Music Picks: August 2017

By Trent Johnson and Nicolas Rodrigo


The Iris Bell
The first time I heard The Iris Bell, they were featured on a compilation titled the Ancestors of Rap, which is sort of a misleading title because it makes you think you’re going to hear folk versions of old rap songs about drug deals gone awry, but it’s more like folk renditions of old soul tracks. Anyway, the sound of The Iris Bell is intoxicating because of the dynamic between the male and female vocalists; the two harmonize in a rare fashion, and the band incorporates a great number of instruments to complement and contrast the melodies of its singers. While you won’t hear rap music of any kind at their show, know you’ll be melted by their voices. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $10-$12. Songbyrd Music House: 2475-2477 18th St. NW, DC;


This female-fronted DC area band walks a fine line between psychedelic and alt rock. Founded in 2015 by singer-songwriter Brendan Ra Tyler, NAH. has honed their music to reflect a lasting message with the help of poet/lyricist/singer Emma Bleker. With debut EP Social Meteor slated for this month, expect to hear a lot more from these guys in the near future. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;


William Wild
Hailing from Knoxville, William Wild is bringing his indie folk to Northern Virginia. Garrett Sale is his real name, but he got his stage name from a conversation with a homeless man allegedly named William Wild. Though he goes by a different name, one cannot deny the serenity his soft-spoken voice brings to his music. Expect a lot of singalong worthy tunes, and all-around good vibes. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $12-$20. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA;


Carolyn Wonderland
With a super Southern twang and the propensity to absolutely wreck a blues guitar riff, Carolyn Wonderland is a dynamic musician. You can hear the soul in her voice as she mixes and matches it with her various solos on instruments ranging from trumpet to accordion. Also, her look and sound remind me of something the camera would focus on in a scene directed by Quentin Tarantino; not the main part, but something that introduces the look and feel of what you’re about to get into. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15-$30. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;

Dashboard Confessional
One of the best examples of a wildly successful emo band from the early days of the genre, Dashboard Confessional has been around since 2000, and their sound is a testament to that. A popular staple of Vans Warped Tour and radio stations alike, chances are that you’ve heard “Hands Down” or “Vindicated” on the radio. You can catch them touring with All-American Rejects this summer. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $30-$55. Filene Center at Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA;


Australia has recently harbored great artists such as Tame Impala and Gold Fields, with Gordi being one of the newest additions. Hailing from Sydney, 24-year-old Sophie Payten brings indie pop full circle with her high emphasis on lyrics and a sound that makes you feel like you are frolicking. With her debut album Reservoir hitting the shelves this month, she is someone to keep a close eye on. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10-$12. Songbyrd Music House & Record Cafe: 2475-2477 18th St. NW, DC;


Juan De Marcos and The Afro-Cuban All Stars
The Afro-Cuban All Stars are an unusual orchestra in the sense that their main focus is on illustrating the deep history of Cuban music. With the blending and mixing of multiple genres, this orchestra is less formulaic and more exploratory with how they approach the sounds of an entire culture, making for one adventure of a show. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25-$35. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;


Lady Antebellum
If you’ve ever needed a country song that encompasses your situation or how you feel, chances are that Lady Antebellum has the song for you. Hailing from the country music capital of the world (Nashville), they have become the embodiment of the evolution of American pop country. Turn on any country radio station and it’s a guarantee that you will hear “Need You Now” or “You Look Good.” Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $56.75. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD;

The Roots
MGM National Harbor’s venue continues to deliver with acts of old and new, and this month, one of the most legendary hip-hop groups comes to Maryland. The Roots are known for a jazzy approach to the genre, featuring a live band, including drums by the legendary Questlove, but have remained relevant since 1987 with their unique take on the genre. Many hip-hop artists have tried to incorporate live instruments during performances, but none can achieve the magic produced by The Roots, probably because they’ve been mastering the style for 30 years. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $63. MGM National Harbor: 101 MGM National Ave. Oxon Hill, MD;

Social Distortion
Talk about a punk band that’s been around a long time, Social Distortion has been kicking up dust since 1978. Whether you’ve heard their music or seen their band T-shirts, the impact they’ve had on the punk scene is undeniable. This band has gone through 16 different members since their formation, and continues to truck on. If you’ve never heard them before and are a fan of the raw sound of The Ramones, then you might want to check them out. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $41. Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD;


In the Valley Below
In the Valley Below is apparently a place where you drink champagne. I’m not making this up – it’s in their song “Pink Chateau.” Like all of their other tunes, the married couple, made up of Angela and Jacob Gall, continue to turn heads on their latest release, Elephant. Since relocating from Los Angeles to Grand Rapids, Michigan, the duo sings about their changing lives, and how their relationship continues to evolve and transform. The indie duo features dual perspectives as both contribute vocally to the elegantly written songs, and sonically appealing sound. Doors at 8:30 p.m., show at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $15. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC;

The man, the myth, the legend that is Carlos Santana is listed as number 20 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. His technical skill on the guitar is quite mesmerizing. Your parents may know him and his band from Woodstock, but most millennials will know him from his song “Smooth,” featuring Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty. Do not miss the opportunity to catch this living legend in action. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $55.50. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD;


Moonrise Nation
Moonrise Nation is an all-female, indie-folk trio that’s not afraid to embrace classical string instruments. Harmonizing vocals and a little twang make these girls from Chi-Town a band worth seeking out. With their debut album Glamour recently released in July, it seems like the sky is the limit for Moonrise Nation. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC;

The melodic rapper hailing from Atlanta by way of Chicago is making a stop in DC at U Street Music Hall. Rap is the kind of music where you’ll probably want to dance, chant, and jump up and down, but at bigger venues like the Verizon Center or even Echostage, the place is cramped with tons of people squishing each other in an ill-fated attempt to reach the front of the stage. We’ve all been there, inching ourselves forward one big toe at a time. Scrap that though, because this show will be right in your face, and SahBabii is an up-and-comer who will likely be hitting those larger spaces in no time. Enjoy the intimacy while it lasts. Shows at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $15. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC;


The Districts
“I’m just a narcissist,” The Districts’ Rob Grote belts out in their newest single “If Before I Wake.” The song is a shining of example of the fragility of an ego after the end of something long-term, and proof of the heartfelt lyrics you’ll get from this garage rock-sounding band. The guitars sound raw and unfettered, but the group also strums up a folk song, like “Funeral Beds,” every now and then to throw you off just a tad. I guess when you have soulful lyrics, sometimes you need to lay them over an acoustic sound. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $20. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

Dru Hill
Folks, prepare to be serenaded. Easily one of the most impactful R&B groups of the past 25 years, the Baltimore-based Dru Hill is likely responsible for a good number of millennials being born. All jokes aside, this group has produced countless hits about love, relationships and the perils and peaks of both. It’s a very good show for a date, in our humble opinion. Doors at 6 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $39.50-$80. The Howard Theatre: 620 T St. NW, DC;


Brick + Mortar
New Jersey duo Brandon Asraf and John Tacon form the pop outfit Brick + Mortar. The two have made waves with their penchant for combining pulsating rhythms with honest lyrics. Though the band definitely incorporates large doses of electronic sounds, the vocals seem to belong at the forefront of a more traditional rock band. That’s why the combination works so well – there aren’t heavy synthesized melodies from the lead singer, just his raw abilities. Doors at 6 p.m., show at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC;

These DC natives are bringing their indie pop and electro R&B sound to Gypsy Sally’s. With band members from varied backgrounds, their music is not without a touch of social commentary too. Come ready to dance, bounce and sway to their diverse discography. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC;


The Beach Boys
The name says it all. Whether you’ve been to Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahamas, Key Largo or Montego, chances are The Beach Boys will take you to a place called Kokomo. Be transported to a time where surfers were kings of the beach and good vibrations were felt all throughout. With so many hits that it would be futile to list them, I would recommend asking your parents. Show starts at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $35-$85. Filene Center at Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA;


Katie Crutchfield captures the sound of Southern Americana rock magically with her project Waxahatchee. Whether the sound is as slow as a stroll in a largely empty field, or as lively and enjoyable as a road trip with friends through the small towns littering the Southeast region of the U.S., her indie rock sound captures the experiences of a person growing up in these tiny places – far away from the bright, urban lights. Her latest project, Out in the Storm, represents her most personal narratives yet, and her vocal performance is dynamic within its genre. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $20. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;


Sheer Mag
Sheer Mag sounds like how a skater dude would quantify the amazingness of his best kickflip. However, they’re actually a kick-ass punk band. They playfully accept that most don’t identify them as punk, and they do sound like a groovy rock band, but what even is punk? The Ramones? Sex Pistols? Why do we even have a classification for punk music? Isn’t the whole point to go against what people submit and conform to? I see what you’re doing Sheer Mag, and I think it’s pretty punk. Here’s to the grooviest punk band around. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;


John Mayer
What is there to really say about John Mayer? You know him for his soulful songs about daughters, sons and lovers. We know him for his celebrity relationships and breakups. Through all of that, the most overlooked thing about the guy is his world-class guitar skills, used in both a Dave Chappelle skit and a beautiful solo on Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. He’s also a noted fashion icon. Yeah, dude has talent, and he has a show at Jiffy Lube Live. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $27. Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Dr. Bristow, VA;


Lil Yachty
As controversial as he may sometimes be, Lil Yachty’s success is a testament to all the haters. Blurring the lines between rap, trap music and mumbling, he can’t have a tour without stopping in the DMV. Hailing from Atlanta, Yachty ventured into a career in music when he moved to New York and built up his repertoire with online street fashion designers (and even modeled for Urban Outfitters). Expect a lot of high energy and spunk out of this young artist’s performance. Show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $36.25. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC;


The Doubleclicks
Nerd folk. That’s the genre Wikipedia puts these two sisters (Angela Webber and Aubrey Webber) into. While they do sound similar to duos like Simon & Garfunkel and Hall & Oates, they are even more awesome, as they tackle subject matter like Dungeons & Dragons, dating losers and Colin Firth. While you probably won’t dance to this music, you’ll laugh, cry and ask, “What is she talking about?” probably more than once. We think that’s worth something, and their songs are extremely witty and smart. Doors at 5:30 p.m., show at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $15. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA;

PJ Morton
Best known for touring with the band Maroon 5, PJ Morton has ventured into the solo act scene and is focused on refining his R&B and jazz-influenced project. This comes as no surprise as he resides in the birthplace of jazz: New Orleans. Expect silky-smooth piano keys, R&B sounds and bodily vocals from this keyboardist. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20-$30. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;