The DC Public Library Is Throwing a Summer Series of Rooftop Punk Shows

You're going to want to check out these free rooftop concerts!

Photo by Diego Garces, courtesy of DCPL
Photo by Diego Garces, courtesy of DCPL

Any punk fan knows what a rich history DC has with the genre. From bands like Bad Brains and Minor Threat who pioneered DC hardcore to legendary venues that are still standing like the 9:30 Club, the District's love for punk rock runs deep.

The scene is still going strong today—and luckily, there's free opportunities to experience it all this summer.

The DC Punk Archive, a segment of the DC Public Library's People's Archive that documents the history of the city's punk scene, is organizing a series of rooftop shows. Held on the roof of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, the free, all-ages concert series kicks off this week on June 7 at 6:30 pm, with additional events later in the summer on July 5 and August 2.

Tonight's kick-off event will be held inside in the indoor event space on the roof to account for the change in air quality along the East Coast, due to the Canadian wildfires. Patrons are allowed to bring their own refreshments and snacks, but no alcohol is allowed.

Earlier this year, the DC Punk Archive put out a call for local bands to play the gigs, and six great acts made it onto the bill. On June 7, see the noisy punk duo Teen Mortgage, the power-pop trio Grady, and the nostalgic-sounding three-piece rock band Fantazma. In July, check out the melodic pop-punk group Bad Moves, former Title Fight member Ned Russin's emo solo project Glitterer, and the politicized post-punk band Outerloop. The concert series then closes out in August with punks Hammered Hulls, the soulful rock group Jenny Hates Techno, and the shoegaze-y DIY band Emotional World.

The concert series first began back in 2014 when the DC Punk Archive launched, with shows originally held in the MLK Library basement, before moving to the Woodridge branch, and eventually returning to MLK in the rooftop garden last year.

While you can enjoy the live music beginning this week, the DC Punk Archive's collection that spans from 1976 to the present and features vintage photos, old performance footage, vinyl, zines, concert posters, and more, is always available for viewing. You just have to schedule an appointment by contacting

Before this Wednesday's kick-off show, you can even browse contents of the Punk Archive online at Dig DC, the People's Archive's digitized collection. Fliers, posters, and programs are made available, as are zines, with highlights including riot grrrl zines from the early '90s, concert fliers of Minor Threat, The Ramones, Teen Idles, and so much more.

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Sadie Bell is the former Culture Associate Editor at Thrillist and former Music and Culture Editor at Alternative Press. She loves live music and supporting local bands.