The Anthem: Inside The Wharf's new music venue

 
October 16, 2017
Washington, D.C.'s newest major development, The Wharf, comes with not one, not two, but three music venues—and the most stunning one of the bunch is about to open its doors to the public.

The Anthem is a brand new space headed by I.M.P. Productions, the parent company that owns D.C. establishments like the 9:30 Club and the Lincoln Theatre. Costing $60 million, the venue will house 6,000 seats with a capacity of between 2,500 and 6,000 people.

According to Billboard, the general manager will be Dori Armor, who has spent 30 years in the music business working for The Touring Artists Group and The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, previously serving as Vice President of Artists and Touring at IMG Artists. The club's booker will be Melanie Cantwell, who has previously worked for the 9:30 Club and the Lincoln Theatre.

Since the venue is wrapped by The Channel, a 501-unit apartment building, the developer spent $3 million on sound proofing. There was double wall construction in order to keep the two spaces—The Channel and The Anthem—separate. Additionally, "bass traps," or giant squishy blankets, were installed, which capture low frequencies.

Now, let's take a look inside. What visitors can expect is a lot of exposed brick, steel, and concrete, which is meant to make the space look edgy, but not off-putting, refined, but not pretentious.

When it came to making the look of the venue, it was a long exploration process, according to Michael Fischer, the associate principal of Rockwell Group. "We would come down to Washington every week, every other week ... and we were trying to circle around this idea of the industrial aesthetic."

Seth Hurwitz, the owner of the 9:30 Club, said, "I was really against having the industrial look because it's been done so much, but ... people actually do feel comfortable when they come in. If you think about it, if they come in here wearing jeans, they feel fine ... If you want to dress up, it's a nice place, too."

In the lobby, there are skylights and cymbals hung up by string lights. Once entering the next set of doors and making one's way into the actual concert space, it's super spacious with two balconies above the floor. The stage has wheels attached, which allows for a more intimate feel when there are smaller shows.

Fischer added that when the bunting images inside were added, they were inspired by 18th century Baroque theaters and the bunting used in political rallies.

Furthermore, the Design Architect, Rockwell Group, designed each of the seats so that they orient to the stage. Pretty much every seat is the best in the house. The Architect of Record was Perkins Eastman.
There are a total of seven bars. The chandeliers above are also meant to be a nod to the Metropolitan Opera, according to Fischer.
In order to prevent scalpers, there are "super excellent seats," which can only be accessed by those who purchase the tickets.
There is also free public Wi-Fi to top it all off.

Hurwitz said that he expects "all kinds" of music genres to be featured at The Anthem. He said that he doesn't expect The Anthem to take over the acts that may otherwise play at the 9:30 Club.

"Looking at this schedule, honestly, I swear, I think maybe two acts of the whole schedule may have played the 9:30 Club. And they'll come back anyway," said Hurwitz.

Curbed
Story By Michelle Goldchain