Mid April I took the chance to visit the intriguingly titled Rock and Roll Hotel in North East Washington, DC. The Apples In Stereo were the stars of the night promoting their new album Travellers in Space and Time and of course they gave a great live performance as pro’s usually do. The Apples In Stereo have been performing since 1992 and under some great labels like the revered Elephant 6 and currently with Yep Roc . The boys came out all dressed up in futuristic space garbs and really played up the futuristic vibe. Unfortunately no YouTube videos of the show have been posted, but in any case this post is less about the music and more about the venue. I do want to mention the two opener acts however, as I really enjoyed both of those performances as well. Kicking things off was a still relatively unknown psychedelic/ experimental rock band called Laminated Cat. The young Laminated Cat fella’s hail from Athens, GA and had a pretty good stage show including some improvisational jam interludes. The real surprise act of the night though goes to the second opener, the Generationals. The three piece band which included a female drummer preformed well on stage and was good enough that I made sure to pick up a CD after the show. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only convert that night. Interestingly enough besides the two front men switching leads and charming the hell out of the crowd with some great tunes, the band members are from New Orleans and are signed with one of local New Orleans’ major labels Park The Van which is home to others like the popular Beatle’esc Dr. Dog. Look for the Generationals to catch on as an up and coming buzz act.
So, more about the venue as promised. On first glance at the website, one doesn’t know whether to expect a serious venue or gimmicky trap out of the Rock and Roll Hotel (R&R). I will assure you that it is a typical basement/ stage style venue which we have all come to know and love, kind of like the 9:30 club BUT with a very cool upstairs bar and lounge area. The Apples’ show was on a Sunday night, so the place was virtually dead and that gave me a great opportunity to be nosey and move around the place. I found the upstairs to be very comfortable with several different style seating areas, decent bathrooms, pinball machines, and nice enough bar tenders. Drinks were reasonably priced compared to other typical DC venue bars. I saw another nice bar just a block down the street, but I didn’t check it out. Apparently, R&R also serves food upstairs but I did not sample any. The down stairs stage area was a tad on the small size, so I can imagine that when a popular band is there on a Friday or Saturday you might feel sardine like. The floor is not angled at all so you shorty’s might not have the best view if your not upfront. All in all, the bands seemed to like the stage setup and sound quality was good. I would definitely go back, but perhaps the most important thing to consider about the R&R is its location. The R&R is NOT near a metro stop. The venue is located in the H Street Corridor . As I said, I went on a Sunday night so driving wasn’t a big issue however navigating your way through DC can be challenging on any day if you’re not familiar with the city. Luckily, there is a free shuttle bus from several metro stops (Gallery Place on Red Line) which will get you there, just be sure to allow enough transit time (45 to Shadygrove, 45 on metro, ++ on the bus) and don’t miss the last bus after the show! Lastly, if you decide to drive beware that the area is undergoing renovation and there is no particular venue parking only local neighborhood parking. The good news however is that the renovations are for a new street car which will provide direct transits from Gallery Place metro stop and will make accessing this cool venue a lot easier.