Music Picks: May 2017

By Michael Coleman, Jon Kaplan and Trent Johnson

Andy Shauf
Canada’s Andy Shauf returns to our area to headline his own show. He last appeared a few months ago as opener for the Case/Lang/Veirs tour. Shauf’s tunes are a mix of Elliott Smith, Nick Drake and Harry Nilsson, and his most recent album, The Party, came out last May. With Julia Jacklin. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC;

Part of the Black Hippy collective, essentially the four horsemen of California rap, with Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul shares similarities to his West Coast contemporaries, but also stands out amongst the crowd. Currently he’s touring on the success of his December release Do What Thou Wilt., which contains numerous word plays packed on top of deliberate, slow tempo thuds for beats. Though some of his lyrics are borderline abstract, the sunglasses-donning rapper from California is definitely worth seeing. Doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. The Fillmore at Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; 

Brian Wilson
The Beach Boys legend is on a tour he’s billing as the final performances of the band’s masterpiece, Pet Sounds. A seminal album that inspired countless songwriters, even prompting The Beatles to write their Sgt. Pepper’s album, Pet Sounds certainly made its mark. Beach Boys members Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin join. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $75. The Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC;

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta with La Fiesta Zakke
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo – a Mexican commemoration of a decisive military battle against the French in 1862 – is mostly about celebrating the rich and vibrant culture of our neighbor to the south. But there are good and not-so-good ways to do it. Instead of donning a sombrero, chugging tequila and spouting Spanish clichés in some cheesy bar, consider heading to Gypsy Sally’s for an authentic Mexican musical extravaganza with DC’s own La Fiesta Zakke. Zakke is nine-piece Latin fusion band that incorporates explosive blasts of funk, ska, disco and rock ‘n’ roll. Maybe skip the sombrero, but feel free to proceed with the tequila shots. Show at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $15. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; 

Black Lips
Here’s the deal: Atlanta-based, self-described “flower punk” band Black Lips uses riffs that sound like they belong to 60s bands like Black Sabbath, The Doors and others from the era. Instead of practicing their punk principalities at a breakneck pace, the group restrains themselves musically, offering deeper, nearly psychedelic tunes. And just when you think they’re going to speed up, they slow down. There are some peppier songs in their catalog, for sure, but they definitely dig the slow dance. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16-$18. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 

Official Funk Parade Show
f you’ve ever spent the afternoon at DC’s day-long Funk Parade, you know the mood and the music is infectious. Thankfully, it’s not over when the sun goes down. Revelers move the party into bars and clubs around the city for free, funk-oriented sets of music from some of the city’s finest acts. DC9 is hosting one of this year’s best bills with 8 Ohms and Backbeat Underground. Drawing from diverse musical backgrounds, 8 Ohms blurs the lines between hard groove, funk, soul and reggae, and then toss in a smidge of DC’s own go-go sound for good measure. Backbeat Underground delivers tight, energetic sets steeped in fresh improvisation and head-bopping, booty-shaking grooves. Show at 6 p.m. Free to attend. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; 

Yngwie Malmsteen
In the pantheon of neoclassical heavy metal guitar players, no one looms as large as Sweden’s Yngwie Malmsteen. In fact, in 2015, none other than Guitar Player Magazine declared Malmsteen “the greatest shredder of all time.” Thirty years after his landmark instrumental album, Rising Force, blew the minds of heavy metal maniacs everywhere, Malmsteen is still going strong, touring on his latest release World on Fire. Drawing influence from classical composers such as Bach, Paganini and Vivaldi, Yngwie is responsible for birthing the neo-classical genre to the world of rock. Show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $30. The State Theatre: 220 N. Washington St. Falls Church, VA; 

California-based Tycho surprised fans in September with the unexpected release of Epoch, a critically-acclaimed fourth full-length record from the instrumental, experimental electronic trio. The album, the third in a trilogy, finds Tycho tightening things up a bit compared to its predecessor, Awake. The tunes still meander beautifully, but they retain more focus. As usual, the group infuses its electronic, synth-driven tunes with melodic instrumentation that keeps the sound rich and organic. Fronted by Scott Hansen, Tycho creates ambient earworms that form a fitting soundtrack for a modern 21st-century lifestyle. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NW, DC; 

Graham Parker Duo Featuring Brinsley Schwarz
Graham Parker rose to fame as the frontman of Graham Parker & the Rumour, one of the biggest bands in the British “pub rock” scene. He’s considered an influence on punk rock and new wave, and later artists who made it much bigger, like Elvis Costello. Brinsley Schwarz was the guitarist by his side, and still is to this day. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15-$39.50. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;

Robyn Hitchcock
More than four decades after Robyn Hitchcock kicked his career off with the mid-1970s era band The Soft Boys, he’s still crafting his unusual combination of jangly psychedelic punk and sensitive ballads. In fact, Hitchcock remains remarkably proficient, cranking out records both with and without his longtime touring band, The Egyptians. Hitchcock’s eponymously titled newest record strips away the psych flourishes and focuses more on meat and potatoes rock ‘n’ roll – to a satisfying effect. Fresh off of a theater tour with The Psychedelic Furs, Hitchcock’s double date of shows at Jammin Java provides a chance to see the London rocker up close and personal. Show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20-$25. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna;  

Christopher Cross
Looking at Christopher Cross, now 66 years old, but appearing to be around 36, it’s hard to believe that he released his self-titled debut album almost 40 years ago. The writer of such hits as “Sailing,” “Ride Like the Wind” and “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” has quietly kept his career in the music biz going, despite changing times and trends. Show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $45. The Birchmere: 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA;

Empire of the Sun & Lee “Scratch” Perry
You might know Empire of the Sun primarily from their anthemic song, “Walking on a Dream,” which was featured in a Honda commercial. But the Australian electronica duo and their elaborate and invigorating stage show is also gaining real critical and commercial traction in the U.S. and beyond. A collaboration between Luke Steele of alternative rock act The Sleepy Jackson and Nick Littlemore of electronic dance outfit Pnau, Empire of the Sun features multiple layers of programmed sound atop live drums and guitars. Kooky costumes and flamboyant dancers punctuate the live show, which should be nothing short of an all-out dance party at Echostage. Jamaica’s legendary dub music pioneer Lee “Scratch” Perry opens. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $45. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NW, DC; 

Giorgio Moroder
If you’ve ever heard EDM and thought to yourself, “Man, that is some cool stuff; I wonder where it came from,” then you probably found Giorgio Moroder’s name five minutes later on Google. The Italian singer, songwriter, producer and DJ is frequently credited with the rise of the genre. Since then, the subculture and the artist have exploded in popularity. Even modern stalwarts such as Daft Punk have shown him respect, such as the track “Giorgio by Moroder” featured on the duo’s amazing Random Access Memories. You might remember the song because it’s basically an interview with dope music in the background. So, if you want to see where EDM started, venture out to see one of its oldest pioneers. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $40. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

One of the coolest things about Pond is their former members, because you’ve probably heard of them. They’re called Tame Impala. WHAT? I know, right? That’s weird. But you know what else is weird? Pond is also an amazing band. Hailing from Australia, like Tame Impala, the groups are actually extremely familiar, probably because Kevin Parker acts as the group’s producer. Pond is essentially a band formed by folks from other bands, so they create collaborative music however they want. What you get is a psychedelic sound with pop sensibilities and a fun show. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16-$18. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 

Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams released his new album, Prisoner, in February. It’s his 16th studio album, which is not hard to believe if you’re familiar with how prolific Adams is. While he’s known for his heartfelt rootsy rock and alt-country tunes, Adams has released death metal songs, hard rock tracks and a cover version of Taylor Swift’s album 1989. With Jenny Lewis. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $40-$55. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pky. Columbia, MD:

Tei Shi
Though Drake popularized the “0 to 100” phrase, upon listening to Tei Shi’s debut album Crawl Space, you can actually hear the singer doing just that. Whether it’s a whispery falsetto or a Whitney Houston-like roar (all in one song, no less!), Tei Shi, or Valerie Teicher, proves her versatility and creativity know no bound when it comes to her voice. Just when you think the song has settled on a pitch, she raises it to the sky or bellows back underground. To complement the vocalist’s skillfulness, the album has been arranged with different sounds, ranging from sultry guitar strums to quick-paced synths fresh out of Marty and Doc’s DeLorean. Doors at 7:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-$17. Songbyrd Music House and Cafe: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; 

It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly Wavves is. Are they a punk band because of their anti-establishment words? Are they a garage rock band because of the distorted vocals? Or are they just a pop rock band, because of the easygoing sounds that are pleasing to all ears, regardless of shape, size and age? Well, it’s probably all three, as Nathan Williams’ band encompasses numerous facets of what it means to be a rock band in the 21st century, including the fact that they’re essentially independent at this point. So, whatever they are, Wavves provides a ton of fun to listeners, and that’s enough for us to suggest them. Show at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC;

Garry Tallent
Yes, that’s his real name. And yes, he’s the legendary bass player for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. But Garry Tallent also has a side career as a Nashville-based rockabilly artist. He brings his first solo tour to our area, singing and playing guitar, as well as telling stories. Finally fronting his own band, Tallent – at least for this tour – is The Boss. With Shun Ng. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30-$40. AMP by Strathmore: 11810 Grand Park Ave. North Bethesda, MD;

J. Robbins
Robbins has been part of – or produced – many seminal DC punk and rock bands over the past few decades. As part of Government Issue, Jawbox and Burning Airlines, he made his definite mark on the DC punk scene. He also owns and operates a recording studio in Baltimore called The Magpie Cage. This is a rare opportunity to see him play live. With Iron Chic and The Rememberables. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC;

Buddy Guy
A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and a major influence on guitar heroes like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy is now 80 and shows no signs of slowing down. The wild man with the polka dot Fender Stratocaster still knows how to play the blues like it means life or death. With Quinn Sullivan. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $79. The State Theatre: 220 N. Washington St. Falls Church, VA;

The Delta Saints
Fans of Heartless Bastards and The Black Crowes will find a kindred sound in The Delta Saints heavy blues and swampy, gospel-tinged rock. The Saints formed in Nashville a decade ago and spent the intervening years relentlessly honing their chops in the studio and on the road. It shows on the first single from the band’s new album, Monte Vista, a laser-focused, propulsive rocker called “California.” Lead singer and dobro player Ben Ringel told the Chattanooga Pulse that he often picks up musical ideas by listening to Nashville’s gospel station. “There’s so much attention to dynamics in gospel music, and that’s something we try really hard to put into our live shows,” he said. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $10-$12. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; 

The Legendary Shack Shakers
Led by charismatic frontman and blues harpist JD Wilkes, the Shack Shakers’ explosive interpretations of blues, punk, rock and country have made legions of potential converts into true believers. The band counts none other than Robert Plant and Stephen King among its biggest fans, and their music has been featured on TV shows such as True Blood. Meanwhile, Texas country-blues rocker Jesse Dayton is having a breakout year on the strength of his latest release, The Revealer. The first single off the album, a Southern-fried scorcher of a tribute to his father, “Daddy was a Badass,” is currently a staple on Sirius XM’s Outlaw Country station. Show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $12-$15. Hill Country: 410 7th St. NW, DC;

The Black Lillies
Armed with a raucous live show and rich, rootsy tunes performed with tremendous energy and heart, The Black Lillies are prepared to dominate the summer touring season. With shout outs by NPR, CMT and the Wall Street Journal, the Tennessee-based band is well on their way to super stardom, and they’ve been pleasing their diehard fans along the way. With The Ragbirds. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $20-$25. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; 

Eric Church
Other than Miranda Lambert, no artist in contemporary country music straddles the line between commercial success and artistic credibility as well as Eric Church. A lot of music writers – including this one – think the swaggering North Carolina songwriter got robbed at the Grammys this year when his stellar Record Year didn’t get nominated for Best Country Album. But that’s a technicality in what is shaping up to be an otherwise stellar career. The Ray-Ban-wearing troubadour, maybe best known for his song “Springsteen,” is known for working almost as hard as The Boss onstage, which makes this show at the Verizon Center a no-brainer if you’re a modern country music fan. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $89 and up. Verizon Center: 601 F St. NW DC; 

Natalie Prass
Richmond resident Natalie Prass spent a year at Berklee College of Music before planting her flag in Nashville and dedicating her time to writing songs. Her influences from those different musical locales have coalesced into a blend of genres, drawing comparisons to newer acts like Jenny Lewis and classic ones like Dusty Springfield. Opening for Whitney. Early show; doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

Haas Kowert Tice
I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for any kind of music that makes me want to storm into an old Western saloon with two pistols hoisted in the air in an attempt to take back what’s mine. I don’t know what I’m searching for, but Haas Kowert Tice makes me want to pull up my cowboy boots (I have none) and go out looking for it. The trio of performers (Brittany Haas, Jordan Tice and Paul Kowert) merge impressive resumes and instruments together to form music pulling from country, bluegrass and other genres featuring acoustic strings. So whether you’re like me and enjoy the aesthetic of old Western flicks, or you’re in the mood for a classic hoedown, these three talents have you covered. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15-$25. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA;

Skating Polly
With the sort of pop-punk sound that reminds me of Blink 182, and vocals echoing those of Metric’s Emily Haines, Skating Polly is an absolute blast to vibe to. Piano keys, guitars and the vocals of both Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse make these tales about growing up in Oklahoma City a must-listen. Lately, the band has picked up steam, including airtime on indie and college radio stations. So don’t miss out on the rise of this feisty trio, and run to DC9. No seriously, run there. RIGHT NOW. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10-$12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC;

Animal Collective
One of the most experimental bands in the business of making music, Animal Collective is always bending expectations and working on the perfect sound, like scientists in a laboratory bunker. But instead of test tubes and liquids and chemistry, they’re working with synths, percussions and nasally vocals that mean nothing and everything at the same time. Whether you’re in the mood for classical pop or indie music, rest easy knowing that you can find it in there, although it’s probably buried underneath layers and layers of other eclectic sounds the group found fun to play with in the interim. Plus, the group is almost local, hailing from Baltimore. So go support these wild animals from Maryland, because they’re dope. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $35. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; 

Old Crow Medicine Show
Old Crow Medicine Show has been associated with Bob Dylan for awhile now. Their signature hit, “Wagon Wheel,” developed out of a Dylan bootleg and is credited as a cowrite with the legendary singer and songwriter. Now the group delves even deeper into Dylan as they release 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde, their take on Dylan’s classic album, released 50 years ago. They’ll be performing it live on this tour. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $45. Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC; 

Lincoln Durham
The novelty of the one-man band died, oh, at least a half-century ago, but a few of these multitasking musicians still roam the earth. And some of them can flat-out rock. Austin blues-country-metal standout Scott H. Biram is one example. Lincoln Durham, another Texan with a gothic take on the blues, is another. Armed with bastardized mid-century guitars, hand-me-down fiddles and banjos, and homemade contraptions with just enough tension on a string to be considered an instrument, Durham is a roots-rock revivalist with a heavy-amped edge. It’s a whole lot of dark and compelling noise coming from just one man. Show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC;

Amel Larrieux
If you’re in search of R&B music this May, just start marking the days on your calendar in anticipation of Amel Larrieux. Armed with a beautiful voice, Larrieux dishes on tales of love, and most importantly, “being real.” Not to mention, she’s been at this a long time, as a founding member of the 90s duo Groove Theory. Though she hasn’t released an album since 2013, she has an expansive catalog sure to keep you dancing, smiling and having a wonderful time. Early show: doors at 6 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Late show: doors at 10 p.m., show at 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $34.50-$69.50. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;