Between a Rock and a Far Place: A Review of the Rock & Roll Hotel

h-street-hipstersPeering incredulously at our crop-tops, denim cut-offs, and wedges at 11:45pm on a Saturday, the older lady across the row on the bus immediately knew we were going to “da club.” When we told her we were heading to the Rock & Roll Hotel on H-Street, she tisked, questioning, “Is it worth your life?” The answer: most definitely.

Clearly, I survived the supposed harrowing night on H. Although I enjoy a good concert, I am not willing to be a martyr for live music. Despite the unwanted—and insane— mothering of an old stranger, H-street is an energetic, upcoming street filled with lively bars and fun concert venues.

H-Street is definitely a place to explore. Unfortunately, the location adds hipster, grunge feel of the street: while I may sound like Stephan from SNL regaling about the out of the way, distant feel of the area, I actually mean it. Using walking and public transportation, I spent an hour commute time. For an awesome band, it’s definitely worth the trek, but I definitely recommend investing in an Uber for the way back.

Surprisingly, the “mothering” did not end once we got to the venue. We went to see Lower Dens, an emerging band from Baltimore who recently opened for Belle and Sebastian. Even though the music possesses an off-beat, almost ethereal, edge, some of the audience legitimately looked like they were coming from work. Don’t get me wrong: there were some plaid-shirt wearing, man-bun with amish-esque people there. But, it’s not too far out of our DC prepster comfort zone.  Most amusingly, there were two seventy-year-old women raging in the front row. I don’t know if they were particular fans of the band or if this is a recurrent theme of the venue, but be forewarned if you don’t like to rock out with old people.

With a barely-elevated stage, low-ceilings and a small audience space, the Rock & Roll Hotel provides an intimate and cozy concert experience. I legitimately made eye contact with the lead singer the whole time. The concert almost had a garage, private concert vibe. Compared to the 9:30, the Rock & Roll Hotel feels much more casual and relaxed.

The best part of the venue, however, is the features after the concert. While the concert space rests on the first floor, there are two bars on the upper levels. Boasting low tables, high circular chatting tables and string lights, the roof top bar particularly is fun to relax in after a concert. The venue solves the dilemma of what to do after a concert: before hitting up H street (or going home), you can debrief the concert and relax at one of the upstairs bars at the Rock & Roll Hotel. Overall, definitely check out the Rock & Roll Hotel—just be willing to make the commute!


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