Venue vs. Venue: Reviewing local concert arenas


Ellie Levine

The Fillmore is one of the smaller concert venues you can find in Silver Spring. Though it may be small and a bit stuffy, a strong connection and love for music can be felt among attendees at concerts there.

Ellie Levine, Reporter

The DMV area is home to many wonderful venues that host a wide variety of artists and acts. The most prominent of these locations are the ones owned by either the company I.M.P. or The Fillmore. Each venue differs from the others and provides a unique concert experience, but how do they compare to one another?

The Anthem is a concert venue located on the Wharf in D.C. The venue opened in 2017 as an addition to the I.M.P concert venues. The Anthem is among the area’s larger venues, with its capacity being between 2,500-6,000 depending on the moveable stage placement. 

The Anthem’s quality varies highly on its capacity and whether or not seating is available. One of its coolest features is its transformative abilities, as it can shift between a seated or standing room. In my opinion, it is at its best when it is either a seated venue or at low capacity. Because of its smaller size, I have witnessed several people faint and suffer here as it can be extremely suffocating, specifically at a show like Olivia Rodrigo. While the Anthem can be fun on occasion, it most certainly ranks lowest on my list of venues in the area. 

The 9:30 Club is another I.M.P. venue, with a maximum capacity of 1,200. The 9:30 Club is a standing-room-only venue that provides the perfect general admission concert experience. The staff at the 9:30 Club put the well-being of attendees high on their list and do all they can to ensure that everyone remains safe. They do the best job at distributing water throughout the show and providing it for attendees afterward. 

This venue typically attracts smaller artists and I’ve never been to a concert that has felt suffocating in the same way The Anthem sometimes does. The merch stand is right at the entrance and rarely has long lines, making picking up merch easy, unlike most venues. Overall, the 9:30 Club is the best venue I’ve been to a concert in, continually providing the best experiences. 

The Fillmore is part of a large string of concert venues located nationwide, including venues in Philadelphia, Detroit, and Charlotte. The venue is only slightly smaller than the 9:30 Club, with a maximum capacity of 1,100. While it is far less stuffy than The Anthem, it is still among the more uncomfortable venues in the area. However, there is something to appreciate about its small capacity, as it provides a very personal feeling of connection.

 At the Fillmore, the love of music is infectious, even if you don’t know a single song the artist plays. A benefit of the Fillmore that is difficult for D.C. venues to match is its accessibility transportation-wise, as the venue has several free parking lots surrounding it and lies along a metro line, making it the easiest venue on the list to get to. 

The Merriweather Post Pavilion is the outlier of this group, with a maximum capacity of over 19,000 people and two stages. The Merriweather is by far I.M.P.’s largest venue and holds many of the largest names that come to the area. The Merriweather has three main options, the most popular of which are the main stage pavilion and the main stage lawn. A concert at the Merriweather is an entire experience, it has several food spots, several merch stands, and people everywhere. Because the venue is outside, it rarely feels overcrowded in the same way many others do. 

The one downside is the issue of getting there. The Merriweather is located in Columbia, Maryland and is not very convenient to any metro lines. Parking there is an issue within itself, as ticket holders need to buy parking passes at the time of purchase and the parking is a bit of a walk towards the venue. Though it can be overwhelming in size and take a bit of planning to get to, the Merriweather is an extremely fun venue.

Across the board, these venues work hard to provide the absolute best experiences for their attendees and it is always worth it for the experience of seeing an artist you truly love on stage.