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Ocean Alley

Music Picks: Ocean Alley, Pink Sweat$, Nots and More

MONDAY, JUNE 3

Local Natives
This indie band hasn’t really changed much since I was in college, when I first heard them at the recommendation of several friends. While that may seem like an insult, I think there’s something refreshing about a band who doesn’t feel the need to constantly change it up, and why would you if you unlocked a near perfect formula for making emotional, enjoyable pop music? You wouldn’t, at least not for awhile. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $36. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 5

The English Beat
The racially diverse group The English Beat got its start in the late 70s and early 80s as an alternative-pop band. Fronted by vocalist Dave Wakeling, the group perfects a balance of pop and rhythmic melodies, which led to mainstream popularity in the U.K. and a cult status in the United States. Their latest album Here We Go Love was released in May of last year, making it their first release in 36 years. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $35. The Birchmere: 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.birchmere.com

THURSDAY, JUNE 6

Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers
One of the most recognized and prolific saxophonists, Grammy nominee Mindi Abair is back with her collaborators The Boneshakers. The sound vacillates between country and blues, providing twangy lyrics in between the big wind sounds. The band’s new record No Good Deed hits stores on June 28, but you’ll likely hear tunes off their latest at the Birchmere. Doors at 7:30 p.m. $35. The Birchmere: 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.birchmere.com


FRIDAY, JUNE 7

Davina and The Vagabonds
How often have you heard 30s music? I’d wager that the answer is somewhere between “barely” to “never.” That being said, the musical stylings of old-fashioned era specific New Orleans jazz is part of the appeal of Davina and The Vagabonds. With pianos, bass, trumpet, drums and trombone all accompanying the soothing vocals of Davina Sowers, who draws influence from legends like Billie Holiday, this band is a throwback revelation. See this quintet harness the powers of music from nearly 90 years previous. Show at 8 p.m. $17.50-$37.50. AMP by Strathmore: 11810 Grand Park Ave. NW, DC; www.ampbystrathmore.com

SATURDAY, JUNE 8

Pink Sweat$
Everything about Pink Sweat$’s music is scaled back. His production is minimal, his vocals are subdued and his lyrics are as subtle, sweet and seductive as his favorite beverage: Coke & Henny. The Philadelphia takes the moniker to new levels in all his appearances, often clad in various shades of pink whether he’s rocking track suits, sweaters or an astronaut suit. Doors at 6 p.m. Tickets $20. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

MONDAY, JUNE 10

Lazy Bones
Far from Lazy, this DIY indie pop band is still new to the scene, only forming in 2017, but that doesn’t mean their music sounds inexperienced. In such a short time, this group has opened for genre standouts such as Charly Bliss, Wolf Parade and Diet Cig, putting them on equal footing with some of the best indie rock groups going. Doors at 8:30 p.m. Show is free, but a $7 donation is recommended. Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe: 2475-2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

TUESDAY, JUNE 11

Nots
This four-piece punk band from Memphis, Tennessee makes sporadic sound good. The music is breakneck, all fueled by an unflappably pulsating bassline and a chant-like vocal method. While the music is fun to listen to (or headbang to) in a car, there’s no doubt that this kind of sonic wave is more enjoyable in person, preferably front row. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $10-$12. Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe: 2475-2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com


THURSDAY, JUNE 13

Will Varley
Will Varley began is career in London performing at open-mic nights blending personal storytelling and ancient folk traditions. Varley signed with Xtra Mile recordings after self-releasing two studio albums in 2015. Varley’s latest album “Spirit of Minnie” was released in February of last year and touched on a lot of political undertones. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $32. DC9 Nightclub: 1940 St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

FRIDAY, JUNE 14

An Evening with Star Kitchen
Star Kitchen features bassist Marc Brownstein from The Disco Biscuits, drummer Marlon Lewis (Lauryn Hill and John Legend), guitarist Danny Mayer of the Erik Krasno Band and keyboardist Rob Marscher of the Addison Groove Project. Star Kitchen will take you beyond the universe giving you an improvisational performance of funky, R&B music. Doors open at 7 p.m.Tickets $15. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com

SATURDAY, JUNE 15

Ghost-Note
Percussion-based group Ghost-Note draws their influences from artists such as James Brown, J Dilla and Herbie Hancock as well as West-African and Afro-Cuban sounds. Their sound can be described as a mix of hip-hop, jazz, EDM and rock. Their latest studio album, “Swagism” featured heavy-hitting beats rich in instrumental sounds. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets $15-$20. Pearl Street Warehouse: 33 Pearl St. SW, DC; www.pearlstreetwarehouse.com

MONDAY, JUNE 17

San Cisco
“Heartbreak never sounded so good,” is the way San Cisco describes their brand of indie pop quartet describes their more moody tunes. The band generally keeps the sound light and bouncy, but that doesn’t mean the subject matter can’t deal in the serious. With synths, dynamic thumps and appealing vocals, this Australian outfit is one not to miss. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $18. Black Cat DC: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

TUESDAY, JUNE 18

Kikagaku Moyo
This Japanese outfit is all about their honoring their psychedelic forefathers. Harnessing all the powers of trippy guitar riffs that can leave your mind wandering and pondering and thinking and blinking. Listening to Kikagaku Moyo (Japanese for geometric patterns) is not dissimilar to taking in a piece of art in a gallery, you need to take time past the initial glance and truly take in the work in totality. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $18. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19

Flasher
Listening to DC’s own Flasher is like hearing music in a time machine. No matter how new the release, their music contains a timeless classic appeal. From shoegaze to punk, the band has carved out a niche in the local scene, and are often mentioned as some of the city’s best. 2018’s Constant Image provided a look into their inner anxieties and how they overcome them via music and art. Doors at 9 p.m. Tickets $12. Comet Ping Pong: 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.cometpingpong.com

FRIDAY, JUNE 21

Ariana Grande
Grande’s “Thank U, Next” single provoked a nostalgic feeling for millennials with inspiration from romantic comedies such as “Mean Girls” and “Legally Blonde.” The video highlights the importance of self-care during heartbreaking situations. “Thank U, Next” delves into the theme of heartbreak with the death of rapper ex-boyfriend Mac Miller and the ending of her engagement to actor Pete Davidson. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $175. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW,DC; www.capitalonearena.com

Sizzy Rocket
Las Vegas native, Sizzy Rocket pulls influences from the punk-rock genre with a mix of catchy pop lyrics. Rocket released a cover of Beastie Boys’ “Girls” in 2014 which became a viral hit and then later released her debut single “I Wanna Rob.” Her latest EP “Mulholland” features catchy lyrics of pop love songs with instrumental beats. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets $15. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

SATURDAY, JUNE 22

Ocean Alley
Ocean Alley hails from the Northern beaches of Sydney, Australia and have been described as having a sound perfect for cruising down the coast or hanging out at the beach.There sound is considered a mix of modern reggae and alternative rock with influences from artists like Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Pink Floyd. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets $15. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H. St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

THURSDAY, JUNE 27

Faye Webster
Atlanta native and Indie artist Faye Webster comes from a family of musicians with her grandfather being a bluegrass guitarist and her mother being a former guitarist and fiddle player. Webster’s sound is a mix of country and pop melodies. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $10-$12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NE, DC; www.dc9.club

FRIDAY, JUNE 28

Rich the Kid: The World is Yours 2 Tour
Atlanta native, Rich the Kid has appeared on tracks from The Migos and Kendrick Lamar blowing away the trap music scene. Head of Rich Forever music, Kid’s sophomore album The World is Yours 2 debuted in March and features some of the biggest artists in hip-hop such as Big Sean, Nav and Takeoff. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets $27. Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com

Mr Twin Sister

Music Picks: Judas Priest, Santigold, Mr Twin Sister and More

WEDNESDAY, MAY 1

The Bright Light Social Hour
The president is a drag queen – well, at least in the new music video for “Lie to Me” by The Bright Light Social Hour. Inspired by the 2016 election, the psychedelic rock band’s single from their newest album Jude Vol. 1 compares Trump supporters to infatuated lovers blinded by devotion. After playing at SXSW, The Bright Light Social Hour immediately embarked on a tour. It’s only fitting they bring their conscious rock to DC. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475-2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

SATURDAY, MAY 4

Delta Rae
Hailing from North Carolina, Delta Rae’s six-member, country-folk band performs regularly at music festivals around the country. They’ve taken the stage at Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, Firefly, Summerfest, Lollapalooza, Hangout Fest and more. Delta Rae released their second album After It All in 2015. Two years later, they released an EP, A Long and Happy Life, and are currently touring to support their latest work. Doors at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

MONDAY, MAY 6

Santigold
Few musicians seem like they are having as much fun as Santigold, an artist who seems to have an endless amount of energy. With soothing vocals, wise lyrics and often thumping electric backdrops, Santigold has been a pop mainstay since 2008; and because of her longevity, she’s celebrating 10 years of success since her debut self-titled album. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $40. Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com

TUESDAY, MAY 7

Nana Grizol
This Athens, Georgia outfit is described as an indie folk band, however they play with a breakneck pace unlike most folk bands I’ve heard. The lo-fi approach to their instrumentation combined with their harmonic chants on songs like “Many Places 2 Call Home” and “New Years Wish,” both off of their 2018 release Theo Zumm, is infectious. Another interesting aspect of this band is the length of their songs, as most are reminiscent of old punk anthems lasting anywhere from 45 seconds to two minutes. Despite this brevity, the group touches on everything from growing up to American hypocrisy. Show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12. Comet Ping Pong: 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.cometpingpong.com

SATURDAY, MAY 11

Ben Platt
Ben Platt is familiar with the proverbial spotlight. In fact, it’s been on him all his life. From the age of nine, Platt has appeared on the big stage many times, most notably in Dear Evan Hansen for which he won the 2017 Tony Award for Best Lead Actor in a Musical.His powerhouse vocals, emotive performances and acting chops even landed him a role in the hit comedy film Pitch Perfect. As if that wasn’t enough, Platt, who is signed to Atlantic Records, released his debut album Sing to Me Instead just last month. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $50. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

Mr Twin Sister
With weightless, ethereal melodies and the angelic vocals of lead singer Andrea Estella, Mr Twin Sister possess the ability to send listeners into a dreamy trance. But don’t be fooled – they can also get down with the funkiest of basslines. Nonetheless, their sounds set the perfect mood for spring. Mr Twin Sister is best known for “Meet the Frownies,” which was sampled by Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

SUNDAY, MAY 12

Judas Priest
Talk about longevity! Legendary heavy metal band Judas Priest has been disrupting the scene for 50 years. They achieved great mainstream success early on, selling millions of albums and solidifying their position as one of the best heavy metal bands of all time. But time and success haven’t slowed their ambitions. Firepower, released last year, is the group’s 18th album. Rumor has it the next one is already in the works. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $75. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

Lee DeWyze
Remember the autotune craze? It feels like 10 years ago you couldn’t put together a playlist without half of the songs being aided by electric vocals. From Daft Punk to Bon Iver to T-Pain, the tool was a large part of the pop culture zeitgeist. And while some did it better than others, a ton of musicians gave it a shot. Some of the best music from this fad included the moments exceptionally talented vocalists used the sonic tool for layering. One of the men capable of this feat is Lee DeWyze, and though autotune is less frequent these days, when this artist decides to do so, it focuses his singing talent. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA; www.jamminjava.com 

MONDAY, MAY 13

Kate Toupin
A former Houndmouth keyboardist and vocalist, Kate Toupin is further proving she might be more interesting in a solo setting. Her music is energetic and honest, and her debut EP Moroccan Ballroom was entirely live, providing a transparent sound less talented musicians might avoid in their first release. The only thing better than hearing a live studio session on a streaming platform is to witness it firsthand, and now’s your chance. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $13-$15. DC9 Nightclub: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 15

Johnnyswim
The husband and wife musical duo of Johnnyswim are unreasonably charming. Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez have been making heartfelt music together since 2005. It’s unclear whether love or music came first, but who cares? It works. In their latest album Moonlight, the band joined forces with Grammy Award-winning producer and songwriter Malay. Invigorated by a fresh perspective, Johnnyswim is back and better than ever. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $40. Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC; www.thelincolndc.com

 FRIDAY, MAY 17

Jessica Pratt
A descriptor you’ll see for Jessica Pratt pretty much everywhere is that she’s not loud. Her music is quiet, creating a sense of intimacy and secrecy. Though Pratt has a talent for using her voice, she chooses to almost whisper into the mic, allowing the guitar chords to stand out in their own right. All her songs are soft and gentle but each cause pause, making you think and focus all at once. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. Miracle Theatre: 535 8th St. SE, DC; www.themiracletheatre.com

Juice WRLD
Juice WRLD is to hip-hop what Nirvana was to rock. That’s to say, their music speaks to the pains of growing up, teenage angst and young heartbreak. This kind of self-consciousness is a phenomenon in rap music, generally known for its braggadocious and confident lyrics, though reflective in other ways. But Juice WRLD is at the forefront of new age rap. His latest album Death Race for Love debuted at number one on theBillboard 200. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $50. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

FRIDAY, MAY 17

Molly Tuttle
There are few better at playing an acoustic guitar than Molly Tuttle. Her bluegrass songs serve as a showcase for her biting lyrics, guitar skills and vibrant, twangy vocals. The artist has mastered the genre, ranging from quick-paced anthems to stinging ballads. She’s versatile, she’s exceptionally talented and she’s a tremendous songwriter. No frills, no B.S. – just unmistakable bluegrass. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $18. Pearl Street Warehouse: 33 Pearl St. SW, DC; www.pearlstreetwarehouse.com

SUNDAY, MAY 19

Olden Yolk
This band describes its music as dystopian, which is an epic way to summarize this duo’s penchant for one-off creations. Made up of songwriting duo Shane Butler and Caity Schaffer, their interlaced vocals ebb and flow beautifully over their synchronized instrumentation, often featuring guitar strums and a steady drum beat. There’s nothing flashy about the two, kind of like how there’s nothing flashy about egg yolks – is that what they’re going for? Sure, probably. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $12. DC9 Nightclub: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club 

Tacocat

While the words taco and cat are SEO dynamos in their own right, putting the two words together is a brilliant marketing strategy for targeting millennials. While I know I’m overthinking this name thing, the band Tacocat doesn’t even need a silly name to get people interested. Their music is more than capable of holding attention. The band lives in a world ruled by surf rock and indie chill, providing ample opportunity for dancing, toking or whatever else you’re in the mood for. Show at 7 p.m. Tickets $18. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

TUESDAY, MAY 21

TV Girl
I think TV Girl describes their music better than I ever could: “You can sing along to, but wouldn’t sing around your parents, unless your parents are avant-garde film fans who smoke pot while fantasizing about aliens in outer space.” Okay, okay, I added everything after parents, but the point still stands: this indie band makes easily digestible music with some pretty deep subject matter. I mean, their last album was titled Death of a Party Girl, which could also be the title of a faux biography of a fictional scream queen. Either way, this sometimes X-rated music is super chill and extremely smooth. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

WEDNESDAY, MAY 22

Chromatics
Chromatics have yet to release their long-awaited fifth studio album. In the meantime, fans will have to feast on the electronic band’s latest single “Time Rider,” an updated 80s synth-pop gem. Performing for the first time in years, the electronic band announced a six-week tour, Double Exposure, making a stop at DC’s iconic 9:30 Club. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $31. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

THURSDAY, MAY 23

American Football
The sport of American football is rough and tumble. If you look up NFL highlights, you’ll probably hear hip-hop or metal because of the breakneck pace. The band American Football is a much more subdued soft rock band with slow starts and dramatic choruses. Their self-titled third LP is increasingly steady, which is perfect for what the band is going for. If you’re more into subtle emo sways, this band is probably for you. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

Disclosure
Best known for their brilliant collaborations with Sam Smith, Disclosure is at the top of their game. The four-time Grammy-nominated electronic duo will be touring in the U.S. for the first time in three years. Last year, Disclosure released EP Moonlight, intended to proceed the band’s third studio album expected this summer. Doors at 9 p.m. Tickets are $30-$40. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC; www.echostage.com

MONO
Tokyo-based instrumental rock band MONO rejects the traditional standards of rock music, embracing genre-mixing methods and never conforming to musical norms. They often blend orchestral arrangements with heavily distorted, guitar-based instrumentals. After dropping their tenth studio album Nowhere Now Here, MONO has been touring the world quite extensively. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15-$30. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

Photos: Courtesy of Wolf Trap

Caboose Brewing Company’s Wolf Trap Summer Ale Makes Its Return

There is something about seeing a concert in the outdoors that makes a show so much more enjoyable. Maybe it’s because there’s more room to breathe and dance around, or perhaps it’s because an open-air show is a sure sign that summer has arrived. Whatever it is that draws you to an outdoor gig, the promise of new drinking options makes Wolf Trap the place to go this summer.

The music venue is prepping the rollout of the newly updated Wolf Trap Summer Ale, a fairly light pale ale made for easy summertime drinking in collaboration with nearby Caboose Brewing Company. The partnership has been going strong since early 2016, not long after Caboose first opened its doors in Vienna.

In search of a middle-of-the-road beer that wasn’t like anything else they offered, Wolf Trap Director of Food & Beverage TJ Pluck worked with Caboose’s co-owner Matt Greer to create a brew that used the venue’s outdoor elements to inspire the Summer Ale’s flavor profile. In early discussions, Pluck, Greer and Wolf Trap Executive Chef Chris Faessen would talk “about the Wolf Trap experience and what’s unique here.”

“You’re sitting in this oasis of trees in nature in the middle of the city,” Pluck says of the venue.

With the abundance of cedar trees, pines and Faessen’s bee apiaries in mind, the brew was born. As for changes to the batch available for the 2019 season, Pluck and Greer agreed to tone down the bitterness of last year’s recipe.

“We typically bitter with Warrior [hops], but we’ve reduced that quite a bit and introduced some Falconer’s Flight into the mix, which is another kind of aromatic hop,” Greer says. “But other than that, the base malt build has pretty much stayed the same.”

He adds that these changes will make the 2019 batch an ale that is more with the times but anticipates that the team will continue to tweak the ale as they go. While Pluck had long envisioned serving a proprietary beer at Wolf Trap, it was not until Caboose opened its flagship location that he felt he had found the right brewery to work with.

The timing was perfect as Wolf Trap was looking to focus their beer program on local brews, now including Starr Hill and Devils Backbone. Greer adds that a collaboration with Wolf Trap made perfect sense on Caboose’s end – as soon as he and Pluck’s team sat down to talk, the two groups just clicked. Since then, the national park and brewery have only grown closer.

“They are literally a mile-and-a-half down the street from us,” Greer says. “We talk all the time and I’m constantly going to shows. TJ [Pluck] could call me tomorrow and say ‘Matt, I love this beer I had a dream about and I need to make it,’ and of course I would make it for him. It’s become more of a friendship than a business situation.”

Not to mention that as a brewer, Greer is always looking for new projects to work on with local groups.

“Honestly, we live for collaborations. It’s a lot of fun.”

With the summer ale collaboration going so well, Greer and Pluck both mention there’s a good chance the collaboration could grow in the future. While nothing is set in stone, Pluck says the two groups have started talking about potential projects down the line – including adding more Caboose beer at Wolf Trap as the brewery has recently started canning their beer and using the honey produced by Wolf Trap’s bees.

“We’re all hyperlocal, we like participating in each other’s events and we’re just really blessed with having so many like-minded people in the area,” Greer says.

The revamped summer ale isn’t the only drinking option to look forward to at the park this year. Wolf Trap will also be offering Richmond-based Väsen Brewing Company’s Guava Otter Gose.

“[Väsen’s] beers are all named after animals because they’re all about the outdoors, which fits in with us being a national park,” Pluck says. “We’ll actually be one of the very few places in Northern Virginia to have it in cans.”

Devils Backbone’s new Hibiscus Hard Lemonade will be offered, as well as two new cocktails created by Wolf Trap – vodka-and-orange puree concoction the Blood Orange Breeze, and cucumber and Spindrift cucumber sparkling water combo the Cucumber Refresh. On the nonalcoholic side, the national park struck up a collaboration with Caffe Amouri in Vienna to create the Wolf Trap coffee blend – a mix of artisan coffee beans from Papua New Guinea and Guatemala – served hot or iced and sold in to-go bags in the gift shop.

Whatever you’re looking for in an outdoor concert venue, Wolf Trap has something for everyone with their numerous local drink options, natural beauty, and stellar lineup of bands and performances.

“There’s nothing better than great music [and] beer together in one place,” Greer says. “I’m just excited that we’ve got this national resource right next to us.”

Wolf Trap’s summer season kicks off on Thursday, May 23 with a three-night lineup of The Avett Brothers, coinciding with the release date of the revamped Wolf Trap Summer Ale. For more information about the venue’s summer season, visit www.wolftrap.org. For more on Caboose, go to www.caboosebrewing.com.

Caboose Commons: 2918 Eskridge Rd. Fairfax, VA; www.caboosebrewing.com
Caboose Tavern: 520 Mill St. NE, Vienna, VA; www.caboosebrewing.com
Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts: 1645 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org


Artist Picks

Concertgoers aren’t the only ones who like to enjoy a beer during – or before or after – a show. Check out what a few artists coming to Wolf Trap this summer like to sip on during a performance and how they celebrate post-show.

Lake Street Dive
Drummer Mike Calabrese

Favorite pre-show drink:

Honestly, water. Pee clear, sing clear, drink after.

Go-to beer on tour:

Some [members of the band] are IPA people, or NEIPA people. Others prefer something yellow, like a classic German lager or pilsner.

Post-show spot:

The bus! The venue usually hooks up the local stuff for us backstage and then we go into the lounge and ask the bigger questions about life, love and Game of Thrones.

Lake Street Dive plays Wolf Trap Saturday, June 8. Gates open at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $35. Learn more about the band at www.lakestreetdive.com.

Toad the Wet Sprocket
Bassist Dean Dinning

Go-to beer on tour:

I enjoy a Toad the Wet Hop Ale from Green Man Brewery. Either that or a nice, light Mexican beer like Modelo with a squeeze of lime.

Favorite pre-show drink:

I enjoy a shot of decent tequila like Maestro Dobel or Casamigos with a squeeze of lime – never heavy, always refreshing.

Post-show spot:

I always go to [U Street soul food spot] Oohh’s & Aahh’s when I’m in DC. Never miss the opportunity!

Catch the band at Wolf Trap on Sunday, June 30. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets start at $25. Learn more at www.toadthewetsprocket.com.

Photo: Rey Lopez

From Mosh Pit to Peak Foodie: Outdoor Music Venues Step Up The Gourmet Goodness

Here’s a game: free associate “summer music festival.” Sunscreen, superstars, mud, Insta, #squadgoals…

Have you gotten to “gourmet mosh pit” yet? Didn’t think so. But that’s changing fast, and summer 2019 is set to be peak foodie season. The days of cardboard pizza are fading. Concertgoers are walking in with elevatexpectations, and music venues are responding with thoughtful menus that range from creatively healthy to Instagrammable decadence.

“The words extraordinary and unexpected should describe everything, including the food,” says Audrey Fix Schaefer, communications director of I.M.P., the legendary DC-based group that owns 9:30 Club and took over operations for the Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2004, waving goodbye to airline service-style food options. “We would rather err on the side of ambition.”

And ambition is absolutely the defining word for festival menus this year. Sean Kenyon, a globally acclaimed bartender and cocktail master, has been refining his processes for large-scale cocktail batching and is ready to debut his libations at Jiffy Lube Live.

“Well-executed cocktails are the result of well-executed systems,” Kenyon observes.

To make it happen, he constructed a system where the event bartenders are simply executing the final step: blending a spirit and a fresh mix.

“I look at it like we are opening a new cocktail bar every night in terms of experience expectations for bartenders, prep and visible instructions,” he says.

With a few spirits – tequila, gin, vodka – and a few mixer options that are all interchangeable, the guest gets to personalize the glass.

“We can change the ingredients within the system to maximize the guest experience without disrupting the overall operation,” Kenyon adds. “We are not just creating a cocktail menu. We are creating a system that lets us be nimble.”

Systems are also front-of-mind at Merriweather. I.M.P. ditched the previous corporate foodservice distributor – which according to Schaefer tasted like airline food because it was made by the same folks – and hired local caterers.

“We wanted the tastes of a neighborhood restaurant with an ambitious menu,” she says. “We want people to arrive hungry.”

In 2017, Wolf Trap overhauled its own menus and also broke away from corporate foodservice distributors; the venue now independently runs its own concessions.

“We took a major leap and selected a small, family-owned business that focuses on local sourcing,” says T.J. Pluck, director of food and beverage at Wolf Trap.

But well-executed systems still require a fresh feed of great ideas to execute.

“I’m a guy who likes change,” Pluck says. “We spruce up the menu every year.”

This season’s inspiration comes from a range of sources including social media, according to Pluck.

“Concertgoers love Instagrammable edibles that make people say, ‘Wow.’”

And people have a lot more exposure to strong flavors now, Schaefer adds, which means that spicier and funkier flavors are in play. Dietary restrictions can complicate menu planning but Pluck notes that “we always work hard to be sensitive and incorporate those into a concession stand environment.” Nearly all concert venues in the DC area now offer gluten-free and vegan options – something almost unheard of a decade ago at all but the most granola of festivals.

“I never thought that people would eat salad at a concert,” Pluck says.

So what can fans expect on their plates this summer?

“This year, we’re focusing on funky, fun, fair food that’s spiced up with flavors like raspberry and chipotle and funnel cake sandwiches,” is how Pluck describes the new menu at Wolf Trap.

Pluck is tapping into happy memories of growing up in the Midwest and enjoying Ohio State Fair food like elephant ears: funnel cakes, rolled, pulled, and topped with cinnamon and sugar.

“We’re always asking, ‘How can we do this better?’ and ‘What sets us apart?’ We’re always looking to raise the bar [at Wolf Trap]. For example, we’ll always serve hamburgers – but ours are made with prime beef and served on a top-of-the-line French brioche bun with arugula, aged cheddar and chipotle aioli.”

Over at Merriweather, Cathal Armstrong (of the legendary Restaurant Eve, and now The Wharf’s Kaliwa) has come on board as Merriweather’s food advisor.

“Cathal lives and breathes food creativity,” Schaefer says admiringly. “People will be coming as much for the food as for the performance.”

Guests will get to explore a menu that includes everything from freshly roasted, husk-on corn topped with Cotija cheese to a house-made jumbo lump crab cake on fresh brioche.

“They’re honestly better than in some fine dining places,” Schaefer says of Merriweather’s crab cake (her personal favorite).

Over at Jiffy Lube Live, in addition to fresh craft cocktails, fans can enjoy the buzzy Impossible Burger: a plant-based patty that bleeds and sizzles when it cooks.

“We have partnered with some great brands including Art Smith’s Art Bird, Questlove’s Impossible Cheesesteak, Guy Fieri’s burgers and new hot dog concept Dog Haus,” says Matt Rogers, Jiffy Lube’s GM and SVP for music.

“My personal favorite is the Art Bird Fried Chicken,” he says. “It is off-the-charts good.”

The folks who are overhauling menus and updating concert dining experiences are riffing off their own memories and tastes to create the perfect concert experience. Pluck is a musician and self-described band geek who says his dream job is working at Wolf Trap; he channels epic memories of concerts with Genesis (the 1992 reunion tour at Cleveland Stadium), The Police and Muse. 

Rogers finds the most fulfilling part of the job to be a providing people with an escape for two hours. Kenyon is also a musician; he pursued band life before committing himself to becoming one of the greatest bartenders in America, and his ideal festival night inspires his Jiffy Lube menu.

“It’s right at dusk, your favorite band is just coming on, the day is fading, your drink is complex and you’re surrounded by friends. Perfection.”

Learn more about the elevated fare and summer lineups at these three venues below.

Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Dr. Bristow, VA; www.livenation.com/venues/14407/jiffy-lube-live

Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

Noel Gallagher // Photo: Primary Talent International

Nostalgia Tours: Throwback Shows All Summer Long

Am I getting older or are the bands of playlists past just touring more often? It’s probably some combination of both – ah, the passing of time. No complaints though, because it means there are more chances to catch your faves of yesteryear throughout the summer.

SATURDAY, JUNE 15

Old School Hip-Hop Showdown
Eric B. & Rakim, Whodini, MC Lyte, Kool Moe Dee, DJ Kool and Dana Dane will all take the stage at Constitution Hall to make all your 90s hip-hop dreams come true in one convenient place. Tickets start at $44. DAR Constitution Hall: 1776 D St. NW, DC; www.dar.org

TUESDAY, JUNE 25

New Kids on the Block Mixtape Tour with Salt-N-Pepa and Naughty by Nature
Apparently, New Kids on the Block had so much fun celebrating the 30th anniversary of their album Hangin’ Tough that they decided to embark on an extensive tour. They’ll come to Capital One with all their hits and lots of friends on this tour – R&B icons Salt-N-Pepa, rappers Naughty by Nature and more guests will join the group. Tickets start at $39.95. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC; www.capitalonearena.viewlift.com

Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo, Melissa Etheridge and Liz Phair
The power couple of Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo bring their hits to Wolf Trap alongside two of the best modern singer-songwriters: Melissa Etheridge and Liz Phair. This lineup pretty much consists of musicians you probably rolled your eyes at as a kid but now totally love. Tickets start at $35. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

FRIDAY, JULY 12

Backstreet Boys
Backstreet’s back! Your favorite boyband is sweeping the nation once again with their DNA World Tour. Grab your tickets and be transported back to a simpler time, when your biggest problem in life was you and your BFF having a crush on the same band member. Tickets start at $189. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC; www.capitalonearena.viewlift.com

SUNDAY, JULY 14

NAS + NSO Illmatic 25th Anniversary
Instead of merely touring around his iconic album Illmatic, NAS is incorporating a whole new spin on the record thanks to the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO). This performance featuring conductor Steven Reineke gives a whole new spin on what’s still considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. Tickets start at $30. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

WEDNESDAY, JULY 17

Jennifer Lopez
I would like to cordially invite you to a birthday celebration in honor of Jenny from the Block taking place this summer at an arena near you. While I obviously had no hand in planning this soiree, I still feel confident in saying I am sure it will be a ball. Tickets start at $59.95. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC; www.capitalonearena.viewlift.com

THURSDAY, JULY 18

Sheryl Crow
Soak up the sun with one of the most iconic pop country artists of all time at Wolf Trap. Don’t miss the Grammy winner as she tours for the release of her final album to be released later this year. Tickets start at $45. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

FRIDAY, JULY 19

Third Eye Blind and Jimmy Eat World
This lineup makes me want to grow out my bangs and sweep them to the side, reactivate my MySpace account, and tell my parents they don’t understand me. In all seriousness, both of these bands’ catalogs have stood the test of time, especially in the era of Midwestern emo revival. And if hearing “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World doesn’t immediately hype you up, you’re a liar, so come hear it live. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

SATURDAY, JULY 20

Dave Matthews Band
I’m willing to bet you’ll be able to find everyone in the DMV who went to UVA at this show clad in basketball jerseys. Oh, and maybe some fans of the South African-born, Charlottesville-bred crooner will be there, too. Tickets start at $49.50. Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Dr. Bristow, VA; www.livenation.com/venues/14407/jiffy-lube-live

SATURDAY, JULY 27

311 and Dirty Heads
Stoners and chill people of the world, rejoice! Good vibes abound at Merriweather as 311 and Dirty Heads take the stage for a relaxing evening. Tickets start at $46. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

Hootie and the Blowfish and Barenaked Ladies
Dubbed the Group Therapy Tour, this collaboration between two classic 90s bands is the perfect place to hang out on the lawn and jam to songs that made up your younger years, which seems like its own special form of group therapy in a way. Tickets start at $35. Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Dr. Bristow, VA; www.livenation.com/venues/14407/jiffy-lube-live

TUESDAY, JULY 30

Nelly, TLC and Flo Rida
Upon reading this lineup, I was instantly transported back to teacher-supervised school dances, as I’m pretty sure some combination of all three artists soundtracked every sweaty, awkward preteen event throughout America. You should attend this concert solely to celebrate that the days of braces and leaving room for Jesus between you and your dance partner are long gone. Tickets start at $25. Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Dr. Bristow, VA; www.livenation.com/venues/14407/jiffy-lube-live

WEDNESDAY, JULY 31

KoRn and Alice in Chains
If you feel like a freak on a leash (I still don’t know what that song is about and at this point I am afraid to ask), this is the show for you. A coheadlining show for twice the angsty rock. It’s not a phase, Mom! Tickets start at $36. Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Dr. Bristow, VA; www.livenation.com/venues/14407/jiffy-lube-live

FRIDAY, AUGUST 9

Train and Goo Goo Dolls
While Train’s more recent releases have been interesting to say the least, older songs like “Meet Virginia” and “Drops of Jupiter” still hold up as eternal bops. Paired with the similarly sensitive Goo Goo Dolls, get ready to feel all the throwback feels. Tickets start at $29.50. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 17

Smashing Pumpkins, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and AFI
Two of the most curmudgeonly names in music team up for a summer tour that’s sure to be chock full of weird asides from Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan and sibling hatred – or maybe just general hatred – from the more, um, outspoken of the Gallagher brothers. Oh, and AFI will be there to play that one song from Guitar Hero. Tickets start at $35. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 22

Beck
On the heels of his 14th album (yeah, you read that right), Beck will bring two turntables and a microphone to Merriweather to help you round out your summer concert season. He’s joined by the absolutely stacked lineup of Cage the Elephant, Sunflower Bean, and the equally prolific and nostalgic Spoon (their debut album Telefono is 23 years old this year, you guys). Tickets start at $29.50. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pwky. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1

UB40 and Shaggy
Legendary reggae group UB40 will be joined onstage by Shaggy for a lively evening of music from two of the genre’s best-known voices. Tickets start at $40. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

Knotfest (Slipknot)
If you’ve been itching to break out your Hot Topic T-shirts, chain wallet and guyliner, this is the festival for you. This angst-filled festival features Slipknot, Volbeat, Gojira and Behemoth. Get ready to mosh! Tickets start at $35.50. Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Dr. Bristow, VA; www.livenation.com/venues/14407/jiffy-lube-live

Music Picks: April 2019

TUESDAY, APRIL 2

Muse
Commercially successful English rock band Muse will stop in DC as a part of The Simulation Theory world tour. The band’s eighth studio album by the same name was released in November last year. Perhaps, the best way to describe their latest project is through the album cover. It was designed by Stranger Things artist Kyle Lambert, and like the show, the songs have a futuristic feel with all the trappings of electronic rock. Show starts at 7:30 p.m., tickets start at $43. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC; www.capitalonearena.com

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3

Kennedy Center Spring Gala with Idina Menzel
Award-winning Broadway star, singer and actress Idina Menzel is set to perform at The Kennedy Center’s annual gala, Celebrating the Human Spirit. Menzel is best known for her portrayal of Elphaba in the smash musical Wicked and for voicing Queen Elsa in the hit animated film Frozen. Including a mix of fan favorites and original songs, the gala concert is poised to be a memorable one. This year, the center will be honoring Citizen Artist Forest Whitaker and Distinguished Philanthropists Patrick G. Ryan and Shirley W. Ryan. Show starts at 8 p.m., tickets start at $99. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org

FRIDAY, APRIL 5

Amanda Palmer
Amanda Palmer is absolutely haunting in her newest studio album There Will Be No Intermission. Tackling difficult subjects like abortion, miscarriages and cancer, this is exactly the kind of daring work one should expect from Palmer. She’s gained a bit of a reputation for her shocking, bold imagery – and she’s aware of it. In an interview with On Tap’s Trent Johnson, Amanda said, “You don’t go see Halloween 8 and expect a guy without a knife, just like you’re not coming to an Amanda Palmer show and expecting Disney songs and jazz hands.” Show starts at 7:30 p.m., tickets $39-$54. National Theatre: 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; www.thenationaldc.org

The Infamous Stringdusters
And the Grammy goes to…The Infamous Stringdusters! The quintessential progressive bluegrass band earned its first Grammy nod in 2011 for the song “Magic No. 9.” Last year, they secured the big win: Best Bluegrass Album for Laws of Gravity. In their follow-up project, The Infamous Stringdusters are expected to release a new album in April. Their jovial title track “Rise Sun” teases a groovy, uplifting celebration of life. Show starts at 9:30 p.m., tickets $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

SATURDAY, APRIL 6

The Vijay Iyer Sextet
Highly acclaimed keyboardist-composer Vijay Iyer is close to achieving icon status at the age of 47. Boasting an impressive musical catalogue, critics have offered nothing but praise for the young jazz genius. He formed the The Vijay Iyer Sextet, collaborating with five other contemporary masters to release Far From Over, an album that made Rolling Stone’s “50 Best Albums of 2017.” Shows start at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., tickets $45. The Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org

SUNDAY, APRIL 7

Aaron Lee Tasjan
When Aaron Lee Tasjan and his band performed at Bob Boilen’s famous Tiny Desk at NPR, Boilen later wrote, “The sound of the middle-and-late 1960s came through his sea green, Gorsuch 12-string guitar while his voice felt both familiar and fresh.” In other words, Tasjan is a vintage-loving, fedora-wearing, oldies-listening hipster. But what’s wrong with that? Especially when you’re damn good at what you do. In his new album Karma For Cheap, the Nashville resident takes audiences back in time – YouTube archives it is, youngsters – to rediscover what they love about classic rock music. Show starts at 8 p.m., tickets $15. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

City of the Sun
The New York City trio City of the Sun play experimental, instrumental music with indie rock, American folk, flamenco and blues influences. Somehow, this eclectic band combines these genres in a coherent fashion. Their sound challenges the perception of instrumental music and resolves to propel it into the future. Show starts at 8 p.m., tickets $15-$18. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

MONDAY, APRIL 8

Neyla Pekarek
After going solo, Neyla Pekarek is soaring on her own. Formerly a cellist for the uber-successful band The Lumineers, Pekarek decided to split with the band after eight years because it was no longer the right fit. Announcing her departure, The Lumineers tweeted, “A band is like an organism – it grows, changes and evolves.” Soon after her exit, Pekarek dropped her debut solo album Rattlesnake earlier this year. She was inspired by a Colorado frontierswoman known as “Rattlesnake Kate” who, according to legend, shot 140 snakes on horseback to protect her infant son. In what she’s described as “a feminist record,” Pekarek lays her perky vocals and instruments on 13 tracks meant to inspire fellow women. Show starts at 7:30 p.m., tickets $18-$20. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

THURSDAY, APRIL 11

Arielle
Guitarist, singer-songwriter Arielle is an old fashioned, young woman from Austin who prefers all things bohemian and lives to jam out. Her classical folk-rock sound has caught the attention of many notable acts. She’s opened for Heart, Vince Gill, Eric Johnson, Joan Jett, Gregg Allman and more. The talented up-and-comer shows special promise and has plans to release a new album in the near future. Show starts at 8 p.m., tickets $12. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E Vienna, VA; www.jamminjava.com  

FRIDAY, APRIL 11 – SUNDAY, APRIL 14

Damaged City Music Festival
Damaged City Music Festival’s is DC’s premiere hardcore punk rock festival. This annual festival draws punk lovers from around the world to the nation’s capital for a rockin’ good time. This year, the diverse lineup includes Despise You from L.A., Raw Brigade from Colombia, Rotten Mind from Sweden, Impulso from Italy and more. Various dates and times. Tickets $10-$60. Damaged City Music Festival: Various locations around DC; www.damaged-city.com

FRIDAY, APRIL 12

Robert Glasper Trio
Few musicians, if any, are in Robert Glasper’s category. Fusing an extensive command of jazz with his love of hip-hop and R&B, Glasper was always destined to become a visionary artist as a singer, expert pianist and producer. His unique musical background placed him in a world of his own, which did not go unnoticed by the industry. Glasper has been nominated for a Grammy six times, winning three. Working with artists across genres including Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, Norah Jones, Kendrick Lamar and Esperanza Spalding, Glasper’s brilliant artistry has garnered the respect of his peers. Show starts at 6 p.m., tickets $55-$70. City Winery: 1350 Okie St. NE, DC; www.citywinery.com

SUNDAY, APRIL 14

Los Lonely Boys
Chances are you’ve heard the song “Heaven” by Los Lonely Boys. The Chicano rock band is from Texas – and they sound like it. Steeped in their regional brand of blues with country rock overtones, Los Lonely Boys is literally a band of brothers. Despite several career setbacks in recent years, the Garza brothers always make positivity a priority by sharing their feel-good music with the world. Show starts at 8 p.m., tickets $40-$55. City Winery: 1350 Okie St. NE, DC; www.citywinery.com

Queen Latifah
Hip-hop legend and award-winning actress Queen Latifah will grace audiences with a performance in The Bridge Concert Series at the Kennedy Center. Latifah was a pioneer for women in hip-hop, creating a more inclusive space in what was and still is a male dominated genre. The Bridge Concert Series seeks to showcase the contributions black artist have made to American society. Show starts at 8 p.m. $59-$199. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org

MONDAY, APRIL 15

Bad Suns
The Southern California rock band Bad Suns formed in 2012 and first gained popularity with their song “Cardiac Arrest.” Following the release of their new album Mystic Truth, the band will be kicking off their tour, traveling to cities throughout North America and Europe. Keep your eye out for this dynamic group – there’s just something about those Bad Suns. Doors at 7 p.m., tickets $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

Terror Jr
American electro-pop duo Terror Jr came to prominence in when their single “3 Strikes” was featured in Kylie Jenner lip gloss commercial. With an apparent endorsement from the social media star, Terror Jr was thrust onto the scene early in their career. Their unapologetic, catchy pop tunes sustained the momentum and placed them prominently on the charts. Upon the release of their debut album Unfortunately, Terror Jr earlier this year, critics were surprised to find the group had gone political. Addressing heavy issues like reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and substance abuse, Terror Jr is growing up and revealing all their dimensions. Show starts at 7 p.m., tickets $18. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

TUESDAY APRIL 16

The Dip
This soulful, swingin’ band will give you all the feels and leave you wondering why you’ve never heard of them before. Hailing from Seattle, The Dip gives you Motown vibes complete with a full horn section and a lead singer whose raspy, booming voice is simply beautiful. Show starts at 8 p.m., tickets $15-$30. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

Foals
Topping the U.K. charts with their album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1, it’s safe to say Foals is making their mark at home. The English rock band – who managed to crossover with two albums on the Billboard 200 – is currently touring following the release of the first part of their double album.  Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 2 is expected to drop this fall. Lead singer Yannis Philippakis described the first project as a prequel that ended in what felt “like a cliffhanger.” Doors at 7 p.m., tickets $38.50. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

Spiritualized
What’s space rock, you say? Think The Dark Side of the Moon meets 21st century sensibilities. Want to hear it? Look no further than English rock band Spiritualized. Prepare to be transported to outer space where time no longer exists, and you’re left floating in the vast expanse of the universe. Trippy, right? Show starts at 8 p.m., tickets $35. Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC; www.thelincolndc.com

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17

The National Symphony Orchestra Presents Beethoven’s Fifth: Fate Knocks!
The National Symphony Orchestra, led by Music Director Gianandrea Noseda, will perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 for music lovers at The Anthem. With a strict dedication to artistic excellence, the 96-member orchestra is unlikely to disappoint. If you enjoy the classics, this masterpiece is one you won’t want to miss. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets $15-$30. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

THURSDAY, APRIL 18

Method Man and Redman
It’s been 20 years since Method Man and Redman from the legendary hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan broke out as a duo and released their first album. Currently touring the country, the rappers will be stopping at Howard Theatre to perform classics from their repertoire. Show starts at 9 p.m., tickets $55-$65. Howard Theatre: 620 T St. NW, DC; www.thehowardtheatre.com

FRIDAY, APRIL 19

Adventure Club
Adventure Club is a Canadian dubstep duo who made the unusual transition from playing hardcore punk rock to light-hearted electronic dance, where they fit right in. They are best known for their hit remixes of Flight Facilities’ Crave You and Yuna’s Lullabies, which have 82 and 52 million views on YouTube, respectively. Show starts at 9 p.m., tickets $25-$35. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC; www.echostage.com

TUESDAY, APRIL 23

Los Amigos Invisibles & Aterciopelados
Venezuelan band Los Amigos Invisibles blends funk, disco and pop with a distinctive Latin sound that makes you want to get up and dance. They are especially popular in their home country, where their music has been well-received since their debut album in 1995. Touring with Columbia’s top rock band duo Aterciopelados, this multicultural concert is sure to delight Spanish and English listeners alike. Show starts at 8 p.m., tickets $45-$50. The Howard Theatre: 620 T St. NW, DC; www.thehowardtheatre.com

WednesAY, APRIL 24

Emily Reo
Emily Reo’s newest album Only You Can See It is dropping in April. Her quirky sound falls somewhere between synth-pop and alternative, indie rock. Tunes like “Strawberry” and “Ghosting” from her new project have already created buzz, addressing the very topical issues of “ghosting” – the new-age term for suddenly ignoring someone – and toxic masculinity. Doors at 9 p.m., tickets $12. Comet Ping Pong: 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.cometpingpong.com

SUNDAY, APRIL 28

Cisco Adler
Grammy nominated producer and artist Cisco Adler is best known for his collaborations with rapper Shwayze. Their song “Corona and Lime” peaked at number #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 as one of the anthems of that era. After breaking out as a solo artist, Adler’s has settled into a smooth, alternative rock sound with reggae moods. Show starts at 8 p.m., tickets $17-$20. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

TUESDAY, APRIL 30

Julia Jacklin
If Joni Mitchell was reborn as a millennial, she would sound something like Julia Jacklin. The Australian native’s delicate, ethereal and distinctive voice is mesmerizing and memorable. Her second studio album released in January explores romantic relationships and self-reflection. The singer-songwriter said, “This album came from spending two years touring and being in a relationship and feeling like I never had any space of my own.” Show starts at 8 p.m., tickets $15. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

Music Picks: Winter 2019

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2

El Ten Eleven
El Ten Eleven is one of those bandsm, that to the naked eye, defies sonic law. The duo makes dizzying, lush sounds using only a double-neck bass guitar and foot pedals. I know what you’re thinking: “Yeah, but they have a laptop, right? Everyone does that nowadays.” No, they do not have a laptop. Everything’s organic, as it has been for the band’s entire 10-album career. In an era where everything is prerecorded and premeditated, this kind of musicianship is even more impressive. Don’t miss the duo in action this winter. Doors 8 p.m. Tickets start at $17. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7

Martha Afework
Homegrown Martha Afework is proof that just because you fall in love with something as a child, that doesn’t mean you should give it up as an adult. Singing since the age of four, Afework has used her talents – and more recently, social media – to gain attention from people in the area. Now, the soulful R&B singer will headline the Fillmore without looking back. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $15. Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8

COIN
COIN isn’t necessarily the most innovative band on the block, but there’s something extremely likeable about their radio-friendly brand of indie pop. I can think of many artists before them  made a similar type of music who were much easier to write off as unoriginal. Perhaps it’s their vulnerability – the Nashville-based, four-piece band often sings of awkward romantic encounters, leaving home and growing up. Ah, youth. No matter what it is, COIN’s undeniable magnetism makes them worth seeing live. Doors at 6 p.m. Tickets $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11

Eyelids
Chances are you’ve heard some lyrics that the members of Eyelids are responsible for, but maybe not of the band itself. The Portland, Oregon-based group has penned songs for The Decemberists, Elliott Smith and Stephen Malkmus, among others. Now on tour for their own songs in the form of release Maybe More, the indie rockers are ready to step out from the shadows of their legendary collaborators to make you hum and sing along to their work. Show at 9 p.m. Tickets $12-$14. Comet Ping Pong: 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.cometpingpong.com

Panda Bear
Though I wish I was writing about an actual panda bear who belted out lyrics about life in the jungle, you and I will have to settle on the very talented Noah Lennox. A founding member of experimental pop band Animal Collective, his own music as Panda Bear doesn’t stray far from the fabric of the aforementioned band. Looking for meticulously crafted electronic sounds? Check. What about vocals layered atop these very eclectic beats? Check. Basically, if you’re a fan of the entire collective, Panda Bear’s music will be right up your wheelhouse. Check out M.K. Koszycki’s interview with Lennox at www.ontaponline.com. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13

Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness
Ever wonder what those bands you listened to during your teenage years sound like when they grow past their angst-fueled music? That’s what Andrew McMahon sounds like these days, as the former band member of several California-based groups has  grown into a more mature musician. The pianist has harnessed his high-pitched voice into one of reason, discussing the topics of nostalgia, missed opportunities and failures with a joyful tone throughout his latest release Upside Down Flowers. Doors at 6 p.m. Tickets $40.50. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

Cherry Glazerr
L.A.-based trio Cherry Glazerr is known for their commentary on the world at large – after all, the band takes its name from NPR reporter Chery Glaser – but on their third record, they’ve teased a new era. Singer Clementine Creevy has indicated in press for their new album Stuffed & Ready that she’s begun to look inward for inspiration and it’s evident on the band’s lead single “Daddi,” which seems to reflect on the gray areas of attraction, control and power dynamics in relationships. The infectious song is a sure indication that the band’s new era will be an impressive one, too. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $20. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

Current Joys
The solo project of Nicholas Rattigan, Current Joys is a moody singalong about the creative process. From extreme highs to lows, Rattigan rattles off emotional lyrics that are accompanied by thud-like guitar strums, each delivered with a purpose. A Different Age represents one of the most expressive and well-crafted albums you’ll hear this year. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $15. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14

Beirut
Worldly wunderkind Zach Condon announced his band Beirut’s fifth album and lead single Gallipolli in the most Beirut way possible. He took to his band’s website to write a letter about the genesis of the album’s title track, which involved the band “stumbling into the medieval, fortressed island town of Gallipoli one night and following a brass band procession fronted by priests carrying a statue of the town’s saint through the winding, narrow streets.” The band has served as a musical passport to Condon’s travels since they formed back in 2006, and they’ll bring their sounds to DC this winter with new adventures in tow. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $41. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

The Parrots
Hailing from Madrid, The Parrots combine both Spanish and English lyrics to make a near-universal indie sound. Backed by guitar licks reminiscent of Chastity Belt or Courtney Barnett, their music is moody and their vocals provide a melodic whine. Though they haven’t recorded a new album since 2016, The Parrots has been releasing well-received singles since then and promise to bring an electric show to DC9. Doors at 7:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15

Chuck Prophet
The latest release in Prophet’s discography is Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, a concept album paying homage to the legendary artist responsible for “I Fought the Law,” made famous by The Clash. The album is gritty and fun, and I’m glad Prophet hasn’t wiped the slate clean quite yet but instead, is focusing on spreading his version of “California noir.” Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $20. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA; www.jamminjava.com

Gregory Porter
There are few better gifts for a Valentine than to see the wonderous Gregory Porter. His music is smooth and loving, borrowing vibes and emotions from 50s and 60s jazz – not to mention his sultry vocals. With his baritone contrasting with several backing instruments, Porter delivers songs perfect for a date night with your significant other. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets $58-$108. The Music Center at Strathmore: 5301 Tuckerman Ln. North Bethesda, MD; www.strathmore.org

Metric
Fusing indie with synth-pop, Canadian band Metric is set to visit the DMV this month. Touring on the back of their 2018 release Art of Doubt, the album brings out the best elements of the band. Aided by a radical energy in the band’s instrumentation, frontwoman Emily Haines continues to provide a lens into her creative process while delivering her seamlessly effortless vocal talents in each song. Doors at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m. Tickets $38. Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16

Dante Pope
I used to wonder why old school R&B music was so hard to replicate for newer artists. Obviously, the genre still has a foothold on the popular conscience as you can hear it in movies or in samples for hip-hop, but there is largely a dearth of new artists with this style. Leon Bridges took hold of it as a notable vocalist to mention, but one on the rise is Dante Pope. The multi-instrumentalist has pipes channeling the 70s, and his ability to strum the guitar only heightens his deft musicianship. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $15-$17. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17

Dante Elephante
With an indie sound combining garage and surf, this group of four offers very enjoyable tunes to groove to. Whether you’re driving down a highway or jam-packed in the tiny, intimate DC9, these songs will carry you through. The lyrics come across as playful even when serious, and this isn’t a criticism because sometimes it’s helpful to laugh in the face of tough times. Doors at 7:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $10. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

Daughters
Back on the punk scene for the first time since 2010, Daughters returned with their 2018 release You Won’t Get What You Want. While everything about the group is punk, their pace is very deliberate compared to the break-neck speed the genre’s bands usually play at. Instead, Daughters is a manic deliberation with chants for choruses. Plus, some of their music sounds like something you might hear in a horror film’s score. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $20. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

The Knocks
Chances are at least one of your favorite pop artists has collaborated with New York production duo The Knocks. Carly Rae Jepsen, Foster the People, Sofi Tukker and X Ambassadors are just a few of the big names who have lent their vocal talent to the pair’s upbeat songs. To celebrate the release of their new album New York Narcotic, they’ll bring a full-fledged dance party to U Street. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18

Empress Of
Lorely Rodriguez has released countless synth-pop gems under the name Empress Of since 2012. You may also know her from standout spots providing her signature crystal clear vocals on albums by contemporaries like Dirty Projectors, Khalid, MØ and more. As her career progressed, so did her vocal and production prowess, giving us last year’s catchy album Us. Her earlier work sounds just as good today as it did upon release, and her single “Go to Hell” is the ultimate kiss-off to everyone who didn’t believe in Rodriguez – and it’s my go-to pick me up song when feeling discouraged. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $15. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19

Jacob Banks
You can’t mention Jacob Banks without mentioning the word soul. The Nigerian-born, British singer-songwriter is downright gripping when he steps in front of a microphone. From a grumble to a shout – all on key – this man has some serious range and versatility. His latest release, 2018’s Village, provides a perfect showcase for his talents – and he uses all of them to mystify listeners. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $20. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

Julia Holter
Though Julia Holter sings, the classification of composer feels most natural when describing the artist’s musical stylings. Layered with wind instruments, drums and electronic sounds, her songs are absolutely packed with instrumentation – and the apparatus serving as the conductor’s baton is her voice. Whether it’s whiny, melodic or on the verge of shouting, her vocals provide the direction for all of the carefully curated sounds to follow. Show at 7 p.m. Tickets $17. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20

Anderson .Paak
In an era of rap and hip-hop where nearly all artists are singing their own choruses, it’s interesting to see the pendulum swing. Anderson .Paak represents a lyricist who has the same cadence and rhyming skills as a hip-hop artist, but with real pipes. This style is extremely fun to listen to and seems like it’s even more satisfying to make, as he frequently features rap giants like Kendrick Lamar, Pusha T and Dr. Dre. With his raspy delivery and West Coast cool, Anderson .Paak is as unique as they come. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $78. The Theater at MGM National Harbor: 101 MGM National Ave. Oxon Hill, MD; www.mgmnationalharbor.com

MNEK
It’s my humble opinion that MNEK should be one of the biggest pop stars in the world, and chances are the London-based artist has written or produced a song for one of your favorites. After all, the 24-year-old’s resume includes work for Beyoncé, Bastille, Stormzy and Diplo. I could go on, but you get the idea. And as I’m sure you’ve guessed, his solo work is just as impressive as the people he’s worked with. On the heels of his fantastic full-length album Language and countless impressive collaborations over the years, he’ll bring his innovative brand of pop to DC. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $17. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21

James Blake
Rumors of James Blake’s new album have been swirling around the web as of late. He released two new singles last year and appeared on the Black Panther soundtrack but now, the world is ready for a new full-length album. If the rumors are true, the timing is perfect as he’ll hit DC in late February – hopefully with new tunes in tow. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets $48.50. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

Liz Cooper & The Stampede
Liz Cooper offers tremendous energy and a vibrant, upbeat demeanor on her latest record Window Flowers, the result of a yearlong effort to do something creative every day. Her style of sing-talking with a raspy delivery allows her to mix it up with each song, sometimes holding onto notes for a little longer than you’d expect – and sometimes letting them go with a breath. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $12-$15. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

FRIDAY, FEBURARY 22

Kat Wright
If you’re in the mood for a retro sound this winter, look no further than Kat Wright. The almost lo-fi production of her music sends you back in time, as her vocals help paint the picture of a nostalgic view. Her powerful vocals are accompanied by backing bass, drums, keys and a powerful three-piece horn section. While she may not provide a visual aesthetic of the jazz singer smoking a cigarette, her more modern stage presence will more than make up for it. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $12-$17. The Hamilton LIVE: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.thehamiltondc.com

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23

The Suffers
Hailing from Houston, Texas, this eight-member band provides soul and R&B sensibilities with a pop music mentality. I say that because every song is jovial and enjoyable. With eight members, the band also has tremendous versatility, bouncing from sound to sound. The Suffers are led by vocalist Kam Franklin, who provides a powerful voice for the instruments to follow. Show at 7 p.m. Tickets $20. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

Vince Staples
If Kendrick Lamar is the current king of hip-hop, Vince Staples is the prince. One of the best lyricists in the genre, Staples has zigged while others have zagged – providing breathtaking commentary on the world as he sees it. Though not every song has a political point of view, the best tunes are when he’s locked in on a subject for the world to hear. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets $35. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

Washington Performing Arts Presents Lara Downes
Inspired by Georgia O’Keefe’s words, the trailblazing, NPR chart-topping Lara Downes has channeled her prodigious creativity into an intimate program of solo and ensemble works paying tribute to female composers and poets, both past and present. Her special guest is multi-instrumentalist/composer/singer and MacArthur “Genius” Award winner Rhiannon Giddens, who, through her own work and performances as a member of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, embodies precisely the ethos Downes had in mind. Downes’ performance is a special presentation by Washington Performing Arts. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets $35. Writeup provided by venue. Sixth & I Historic Synagogue: 600 I St. NW, DC; www.sixthandi.org

Western Den
Deni Hlavinka and Chris West met on a college forum after Hlavinka posted an idea for a song. The next day, West sent over a completed version and the serendipitous partnership has been unstoppable ever since. In Western Den, the pair focuses on melodic folk music – but instead of a heavy emphasis on guitar strums, their music shines a light on Hlavinka’s piano skills. Doors at 8:30 p.m., show at 9 p.m. Tickets $12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28

Vundabar
Despite their most recent release meditating on illness and death, Boston’s Vundabar has been called “a ceaselessly jovial band” by Pitchfork, and their live shows are no exception. The contrast between the band’s existential, contemplative and sometimes downright depressing material paired with their jangly garage rock-influenced music makes the perfect pairing for those of us who love to dance but also contemplate life’s trickier questions. Bring that marriage to a live show and you’ve got a performance that’s equal parts a party and a therapy session. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $15. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

Photo: Jamie James Medina

Interpol’s Indie Rock Ingenuity

Interpol is still finding ways to make their post punk-inspired, guitar-driven sound even better after nearly two decades of recording music together. The band saw some minor changes on their sixth studio album Marauder, released last August, with their raw, energetic sound captured by recording on tape. Most importantly, the band’s dynamic as a trio – Paul Banks (bass, guitar and vocals), Daniel Kessler (lead guitar) and Sam Fogarino (drums) – and individual contributions to the process were solidified, as they found a new sense of ingenuity as a group.

“It sounds like us,” Kessler says when we chat about Marauder. “It’s not a perfect record in the sense that there are mistakes there. Some are happy accidents and things that have charm and character that we could have fixed, but there’s something human about the fact that it’s just there in a very direct form.”

This record recalls the urgency of the band’s signature sound, first heard on their 2002 breakthrough album Turn On the Bright Lights. While the group has seen some members come and go and produced quality albums throughout their career, Marauder has ushered in a new, inventive era for Interpol. By allowing band members to take on new roles – including Banks recently adding bass to his repertoire – the band was able to “give the project a bit of a new spin,” according to Kessler.

“The way we write songs now is different,” the guitarist continues. “When we write songs as a three-piece, it feels like we’re just scratching the surface of that new process and dynamic. In the two records we’ve written as a three-piece, there hasn’t been a moment where we’re like, ‘Well, what do we do now?’ We’re not lacking for ideas, which is very fortunate. We’re still very inspired by one another.”

When speaking on his role in the band, Kessler offers a deeper look into his part of the writing and recording process. He notes that Banks added some “stellar guitar moments” to the record, but Kessler’s own guitar chops are also essential to the backbone of the trio’s renewed synergy.

“On songs like ‘If You Really Love Nothing,’ the origins of the song can be heard on my guitar. When I was writing its basic riff, I thought of a melancholy approach to things. But the moment that Paul started playing the bassline, he saw that the song had a bit of a swing to it and so it became a bit more upbeat.”

Kessler says that he and Banks react to each other during the collaborative process, even letting songs veer into completely new territory when inspired by their bandmates.

“That’s the kind of band I was really hoping to be in when we started out, but that’s a really tall order. We’re very lucky.”

See Interpol’s powerful new dynamic at play when they play The Anthem on Friday, February 15 with Sunflower Bean. Doors are at 6:30 p.m. and tickets start at $40. For more on the band and Marauder, check out www.interpolnyc.com.

The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; 202-888-0020; www.theanthemdc.com

Music Picks: December 2018

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 4

The Helio Sequence
This Portland, Oregon duo hits the road to celebrate the ten year anniversary of their album Keep Your Eyes Ahead, which is (in my humble opinion) the best breakup album of all time. And while I can find no solid evidence it’s actually a breakup album (that’s the beauty of music, it’s whatever you need it to be!) it’s definitely worth the critical reevaluations it’s been receiving, whether or not listeners are brokenhearted. In fact, I had no idea the band was only a duo until today; their sounds are so lush and large I’d have insisted it was the work of a six piece band. If that’s not a testament to lasting talent I’m not sure what is. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $20. Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5

Justus Proffit & Jay Som
Musicians and friends Justus Proffit and Jay Som make music inspired by the likes of Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes and other purveyors of sensitive and sensible guitar-driven music. Both accomplished artists in their own right, they’ve joined forces to bestow the gift of their EP Nothing’s Changed upon the world. And in the spirit of holiday giving and fierce friendship, they’ll take the stage at DC9 together. Doors 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $13. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6

JD McPherson
JD McPherson is ready to get you in the rock and roll holiday spirit that will have you dancing through the Christmas season and, let’s be honest, probably beyond. McPherson released Socks, his first Christmas album, this year and it’s full of eleven original holiday tunes. As someone who’s officially sick of traditional carols already, Christmas came early for me (and everyone else who’s ready for some originality in their seasonal playlist. Doors at 7:30. Tickets $25. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

Kimbra
Electro-pop artist Kimbra’s live shows are usually colorful and electric, but she’s adding a new dimension to her artistry with this “intimate, reimagined evening” at Sixth & I. This comes on the heels of her EP Songs from Primal Heart: Reimagined released earlier this year, and will hopefully also include reworked or stripped down versions of her experimental but honest to goodness pop. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $25. Sixth & I Historic Synagogue: 600 I St. NW, DC; www.sixthandi.org

Roosevelt
French singer, songwriter, DJ and producer Roosevelt (real name Marius Lauber) has been making waves with his danceable indie pop since 2013. Now back on the scene with the recently released album Young Romance – to which prolific producer Chris Coady lent his chops – Lauber will bring warmth to event the chilliest December night with what’s sure to be a high energy dance party. 18-plus. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $15. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8

Cloud Nothings
The last time I saw Ohio post-punk outfit Cloud Nothings, their rainy festival set concluded with security guards attempting to rush the band offstage in the midst of lighting strike while frontman Dylan Baldi attempted to hang from an amp. Oh, and there was a mud-filled mosh pit. While I can’t guarantee the same things will transpire at Union Stage this month, I can guarantee Cloud Nothings will show you a good time. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $20. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9

DRAMA
DRAMA return to DC after a recent stop at the 9:30 Club supporting French pop singer Jain for their very own headlining show. The purveyors of a perfect blend of soul, R&B and good old-fashioned pop self released their impressive Gallows EP in 2016, followed by a handful of singles this year, and have been busy touring behind their self-described “happy-sad music” ever since. They’re definitely ones to keep on your radar, so don’t miss seeing the duo at the intimate DC9 space. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $13. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

MONDAY, DECEMBER 10

Jingle Ball
The most stacked lineup in pop returns to DC this year with Top 40’s biggest hitmakers new and old. This year sees Shawn Mendes, The Chainsmokers, G-Eazy, Meghan Trainor, Bebe Rexha and more bringing both their hits and holiday cheer to Capital One arena. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $40-plus. Capital One Arena: 601 F St NW, DC; www.hot995.iheart.com

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14

Curls
I mourn the breakup of the band Girls, helmed by California based singer-songwriter Christopher Owens, on a more or less daily basis. Lucky for me (and for anyone who’s a fan of 60s influenced psych pop) Owens has been hard at work with solo albums and now a full band, Curls. Here, Owens has enlisted the wildly talented lineup of Cody Rhodes and Luke Baće to complete this trio. While a fully formed and very different band on their own, Curls has the same surf rock sensibilities and introspective songwriting that’s been a hallmark of Owen’s career so far. DC’s own Baby Bry Bry & Friends open, marking their first live performance in nearly two years. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $13. Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

The Japanese House
Amber Bain has yet to release a full length album under her musical moniker The Japanese House, but she’s still garnered legions of fans and songs with over 20 million plays on Spotify since the release of her first EP in 2015. As Bain gears up to release her first full length album, she’ll visit DC with the music of her spectacular EPs and hopefully some new tracks this winter. If you’re a fan of the dreamy vibes of bands like Cocteau Twins, Imogen Heap and Mazzy Star, this is a can’t-miss show. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $18. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15

Darlingside
If you’re looking for a show that screams winter vibes, this is it. The indie folk quartet Darlingside bring their warm and wonderful harmonies to the halls of Sixth & I just in time for the holidays. Fresh off the release of their critically acclaimed album Extralife, which is described as “an experimental ode to the apocalypse,” they’ll bring songs new and old out for what’s sure to be a toe tapping, guitar picking good time. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $22. Sixth & I Historic Synagogue: 600 I St. NW, DC; www.sixthandi.org

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16

Cat Power
There is a fantastic profile on Chan Marshall, better known as Cat Power, written by the eloquent and iconic music journalist Jessica Hopper, that ran in The Cut earlier this year. It deals with Marshall’s prolific 25-year career, motherhood, rejection from her longtime label and finding camaraderie in other – namely female – musicians. It’s an enlightening deep dive into the enigmatic world of the artist that has me counting down the days til Marshall graces the 9:30 Club’s hallowed halls with her phenomenal new record Wanderer in tow. Read up and grab your tickets to see this living legend as soon as you can. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $40. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

Ryley Walker
Ryley Walker makes impressive, intricate psych rock that draws from a pantheon of differing genres but somehow ends up incredibly cohesive. In an ever interesting turn, he covered Dave Matthews Band’s late 90s bootleg album The Lillywhite Sessions from front to back. Part reimaging and part paying his dues to one of his most well loved bands, Walker is nothing if not a breath of fresh air in the music world. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $12. Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 19

Hammered Hulls
This band features some of DC’s best musicians all in one place: Alec MacKaye, Mary Timony, Mark Cisernos and Chris Wilson. With so much unfettered talent in one place, it’s hard to think of a better way to spend your Wednesday night than watching the five piece band tear up the Black Cat’s backstage. If you missed their amazing set at the Black Cat’s 25th Anniversary show, the universe is granting you a Christmas miracle in the form of a do-over. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $10. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20

Hiss Golden Messenger
I saw Hiss Golden Messenger open for Bon Iver back in 2017, and when Justin Vernon thanked the band for opening he quipped, “I feel like I was listening to his music when I was in the womb or something.” An odd but apt description, the work of Michael Taylor is warm, comforting and does have the feel of something you may have heard in a past life. Sure to remedy the cold winter nights we’ll have late December, he’ll stop at the 9:30 Club in support of last month’s release Virgo Fool. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $20. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21

Snail Mail
Maryland’s Lindsey Jordan (a.k.a. Snail Mail) has been making waves since her 2016 EP released on DC’s Sister Polygon Records, and many (myself included) eagerly awaited the debut of her full length album, Lush, which arrived this past summer. Hands down one of the best releases of the year, Jordan will be rounding out a year of touring and critical acclaim just a hop, skip and jump away from her hometown at the 9:30 Club. Celebrate with her and end your 2018 right at this show, where she’ll be joined by Empath and Instupendo. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28

The Roots
The legendary Philadelphia outfit will pick you right out of your post holiday slump, guaranteed. They’ve been named one of Rolling Stone’s Greatest Live Bands, so that’s not an understatement. And although they haven’t released new music in four years, they’re sure to pull the classics from their massive catalogue of hits. Bring your family in town to the party or use this as an excuse to take a break and dance away. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $69.50. The Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com

MONDAY, DECEMBER 31

White Ford Bronco
90s babies and 90s music enthusiasts rejoice. The District’s all 90s band returns to the 9:30 Club for New Year’s Eve. While December 31 is typically all about toasting to new beginnings, there’s no harm in looking a little further back and dancing into the new year to the best 90s hits spanning all genres. Round out your throwback with a champagne toast at midnight. Doors at 9 p.m. Tickets $55. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

Photo: Courtesy of Jamal Gray

Movers & Shakers: Who’s Behind the Music in DC?

DC’s music scene is an organism in flux. This is not so surprising, with several new venues recently opening – and several closing – and despite the city’s increasing population, it remains a relatively transient town. Still, DMV artists are finding more ways to build community and establish legitimacy on local and national levels, but not without hard work from some individuals behind the music who truly believe in the strength of the District’s musical past and the potential for its future. We caught up with a few of the movers and shakers making an impact on DC music.

Jamal Gray

DC native Jamal Gray is a musician-curator-organizer who founded the Uptown Art House – a creative incubator and activism-focused artists’ space “without borders” – and leads the avant-garde jazz troupe Nag Champa Art Ensemble. His projects often bridge the underground and the conventional in an effort to elevate the whole of DC’s music scene.

On Tap: How did you first come to be involved with music culture in DC?
Jamal Gray:
My personal connection with music is through my parents. They met working at WPFW 89.3FM, which is a local radio station in DC that focuses on jazz and public affairs. Both of my parents are from DC. My dad was a record producer and [eventually] started his own label. I’ve been around music my whole life.

OT: What major changes have you seen in the local music scene in the past 10 years?
JG:
Once things moved more toward [the] Internet, people were moving less toward trying to cultivate a scene and more toward trying to cultivate a persona. That’s where I think we are in music in general, and DC’s just a microcosm of that. A lot of people are spending a lot of energy to cultivate their persona.

OT: With your own music, the collaborations you work on and the performers you support, it seems you’re trying to counterbalance that and keep the “real” in the music. Is this your goal?
JG:
If I’m going to support an artist, I want to know what they’re going to add to the conversation. It’s got to be a dialogue, not a diatribe. You should create from yourself, but not only for yourself. You have to be able to jump inside people’s worlds, especially if you want to make an impact. That’s part of what I’m trying to do – push things forward. Art is always a vehicle for progress or change, because it’s usually the artists that will take that risk before other people. That’s what I’m about.

OT: What do you think DC music needs to push forward?
JG:
There’s a real conversation that has to happen between the artists themselves so we are held to a certain standard, and between the venues and artists so everyone can feel appreciated. A lot of people who want to leave [DC] say there’s no industry here [and] no infrastructure for musicians. I want our community to be globally minded but locally based. People passing through need to know you can come and see good music happening. We need documentation for it – platforms that are invested in the future of it. I’m an advocate, but I’m an artist too. The best thing I can do is continue to push forward good content and experiences, and help build spaces to incubate toward the next level.

OT: What projects are you most excited about right now?
JG:
We are working on a new Nag Champa record. I’m also really excited about my radio show on Full Service Radio called “Late Bloom” that airs live every Wednesday from 7-8:30 p.m. We feature a mix of new and obscure music, and interviews with locally based artists working to make global impact. The Uptown Art House project is continuing, but as a creative agency for artists, musicians, curators and activists.

Listen to Gray weekly on Full Service Radio at www.thelinehotel.com/full-service-radio and check out Nag Champa and Uptown Art House on Facebook: @nagchampadc and @uptownarthouse.


Photo: Sam Segal

Photo: Sam Segal

Peter Lillis

Not only did Peter Lillis help establish Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House’s success as an intimate venue in Adams Morgan focused on local musicians, he’s part of the team behind independent record label Babe City Records, a member of DC-based band Den-Mate, and the marketing manager for Union Stage.

On Tap: You have been involved in many facets of the DC music scene for several years and taken on new roles as the energy has shifted. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Peter Lillis
: In the past five years and perhaps longer, DC was the center of the DIY music and house show scene and really focused on doing shows in nontraditional venues. I got involved around that time, around 2014 or so. I began throwing shows at similar places. I was inspired by the idea of active participation. I got disillusioned by the idea of covering music and wanted to be in bands and put on shows. It took me a few years of doing that to realize I wanted more, and the DIY community was a great opportunity to dive into that. I was inspired by everybody’s personal and communal interest [in] bettering themselves and the scene. There was an exciting movement happening.

OT: Do you think the DIY era is over?
PL:
There’s still a good amount of it, but DC is not getting more affordable. The spaces that were central to that experience are gone now – torn down or renovated and sold. But for me and my colleagues at the other collectives, everyone seems to have upped their game. DC has done a better job of investing in nightlife and entertainment options for people. There’s a lot of money and young people and new options for performers. The Wharf where I am now with Union Stage is a great space for people to play. Songbyrd does great work engaging locals. [Dangerously Delicious Pies] is open on H Street. The house show arc was necessary to get us here. We all got the practice we needed to develop empathy for promoters and bookers. The DIY concept doesn’t need to be confined to people’s homes; it’s not mutually exclusive from commercial venues. The fact that they are going away just means we’ve built something that people want, which is encouraging.

OT: You organize industry panels and meetups. What is the purpose of those?
PL:
When we opened Union Stage, [owners] the Brindley brothers had a very welcoming attitude, which is kind of rare. We concocted this effort to directly engage the music community and see what it would bring. The central idea is to give people a platform to meet and talk and see how everybody works together. The music industry is very connections-based. That can make it difficult for people who don’t have the knowledge or resources to be involved but want to be and are talented and motivated. The meetups and platforms we’ve organized have that in mind. It’s been successful so far, [but] there’s a lot of work left to be done. The city could support local arts in a more effective way. The only way we can communicate that to decision-makers is through collective action, so this is a small effort at doing that. We give people the initial tools and contacts to grow their business while keeping it concerted and learning from the community itself, and we can get feedback and learn how to run our business better.

OT: What do you think is unique about DC as a local musician?
PL:
It’s a somewhat small city but [a] very big media market, so it’s somewhat easy to navigate compared to some of the more entertainment industry cities where there’s a ton of noise. You can meet people and there’s a scrappy attitude, but being the city it is, we get more eyeballs and cred than a city of a similar size in a different location. [It’s] advantageous for local artists to live in our area and be able to play in Baltimore, Philly, NYC, Richmond – you can play any of those places and still be home in your bed at the end of the night. People need to get out of town and start evangelizing the community here, and that’s the only way we’ll become effective on the national, international level.

Join the DC Music Industry group on Facebook to get involved in Lillis’s community efforts. Learn more about Union Stage at www.unionstage.com and Babe City Records artists, including Den-Mate, at www.babecityrecords.com.


Photo: Alicia Raft

Photo: Alicia Raft

Sasha Lord

Sasha Lord has promoted, partnered and worked with numerous groups in the DMV. She has also managed tours for several artists, booking shows abroad and traveling with the musicians. Now based in Brooklyn, Lord is currently GM of the Market Hotel (Brooklyn) and Trans-Pecos (Queens) while remaining the primary booker at Connecticut Avenue-based music venue Comet Ping Pong.

On Tap: How did you get into the business of artist promotion?
Sasha Lord:
I have a background in community outreach and working with at-risk populations. I worked for an outdoor leadership school and I’ve always been community-oriented. In college, I worked at Black Cat and then got the opportunity to [work] at Comet Ping Pong. I also have a background working with people with disabilities, and that’s why I tried to make Comet as accessible as possible. I’ve combined my professional background and community work with my love of music to make a diverse, accessible venue for all ages.

OT: What did you see at Comet, in terms of artists and audiences?
SL:
Comet is beautiful because it’s very much a community. We have a variety of promoters so we have a broad range of types, ages, genres and diversity in music – and that makes it a unique space. My shows will sometimes have an older demographic [while] other promoters have a younger [demographic]. It’s very well-rounded and community-oriented.

OT: What should venue operators and promoters do to elevate DC as city where musicians want to come but also pay attention to the artists who are already here?
SL:
Taking care of artists and being mindful of their needs is crucial. Over the past 10 years booking [at] Comet, I was able to go to festivals [and] tour with people. I curated a showcase at South by Southwest, helped with two events [at] Art Basel and [participated in] art fairs. I toured so I could be a better promoter. It made me realize that Comet is a really good venue, and we’re really good to artists. It made me understand what touring artists go through when they arrive. Maybe they’re exhausted, maybe they spent their last $20 on the Baltimore [Harbor] Tunnel, maybe they’re hungry [and] slept on someone’s floor. I didn’t think about those things until going on tour. I realized how hard it is. So when bands show up, be mindful. I feel for the most part, most of the venues in DC do a good job at that.

OT: Now that you are based in New York, how will you stay involved in DC music?
SL:
I have shows booked at Comet through April and plan to continue to book there. A lot of bands reach out to me now wanting to be booked in both NYC and DC, and it’s awesome that I’m able to do that. I recently booked [80s indie band Beat Happening’s] Calvin Johnson in DC and New York, and have some other things in the works for the next year. I’m cultivating and curating in both cities, so bands will know that they’ll get a good experience at [multiple shows]. I’m not leaving DC. I’m hoping to contribute even more by bridging the cities together.

Read about Lord and her projects at www.sashalordpresents.com and learn more about Comet Ping Pong’s winter lineup at www.cometpingpong.com.