The Best Indie Rock Music in Washington, DC

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


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What is Indie Rock?

Indie rock is a genre of popular music that originated in the 1970s. Indie rock is characterized by a DIY ethic, and a focus on independent record labels, alternative media, and word-of-mouth promotion.

The term “indie rock” was first used in the 1980s to describe bands from the United States and Canada who were on independent record labels and were not associated with major label groups. In the 1990s, the term became associated with bands from countries other than the United States, such as the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

The term “indie rock” has been used to describe bands from a variety of genres, including punk rock, alternative rock, post-punk, and indie pop.

The Best Indie Rock Bands in Washington, DC

If you’re looking for some great indie rock music in Washington, DC, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll be discussing some of the best indie rock bands in the area. So whether you’re looking for a new favorite band or just want to check out some local music, be sure to read on.

The Dismemberment Plan

The Dismemberment Plan is an American indie rock band from Washington, D.C., formed in 1993. The band’s final lineup consisted of singer-songwriter and guitarist Travis Morrison, bassist Eric Axelson, drummer Joe Easley, and guitarist Jason McIntire. Originally a hardcore punk band, The Dismemberment Plan later evolved into a more experimental style, mixing elements of indie rock, punk rock, soul, electronica, and jazz.

The Dismemberment Plan’s original run lasted from 1993 to 2003. The band officially announced its breakup in February 2003. In the years since the band’s breakup, all four members have pursued other musical projects; Morrison is a solo artist and often collaborates with other musicians, Axelson is a member of the bands These United States and Union Transfer, Easley plays with Nat Baldwin in Dungeonesse and often collaborates with Jeff Ziegler, and McIntire is a session musician and member of several other bands.

In November 2011, the band announced it would reunite for two shows in December 2011 at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C., which sold out within hours of going on sale. The reunion shows were warmly received by fans and critics alike, with many people calling them some of the best shows the band had ever played. In September 2012, it was announced that the band would release a live album recorded during their December 2011 reunion shows; the album was released on October 9, 2012 via Partisan Records.

Q and Not U

Q and Not U was an indie rock band from Washington, DC. The band was known for its energetic live shows and for its political lyrics. The band members were Christopher Richards (vocals, guitar), Harris Klahr (bass), John Davis (drums), and Matt Borlik (guitar).

The band released three albums: No Kill No Beep Beep (2000), Different Damage (2002), and Power (2004). Q and Not U broke up in 2005.


Few bands have been as influential to the DC music scene—and punk and indie rock more broadly—as Fugazi. The band, which was active from 1986 to 2003, was known for its DIY ethic, its commitment to social and political activism, and its incendiary live performances. While Fugazi never achieved mainstream success, the band inspired a generation of musicians in Washington, DC and beyond.

The Best Indie Rock Venues in Washington, DC

If you’re looking for the best indie rock music in Washington, DC, you have to check out these three venues. They consistently host great bands and have a great atmosphere. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

The Black Cat

One of the most iconic music venues in Washington, DC, the Black Cat is known for its great sound, eclectic lineup of shows, and laid-back atmosphere. This classic rock club has been a mainstay of the DC music scene since it opened its doors in 1993, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The Black Cat typically books indie rock bands, but you can also catch punk, metal, hip hop, and other genres here from time to time. If you’re looking for a great night out at a legendary music venue, the Black Cat is definitely worth checking out.

The Rock and Roll Hotel

The Rock and Roll Hotel is one of the best indie rock venues in Washington, DC. Located in the U Street Corridor, the Rock and Roll Hotel has a capacity of 500 and features three floors of music. The venue has a main stage on the first floor, a second stage on the second floor, and a third stage on the third floor. The Rock and Roll Hotel also has a bar on the first floor and a restaurant on the second floor.


DC9 is one of the best places to see indie rock in Washington, DC. The venue has a great sound system and the staff is very welcoming. The venue is located in the U Street Corridor, which is a great place to explore after a show.

The Best Indie Rock Festivals in Washington, DC

Washington, D.C. is home to some of the best indie rock festivals in the country. If you’re looking for a great indie rock festival to attend, you can’t go wrong with any of the festivals on this list. From the popular D.C. Music Download Festival to the more intimate DIY D.C. Festival, there’s an indie rock festival for everyone in Washington, D.C.

All Things Go

All Things Go is a three-day music festival that takes place in Washington, D.C. every October. The festival features a mix of indie rock, hip hop, and electronic music, and has featured performances by well-known artists like Passion Pit, Chromeo, and Vince Staples.

Broccoli City

An annual showcase of the best in independent music, Broccoli City takes over Washington, D.C. for two days every spring. With a lineup that includes both up-and-coming and established acts, the festival has something for everyone.

past headliners have included Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and Solange, among others. In addition to musical performances, attendees can enjoy a variety of food trucks and vendors, as well as art installations from local artists.


Held annually in Washington, D.C., Trillectro is one of the best indie rock festivals in the country. The two-day event features a lineup of both established and up-and-coming indie rock bands, as well as a variety of other musical genres. In addition to the music, Trillectro also has food trucks, games, and other activities for festival-goers to enjoy.

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