The exterior of Black Cat, a music venue on 14th Street NW in Washington, D.C.
Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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“Black Cat, Black Cat!” 

One of D.C.’s favorite music venues, the Black Cat, announced its 30th-anniversary celebration on Friday, May 19, and what a lineup! Bands with deep D.C. roots, including Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Bad Moves, and Flasher, are playing the two-night event, scheduled for Sept. 8 and 9, which will also include a reunion of the District’s golden example of indie pop: Velocity Girl

Was it for the love of the Cat or something else that made this reunion happen? (The band, which, in the interest of full disclosure, includes former City Paper staffer Brian Nelson, last played together 21 years ago.) Archie Moore, Velocity Girl’s guitarist, says both. “Basically, there have been three D.C. clubs that are completely beloved to me: d.c. space, Black Cat, and the old and new 9:30 Club. These three are sacred spots for me and a lot of my friends in D.C. I feel fortunate that this place where I was born also has a really cool rock culture.” 

Additionally, Moore says that the band’s offspring were another reason for a Velocity Girl reunion. “The main reason we were all amenable [to the reunion] is that our kids were finally at an age where they could go to a rock show and enjoy it. This is the one time we could play for our kids,” he says.

The two-night anniversary lineup also includes a cross-pollination of talents, be it shared band members—or in the case of one band—daughters. Mary Timony plays guitar in Ex Hex (headlining night one and playing their first show in four years) and bass in Hammered Hulls (night two); Black Cat owner Dante Ferrando plays drums in both Gray Matter (night one) and the Owners (night two). Birthday Girl, composed of singer-guitarist Mabel Canty and bassist Bella MacKaye, will share the night one lineup with Mabel’s dad, Brendan Canty of the Messthetics. If the “MacKaye” raises an eyebrow, it’s because Bella’s dad, Alec MacKaye, is also the vocalist of Hammered Hulls. The elder Canty said the teenagers are excited to be on the bill. 

“They’ve grown up in the pit,” he says with a laugh.

This 30th-anniversary weekend lineup includes a lot of great talent from the current local scene and many of the players who were responsible for putting D.C.’s punk scene on the map. This show offers a chance to see history repeat itself a la a 21st-century redux. And chances are good you’ll run into tons of old friends if you attend. So maybe don’t risk buying tickets at the door.

Black Cat

The Black Cat 30th Anniversary shows take place Sept. 8 and 9. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on June 2. $30–$35.