To some, Hot Tuna is a reminder of some wild and happy times. To others, that name will forever be linked to their own discovery of the power and depth of American blues and roots music. To newer fans, Hot Tuna is a tight, masterful duo that is on the cutting edge of great music. Hot Tuna graced the DMV once more on Tuesday at The Birchmere. Photos: Mark Raker / Write-up: Hot Tuna’s website
The B-52’s Cindy Wilson traded in her iconic beehive and funky outfits for a Twiggy-esque haircut and more alt-rock look, and hit the road last month with her solo project bandmates Suny Lyons, Ryan Monahan, Lemuel Hayes and Marie Davon. Wilson describes Lyons and Monahan as her partners and songwriters; the two musicians wrote the majority of the songs on her new solo album CHANGE. Wilson unleashed her new sound on the Black Cat‘s backstage on Monday. Photos: Mark Caicedo / Write-up: Monica Alford
If you ever had any doubt about where Steve Earle’s musical roots are planted, his new collection, So You Wannabe an Outlaw, makes it perfectly plain. “There’s nothing ‘retro’ about this record,” he states. “I’m just acknowledging where I’m coming from.” So You Wannabe an Outlaw is the first recording he has made in Austin, Texas. Earle brought the sounds of his renegade country to The Birchmere on Wednesday. Photos: Joel Boches / Write-up: Steve Earle’s website
Pearl Street Warehouse welcomes one of the greatest banjo and bluegrass musicians of his generation this Friday night. Danny Barnes – who along with Joe K. Walsh and Grant Gordy formed the Danny Barnes Trio – has been honing his craft since 1971, back when he was immersed in the music of punk and dub gods. He has transferred that grit into his songwriting, and it surfaces in both his banjo playing and his twangy, dirt-devil accent. He claims his present style is directed toward a “select group of people,” as far as a $20 ticket can be selective. In a recent phone interview, Barnes discussed his artistic approach, cataloged his breadth of experience and told us what to expect from his upcoming show.
On Tap: Will you be playing a lot songs from Stove Up on Friday?
Danny Barnes: We have a lot of tunes from that, especially the new record. But then, I have songs from my back catalog – from this record called Pizza Box and another record called Rocket. Then there’s stuff that Joe and Grant bring in as well. We try to keep things as a bit of a democracy where we try to represent everybody and what they’ve got goin’ on. We try to make a soup out of everybody sort of thing.
OT: How did your trio form?
DB: When you’re out here doing this, you kind of end up meeting everybody after a few years [laughs]. I think we met through camps – teaching at camps, different music camps. They’re friends with Darol Anger, and he’s also one of my friends. They have a band called Mr. Sun that they’re in with [Anger]. It’s kind of a big family thing, you know?
OT: A few years ago, you received the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, which recognized your many years contributing to the form. How does your current work compare to your work in the past?
DB: [The award] was the biggest honor of my life. I’ve always thought of myself as a songwriter first. What I do is make up music and use the banjo as a way of getting the music out. So the banjo is kind of a pencil. I didn’t really ever look at myself as an instrumentalist, so to speak. That award meant a lot to me in that regard because a lot of the guys on the board were banjo players – very influential guys like Béla [Fleck], Tony Trischka, J.D. Crowe, Alison [Brown] and Steve Martin himself. I felt like it made me rethink my banjo playing; I think it suddenly did change how I do my work. I’ve never done a banjo record [until now]. All my records are song-based records with other musicians or sample-based things where I make things on the computer.
OT: Where do the punk and dub influences turn up in your music?
DB: When I was in high school, the music that was kind of happening was punk rock. Socioeconomically, it was music for people that were kind of broken. That’s what I feel about bluegrass and country music, at its best, and those kinds of things are really for people that have the blues. I think punk rock was like that in a way. It came from [a] socioeconomic disadvantage. So did bluegrass [and] country music in a sense. As far as dub music, when I was learning, I always messed around with tape recorders. At that time, there were all these Jamaican records coming out. They use really basic elements like delay, equalization, tape compression and panning – pretty normal studio stuff. But they sort of played the studio like an instrument. I’ve drawn on both of those aspects quite a bit on a lot of my records.
OT: What are the advantages and disadvantages of playing an intimate venue like Pearl Street Warehouse?
DB: The good thing about it is if people are hip to your references, then there’s a lot of good energy. I’m sort of an underdog of an underdog, an underground of an underground. Typically, I feel like my audience reads books and is aware of things. You have to to know who I am – I’m a pretty small person in terms of status and clout. I don’t have meatheads coming to my shows. We’re really playing for us. It’s kind of like, “If you can catch it, you’re welcome to come along.” We have a better chance playing at a smaller venue with that aesthetic. We’re not trying to entertain the mass. We’re really trying to bring a select piece of art to a select group of people.
OT: Could you describe your relationship with the music and culture of DC?
DB: [I’ve been] coming there and playing there forever since the 80s. I think I’ve played every iteration of the 9:30 [Club]. I’ve played the Birchmere, the Kennedy Center and the Barns at Wolf Trap. DC is great – a lot of great restaurants, easy to get around. Typically a pretty hip audience, you know? People that read. They have pretty good radio support there. You’ve got – is it WAMU? You have kind of a hip audience. There’s plenty of jobs so people can go out.
The Danny Barnes Trio will play at Pearl Street Warehouse on Friday, December 8. Doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8:30 p.m. For tickets, click here.
Pearl Street Warehouse: 33 Pearl St. SW, DC; 202-380-9620; www.pearlstreetwarehouse.com
Brothers Jonathan, Luke and Daniel Brindley know their way around the performance space side of the music industry. Since opening Jammin Java more than 16 years ago, they have hosted countless award-winning and almost famous music artists in their small, Vienna, Virginia-based venue – and, more importantly, managed to bring crowds in to see them.
“[Jammin Java] shouldn’t work, but it does,” says Brindley, the trio’s booking manager.
Bon Iver, Andrew Bird, Brandi Carlile, Fun, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are just a few of the big names that have played the “random strip mall in the suburbs” over the years. But now the brothers are embarking on a new adventure, and bringing it inside the Beltway. Their happy New Year will involve the opening of Union Stage on Pearl Street at the new Wharf development – a 450-seat venue, bar and restaurant.
“Since about year five. we’ve been on the lookout for an opportunity outside of Jammin Java, but nothing was ever quite right,” Brindley says.
When approached about the space a year-and-a-half ago, the brothers knew it was the one. And despite the opening of several other new venues in the area, they are sure Union Stage will be a success.
“This is a very natural step for us to complement what we’ve done at Jammin Java,” Brindley continues. “We’re going to have this bigger, badder, cooler club on the waterfront in the city. It’s a good thing.”
While neighboring venues Pearl Street Warehouse and IMP’s Anthem have already opened doors to concertgoers, the team behind Union Stage is still waiting for an official open date, slated for sometime at the start of 2018. But they certainly haven’t been resting on their laurels. Instead, they’ve found creative ways to expand their business further, and promote the new venue at the same time.
Nestled inconspicuously in the center of Barracks Row is the Miracle Theatre – a 350-seat renovated theater built in 1909. Originally home to vaudeville acts, and then silent and Western films, the theater is now host to a variety of performances, events, concerts and traditional cinema.
It’s in this renovated space that the new Brindley venture makes its debut. With the help of booking agents John Weiss and Jen Lee, the Java/Union Stage team have teamed up with Miracle Theatre for a long-term partnership curating a concert series. Once Union Stage opens, shows at Miracle will continue, rounding out the soon-to-be three-venue business offering a mix of musical genres to experience on any given night.
A folk rock act may perform at Jammin Java while an R&B performance takes Union Stage and a singer-songwriter plays at Miracle. Tonight for example, the team brings Kris Allen of American Idol fame to the theater for a holiday-themed show. Allen, winner of Idol’s eighth season, has six albums under his belt and continues to tour, most recently for his seasonal Somethin’ About Christmas.
“I think more than anything, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the type of music I really want to make,” Allen says. “I’ve learned to be really honest with myself and I think that has come out in the music that I have made over the past four or five years. People want to hear honesty.”
As for tonight’s show at Miracle, Allen describes it as a bit of “a step back in time.”
“I got really inspired by the 40s and 50s Christmas radio shows that I found. That idea that families and friends were huddled around one radio listening together to these shows just made me want to create a show that felt a little like that. There are some fun things that happen during the show and I definitely think it’s hard not to get into the spirit after this show.”
Allen’s performance will build the momentum for Union Stage’s opening at the end of the year. Union Stage’s owners seem to be creating community partnerships like the one with Miracle Theatre, and already bringing in new job opportunities in the city – having expanded their team to about 60, which will likely expand further once doors are open.
“If we can do what we did at little old Jammin Java in the suburbs in a strip mall, we can, with the help of the Wharf and the visibility of the Wharf and all the features that we have there, grow with the Wharf,” Brindley says. “We’re a big small business, and we feel good about that. We like what we’re doing.”
Kris Allen plays at Miracle Theatre tonight; doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available here.
Miracle Theatre: 535 8th St. SE, DC; 202-400-3210; www.themiracletheatre.com
PostClassical Ensemble (PCE), an experimental music laboratory led by conductor Angel Gil-Ordoñez, is partnering with Washington National Cathedral. And together, the two are reconceiving the classical experience.
This Thursday, PCE will put on a Pearl Harbor Day performance in the main nave of the National Cathedral. It will be the ensemble’s first performance as artists-in-residence at the cathedral, featuring the National Cathedral choir led by choral conductor and music director Michael McCarthy.
The program will include excerpts from Hanns Eisler’s “Hollywood Songbook,” Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano “Trio No. 2” and Arnold Schoenberg’s “Ode to Napoleon.” Aside from the Shostakovitch, these are pieces almost unheard in classical canon; and that’s the PCE way. For Gil-Ordoñez, the “problem with classical music nowadays is not the classical music.” Rather, the music loses its valence when presented in the highly codified symphony format.
“[It’s] the same way it was done 300 years ago,” he says.
PCE curates each performance to be both germane and memorable. Sometimes that means working with other media, including narration, actors and film. But more than anything, the programming is thematic and tells a story.
For the Pearl Harbor Day concert, PCE will tell the story of composers and artists reacting to World War II. Schoenberg’s “Ode to Napoleon” was written in direct response to Pearl Harbor, and the ensemble will feature Franklin Roosevelt’s famous “A Date which Will Live in Infamy” speech beforehand.
Gil-Ordoñez believes this will be the first time the piece is performed in DC, and he says the same about the Eisler. The piece bears less on WWII; however, he was a figure shaped by the war. Like Schoenberg, he fled Hitler’s Germany on account of his Jewish heritage. Following the war, he was deported as a communist.
The PCE’s conductor gushes about the ensemble’s partnership with the cathedral. He feels it’s time that his long itinerant orchestra become identified with a specific space, and he’s also excited to collaborate with the choir. He feels that the ensemble has found the perfect partner in McCarthy, who in return has become enamored of PCE’s rethinking of the concert format, and decided to offer the PCE a home at the cathedral when he felt it was time to expand the space’s arts offerings.
“It was a beautiful marriage at first sight,” Gil-Ordoñez says.
Already, PCE and McCarthy are planning further collaborations. On February 28, the duo will tell the story of African-American spiritual “Deep River.” On May 23, PCE will put on a Cold War program at the cathedral. In addition, PCE will do a live scoring of the classic Soviet film The New Babylon by Grigori Kozintsev on March 30 and 31, 2018.
Don’t miss the Pearl Harbor Day concert on Thursday, December 7 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $25-$65. Learn more at www.postclassical.com.
Washington National Cathedral: 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; 202-537-6200; www.cathedral.org
The Wharf got DC into the holiday spirit with the annual Holiday Boat Parade where guests enjoyed hot cocoa, s’mores by the fire pit, photos with Santa by the lighted Christmas Tree, ice skating and live music from Go Go Gadjet, Wil Gravatt Band, carolers and more! Plus, guests enjoyed winter drinks at the Waterfront Wine & Beer Garden on District Pier. Photos: Josh Brick
There are certain moments in life that you can always return to, palpable memories that never leave you. For me, one of those moments was standing in the front row at a sold-out B-52’s show with my dad at the brand new House of Blues in Boston the night of my college graduation.
As I watched this legendary dance rock/art pop/new wave/insert quirky genre band that I grew up listening to perform just feet away, swooning at Kate and Cindy’s perfectly intact pipes and Fred’s signature deadpan vocals as they kicked it onstage like they were still 25, I thought to myself, “This is once in a lifetime.”
On a call with Cindy Wilson a few weeks ago, I shared this memory with the singer-songwriter and cofounding member of the band, and asked her if she had a comparable moment. It wasn’t easy for her to pick just one, but she landed on the time she snuck into an Ike and Tina Turner show.
“It was just awesome,” she says. “I’d never seen such live emotion and electric dancing. It blew my mind, totally.”
Wilson, who still performs regularly with the B-52’s, is now on tour promoting her new full-length solo album CHANGE, out on December 1. I jumped at the opportunity to catch up with her before her band’s stop at the Black Cat on December 4.
She traded in her iconic beehive and funky outfits for a Twiggy-esque haircut and more alt-rock look, and hit the road last month with bandmates Suny Lyons, Ryan Monahan, Lemuel Hayes and Marie Davon. Wilson describes Lyons and Monahan as her partners and songwriters; the two musicians wrote the majority of the songs on CHANGE.
“I’m working with some incredible musicians,” she says. “It was really fun for me to be in [studio], and [it] just really came together so well.”
CHANGE is the culmination of nearly four years’ and two EPs’ worth of collaboration with Monahan and other musicians, working to define their sound and hit their groove as a band.
“It took us about three-and-a-half years to get it together, and it just turned out really wonderfully,” she says.
Wilson’s solo sound seems to span genres, just as the B-52’s always have. She says her music combines a lot of different elements – psychedelia, pop and electronic among them – but if CHANGE had to fit into a category, it’d simply be alternative music.
“I think it surprises people and it’s a beautiful album, really.”
When I ask how her musical influences have shifted with her new work, she tells me she’s recently become obsessed with Tame Impala. But generally speaking, her musical taste is very eclectic – from 60s/70s garage bands to bossa nova to bluegrass to world music. Wilson’s also influenced by her B-52’s bandmates, sharing her latest releases with them and welcoming their feedback.
“I’ve played them things all along,” she says. “They’ve heard everything. They didn’t know how I was going to do the B-52’s and the solo shows, but it’s worked out fine. It’s been great.”
Wilson has been balancing the B-52’s fortieth anniversary with her own album release, and says she’s definitely very busy.
“But it’s fun. They’re both different and it’s been a grand adventure. I like to affect people, and both bands really do it. So it’s really wonderful.”
On the B-52’s front, Wilson says she’s encouraging the band to put out one more song. As for her solo career, she’s already written a few new songs for her next release and is gearing up for a European tour in February.
In the meantime, she says her current tour offers a show “that’s kind of unto itself,” flowing from beginning to end without stops between songs, full of beautiful melodies set against an artistic multimedia backdrop.
“I’ve got fantastic, first-rate musicians and they’re just a dream to play with,” she says. “I think [audiences] will enjoy it.”
Catch this rock icon and her talented band at the Black Cat on December 4. Tickets are $20-$25. Learn more about Wilson at www.cindywilsonb52s.com.
Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com
I first played Foreign Air’s latest single “Lying” for a friend as we drove around DC late one night after a concert. The setting seemed right. One half of the duo, Jacob Michael, grew up a few Metro stops outside of the city where he discovered the DC music scene as a kid, and the November night and heavy fog rolling into the city bolstered her comment: “This sounds like it could be in a movie.”
With a little bit of funk and a touch of hip-hop built on a solid foundation of rock, this indie electronic band definitely sounds like they could be in a movie soundtrack, or at least their vivid tonal imagery backed by thumping bass and Jesse Clasen’s layered vocals makes you feel like you’re listening to one.
That sound has translated well to the big arenas they’ve played, opening for the likes of Bishop Briggs, Phantogram, Bleachers, The Strumbellas and AURORA, but the guys are excited to trade the bigger venues for more intimate settings on their first headlining tour alongside DC-based band SHAED.
Founded in 2015 by longtime friends Clasen and Michael, Foreign Air has since released an EP and several singles, and watched “Lying” make its way onto Alt Nation. Now, they’re embarking on a six-show tour starting in Chicago on November 30 and ending back in DC on December 8 at Rock & Roll Hotel. Clasen says concertgoers should “expect the unexpected.”
While known as a duo, on the road they play with a full band and try to make the live show as big a production as possible, Clasen says. As first-time headliners, the pair is excited to have more control over the details of this tour and create a vibe that suits their music.
Self-described as alternative, Michael says they pull from a lot of different genres for their sound, but try to put their own personal spin on things. Clasen adds that they are deeply based in future technology, but still love organic sounds. Michael’s current playlist includes Radiohead and Bad Sounds, while Clasen says he’s always enjoyed female vocalists – which he says you can notice in the tone of his voice at times – as well as Pink Floyd, Brian Eno, Talking Heads, jazz improvisation and even film scores.
The musicians share a desire to experiment with different sounds and instruments, and this experimentation has been its own project in figuring out how to bring that sound onstage. Clasen says part of it has to do with who will be onstage with them at the time and picking out which elements will bring the most energy while others are not as emphasized, but technology has opened up a lot of possibilities for what they can do.
Mainly, they just want it to be fun for the individual who is playing the part. Another element that impacts their live sound is where they play, and Michael says the best places to perform at are the ones that care about the sound.
“I think we’re really lucky in DC,” Michael says. “We have 9:30 Club and Rock & Roll Hotel and different venues that spend a lot of time making sure the rooms sound a certain way.”
“It’s all about that bass,” Clasen adds, making Michael laugh.
Not too long ago, however, who would play what instruments and how they would perform weren’t even on their minds; they were just two friends in different bands.
“I shared a bill with Jesse down in Charlotte [North Carolina] many years ago, and I thought he was a great vocalist,” Michael says. “Then he started sending me music, and sent me a song from this hip-hop project he was working on, and I loved it. I showed that song to my friends all summer long. I think we bonded over the fact that we were in these rock bands, but we also enjoyed soul music and hip-hop and a lot of different genres. We stayed in touch over the years, slept on each other’s couches and floors while we were touring, and just became really good friends.”
Eventually, they started writing together based on a mutual desire to try something new and experiment with instruments. They dropped their first song around November 2015, and since then, they’ve released an EP, For the Light, three singles and have spent time just trying to figure out who Foreign Air is.
While it might seem like living in different states would have hindered this process, their friendship and musical connection has outweighed the distance. When asked how they were able to make music with Clasen down in Charlotte and Michael in DC, Michael laughs and tells me: “Dropbox.”
Hailing from different cities has allowed them to each bring something unique to the table. Clasen is very connected to the Charlotte music scene, but his personality also played into what influenced him.
“I’m a little bit more of a homebody than Jacob is, so for me the music experience really burst out of when I was young. As I got into high school, the Internet just changed it all – being at home on the computer, finding all sorts of music and watching documentaries on YouTube. I think that really changed my life.”
Michael, on the other hand, was strongly influenced by DC’s electronic scene.
“DC is such an interesting city because it’s very diverse, so you get a lot of new music,” he says. “Electronic music is really big in DC – probably bigger in DC than in most cities – and so I think over the years, it’s trickled into the stuff I listen to and want to experiment with.”
The pair continues to meld their musical styles and experiences together, and shows no signs of stopping soon. Their next single was released on November 29, and will also be on their first LP, set to release early next year. Michael says the songs blend 80s analog with hip-hop oriented drum production, and hopes the album’s unique sound will continue to evolve. In the meantime, they plan on touring more and look forward to connecting with people.
So why should you go see Foreign Air?
“Come hear a band with local roots,” Clasen says. “Meet people, have a drink, move around, hear some pretty falsettos. I think you’ll enjoy it. And we’ll be there to give you a hug.”
Check out Foreign Air’s latest single “Lying” and learn more about the duo at www.foreignair.net, and catch them at Rock & Roll Hotel on December 8. Tickets are $15.
Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; 202-388-7625; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7
Busty and the Bass
This nine-piece band from Montreal is on the road for their newest album Uncommon Good. Busty and the Bass captivates audiences with their unique blend of hip-hop vocals, rap and plenty of brass and bass, a.k.a. music that is impossible not to shake and move to. Doors open at 7 p.m. $15. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com
Kweku Collins is one of the brightest young stars of indie hip-hop. From the Chicago group Closed Sessions, Collins’ debut EP Say It Here While It’s Safe landed him on Pigeons and Planes “20 Rappers Under 20” list. His follow-up LP, Nat Love, garnered an 8.0 Pitchfork review. Though Collins hails from Chicago, his music stands well outside of other area hip-hop artists like Chance the Rapper or Vic Mensa; Collins is simply himself. Doors are at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2476 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8
Foreign Air & SHAED
Foreign Air, comprised of duo Jacob Michael and Jesse Clasen, features two longtime friends originally from different rock-oriented bands. A combination of funk, hip-hop and rock, this indie-electronic pair has been compared to the likes of Glass Animals and Alt-j. SHAED is a DC band fronted by Chelsea Lee and accompanied by brothers Max and Spencer Ernest. They have been compared to Florence + the Machine, Sia and Sylvan Esso with their pop-electronic beats and Lee’s soulful vocals. Doors open at 7 p.m. $15. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com
Hailing from L.A., ska-punk band the Interrupters are keeping punk alive with their high-energy and upbeat rhythm. Lyrics about social issues and empowerment are backed by roaring guitars and heavy-melody that will make you head bang all night long. Doors open at 8 p.m. $16. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com
DMV-raised rapper and producer Rico Nasty releases her music on her own label, Sugar Trap, which is also how she describes her sound and style. She draws comparison to Lil Yachty, but her sugar trap is distinct from Yachty’s bubblegum trap. It’s sonically playful, but more informed by a taste for colorful cartoons and hyperbolic imagery. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com
Frankfurt-based producer Roman Flügel makes music from a range of influences. His 2014 record Happiness Is Happening showcases a taste for ambient EDM as well as for techno and house. His effortless mix of these influences has earned him a reputation as a left-field DJ. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $8. Flash: 645 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.flashdc.com
L.A.-based duo Eddie Anthony and Edan Dover are the talented musicians behind The Score. First gaining traction for one of their songs that ended up in a commercial, they turned down offers that involved going the pop route and stuck to their rock roots. They have since released an EP, Myths & Legends, that has catchy lyrics and hooks of pop but with the heavy, loud rock that they love. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dcnine.com
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9
Matt Pond PA
Indie rocker Matt Pond is all about life’s crazy experiences, and that’s exactly what he writes and sings about. Their latest album, Still Summer, is their twelfth and final as a band. Following Winter Lives as the second album on Pond’s independent label, the album explores all the vibes of summer-like road tripping in a beat-up car and features the likes of Laura Stevenson, Laura Burhenn, Caroline Reese and Anya Marina. Doors open at 9 p.m. $15. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dcnine.com
NPR’s Piano Christmas
Celebrate the season with a stylish twist on your favorite holiday classics. The Kennedy Center and NPR present A Jazz Piano Christmas, the annual holiday tradition featuring four celebrated jazz pianists performing their favorite seasonal music. The evening will feature winner of the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition Helen Sung, and 2018 NEA Jazz Master Joanne Brackeen returns to the Terrace Theater, along with Brazilian virtuoso Abelita Mateus and Cajun blues master Marcia Ball. Performances are at 7 and 9 p.m. Tickets start at $55. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org
Santa Barbara native Seven Lions is one of the many EDM artists to grace the stage at the popular DC rave venue Echostage. On tour for his latest album, Where I Won’t Be Found, this dubstep/trance mashup artist has featured the likes of Tove Lo and Ellie Goulding on his music, to name a few. Show at 9 p.m. $30. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC; www.echostage.com
Maybe you don’t recognize this band’s name right away, but if you hear their song “All for You,” you’ll be sure to recall it and be transported back to the late 90s alternative music scene. Named “one of the top 100 most influential independent performers of the last 15 years” by Performing Songwriter Magazine, these country alt-rockers are back on tour but this time for a cause: to support local military communities. Doors open at 7:30. $40. The Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10
World-renowned and legendary tenor Andrea Bocelli returns to the U.S. for a seven-concert date tour. Each performance will feature a unique repertoire from Bocelli’s Grammy-nominated album, Cinema, special selections from the 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking release Romanza, along with his beloved traditional selection of arias, love songs and crossover hits. Andrea Bocelli will be joined on stage by Eugene Kohn, soprano Larisa Martinez, and special guest artist and Broadway sensation Heather Headley at each stop on the tour. Doors are at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $80. Write-up provided by venue. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC; www.capitalonearena.monumentalsportsnetwork.com
English singer Jake Bugg made big waves back in 2012 with the release of his self-titled album. Now on his fourth full-length LP, Bugg says he wants to make a complete record as opposed to a collection of songs like his last album. Bugg’s sound is a combination of his idols: the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Oasis’ Gallagher brothers. Expect plenty of blues and romantic melodies. Doors open at 7 p.m. $30. Sixth & I Historic Synagogue: 600 I St. NW, DC; www.sixthandi.org
Not much is known about Michl, as he has worked hard to keep his identity private. In 2016, he launched his self-titled EP, a haunting collection of songs that use sparse electronics backing his soulful vocals. He could easily be compared to Sam Smith and James Blake. Doors open at 8 p.m. $12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dcnine.com
In 20 years of making music, Scottish post-rock band Mogwai has covered a tremendous amount of ground. However, their latest release and ninth LP, Every Country’s Sun, has the deftness of touch they brought to their scoring of the BBC’s Atomic and their widely received 2011 LP Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will. The latest record shows a balance between studied practice and experimentation with new instruments that makes for a downtempo sound that’s chilly in its electronics but also nakedly melodic. Doors are at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12
Pageant queen Caroline Weinroth fronts this dreamy, doo wop/pop-rock band from Virginia, backed by brother Erich Weinroth on bass and James Adelsberger on drums. On tour for their second album Burned and Burnished, the band has moved away from the existential questions of forever on their last album to exploring breakups and rejection with Weinroth’s 50s sounding, bluesy voice, pronounced drums and wailing guitars. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. $10. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 13
Formed in 2015 in DC, punk band Bad Moves are on tour for their self-titled EP. Drawing from their experiences living in the area, the band plays my personal favorite kind of music: sad lyrics that are at times humorous, backed by a fun beat easy to dance to. A little bit of pop, a little bit of new wave and a little bit of garage, these guys stick to a punk foundation while expanding on said genre’s classic sound. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. $10. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com
American electronic producer Com Truise released his first studio album since 2012’s In Decay this summer. 2017’s Iteration follows up on the sci-fi story of his previous albums, that of synthetic astronaut Com Truise. But Iteration is also influenced tonally by the artist’s personal life, namely his move from New York to L.A., and the displacement felt in that move. Iteration continues in Com Truise’s synthwave style, and still hearkens back to the synth-heavy music of the 80s. Doors are at 10 p.m. Tickets are $17. Flash: 645 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.flashdc.com
Okey Dokey is the product of its members’ previous bands breaking up. Consisting of frontman and visual artist Aaron Martin and The Weeks’ guitarist Johny Fischer, their first full-length album Love You, Mean It is inspired by their love of Mowtown and incorporates their psychedelic storytelling roots. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. $12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dcnine.com
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14
Last month, Angel Olsen released Phases, a collection of demos, B-sides and other unreleased materials. Phases hearkens back to the stripped back sound of her first records, when her sound consisted of just vocals and guitar. And her voice carries the exact haunting power that brought her the acclaim she enjoys today. Not all of the tracks are completely stripped down though, and her Americana sensibilities remain constant throughout. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com
For their winter 2017 tour, the TSO presents The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, their 1999 record which includes many of their best-known hits like “Christmas Canon [Rock]” and “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24.” Since that 1999 release, TSO have become touring juggernauts whose arena rock performances have been likened to The Who and Pink Floyd. Their touring style comes from their composer and lyricist, Paul O’Neill. The TSO means for this tour to be a celebration of O’Neill’s life and work. Doors are at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $46. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC; www.capitalonearena.monumentalsportsnetwork.com
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14 – SUNDAY, DECEMBER 17
National Symphony Orchestra Performs Handel’s Messiah
Join the NSO, gifted singers and a heavenly chorus for this holiday tradition. This year, conductor Jeannette Sorrell brings fresh perspective to Handel’s cherished Messiah with gifted soloists Sophie Daneman, Ann McMahon Quintero, Karim Sulayman and Christian Immler, along with the University of Maryland Concert Choir. Experience all of the hope, redemption and grace of Handel’s cherished Messiah in the festively decorated Concert Hall. Multiple dates. Tickets start at $15. Write-up provided by venue. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15
Lil Uzi Vert
In 2017, Lil Uzi Vert released his highly anticipated debut studio album, Luv is Rage 2. Uzi Vert is an intriguing rapper, as his flow is much in the vein of other contemporaries, with vocal processing reminiscent of Young Thug and at times Migos’ triplet; but stylistically, he says he draws from rock music, namely Marilyn Manson. Luv is Rage 2 puts into words and beats his belief that one can wear skinny jeans and still be hard. Doors are at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $45. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com
Las Vegas-born vocalist and producer Shamir released his debut album Ratchet in 2015, and the project is pure art pop. The record features catchy electronic beats and slinky funk-leaning bass lines, and underpinning it all are Shamir’s soulful high vocals and witty yet blunt lyrics. Since then, his music has taken a turn away from the pure pop of Ratchet, but still features those same lyrical and vocal stylings, though in an admittedly heavier context. His latest release, 2017’s Revelations, received mixed reviews, but Shamir certainly remains a voice to watch and a singular performer. Doors are at 7 p.m. Tickets $18. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16
Twenty years into their careers, O.A.R. has become an alternative pop classic. Managing to fill theaters over the course of their existence, O.A.R. has played easy to enjoy mainstream music while remaining in the background of the pop culture zeitgeist. Back on tour for their latest album XX, these guys have delivered another album that uses the sound they’ve come to be known for and that has won over the hearts of their devoted fans over and over. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $45.50. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com
Trophy Eyes are a five-piece band from Newcastle, Australia who have combined pop-punk with melodic hardcore – the kind of band that you listened to as a moody teen before catching their act at Warped Tour. Compared to bands like Touche Amore, Title Fight, Crime in Stereo and the Amity Affliction, the punk-pop rockers are on tour for their latest album Chemical Miracle. Doors open at 5 p.m. $15. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dcnine.com
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20
Samantha Fish with Louie Fontaine and the Starlight Searchers
While she’s well-known as a purveyor of blues, having been lauded by such legends as Buddy Guy, the Royal Southern Brotherhood and Luther Dickinson, Samantha Fish’s real love is simply raw, scrappy rock ‘n’ roll. It’s little wonder then that when it came time to record her new album, Chills & Fever, Fish ventured off in another direction, one she was exploring for the first time in her career. “I don’t think I ever enjoyed making a record quite as much as I enjoyed making this one,” Fish insists. “I love the sound of the brass and the edgier intensity. One thing’s for sure. Nothing ever felt so authentic.” Write-up provided by venue. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets $25. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21
The B Street Band
From the heart of the Jersey shore, Bruce Springsteen cover band the Backstreets was the first group in the world to do a unique tribute to a live performer. There are now an estimated 14,000 tribute bands following their lead and performing all over the world. Nearly 5,500 performances and 34 years later, the B Street Band is still the hardest working tribute band on the circuit, with almost 200 shows per year throughout the country honoring The Boss. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $20-$25. Write-up provided by venue. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.thehamiltondc.com
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 22
Chef-turned-rapper-turned television personality Action Bronson’s music is just one of the things he’s become known for. Bronson has become an infectious personality on his Viceland show, F**K That’s Delicious, but the artist continues to write music, which first put him on the map. Bronson’s extra appetite, along with his swagger, bursts from his music. On his 2017 record, Blue Chips 7000, he continues to tell stories of a tremendous appetite for all manners of pleasure, and in terms of production, he continues to feature rich array of samples – from deep cuts to instant classics. Doors are at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30. The Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29
The Everyone Orchestra’s conductor, Matt Butler, has been leading a rotating cast of accredited musicians through full-length shows that are entirely improvised since 2001. The Everyone Orchestra balances the challenges of live group improvisation with triumphant tension and release conduits of music that head deep into the soul. This unique collaborative of performance deeply encourages and requires audience interaction. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 9 p.m. Tickets $33. Write-up provided by the venue. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30
Female power trio Mary Timothy, Betsy Wright and Laura Harris are Ex Hex. Another DC band, these ladies play loud rock ‘n’ roll with plenty of attitude. Brace yourself for a show that’s sure to leave your ears ringing and feet tired from jumping all night. Doors open at 8 p.m. $18. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30 – SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31
Bonerama and New Orleans Suspects
As their sound evolves and changes, it’s still the best way to describe this 15-year-old powerhouse trombone touring band from New Orleans. In addition to changing the way people think about the trombone, the sound of Bonerama has become an influence and contribution to the sound of New Orleans music today. With newer acts such as Trombone Shorty and Big Sam’s Funky Nation joining them on the national music scene, it’s the Crescent City that has benefited with a newfound reputation as being a bonafide “Trombone Town.” Doors at 7:30 p.m., show at 9 p.m. Tickets $43.50-$58.50. Write-up provided by venue. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.thehamiltondc.com