October 12, 2018
Blog

The Anthem Turns One!

One year has passed since Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl strode onto the stage of The Anthem and declared it to be “the best damned venue we’ve ever played.” The Washington Post prophesized that with the advent of The Anthem, Washington, DC’s music scene would never be the same. In my opinion, in the year since its opening night, that prophecy has been more than validated.

The Anthem has hosted over 100 concerts performed by a wide array of renowned acts, but the space has also proven adept at hosting all manner of public events, from corporate functions to awards dinners to seated symphonies. And whether the theater is catering to a private dinner or a packed house, The Anthem has continually impressed. 

These proud reflections come after a long and arduous trek to the October 12, 2017 deadline for substantial completion of the project—the same day that 6,000 concertgoers would pour into the theater for the time to watch The Foo Fighters christen the venue. There was, of course, no option but to meet that deadline. Standing in the theater on that opening night, a surreal feeling swept over me when the spotlight first shined on drummer Taylor Hawkins' throne and the intertwined Foo Fighters logo on the backdrop. After months of planning and several sleepless nights, the grit and determination that the team displayed was finally rewarded and in the best way possible as we celebrated along with all of DC. Fast forward to October 5th, 2018 – I was standing in the theater waiting for Florence + the Machine to take the stage and many of the same feelings emerged. I had flashbacks of the people, the planning, and the intricate details of the construction, and I was reminded of how thankful I was to be part of such an ambitious and satisfying project.   

The Anthem was born from a design/build contract that required numerous architects, consultants, and trade partners to execute. The theater embodies an industrial chic aesthetic – an ode to the stripped-down comfort of the legendary 9:30 Club. But, beyond the finishes, the nuances and special features of the space make it unique.

Most notably, The Anthem marquee is a physical beacon that draws its patrons to the Southwest waterfront.  It truly cannot be missed in a car on Northbound I-395. Once you are in the building, you notice the spacious wood, brick, and concrete-filled atrium lobby. Stepping over the threshold into the actual theater, patrons are drawn to the romantic bars which sit beneath the intricate perforated metal of bunting fabric backlit with LED lights that present a perfect blend of understated, classic theater design and modern technological flourish. 

Behind the scenes, subtle yet impactful features enable the theater and its systems to function seamlessly. For example, although most would not think twice about it, the doors and hardware in the space play a critical role for not only obvious daily functions, but also the theater’s specific and sophisticated emergency evacuation programming and sequencing. In addition, thousands of square feet of mesh walls are neatly trimmed with a unique screw pattern built to protect an insulation system which supports the theater's interior acoustics. The Anthem’s acoustics are, by the way, critical to its existence and operation as the theater is enveloped by 500 apartment units (The Channel) that must also be acoustically isolated to diminish the transfer of low frequency sound from one space to the other. 

The unique touches abound, but these are just a few of the many details underpinning the construction of the theater that have contributed to an exciting first year. With one year in the books, it is safe to say that the Anthem is well on its way to becoming a special place and a fixture of DC’s music and entertainment scene for many years to come.