My sister, husband, and I have varying tastes in music but one band we all agree on and love is Clutch. The band is from the area, and every year between Christmas and New Year’s, they play a show at the 9:30 Club. And almost every year, my sister gets me and Karl tickets as a Christmas gift and the three of us go.
This show is always a blast; while I have seen Clutch at music festivals, their best shows are at 9:30 because of the crowd. Many think heavier rock music means crazy crowds with mosh pits and drunks; while both exist at a Clutch concert the majority of the crowd is loyal fans who have grown up with the band and are so happy to be surrounded by their kind. As a petite woman, I feel safer at a Clutch show at 9:30 than a pop concert at a major arena. The crowd is predominately male and over 35, a large percentage with beards, glasses, and Clutch tee shirts (this is not the kind of show where it’s passé to wear the shirt of the band on stage, in fact it’s a badge of honor especially if it’s old). Every year I end up tweeting that single women over 30 in DC should get tickets to Clutch because it seems like half the men are single and when I chat with them they’re nice guys with good jobs and great smiles and a nice friends (who are in tow, it’s always at least a group of two if not 12). But the crowd is a friendly one, one that protects one another, lets the shorties move up (or at least tries not to restrict one’s view), hugs and clasps hands with strangers when favorite songs are sung or at the end of a great show. Unlike a music festival where the love felt is often enhanced by herbs and pharmaceuticals, I’ve found a good percentage of a Clutch audience is relatively sober or at least able to handle its liquor. The love is real.
That being said… this was not my favorite Clutch concert. Their set was 99% songs from their latest album, which I get, but these songs have a different vibe and it gave the whole concert hall a different vibe. Sure we sang along, sure we danced, and I couldn’t see it from my 5’3” vantage point but Karl told me there was a mosh pit, but in general the scene was far more subdued. Clutch is getting older, their fans are aging with them, but I could feel the energy beneath the surface, the guys with beards (and the short gals with beachy waves) wanted a few more songs they could rock the hell out to. Literally, more cowbell.
It’s hard when a favorite band changes or when the vibe at their shows changes. I used to be a HUGE Grace Potter fan and saw her a dozen times, but once she was on VH1 Divas and had “Paris (Ooh La La)” become an anthem for every sorority girl, I couldn’t stand going to her shows. She is still fantastic, but the vibe was different. Luckily, I don’t feel that way with Clutch, and I think a big reason is the crowd. Slow, fast, crazy, mild… I love it all when it comes to Clutch and look forward to my next show, and rocking out with my fellow fans!