a music venue and a burger joint with a 70s vibe. The entire venue is themed, from the menu to the decor, and they host a variety of local rock bands from goth rock to punk to grunge. Run by the same team as Slash Run, the Runaway opened in 2021 and is named after the iconic all-girl rock band the Runaways.
While Slash Run focuses more on local bands, the Runaway intends to serve more visiting bands, as there is a larger soundstage and a green room. This location has multiple levels, so those who are just looking to try their delicious burgers can avoid the music.
Both venues also host a Vintage and Vinyl pop-up monthly, where one can browse a wide selection of used records and vintage clothes. Slash Run’s last pop-up was on May 14, while the Runaway’s next pop-up will be on May 28.
If you’re interested in supporting local and smaller artists, check these places out!
Josey Merolli. Hey, I'm Josey (she/her) and I'm entertainment editor! My best friend on the staff is Beck Rowe and Hannah Hekhuis and Maggie Megosh. More »