It takes a lot to bring D.C.’s hardcore punk community to the heart of Adams Morgan on any given night, let alone a Friday. But that’s exactly what Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe did last December, when they booked Baltimore/D.C./Ohio hardcore outfit Turnstile for a free, all-ages show. It’s just one of the many smart booking choices that’s made the freshman venue one of the best in the city. No small feat, considering the number of revered music venues and DIY spots throughout the District.
Credit where credit’s due: Songbyrd’s owners, Alisha Edmonson and Joe Lapan, made the smart move of hiring Babe City Records’ Jon Weiss and Peter Lillis to manage booking, marketing, and publicity. With Babe City, Weiss and Lillis have been at the forefront of D.C.’s booming DIY scene for years, and at Songbyrd, they’ve managed to carry on that legacy, booking a healthy mix of some of the city’s best local bands, buzzy up-and-comers from across the country, and diverse bills spread across all genres.
In any given week, you can spend every night at Songbyrd, and it’ll never feel repetitious: A four-band bill of some of the District’s best punk bands; a night of experimental, avant garde, and jazz music as part of the monthly The Preparation series; a tribute to jazz legend Billie Holiday; and a tour of buzzy indie bands poised to score a respectable 8.3 from Pitchfork with their next releases. It’s just the kind of varied, diverse booking that can make a new venue in D.C. thrive.