march music dc

Music Picks: March 2017

All Them Witches
What does it mean that out of All Them Witches, none are actually women? Not sure, but regardless, they are beguiling. Their music has the effect of being both sinister and totally disaffected at the same time, and perhaps this is what is enticing. It’s heavy on instrumentation and there is some definite droning, chanting and spell-casting, along with voodoo vibe vocals. Listening is an exercise in musical mental prowess, trying to peel back the layers of mystique to see what it is exactly that is drawing you in. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., show at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $15. DC9 Nightclub: 1940 9th St. NW, DC;

Enter The Haggis & We Banjo 3
In March, it’s festive to head out to a show headlined by Irish-inspired music, mostly because of the impending St. Patrick’s Day. If you’re into this line of thought, you can’t do much better than the combo of Enter The Haggis and We Banjo 3. While the former is one of the most noted Celtic bands around, the latter infuses various string instruments to deliver a show that will have you downing pints of Guinness with shots of whiskey. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $16.75-$25.25. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;

For a band with just three members, Slothrust sure makes a lot of noise – both on the stage and, lately, in the rock music press. The New York natives, who met in the jazz/blues program at Sarah Lawrence College, wear their traditional and grunge rock influences proudly. But the band also infuses its dense, heavy sound with contemporary flourishes. Lead singer Leah Wellbaum wails with bluesy misery one moment and shifts to seductive purrs the next, as guitars and drums roar behind her. It’s the sound of a band that’s going places. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $13-$15. The Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;

Electric Guest
“It’s time to get funky” is a term used in various movies referencing the disco sounds of the 60s and 70s. Though Electric Guest is rather contemporary in comparison to groups hailing from that era, the duo is assuredly worthy of the often-quoted phrase. Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton have a penchant for easing digestible electronic sounds into your earholes, while dishing out soothing lyrics. With a mix of soul, soft rock and even disco-inspired music, you can’t not invite this Electric Guest into your house, right? Too corny? Okay fine, but you should seriously make yourself a guest at U Street Music Hall for their performance. Show at 7 p.m. Tickets $20. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC;

Infinity Crush
Caroline White, who records and performs as Infinity Crush, is a classically-trained musician, a poet and a synth-lullaby siren. Her first full-length album, released in September, is a lo-fi hazy daydream dedicated to the memory of her late father. The Maryland native’s music will both haunt and seduce you, so make sure you arrive early enough to catch her in the opening set. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

The Kennedys
Folk music is typically positive, featuring easy strums of the guitar and pleasant vocals. The Kennedys take this a step further, singing about the tranquility of a river flowing and the calming effects of the word “namaste.” The duo has been around since the mid-90s, and list artists like Bob Dylan and Nancy Griffith as influences. So if you can’t take another night of drunken debauchery, perhaps do musical meditating and give The Kennedys a chance; plus, the show is a album release celebration. Doors at 5 p.m., show at 6 p.m. Tickets $22. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA;

Priests: Record Release Party
After two years in and out of the studio, DC’s rising punk band – Priests – dropped its first full-length album in January. What better way to celebrate than a show at the Black Cat, where the band honed its ferocious live act? Priests’ new record, Nothing Feels Natural, retains the quartet’s explosive, raucous sound, but the tunes also hit the ear with a nuance, musicianship – and dare we say polish – that reveals an ongoing sonic maturation. Priests drummer Daniele D, a transplant to DC from New York, told On Tap last year she loved the nation’s capital because “there’s a sense that you can grow and experiment as an artist in a supportive community.” Don’t miss your chance to return the love this month at the Black Cat. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets $16. The Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;

Railroad Earth
A classic bluegrass/Americana jam band from, New Jersey? That’s right. These Jersey natives who started playing in bars and Elks clubs have made a name and a career making music in the tradition of The Band. And even if you’re not super-into the idea of jam bands, don’t let it dissuade you. These guys put on a hell of a show and watching them improvise live is sonic treat every time. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $28. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

Ladysmith Black Mambazo
“World music” seems like such an obtuse genre – isn’t all music “world music”? LBM have been producing rhythm and harmony in their native South African musical tradition since the early 1960s, with their first album release in 1973. They gained international fame when Paul Simon featured the group in Graceland. A year later, he produced their Grammy-winning first worldwide release. Harmony and an international perspective from the folks who know it best? We could all use a little of that. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $49.50. The Birchmere Music Hall: 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA;

Regina Spektor
Salve Regina! If you don’t know her (what rock do you live under?!), Regina Spektor is one of the original – and quintessential – women of indie pop. A Soviet Union ex-pat, Spektor began training at piano even before her family emigrated when she was nine. Her skill at and quirky manipulation of the keys, paired with her wide variety of vocal techniques, quickly became her calling cards. Spektor released seven albums between 2001 and 2016, each with its own eccentricities. For above all she is a storyteller, and her songs can take you from a Russian fairytale to a basement in Brooklyn in a matter of minutes. Doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Ticket prices starting at $63. DAR Constitution Hall: 1776 D St. NW, DC;

Hippie Sabotage
In a blend of indie vocals and hip hop beats, Hippie Sabotage is definitely an interesting listen. The bass thumps, electric sounds fill the dance floors and the raspy voice provides a peaceful touch to what otherwise could be described as purely dance music. The songs vary from ferociously fast such as their hit “Your Soul” and the unbearably patient “Devil Eyes.” The booming bass and instrumentation makes sense when you realize the Sacramento duo began their music careers as producers working with local rappers. However, these brothers are ready to wow you themselves on the 9:30 Club stage. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

Consider the Source
…and then reconsider it. This music has influences rooted in everything from trip-hop to prog rock, sci-fi sound effect to deep-physics shoegaze, jazz to metal – and you might even catch some salsa or Asian dance blends mixed in for good measure. The trio hails from NYC and are masters at instrumentation –clean dirt that you can zone out or rock out to, depending on the track and your mood. Doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $12-$14. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC;

Young Dubliners
Described as “Celtic rock’s hardest working band,” the Young Dubliners play hundreds of shows per year, and have made guest spots on television a few times in recent the memory. The group was birthed in Los Angeles, even though the two founding members are both from Dublin, Ireland, and from there the group ventured to adapt Irish ballads into consumable music for the masses. With various instruments, the occasional violin, and their undeniable charm, it’s hard to pass up a legit Dublin experience on St. Patrick’s Day. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $19.75-$29.75. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;

Chris Knight and Will Hoge
Chris Knight might not get the media adoration that his Americana contemporaries Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton enjoy, but make no mistake – he’s one of America’s finest songwriters. The Kentucky native’s gritty, evocative tales of down-and-out drifters, rural revenge and life on the margins are shot through with empathy and understanding. Meanwhile, Will Hoge – another underrated songwriter – is an accomplished heartland rocker in the John Mellencamp mold. Both Knight and Hoge are songwriters extraordinaire, but their respective bands both come out blazing live, giving each man’s sound a ragged, rocking edge. Show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $29.50. Birchmere: 701 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA;

Mike Love
Hawaiian-born Mike Love’s eclectic brand of reggae has a lot going on. The rising star borrows from funk, electronica, soul and rock – hell, even yacht rock. He also deploys an arsenal of technical components on stage, including live looping, effects pedals and a hybrid acoustic/electronic drum kit. The end result: Wholly original tunes that don’t forsake – or ape – reggae’s roots. Love’s music also stays true to the genre’s protest tradition, with titles like “Time to Wake Up” and “No More War.” Consider it smooth music for rocky times. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $14. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA;

People’s Blues of Richmond
The blues is moody. By definition, the music is supposed to cover a whirlwind of emotions including sadness and despair, but also the oddity of reveling in sorrow. So yeah, you have to bring a certain edge to the stage in order to pull off the genre. The People’s Blues of Richmond bring all that and more with quick tempo changes and bellowing chants that are both emotionally charged and extremely fun to yell in a crowd. The music perpetually vacillates from quick intrepidness to a sloughing trudge. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $12-$15. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;

The Magnetic Fields
For more than 25 years, master songwriter Stephin Merritt has been composing musical epics. For those familiar with the work of Merritt and his longtime project The Magnetic Fields, you know what an emotional journeys those epics can take you on. Merritt’s latest undertaking is the album 50 Song Memoir, in which he has written a song for each year of his life – this time inviting us along for the story of his own journey. The Magnetic Fields will perform all 50 songs from the release over two nights’ of shows at the Lincoln. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $40-$55. Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC;

Aaron Lee Tasjan
After stints as a guitarist for glam-rock legends The New York Dolls, British roots band Alberta Cross and southern rock warhorses Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, Aaron Lee Tasjan is stepping out on his own to decidedly good effect. The East Nashville-based musician’s second album, Silver Tears, has him both singing and slinging guitar, and Tasjan proves quite adept at both. He can peel off jangly, Byrds-inflected rockers one minute and emotive steel guitar weepers the next. Tasjan said his off-kilter, folk-inflected songs are the result of all the gigs that came before his move to the spotlight as a frontman. “A lot of the stuff I did previously was never the main focal point,” he says. “It’s all just been pieces along the way.” Doors open 8:30 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets $12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC;

For a while there, it didn’t look like this band would make it through the fire, perhaps suffocating from the trials of being in a band. However, that seemed to change with Hang, as the band finally rounded into form delivering an indie album its fans and admirers knew it were capable of producing. Picking up scraps from classic rock, and adding eccentric twists throughout, Foxygen has proven they know music, and can create tunes bathed in influences that still powerful enough to stand alone. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

Though the Cosmonauts call their sound “drug punk,” you don’t have to be totally inebriated to jive about while listening to the psychedelic music. Obviously taking notes from bands like Sonic Youth and Velvet Underground, the songs are thick and heavy, even the lighter ones, because of the weight of the guitar-vocals. The most noted feature of the group is the dedication to their amps, often driving the tunes to be as loud as possible. We’re all for good loud music, but maybe bring some ear buds for this one. Doors open at 8 p.m., show starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10-$12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC;

Minus the Bear
Voids dropped March 3 – the sixth full-length for indie rockers Minus the Bear. Beside their Seattle street cred, what makes these guys stand out among others on the scene is that they are they are approachable in a nostalgic way. They’d probably hate that I said that, but what I mean is, while they’ve got killer talent with electronic timing and composition, they also kind of embody the spirit of what 90s “alt pop” bands – think Third Eye Blind – could have progressed to if they’d dug a little deeper, and paid more attention to the technical. Again, the band probably wouldn’t take this as a compliment, but I mean it as one. Their sound is familiar enough to be engaging, but original enough to be worth listening to. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 

Tahj Chandler, better known as Saba, is a 20-year-old rapper hailing from Chicago’s West Side, one of the nation’s most potent hotbeds of hip-hop. Wielding an aggressive yet smooth flow and seamless sampling of late R&B, Saba’s sound is mature beyond his years. Schooled in piano starting at seven-years-old, Saba boasts a traditional musicality that some contemporary hip-hop lacks. It’s a smart niche, one that should draw a crowd ranging from the staunchest old-school hip-hop heads to a new generation of rap fans. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $15-$17. Songbyrd: 2477 18th St. NW, DC;

Chicano Batman
“Holy smooth-sounding, music Chicano Batman!” Okay, okay, that’s not a real quote from the old Adam West led Batman series, but if Robin had uttered he would have not only been on the cutting edge of time travel, but he would be correct. With Latin flare, the group takes after the psychedelic sounds of 70s soul, creating a potent listening experience that makes you want to put them on playlists built around Jimi Hendrix and The Doors tunes. So what if they don’t belong to that era? When the music fits, it fits! Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15-$18. Rock and Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC;

Garage rock? Surf rock? California babe? Gidget, where you at girl? Kind of, but more today and less 50s – in a good way. Oh, the Allah-Las have got some catchy groovin’ tunes. Give me the tambourine and let me play with you. Sure, maybe it’s ridiculous that three of the bandmates met while working together at Amoeba, but ridiculous in all the right ways. Smart lyrics and clean rhythms make them better-than-your-average Cali dream band and I can’t imagine anyone not being able to enjoy one of their shows. How can you hate the “perfect mixture of the sands, the seas, the streets and cities of the Golden State”? Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $20. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

Chrissie Hynde spent the past couple of years writing a controversial autobiography then touring arenas with Stevie Nicks. Now, the rock legend and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer is bringing her Pretenders back to the kinds of clubs the band played before they got famous, including a date at the Fillmore in Silver Spring. Expect to hear the 80s-era monster hits – “Back on the Chain Gang,” “Middle of the Road,” “My City Was Gone” and others – as well as newer Pretenders tunes, all delivered with Hynde’s sardonic wit and trademark too-cool-for-school snarl. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets $45. The Fillmore at Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD;

These relative newcomers (loosely formed in 2013 when composing a score for a friend’s film) have got a definite next wave Dandy Warhols, Brian Jonestown Massacre kind of thing going on — really catchy pop rhythms laced with just the right amount of disaffected-ness (but just the right amount). Listening to their tunes alone in the kitchen sucks you into this cross between a trance dance and a Beatles kind of groove. This would be a great show to take your hip date to, and get excited about when you realize you both can’t help but shake off some of the cool and dance a little. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., show at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $10 in advance; $12 at the door. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC;

Pronounced “Milk Money,” this hip-hop duo has struck gold in a balance of DC’s notable go-go music and hip hop. With only one album to date, 2016’s Zodiac Sines, the pair is still young in their careers, and sometimes it’s exciting to catch a musical act on the come-up. For them, the fire is just being ignited and the energy is palpable every time they set foot on the stage. Support local art, support Milk$, even though milk is low key bad for you. Show at 7 p.m. Free to attend. Anacostia Arts Center: 1231 Good Hope Road SE, DC;

Sarah Potenza
We all know that a strong showing on the The Voice does not guarantee a successful music career, but take that and a rave review in Rolling Stone and an indomitable spirit, and you just might go pretty far in the business. Potenza, a self-described “badass fatass” who wowed viewers of The Voice late last year, is about to see just how far. Channeling Janis Joplin, Susan Tedeschi, Aretha Franklin and other powerhouse vocalists, Potenza is on the road showcasing her polished blues/rock/soul hybrid sound. Backed by a rocking band, Potenza’s big voice should sound fabulous in Hill Country’s intimate concert space. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. Free to attend. Hill Country: 410 7th St. NW, DC;

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
The King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard sound isn’t for everyone, but it’s also not quite as strange as the name would imply. Despite the wacky moniker, this seven-piece Australian outfit lays down some of this era’s most serious and complex psychedelic rock. Known for energetic live performances and cranking out lots of records, King Gizzard blends 1960s surf music with garage, punk and prog rock into an invigorating psychedelic stew. Unlike some psychedelic rock tunes that lack a rhythmic anchor, King Gizzard keeps the grooves front and center while borderline musical madness unfolds on the margins. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $18. 9:30 Club: 915 V St. NW, DC;

Middle Kids
Rarely does a young rock trio hit the international music scene boasting the self-assuredness of Australia’s Middle Kids. Rarer still is when the band gets a plug from rock legend Elton John, who put Middle Kids’ debut single, “Edge of Town,” on his Apple music playlist. It’s also fairly uncommon for an indie rock trio to so effortlessly straddle the line between street cred and commercial viability. Tight, propulsive rhythms and ambient, dreamy harmonies meld seamlessly in Middle Kids’ music, making them ripe for airplay – but likely only on the coolest stations. Lead singer Hannah Joy’s soaring and captivating voice channels PJ Harvey, Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, and other alt-rock priestesses with serious vocal chops and attitude to burn. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC;

Wyclef Jean
In the hip-hop community, the Fugees are legends. Alongside Lauryn Hill and Pras Michel, Wyclef Jean was an integral part to their success. Since the group’s disbandment in 1997, Jean has gone on to carve out a successful solo career. From rhymes to a sorrowful vocal style, Jean has been versatile in his music, which often carry political weight. Though Jean won’t be accompanied by his former bandmates, he’s a musical legend in his own right. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $37. The Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD:

Mike Coleman, Trent Johnson and Courtney Sexton contributed to this article.