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It’s easy to spot the most experienced concertgoer at a show. The true veterans aren’t leaning up against the rail in the first row or posed coolly toward the back with a set of expensive ear plugs; they’re manning the sound booth, cleaning up beer cans or checking to see if that opener they booked was any good. And while there’s work to be done during a show, it’s hard for even the most jaded venue staff to ignore an act that’s jaw-droppingly talented (or, at least, jaw-droppingly loud). Here are the best, loudest, and strangest artists that played D.C. in 2014, according to some staffers who know shit from showgoing gold.

Howard Theatre Ashley Barronette (bartender) Best Show: Beres Hammond Loudest Show: Rata Blanca and Ángeles Del Infierno Sleepiest Show: Hiromi Best Outfit: Shi-Queeta Lee Best Onstage Dancing: Big Freedia (above)

Rock & Roll Hotel Molly Majorack (marketing manager and assistant to talent buyer) Best Show: Antemasque Loudest Show: Black Clouds Best Outfit: Betty Who Best Onstage Dancing: Reignwolf

U Street Music Hall Zach Eser (writer and social media manager for Blisspop, the blog of U Hall’s Will Eastman) Best Show: Tie between Annie Mac and Cajmere; New Build and Museum of Love Loudest Show: Rusko

Black Cat Justin Gellerson (band liaison, band hospitality, barback) Best Show: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks Loudest Show: The Orwells Weirdest Show: The Polyphonic Spree Best Onstage Dancing: Ex Hex Best Crowd: King Tuff

9:30 Club Maggie Cannon (I.M.P. director of marketing) Best Show: Ryan Adams Loudest Show: Death from Above 1979 Weirdest Show: Mac DeMarco Best Outfits: The War on Drugs, pranking opener White Laces Best Dancing: Future Islands Best Crowd: Ty Segall

Paperhaus Alex Tebeleff (house resident, booker) Best Show: Pree with Krill, Star Rover, and Witch Coast Loudest Show: Joy Buttons with Loud Boyz Weirdest Show: The Three Brained Robot Best Outfits: Young Rapids (Halloween show)