It was the final show at the 9:30 Club on F Street NW, and Teri Stubs hadn’t worn the right attire.
“I came not to work, but dressed to party,” Stubs says. “I had a little skirt on.”
Usually, when Stubs checked in at the downtown D.C. rock club, she was there to do her job: run a camera. She’d seen more than 1,000 acts during her 10 years at the venue. Most of the time, though, Stubs didn’t record them — from her seat above the audience, she normally just shot for the in-house video system.
But this was New Year’s Eve of 1995, and Tiny Desk Unit was getting ready to play the final show on F Street before 9:30 Club moved to a bigger building uptown. It cried out for documentation. Stubs wasn’t on the clock, but her pal couldn’t let her miss this one.
“A friend said to me, ‘Get your butt in that chair. You’re gonna regret it the rest of your life if you don’t shoot the last band that plays there,'” says Stubs. “I said, ‘I have a little skirt on! I don’t think I should get up there.'” But her friend insisted. “Get your butt in that chair,” she said.
“So that’s exactly what I did,” Stubs says. “I got my butt in the chair and held my legs tight together that night.”
That video went into Stubs’ small collection of tape she’d shot at 9:30 Club, much of which sat in her Takoma Park house after the venue relocated and retired its camera-operator position. It took Stubs 20 years to find a new home for the videos. Now they live at the D.C. Public Library.
“Over the years I kept thinking, ‘OK, I’m gonna digitize these things,’ and I never got around to it,” Stubs says. Brendan Canty, the former drummer of D.C. punk legends Fugazi, suggested that she donate them to the library’s growing D.C. Punk Archive.
Now, the library can boast that it has original footage of Nine Inch Nails, Gwar, Psychedelic Furs, Youth of Today, Mudhoney, Jawbox, Seven Seconds and Fugazi — among many others — playing 9:30 Club back in the day. (Her Tiny Desk Unit video isn’t there, but it’s on YouTube, above. See a complete list of her donations, below.)
Rumors have swirled for years that someone, somewhere, must be sitting on a goldmine of old 9:30 Club footage. Stubs probably has the closest thing to it — and there may be more tape she hasn’t found yet, she says. But her collection isn’t exactly vast.
“People were far more protective of their music at that time,” she says. “Most of the time, the best work I ever did was gone. It was not recorded… It wasn’t like people today, recording things with their cell phones.”
Stubs’ contribution to D.C. music history is now digitized and accessible to anyone who visits the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library downtown. Librarian Michele Casto says members of the public just need to contact her division to arrange a viewing. (Some of the videos were also shown at 9:30 Club’s recent World’s Fair exhibition.)
Stubs looks back on her 10 years at 9:30 Club warmly. But she says it wasn’t all bad that the venue stopped filming shows when it relocated to V Street. If it hadn’t, she doubts she would have moved on.
“I’d be a geezer up on the pole,” Stubs says, laughing. “It would be so hard to give up that job.”
A list of the 9:30 Club performance videos Teri Stubs donated to the D.C. Punk Archive, by band name: Adolescents, Clutch (four tapes), Cop Shoot Cop (two tapes), Executive Slacks, Firehose, Fudge Tunnel, Fugazi (three tapes), G.I., Gumball, Gwar, Happy Go Licky, Henry Rollins, Holy Cow (four tapes), Ignition, Jack Hammer, Jawbox (three tapes), John Sex, Killing Joke, Kingface, Lucy Brown (four tapes), Marginal Man, Mudhoney, Nine Inch Nails (two tapes), Pain Teens, Psychedelic Furs (two tapes), Royal Crescent Mob, Seven Seconds, Slickee Boys, Sonic Youth, Strange Boutique (two tapes), Sugartime, That Petrol Emotion, Thud (six tapes), Velocity Girl, Who is God, Youth of Today.
Top photo: A screenshot from Teri Stubs’ video of Tiny Desk Unit’s Dec. 31, 1995 show at the 9:30 Club.