Came here for an emmet swimming concert on a SAT. I had never been here before so didn't know what to expect. About half the crowd was somewhat late arriving but filled up by gametime. It's interestingly decorated and nicer and cleaner than I was expecting for such an old venue. You basically muster in a bar area with high bar tables or and adjacent 8 person table area that is like cafeteria seating. It was a 90's band so there was a mix between 40-50s and younger crowd. Surprising number of kids running around for a band. It wasn't that loud (for a band) but still seemed a little loud for elementary school kids.
They have Bass on tap and let you run a tab with CC. Pint was about $6 and pitchers $20 which seemed pretty decent for DC area and a concert scene. Bar service was pretty quick. Only have nachos at the bar until 6PM. They give you a numbered ticket when you check in. I got there at 5:30 and was #42 at which point the center section was pretty full but elevated both sides where completely empty all the way to the front. Sitting up front wasn't overwhelmingly loud like it can be at most concerts but may be dependant on the band.
Some of my party was late but saving 2 seats wasn't a problem at all and when they arrived, they just texted and I brought their tix out to the bar. Only thing I wasn't crazy about was that they take the whole ticket and I like to keep the stub for a souvenir.
Service was quick and on point all night. After seeing some of the reviews I was a little worried that if I didn't order dinner right away, I could be waiting for hours. Got the catfish with red beans & rice it came out piping hot in maybe 10 min so it wasn't prepared way ahead of time. Even though 500 people are ordering pretty much at once, the kitchen seems to have this down pat. I was very impressed. Catfish was pretty decent. The servers seem to be able to move through the aisles and keep your beer filled and dishes bused even during the show. Probably still a good idea to get pitchers so it's easier for them to keep track of how fast your table is drinking.
Afterward you can have a post game beer in the bar and get a CD/Tshirt etc in the gift shop.
The place is a little isolated so I was a little concerned about getting a cab afterward but there were several cruising by along Mount Vernon and I had one within 10-15 min without too much problem.
Overall it was a nice experience and I'm a little embarassed that I haven't made it here in the last 20 years. I'll be looking for an excuse to come back.
If you own or manage The Birchmere, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.