Bloc Party

The early aughts were the time of the post-punk revival, as a generation of bands reworked Joy Division and Gang of Four for millennials. Chief among these acts was Bloc Party, a British four-piece that smashed together angular riffs and non-stop rhythms into catchy-as-hell dance-punk anthems and broke through with Silent Alarm in 2005. While the band have continued to evolve and experiment since then, Silent Alarm remains their high watermark, thanks to what frontman Kele Okereke has described as its “nagging youthful urgency.” And Bloc Party seems to know that, too, releasing a live version of the album this year and taking it back on the road, just in time to inspire a post-punk revival-revival. Sept. 16 at The Anthem. $45–$75. —Chris Kelly

Megan Thee Stallion

Every season is a hot girl season with Megan Thee Stallion, the Houston rapper who took summer by storm with her first major label album Fever. Her viral “hot girl summer” mantra has encouraged fans to be unapologetically themselves, and spread everywhere from Jada Pinkett Smith’s Instagram to promotional tweets from Wendy’s. Megan’s most recent release captures this energy: Every line is confident, provocative, and more often than not jaw-droppingly spicy. The precision of her rhymes and flow are stunning in a time where mainstream rap is dominated by melodies and mumbles, and her love for the roots of hip-hop is always on full display—from Biggie Smalls to Megan’s own mother, who made a name for herself in Houston as rapper Holly-Wood. Megan joins Meek Mill and Future for a number of stops on their Legendary Nights Tour. She’s technically a supporting act, but as she reminded us on her freestyle for the 2019 XXL Freshman Class—a coveted title of approval from the hip-hop community—she might be a newcomer, “but I spit like I been here.” Sept. 17 at Jiffy Lube Live. $35–$125. —Ella Feldman

Les Filles de Illighadad

In Niger lies a tiny village called Illighadad. In it, a Tuareg community lives a nomadic existence mostly occupied by trade and cattle. The women sing to pass the time as they work. They also participate in tende, a celebration in which they chant and clap along with the rhythm of an instrument bearing the same name. In this landscape, a young Fatou Seidi Ghali picked up the guitar. Joined by her cousin Alamnou Akirwini, and Fitimata Ahmadelher and Abdoulay Madassane Alkika, they perform together under the name “Les Filles de Illighadad” (The Girls of Illighadad). Combining guitar in tende and adding the pounding of the calabash, half-buried in water, Les Filles create beautiful music, like slow, hypnotic blues. By doing so, they are “reclaiming the importance of this forgotten inspiration of Tuareg guitar and asserting the power of women to innovate using the roots of traditional Tuareg music.” Sept. 19 at the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building. Free. —Nenet

Mac DeMarco

Mac DeMarco is usually photographed with mussed hair or wearing a baseball cap, looking disoriented and slightly sleepy. DeMarco says he doesn’t smoke weed, but thanks to his style of dress and the sedated brilliance of his music, one could be forgiven for assuming he was the prototypical talented stoner. Salad Days, DeMarco’s 2014 album, is his spacey masterpiece. It draws the listener through its 11 tracks like a lazy river, and even “Let Her Go,” the earworm pop gem at the album’s center, comes without much fanfare. DeMarco’s signature nauseous yet infectious guitar riffs and meandering melancholy are present on his post-Salad Days albums, including Here Comes The Cowboy, his latest effort. Since Salad Days, DeMarco has transplanted from his previous adopted home of New York to the golden shores of Los Angeles. That seems like a pretty good place for a laid-back musicmaker. Sept. 20 at The Anthem. $44–$79. —Will Lennon

Washington Social Club

After a decade-long breakup, Washington Social Club are back. The band may have garnered comparisons to ’80s legends like The Replacements and Beat Happening in their heyday, but looking back, Washington Social Club are more readily associated with their peers you might have found in the pages of Alternative Press or on the Vans Warped Tour. With the help of the era’s signature scuzzy sincerity and residual DIY grit dipped in bittersweet angst, Washington Social Club pushed back against the popular conception of D.C. as a suits-only town. Their last album, 2008’s Bigger Than Your Boyfriend, oscillates between the flirty weirdness of the title track and self-deprecation. Fittingly, Washington Social Club will play Black Cat, their home venue and one of the last relics of the old indie and punk scenes left standing in D.C. Listen for “Close the Roads,” a song that lead singer Martin Royle says is about hanging out at that very bar, depressed but still looking for comfort in music and camaraderie. Sept. 21 at Black Cat. $15. —Will Lennon

Tyler, the Creator

Funkmaster Flex has been hosting a show on New York hip-hop institution Hot 97 for nearly as long as Tyler, the Creator has been alive, and the rapper’s July appearance on Funk Flex’s show was the perfect distillation of their age gap. After a long, wide-ranging interview came time for the freestyle, and, much to Flex’s dismay, Tyler delivered a handful of explicit lyrics about having sex with men. One of the tamer ones: “Me and Flex was cuddled up watchin’ Scooby Doo and eatin’ Scooby snacks.” For Tyler’s fans, this was no surprise. The Odd Future founder has been rapping about his same-sex sex life since 2017’s Flower Boy. Tyler and his class are ascendant, and the success of this year’s IGOR—it beat out an album by a very petulant DJ Khaled for first position on the charts—is proof that the kids are all right. Sept. 21 at Merriweather Post Pavilion. $29.50–$69.50. —Chris Kelly


There must be something in the water in Chicago. Over the past few years, the city has given us NE-HI, Twin Peaks, and hard partying country-soul pioneers Whitney. In their own ways, all of these bands sound like the platonic ideal of what a Logan Square hipster wants out of rock music, but the Whitney way might be the most interesting. Their first album, Light Upon the Lake, is melancholy, melodic, and as ethereal as its namesake in spite of being a sequence of 10 tight rock songs. Singer Julien Ehrlich’s distinctive falsetto pairs with Max Kakacek’s watery guitar to produce a distinctive, emotional sound that occupies a silvery space between contentment and longing. The album made co-founders Ehrlich and Kakacek into minor celebrities in Chicago. There are even reports of fans fainting at their shows. No word so far on whether they have a comparable effect on D.C. Sept. 23 at 9:30 Club. $30. —Will Lennon

Daniel Caesar

Two autumns ago, Daniel Caesar took the music world by storm—a quiet storm. The Canadian crooner’s debut album Freudian was a masterclass in unhurried, unadorned, old school R&B. The “Best Part,” to quote the title of its strongest song, was Caesar’s duets with fellow upstarts H.E.R., Kali Uchis, and Syd that recalled a time before an R&B duet just meant shoehorning a rapper’s verse into the back half of a bop. Caesar’s surprise-released second album CASE STUDY 01 understands the power of collaboration, as the singer-songwriter teams up with heavyweights like Brandy, Pharrell, and John Mayer. But this time around, there’s nothing quiet about Caesar’s music, which is lusher and funkier than before. Sept. 24 at Echostage. $42.50. —Chris Kelly


“If you can love me, you can love yourself,” Lizzo preaches with gusto. A Lizzo performance often doubles as a self-esteem support group, complete with call-and-return affirmations, self-love sermons, and body-positive bops. The singer-rapper-flautist can heal the world with her infectious confidence—and twerk while doing it. But the journey toward unwavering self-love has been a long one for Lizzo. It wasn’t until she started going to therapy that she realized the power of vulnerability. Being vulnerable with her therapist and then with her family and friends empowered her to be vulnerable as an artist. This emotional transformation is palpable on Cuz I Love You, Lizzo’s third studio album and most honest work yet. Each song is inspired by real moments in her life, from telling a fuckboy to take his ass home to professing her love for a Gemini (yikes). Lizzo is learning to love herself in a world that doesn’t always love her back and it’s time we finally join her. Sept. 25 and 26 at The Anthem. $45–$75. —Casey Embert

Frankie Cosmos

For the past 10 years, Greta Kline has been recording and writing music under a myriad of pseudonyms: Ingrid Superstar, Little Bear, The Ingrates. Now, she fronts Frankie Cosmos, a DIY indie band named after her alter ego. The safe distance between her alias and her art provides a mental hideaway when she isn’t onstage or selling her own merch at shows, but Kline doesn’t shy away from a profound connection with her fans. Every lyric and every chord in her music is a therapeutic reflection on her own experiences of romantic turmoil, millennial existentialism, and straight-up self-loathing. The daughter of actors Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates, Kline learned at a young age that it was possible to make a living as an artist. Despite feeling exposed onstage and emotionally exhausted after touring, she is reassured by the connection she’s created with people who are feeling the same pain. After all, as she sings on her latest full-length album, Vessel, “being alive matters quite a bit, even when you feel like shit.”  Sept. 27 at Black Cat. $18–$20. —Casey Embert

Bombay Bicycle Club 

In 2016, Bombay Bicycle Club embarked on an extended hiatus allowing singer Jack Steadman, guitarist Jamie MacColl, drummer Suren de Saram, and bassist Ed Nash to pursue solo projects. Three years later, just in time for the 10th anniversary of their debut album, I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose, the band is officially back together, with new music in the works and an international tour scheduled for the fall. Bombay Bicycle Club have yet to announce a launch date for their next album, which will be the first since 2014’s So Long, See You Tomorrow. But in early July, they released an EP featuring seven demo tracks recorded between 2004 and 2008. As the band notes in a statement, some of these songs never progressed beyond the demo stage, while others, including “Always Like This” and “Dust on the Ground,” represent early renditions of their best-known hits. Oct. 5 at 9:30 Club. $35. —Meilan Solly

Sheer Mag

Anybody who claims “they just don’t make rock and roll anymore” clearly hasn’t been paying attention to Sheer Mag. Since their very first EP, the band has satisfied a longstanding craving for good, solid rock music, with an instantly nostalgic sound ripped straight from your classic rock radio station of choice. Think This is Spinal Tap, but set in the ’70s instead of the ’80s and lacking a shred of irony for the genre it’s covering. The tambourine shakes and guitar riffs are plentiful, but the real power lies in the raspy exuberance of frontwoman Christina Halladay’s vocals. Not since Beth Ditto has a nasally growl been so full of feeling and fury, and yet so danceable. This sort of music should be listened to while driving on the open road, but in lieu of that, catch Sheer Mag live. Oct. 5 at Black Cat. $15–$17. —Stephanie Rudig

Girl Band

The first thing you should know about Dublin’s Girl Band is that there are no women in the band. That detail may be a turn-off, but if you can get past it, you’ll find one of the more sonically adventurous bands in rock music. Their music is a special kind of noise rock, a type of punk where ear-busting volume and chainsaw textures challenge the listener. Still, there is a grace and sense of melody to their tunes. On songs like “Paul,” there is an escalating sense of danger, which explodes into a glorious mess of percussion and frenzied guitars. Girl Band like to play with mood and atmosphere, while Dara Kiely’s vocals have a sense of snarled, detached sarcasm. This mix makes for an intense live show, one where the music and performances hypnotize you, and your fist remains firmly in the air. Oct. 6 at Songbyrd Music House. $12. —Alan Zilberman

Kero Kero Bonito

After five years of making bilingual J-pop, Kero Kero Bonito unleashed a rip-roaring new sound on their second studio album, Time ‘n’ Place. The catalyst for this sonic evolution was grief.  While recording Time ‘n’ Place, each member of the London-based trio faced the devastating loss of a loved one and the disheartening impermanence of the people and places they love.  Suddenly, laptops and beat pads no longer cut it. Instead, the band took to guitar, bass, and drums for for catharsis. On Time ‘n’ Place, Kero Kero Bonito add distorted noise and sick guitar shreds to their signature palette of glitchy beats and bouncy synths. Disillusioned with the uninspired paradigm of modern dance music, Kero Kero Bonito opt for uncharted territory at every turn. Oct. 8 at 9:30 Club. $20. —Casey Embert

Rachel Bloom

She’s only 32, but Rachel Bloom has already lived a theater kid’s dream. After graduating from NYU Tisch, Bloom performed at the UCB, went viral thanks to music videos for songs like “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury” and—most importantly—co-created and starred in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Across four seasons of the critically acclaimed cult favorite, Bloom and company explored rom-com tropes and mental illness realities through pitch-perfect song and genre homages. But when the show bowed out earlier this year, Bloom asked herself, “What am I going to do with my life now?” That rhetorical question is the name of her new tour, wherein she’ll perform Crazy Ex songs and stand-up material as she figures out what dreams may come true next. Oct. 10 at The Anthem. $39.50–$75. —Chris Kelly

All Things Go Fall Classic

When setting up each year’s lineup, All Things Go organizers never attempt the scale of festivals like Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo. Instead, they play to their audience, featuring the artists who are soon to blow up. So far, the music festival has had a positive track record of finding soon-to-blow-up artists, like Kygo in 2015, who only a few months later performed in the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio, and the beloved Billie Eilish this past year. At the sixth annual All Things Go Fall Classic, you can check out the more well known synth-pop band CHVRCHES, as well as lesser-known acts, such as indie pop bands LANY and COIN. Oct. 12 and 13 at Union Market. $69–$239. —Michelle Goldchain


The first time I heard Incubus, it was on the Family Values Extra Value CD that came attached to Korn’s Follow The Leader. Even then, it was clear that the SoCal five-piece was an odd fit among knuckleheads like Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Kid Rock. Sure, they could go heavy (and they even had a period-appropriate DJ!), but Incubus’ melodies and grooves, and Brandon Boyd’s soaring vocals, were just too nice for nu metal. That became abundantly clear on Make Yourself, the band’s 1999 breakthrough album, which delivered tributes to spontaneous combustion (“Pardon Me”) alongside vaguely Eastern ballads (“Stellar”) and acoustic sing-alongs (“Drive”). Incubus kept growing, as artists and stars, on Morning View and A Crow Left of the Murder…, and have stayed active through the years since. But Make Yourself is the reason for this anniversary tour. Oct. 12 and 13 at The Warner Theatre. $77–$350. —Chris Kelly


If you’re not a regular viewer of NPR’s Tiny Desk series, you should make an exception for IDLES. The band from Bristol, England, have a unique energy to them. They’re a little cheeky and flamboyant, but singer Joe Talbot has an intensity that is infectious, not dangerous—in a matter of minutes, he is beet red and soaked in sweat from singing. Their songs are classic post-punk, full of stripped down melodies and minimalist percussion. Talbot loathes the status quo, but he also rails against toxic masculinity. IDLES’ intensely physical, raw live shows have earned them a rabid fanbase across England, and that devotion is slowly creeping its way into the States. This is the sort of band designed to make a crowd go absolutely bonkers in the best way. Oct. 14 at 9:30 Club. $25. —Alan Zilberman

Bon Iver and Feist

Bon Iver’s Grammy-winning ethereal and experimental brand of folk has paved the way for the indie music of the 2010s. Leslie Feist has been releasing solo material for two decades under her eponymous moniker Feist. In that time, she has served as one of the 14 members of Broken Social Scene, collaborated with countless different acts, and appeared on soundtracks for 500 Days of Summer and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. Her voice is delicate, and her songs have an irresistible twee. Together, the two acts make up a model tour bill that will have you feeling like the protagonist of an indie film. Oct. 17 and 18 at The Anthem. $55–$75. —Callie Tansill-Suddath


From the neo-soul wave, we were given the gift of Goapele. Her most acclaimed single, “Closer,” the title track of her 2001 debut album, is a salve for sore ears. The Oakland native reverently draws upon musical luminaries Nina Simone and Sade for her sophisticated sound. Goapele’s voice is ingrained in the hearts of fans and is impressively enduring. Her 2017 album, Dreamseeker, features rapper BJ the Chicago Kid, and is full of as much melody as her most beloved hit. Let yourself get closer and feel higher. Oct. 17 at The Birchmere. $45. —Mikala Williams


Judging by early singles, the difference between Shura’s first and second albums is the difference between yearning for young love and finding it. On 2016’s Nothing’s Real, the British singer-songwriter born Alexandra Lilah Denton delivered an album of danceable, melancholy synth-pop that played like the soundtrack to a forgotten John Hughes movie. But from the first glimpses of this year’s forevher, Shura sounds like someone in the honeymoon stage of a new relationship, and seems to be painting with brighter colors. “The stage” is a gently psychedelic song with a touch of Elton John that Shura says is about the first date with her current girlfriend, while “religion (u can lay your hands on me)” doubles-down with a Prince-at-the-disco vibe. Even “BKLYNLDN,” which sounds the most like a cut off Nothing’s Real, has a more hopeful energy. “I think you’re awesome, and I don’t wanna get out of bed,” Shura sings, “but baby, there’s a whole world out there that I wanna see with you.” Oct. 18 at Union Stage. $20–$30. —Chris Kelly

Darci Lynne & Friends

Three minutes. That’s all it took to turn a timid 12-year-old into an internet sensation and international superstar. For Darci Lynne Farmer, those three minutes meant more than fame and praise for her unique ventriloquism and singing act—they meant winning a long struggle with shyness. While America saw a fearless sweetheart grace the America’s Got Talent stage, Farmer was still searching for the voice inside she didn’t know she had. Her furry musical friends Petunia, Oscar, and Edna just happened to be the cute accessories who brought her out of her shell. Farmer’s first national tour comes to the District this fall. Oct. 20 at DAR Constitution Hall. $27.75–$100. —Lia Assimakopoulos

Lakota Music Project

In 1883, Antonín Dvořák, the Czech composer and champion of folk music both in his native Bohemia and the U.S., attended Buffalo Bill Cody’s “Wild West” show. He did so at the behest of his employer, New York’s National Conservatory of Music, which had lured him there with a lucrative commission to write an opera based on Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha.” It was an inauspicious source of inspiration; most of the performers were Lakota Sioux from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where the massacre at Wounded Knee had taken place just a few years earlier. He never wrote the opera, but his “New World Symphony” gave rise to what’s called the “Indianist movement” in American classical music. Other composers went further than Dvořák, notably Arthur Farwell, who lived among Native American tribes, recorded Native songs, and composed a chorus sung entirely in Navajo. Yet the movement faded before actual Native composers could gain exposure. Addressing this glaring omission, South Dakota Symphony’s Lakota Music Project, which includes musicians from the Pine Ridge Reservation, comes to the National Cathedral to perform pieces by Dvořák, Farwell, and the most prominent living Native American composer, Jerod Tate. Oct. 21 at the National Cathedral. Free. —Mike Paarlberg

Ingrid Michaelson

All 11 tracks on Ingrid Michaelson’s new album, Stranger Songs, refer to Netflix’s Stranger Things. “Freak Show” reclaims the derisive label proffered by a school bully in the series’ first episode, while “Pretty,” which Michaelson dubs her “Eleven anthem,” explores societal conceptions of attractiveness, as alluded to when a character tells his love interest she looks “pretty… good.” The final song on the album, “Take Me Home,” reveals why the singer draws such inspiration from Stranger Things: Its opening lines, “Remember being young / Like a flavor on the tongue,” encapsulate the nostalgia evoked by the show’s seemingly endless stream of 1980s pop culture throwbacks. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the TV series, it’s worth checking out Michaelson’s tour. As she—known for such hits as “Be OK,” “Girls Chase Boys,” and “Everybody”—concludes, the themes touched on in Stranger Songs are universal. Oct. 23 at The Lincoln Theatre. $55. —Meilan Solly


From the unrefined punk of Dig Me Out to the anthemic rock of The Woods, Sleater-Kinney grew their sound across world tours, breakups, and a rapidly mutating scene for nearly a decade. Even after returning from a lengthy hiatus, the molten core of their percussive brutality persists. The band’s co-founders Carrie Brownstein (who poked fun at the social ecosystems surrounding music and counterculture in the Pacific Northwest on Portlandia) and Corin Tucker (formerly of Heavens to Betsy, O.G. Riot grrrl pioneers), remain at the center of Sleater-Kinney’s creative process. For their new album, The Center Won’t Hold, Brownstein and Tucker enlisted art rock high priestess St. Vincent to help with production. Early tracks sound totally distinct from the band’s previous albums, compulsively listenable rock music combined with something well worn, angry, and aching. Oct. 25 at The Anthem. $37.50–62.50. —Will Lennon

Washington Performing Arts presents Spektral Quartet

Iceland’s best known composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir has some uncanny similarities with a certain other well known Icelandic musician, both of whom are a little weird, speak in a childlike, chirpy voice, and write sweeping, atmospheric music inspired by glaciers. But don’t think Nordic music is just quirky pop or death metal. New Nordic classical is hot right now, and Thorvaldsdottir is right at the top along with Finland’s Magnus Lindberg and Kaija Saariaho. Her newest piece, Enigma, is a Washington Performing Arts co-commission and will make its debut in D.C. Performing it will be Chicago’s Spektral Quartet—no strangers to contemporary composers or to quirk. They once commissioned 47 new super short pieces by various composers including Thorvaldsdottir written to be downloaded as ringtones. Oct. 29 at Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. $40. —Mike Paarlberg

Washington Performing Arts presents Chick Corea Trilogy

Chick Corea is one of jazz’s all-time greats with a career spanning more than 50 years and more than 20 Grammy Awards and dozens of records, many of which are classics. Never one to sit still, the pianist and composer constantly changes his collaborators. His latest band, Trilogy, includes two musicians who broke onto the scene in the 1990s and have become jazz luminaries on their own. Bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade joined Corea for an extensive world tour that resulted in an eponymous triple live album that includes a number of Corea’s best known compositions, traditional jazz standards, and newer material composed for this band. Oct. 30 at The Music Center at Strathmore. $35–$85. —Sriram Gopal

Big K.R.I.T.

The influence of Southern rap has impacted hip-hop in every way imaginable, and Mississippi native Big K.R.I.T. has proven he’s not new to this narrative. His 2012 debut studio album, Live From the Underground, featured Southern rap OGs Ludacris, 8Ball, and Bun B. The album is an homage to the cultural bastion of gold fronts and candy painted lowriders with subwoofers steady knocking. K.R.I.T.’s goal to reach across hip-hop aisles, introducing his hometown glory to the world, has been evident on each subsequent album. And he’s never forgotten those Southern roots. His most recent album, K.R.I.T. Iz Here, features appearances from fellow Southern-born and raised rappers Lil Wayne and J. Cole. Nov. 2 at The Fillmore Silver Spring. $27.50. —Mikala Williams

YBN Cordae

YBN Cordae was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, but he was raised in Suitland, Maryland. That’s why the 21-year-old rapper has called himself “the best thing from PG since Kevin Durant.” Born Cordae Dunston, he started rapping under the name Entendre before linking up with the dozen-plus-deep YBN crew, a collective of hip-hop talents that met through online gaming. The only game Cordae plays, though, is with his raps, which are heavy with wordplay, punchlines, and a throwback sensibility. Whether rapping over Eminem’s “My Name Is,” going on a girls-girls-girls fantasy in “Locationships,” or telling stories on his debut album The Lost Boy, the puckish talent is one to watch for. And on this tour, he’ll be opening for Logic, another Maryland export. Nov. 2 at EagleBank Arena. $29.99–$269.99. —Chris Kelly

Jonathan Biss

Beethoven may not have come up with the idea of sonata form, but it was his music that inspired the observation by music theorists that such a form existed. It is, as his contemporary Carl Czerny described it, a three-part model of exposition, development, and recapitulation of musical themes and motifs throughout the course of a single piece. That Beethoven is the composer most associated with sonata form is more than a little unfair to his predecessors; it was well established by the pre-Romantic classical period of the mid-1700s. But he did write a shit ton of sonatas. Pianist Jonathan Biss, a well regarded Beethoven enthusiast, delves into several of them in a three-part concert series beginning with the composer’s best known earlier piano sonatas, numbers 4 and 8 through 11. Classical institutions never need an excuse to play Beethoven, but as 2020 marks his 250th birthday, expect to see lots more celebrations of the great bushy-haired Romantic. Nov. 3 at the Phillips Collection. $5–$45. —Mike Paarlberg

The New Pornographers

The New Pornographers are one of those Canadian bands made up of people from other bands formed in the 2000s that people used to refer to as “collectives,” like Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene. But in spite of the slick production and the pomp and circumstance associated with being a “supergroup,” their collaborations still feel intimate. The vocal harmonies on their new album sound like beer buzzing friends singing along to records together, and although they can come off as poppy and sincere, anyone who sets out to criticize them for that will almost inevitably be charmed into paying them a compliment instead. Today, their supergroup status looms large, but The New Pornographers are an entity unto themselves, more super than the sum of their parts. Nov. 5 at 9:30 Club. $40. —Will Lennon

Taking Back Sunday

Perhaps no band captivated angsty teens and young adults at the beginning of the millennium like Taking Back Sunday. Leaders of emo’s pop-punk-infused third wave, the Long Island band stuck with their Warped Tour-ready sound for a few albums before evolving into a more straight-forward rock band: 2016’s Tidal Wave owed more to Springsteen and the Ramones, and sounded more like The Gaslight Anthem and Against Me! than vintage TBS. But with an interest in the style of emo they helped pioneer, Taking Back Sunday have spent 2019 celebrating their first three albums. Attendees at both D.C. tour stops will hear Tell All Your Friends in full, with a coin flip deciding which nights get Where You Want to Be and Louder Now. Cashing in on nostalgia may be as subtle as a brick, but it’s a staple of this year. Nov. 10 and 11 at The Fillmore Silver Spring. $35–$160. —Chris Kelly

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

For as long as I can remember, the words of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” have flooded my ears. “You’re just too good to be true,” my father would sing. “I can’t take my eyes off you.” The charming love songs were a staple in my upbringing—30 years after the group’s prime. But the Four Seasons’ reach extended far beyond my dad’s serenades to the women in his life. Their heartfelt lyrics dominated the dance floor for decades with “December 1963 (Oh What A Night),” and filled cars nationwide with “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” Bottom line: Frankie Valli’s words probably touched your life in some way. The music industry is cutthroat, but Valli embodies the essence of a true crooning frontman. Nov. 14 and 15 at the Warner Theatre. $48–$175. —Lia Assimakopoulos

Matt and Kim

I’ve seen Matt and Kim pack ’em in at Black Cat and open for a pop star at Merriweather Post Pavilion, and each time, it seemed like the venue was built with the Brooklyn duo in mind. Maybe it’s because Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino seem to be having so much fun, whether laughing and smashing their way through their feel-good indie-pop jams, or covering everyone from DMX and Kendrick Lamar to Van Halen and Europe. The fun all started with 2009’s Grand, which featured fan favorites “Daylight,” “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare,” and “Lessons Learned”—that’s the one where the pair stripped nude in Times Square for a music video. “We definitely didn’t expect this album to entirely change our lives like it did,” Johnson told Billboard earlier this year. Nov. 20 at 9:30 Club. $35. —Chris Kelly

National Symphony Orchestra: Fleming and Gilfry

The departure of the previous NSO music director, Christoph Eschenbach, two years ago was doubly worrying for D.C.’s classical music scene since it also meant the departure of Christoph Eschenbach’s contact list, which included celebrity collaborators like Lang Lang and Renée Fleming. Lang Lang hasn’t returned yet—he backed out of a scheduled recital last year due to tendonitis—but Fleming continues to grace our marble structure on the Potomac. Fleming is a soprano who has achieved opera royalty status, described as not just a singer but a “musical ambassador.” Thus her concerts are increasingly of the pop-classical variety. Appropriately, her appearance with the orchestra under still-new director Gianandrea Noseda includes one fun crowd pleaser: Strauss’ “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” best known as that trippy piece from 2001: A Space Odyssey. But her contribution will be in a more obscure work by contemporary composer Kevin Puts: an NSO co-commission based on letters between Georgia O’Keeffe and her husband Alfred Stieglitz, sung in duet by Fleming and baritone Rod Gilfry. Nov. 21 to 23 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. $15–$99. —Mike Paarlberg


What started as a group of struggling college-aged musicians approaching jazz clubs saying “Let us play” soon sparked the name “Lettuce” and the eclectic sound that would climb its way to the top of the jazz charts for more than 20 years. The band got its start in the ’90s, a transition decade for jazz from its classic sound to one with new influences of hip-hop and funk. Lettuce was one band which embodied the change. With a soulful funk, Lettuce’s use of the organ and horn melodies led the way for the next decade, when jazz continued to adopt influences from all over. In 2019, Lettuce released their ninth album, Elevate, which showcases the group’s free approach to music while embracing a futuristic and progressive vibe. Incorporating elements of Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, and Miles Davis, Lettuce’s new album highlights the history behind jazz while paving the way for what is yet to come. Nov. 22 at The Anthem. $41–$61. —Lia Assimakopoulos

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks took the name of a supernatural crime show from the early ’90s because it sounded cool. Every member of the Chicago band writes and sings, and their shows are notoriously rowdy. They often sound like Exile On Main St.-era Rolling Stones with a little country-western mixed in, courtesy of the hours they spend listening to rural radio on cross-country tours. But beyond that, Twin Peaks seem to easily shrug out of any attempts to define themselves. It’s not a subversive impulse, but rather because they’re just guys in their 20s who have known each other since they were teenagers riffing on their favorite music. They’re dudes from Chicago who decided they thought “Twin Peaks” sounded cool and haven’t looked back since. Dec. 11 at Black Cat. $20–$22. —Will Lennon

Cautious Clay

Artists who sing and play multiple instruments, and play them well, are rare and noteworthy. Cautious Clay, whose name is a play on Cassius Clay, the birth name of boxer and icon Muhammad Ali, has those rare and noteworthy talents—flute, saxophone, and guitar to name a few. His songs often stem from a stream of consciousness haze, and his fans love it. He’s made himself known to fans in no time: He opened for Alina Baraz on her tour in September of 2018 at 9:30 Club, and now he’s headlining there just a year later. Witness his full circle moment. Dec. 13 at 9:30 Club. $25. —Mikala Williams

Tyler Childers

Back in 2017, Tyler Childers escaped anonymity with a bluegrass-tinged triumph, Purgatory, that established the Kentuckian as one of country music’s bright young talents. The co-sign by Sturgill Simpson (who co-produced the album) didn’t hurt, but Childers stands on his own thanks to a vulnerable drawl and a poet’s pen. For his much anticipated follow-up, Childers re-teamed with Simpson and Nashville veteran David R. Ferguson for Country Squire. Lead single “House Fire” is a literal barnburner, while “All Your’n” has soul to spare. The cover of Country Squire features Childers illustrated as some sort of stoned, multi-faced celestial being—perhaps he’s out of purgatory. Dec. 13 at The Anthem. $36–$76. —Chris Kelly

In Memoriam: Toni Morrison

Last month, the world suffered the loss of Toni Morrison, the prolific Nobel Prize-winning writer whose novels and essays explored black American identity in beautiful, distinctive, and heartbreaking prose. Originally from Ohio, Morrison enrolled at Howard University in 1949 and later graduated, eventually returning to Howard as a professor for seven years, where she began writing fiction. A short story she shared with a group of writers at the university became her first novel, The Bluest Eye, which she published in 1970. By 1993, she was the author of 11 novels—including her powerful, acclaimed novel, Beloved—and she became the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature. In awarding her the prize, the Swedish Academy applauded her novels for giving “life to an essential aspect of American reality.” Morrison continued to bring realities to life through her later years. Her most recent book, The Source of Self-Regard, a collection of nonfiction speeches and essays, was published in February. A beautiful portrait of Morrison by Robert McCurdy is displayed at the National Portrait Gallery, and it’s the perfect time to pay a visit (and pick up some of her books). To Jan. 31, 2020 at the National Portrait Gallery. Free. —Ella Feldman

Ornament: Fragments of Byzantine Fashion

Tackling a 10-century time period is an ambitious feat for an archaeological exhibition, but that’s exactly what Ornament: Fragments of Byzantine Fashion attempts to do. The exhibition tracks the Byzantine Empire’s textile fashions—clothes, tapestries, and more materials—from the 4th to the 14th century to weave a rich portrait of what life looked like a millennium ago. Nearly 60 pieces of these delicate scraps will briefly come together (they’re fragile, so they can’t be displayed for too long), including everything from a nearly intact infant tunic to tapestries woven with what appear to be Biblical scenes. And the exhibition reckons with the textiles’ histories long after they were worn and used, too; 19th century art dealers had a habit of cutting up antique cloth to sell on the market. The fabrics are impressive for their technical skill and artistic beauty, but they’re especially valuable as tools for adding depth to our understanding of the people who lived before us. Sept. 10 to Jan. 5, 2020 at Dumbarton Oaks Museum. Free. —Emma Sarappo

Verrocchio: Sculptor and Painter of Renaissance Florence 

Despite the fact that Andrea del Verrocchio mentored such luminaries as Leonardo da Vinci, Pietro Perugino—later Raphael’s teacher—and, in all likelihood, Sandro Botticelli, he has long been overlooked by the art world. This fall, however, the National Gallery of Art will present the first comprehensive U.S. retrospective dedicated to the artist, drawing on some 50 paintings, sculptures, and sketches to offer insights on both his individual oeuvre and his contributions to Renaissance Florence’s unparalleled artistic output. First and foremost a sculptor, Verrocchio crafted works ranging from a bronze statue of David carrying the head of Goliath to tombs for members of the illustrious Medici family. His workshop also produced paintings on a smaller scale, and it was through this method of shared artistic execution that young apprentices including da Vinci and Michelangelo’s mentor, Domenico Ghirlandaio, honed their skills. As curator Andrew Butterfield says, “Verrocchio was a visionary.” Sept. 15 to Jan. 12, 2020 at the National Gallery of Art. Free. —Meilan Solly

Judy Chicago—The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction

Judy Chicago’s best-known work is so brilliant that it may eclipse anything else she ever makes. It’s not the worst problem to have: “The Dinner Party,” a table with place settings for 38 important women figures in world history (plus the names of 999 more), is a contemporary masterpiece, a milestone for both feminist art and sculptural installation. The good news, for Chicago fanatics and the merely Chicago curious, is that the artist’s new work bears some stylistic similarities to her older stuff even as she takes it in a new direction. Judy Chicago—The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, a show organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, includes glass and ceramics, materials that Chicago has strived to reclaim from their popular association with decorative craft. But in recent artworks, she explores themes of anxiety and apprehension, environmental collapse and individual catastrophe—feelings that people may not find in the angry and righteous “Dinner Party.” Sept. 19 to Jan. 20, 2020 at National Museum of Women in the Arts. $8–$10. —Kriston Capps

Live Dangerously 

The National Museum of Women in the Arts’ Live Dangerously exhibition finds 12 photographers countering traditionally passive depictions of women in nature with scenes portraying the female body as a provocative force in its own right. From Justine Kurland’s snapshots of teenage girls skinny dipping, setting off smoke bombs, and otherwise disrupting their environments to Ana Mendieta’s “Siluetas,” which emblazon the artist’s outline onto the ground in a nod to the body’s elemental origins, the show emphasizes women’s agency. Some subjects are shown immersing themselves in their surroundings with chameleon-like ease, as others lay claim to the earth in moments of decisive empowerment. A particular highlight of Live Dangerously is the first-ever display of all 100 large-scale photographs featured in Janaina Tschäpe’s 100 Little Deaths series—a visually stunning meditation on mortality that envisions the artist’s demise in settings including the ocean, meadows, the beach, and in front of a group of monumental Easter Island heads. Sept. 19 to Jan. 20, 2020 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. $8–$10. —Meilan Solly

Sacred Dedication: A Korean Buddhist Masterpiece

Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva associated with compassion, took many forms as Buddhism spread across the Sinosphere. Often male but occasionally female, and sometimes depicted with 11 faces and 1,000 arms, the deity is known in Korea as Gwaneum, a more relaxed god. During the Goryeo dynasty—918 to 1392 AD, the period from which Korea takes its name—depictions of Gwaneum show him posed informally, with one leg raised and the other lowered as he sits on the rocks of mythical Mount Potalaka, looking out over the crashing waters of the sea. The Freer owns a splendid Goryeo silk painting (“Water-Moon Avalokiteshvara”), and this fall, it will be joined by a gilded wood statue of Gwaneum on loan from the National Museum of Korea. “Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara” is the oldest surviving gilded statue of the deity, and it bears forgotten lore. Worshippers sealed sacred texts and symbolic objects inside the hollow body, and it is said that they believed the act of consecration brought the statue to life. Sept. 21 to March 22, 2020 at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Free. —Kriston Capps

Fear Eats the Soul

For Fear Eats the Soul, Rirkrit Tiravanija will be bringing his diverse portfolio of art-making strategies to Glenstone, the private contemporary museum in Potomac, Maryland. This exhibition is a recreation of a 2011 project conducted at Gavin Brown, the artist’s New York gallery. As with the original iteration, Tiravanija’s Glenstone project will include food service (a soup kitchen preparing the artist’s recipes), a silk-screening T-shirt shop, and a gallery for local graffiti. It will also include sculptures seen at the 2011 show that were chrome-glazed ceramic reproductions of his first show at Gavin Brown in 1994. The artist is building his own survey with a program that is both self-reflective and community focused. Tiravanija is having a year: His first solo show at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden closed in July, and he’s already due for a follow up. Sept. 26 to TBD at Glenstone. Free. —Kriston Capps

Lee Ufan: Open Dimension

For the first time in its history, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is surrendering its outdoor plaza and garden spaces to a single artist. For Open Dimension, 10 sculptures by Lee Ufan will replace most if not all of the more than 60 sculptures that hold down the fort. Expect the garden areas to be completely transformed: The sculptures, drawn from Ufan’s Relatum series, are serene, minimalistic, and attuned to the space around them. The Korean-born artist was a founder of the Mono-ha movement in Japan (where Ufan lives and works), a blending of industrial and natural materials and a cousin to the international postwar Arte Povera school. Ufan’s sensitive installations of stone, stainless steel, mirrored glass, and other materials promise to transport and challenge viewers, an experience that will change with the seasons. Sept. 27 to Sept. 13, 2020 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Free. —Kriston Capps

Mishel Valenton

Lisa Frank hues meet introspective psychological musings in Mishel Valenton’s vibrant oil paintings. Valenton’s relationships with herself and others are the bulk of her subject matter, and their whimsical patterns and landscapes give viewers a glimpse into a mental playground. Her previous works have been largely figurative, but lately she’s pivoted from the corporeal to the spiritual, making paintings that are tender and abstract. Her paintings can be extremely funny (namely, one depicting a buoyant, colorful fart cloud), but they contain a groundedness that belies their jubilant outward appearance. Using bright color palettes, like staring-at-a-sunset bright, these paintings beg the viewer’s eyeballs to soak them up. Oct. 8 to Nov. 10 at Sense Fine Art Gallery. Free. —Stephanie Rudig

Women Artists of the Dutch Golden Age

Last year, the National Gallery of Art staged an exhibition of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age—the 17th and 18th century period when the Dutch Republic was Europe’s premier power and its art and culture influenced the rest of the world. Water, Wind, and Waves: Marine Paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, which explored the deep connection the Dutch had with water, featured works from famous artists like Rembrandt van Rijin, Willem van de Velde (both the Elder and the Younger), and Reinier Nooms. That was a nice primer, but this fall, D.C. gets a deeper look at the age’s art. Women Artists of the Dutch Golden Age pushes past those big names to put some of the Golden Age’s most talented—and most overlooked—artists in the spotlight. Take Judith Leyster, for example: She was successful and widely respected as an artist by her contemporaries, but after her death in 1660, all of her works were attributed to either Frans Hals, another major painter who heavily influenced her, or to her husband, for more than 200 years. Now Leyster is prominently featured among a host of talented women, her work finally credited under her own name. Oct. 11 to Jan. 5, 2020 at the National Museum for Women in the Arts. $8–$10. —Emma Sarappo  

Without Regard to Sex, Race or Color

For the last few years, Morris Brown College’s campus in Atlanta, Georgia, has been largely abandoned. After losing its accreditation in 2002 following a financial aid fraud scandal and filing for bankruptcy in 2012, the historically black college had just 42 students in March of 2019, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The school has applied for reaccreditation, but thanks to neglect and budget woes, its once-lively campus is decaying rapidly. Photographer Andrew Feiler, a fifth-generation Georgian, documents the slow destruction of a cherished institution in Without Regard to Sex, Race or Color, an exhibition that takes its title from an inscription on a bell in the campus clock tower. Without Regard’s images reveal broken windows, moldy carpets, empty desks, cracked tiles, and left-behind trophies. In Feiler’s photo book of the same name—available at the exhibition—the photographs are presented alongside essays detailing the history and impact of HBCUs, Morris Brown’s cultural impact as Georgia’s first HBCU founded by black people, and the role of photography in documenting the greater story of race and higher education in America. But even when the photos are presented alone, they force the viewer to stare directly at some extremely ugly truths. Oct. 30 to Dec. 28 at The Octagon Museum. Free. —Emma Sarappo

Elephants and Us: Considering Extinction 

In 1989, Congress passed an act establishing an African elephant conservation fund and restricting the import of elephant ivory into the United States. Thirty years later, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is set to mark this milestone with an exhibition exploring the country’s evolving relationship with the land giants. Elephants and Us: Considering Extinction will trace Americans’ shift from exploitative practices such as big game hunting and circus acts to conservation measures aimed at preventing poaching and boosting dwindling elephant populations. The exhibition—timed to coincide with a separate Smithsonian display on the species’ change “from prey to preservation”—will feature original pages from the African Elephant Conservation Act, now on loan from the National Archives and Records Administration. Nov. 1 to TBD at the National Museum of American History. Free. —Meilan Solly

Chiura Obata: American Modern

For nearly three-quarters of a century, Japan-born painter Chiura Obata devoted his life to landscape painting in the American West. Over the course of seven decades, he captured the Bay Area, Yosemite, and other vistas through scroll paintings, sketches, watercolors, and woodblock prints. Obata’s nihonga and sumi-e paintings show how he brought his Japanese training to bear in depicting rugged Western terrain, with works that in turn guided the development of the landscape as an idea in modern art. The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the only East Coast institution to host American Modern, which was developed by the University of California, Merced (Obata taught at Berkeley for two decades). American Art is a fitting final stop for the show: The museum has an extensive collection of Obata’s woodblock prints, but moreover, in an era defined by rising xenophobia and racism led by the White House, Obata’s paintings are a reminder of how immigrants framed some of the core conceptions of what America means. Nov. 27 to May 25, 2020 at Smithsonian American Art Museum. Free. —Kriston Capps

Merce Cunningham at 100

One of the founders of modern dance, late choreographer Merce Cunningham developed a style that prioritized emotions and expressing them with every part of the body, little finger included. The choreographer left instructions that his company tour his works for two years after his death and then disband. The troupe gave its last performance in 2011, but his works live on in Merce Cunningham at 100. Robert Swinston, a longtime colleague, will lead the Compagnie Centre National de Danse Contemporaine-Angers in performing two works, BIPED and Beach Birds. In BIPED, digital sketches of dancing bodies are projected onto a translucent screen; live performers dance behind them. Beach Birds is simpler and more unusual: The dancers, dressed in white unitards with black sleeves, portray a flock of seagulls by the sea. Oct. 3 to 5 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. $25–$79. —Mary Scott Manning


The Washington Ballet’s upcoming NEXTsteps performance champions the new and novel. The company has prepared three brand new ballets. Contrast this with the most commonly known classical works, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake: Their frameworks have been around for more than 100 years, at least. Choreographers Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, John Heginbotham, and Jessica Lang have worked with the dancers to create works as different as possible from those classics, that challenge the old perception of ballet as light, airy, and pink. The curtain rises on a new beginning. Oct. 23 to 27 at Sidney Harman Hall. $25–$100. —Mary Scott Manning

SOLE Defined

D.C. has evolved into a top exporter of tap dancers over the past decade. Several prodigies now call New York home, including sisters Chloe and Maud Arnold (who have their own line of tap shoes!) and brothers John and Leo Manzari, who perform in clubs. But there are still good tappers orbiting the District. Many teach at studios and conventions, and come together to perform as SOLE Defined. The diverse collective of tappers made their Lincoln Center debut in August. They’re also a resident company at Dance Place this year, and ready to remount the 2017 evening-length work Zaz, a dance theater piece inspired by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina at a New Orleans speakeasy. Expect a bluesy mix of storytelling, digital projection, brass band music, and of course, fancy footwork. Nov. 9 and 10 at Dance Place. $15–$30. —Rebecca J. Ritzel


In 2017 the city of Liverpool, birthplace of the Beatles, held a celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the group’s album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The city commissioned works of art, music, fireworks, and dance—one of which was Pepperland, by modern dance company Mark Morris Dance Group. Pepperland, a Kennedy Center co-commission, features an original score by composer Ethan Iverson. Watch as arrangements like “With A Little Help From My Friends,” “Within You Without You,” and “Penny Lane” combine with original dance pieces. Nov. 13 to 16 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. $35–$99. —Mary Scott Manning


The Trump administration’s first three years have made immigration policy central to the debate around this country’s future, and immigration is likely to be a key issue in the 2020 election. As demographics change, artists of color are telling their stories in ways that are deeply personal, yet reflective of the broader experience. Temple is a new production from dancer-choreographer Chitra Subramaniam, part of NextLOOK, a partnership between Joe’s Movement Emporium and The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Skilled in both classical Indian and hip-hop dance, Subramaniam uses them as tools to relate her own immigrant journey. Dec. 13 at Joe’s Movement Emporium. $5–$25. —Sriram Gopal

Eric Andre

In a recent video for WIRED, Eric Andre admitted, “I’m in the business of dumb ideas.” That may be true, but there’s something brilliant about the comedian-actor’s dumb ideas, especially on his eponymous Adult Swim talkshow. For four seasons, the 36-year-old tortured celebrity guests and the public with his absurdist cable access parody. Since then, he’s flexed his many skills, showing up in sitcoms, voicing a hyena in The Lion King remake, and releasing an experimental hip-hop album under his Ronald McDonald-costumed alias Blarf. On his “Legalize Everything” tour (no doubt inspired by his “Legalize Ranch” skit), he’ll be shining a light on his standup. But beware: At a gig at the Rock & Roll Hotel back in 2012, Andre stripped down to a banana hammock and threw a raw chicken into the audience. Sept. 16 at The Warner Theatre. $33–$115. —Chris Kelly

Nicole Byer

Most comedy fans know Nicole Byer from Nailed It!, the cult cooking show she hosts on Netflix. Byer is a bubbly, obnoxious presence: There are parts of the show where she deliberately annoys the competitors. But Byer is never too mean, always laughing with them and not at them. That kind of inclusivity is key to her comedy. She is loud, clever, and sneakily self-deprecating, which explains why her podcast is called Why Won’t You Date Me?. Her performance at DC Improv promises to be a raucous combination of her best qualities, with her doing crowd work in a way that’s meant to share the fun. Nov. 1 to 3 at DC Improv. $20–$40. —Alan Zilberman

Billy Bragg 

The folk rock sound Billy Bragg has made his signature is perfect for a beer-soaked evening at the pub—it also makes for great protest music. At the height of the Thatcher ’80s, Bragg gained attention for scoring the struggles of the populist working class in Britain when he played a series of shows to benefit striking miners. Since then, Bragg has cemented his reputation as a sort of Bruce Springsteen for the other side of the Atlantic, with some Woody Gutherie and Joe Strummer mixed in, and he’s not content to restrict his politics to music. Bragg has authored a slew of books on music, politics, and his own life. His most recent effort, The Three Dimensions of Freedom, calls for more nuanced, dynamic ways of talking about freedom and free speech. Sept. 16 at Politics and Prose. Free.—Will Lennon

Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson’s stunning prose is a constant in all her work, from Brown Girl Dreaming to Another Brooklyn. The best-selling author will be in conversation with NPR’s Lynn Neary at Politics and Prose to discuss her latest novel, Red at the Bone, which eloquently explores sexuality, identity, race, and class. The book follows two families, forever impacted by an unplanned pregnancy and broken and changed by class differences and loss. From gentrification to education, motherhood to childhood, Red at the Bone is a beautiful adult work. Woodson’s stature as one of this country’s greatest writers looms large. Sept. 19 at Politics and Prose. Free. —Malika T. Benton

Margaret Atwood

When the police van door shut on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood left readers itching for answers. Five years passed, then a decade, then two decades—still no answers. The 2017 Hulu series provided a slight sign of hope for the handmaids, but the world still awaited Offred’s true sentencing from the twisted genius behind Gilead herself. Lucky for fans, Atwood has reopened the ground-breaking story with her new book The Testaments to unveil the revolutionary accounts of three female narrators from Gilead. Addressing readers, Atwood wrote: “Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.” Sept. 21 at The Lincoln Theatre. $45–$60. —Lia Assimakopoulos

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Few writers have a resume like Ta-Nehisi Coates. Since getting his start at Washington City Paper, the Baltimore native has become one of the foremost commentators on race in the United States with his work at The Atlantic and his absolutely stunning book Between the World and Me. Oh, and he also writes Marvel Comics’ Black Panther and Captain America. And now he’s publishing his first novel, The Water Dancer. The novel tells the story of Hiram, a young boy born into slavery but gifted with a magical power—when he crashes his carriage in a river, he nearly drowns and is saved by a mysterious blue light. After his chosen family encourages him to escape, Hiram’s fight against slavery takes him from the deep South to the North, all the while harboring a longing to return to the only home he’s ever known. Grab a copy on this book tour stop organized by Politics and Prose. Sept. 26 at the Lincoln Theatre. $45. —Keith Mathias

Jeannie Vanasco

Jeannie Vanasco’s recurring nightmare always left her startling awake, saying a single name, “Mark,” one of her closest friends in high school, and the boy who raped her. After 14 years of silence, Vanasco chose to reach out to Mark, seeking answers to the hardest of questions. In her new book Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was A Girl, she chronicles her relationship with Mark before and after the rape, interrogates the language around sexual assault, and adds new layers to the larger discussions about sexual violence. Vanasco’s story challenges readers to question their own interactions and reject ideas of what victimhood should look like. Oct. 6 at Politics and Prose. Free. —Lia Assimakopoulos

Latin American Film Festival

The AFI Silver’s Latin American Film Festival is back for its 30th year, making it one of the longest running festivals in North America to celebrate cinema from Latin America. The three-week festival will have something for everyone. For those who like dystopian stories with political undertones there’s Divino Amor, a speculation of what Brazil will look like in 2027 if it continues on the conservative evangelical path ushered in by President Jair Bolsonaro. Fans of Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma should watch Lila Avilés’ La Camarista, a portrait of a chambermaid working in a luxurious Mexico City hotel. Thrill seekers can look forward to Rojo, the dark thriller set during Argentina’s 1970s military dictatorship. And everyone will probably be able to agree on Los Reyes, the Chilean documentary that follows the lives of two stray dogs. AFI’s celebration of these and plenty more Ibero-American films is a breath of fresh air in the face of a predominantly white film industry—according to a study from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, of the 1,100 most popular movies from 2007 to 2017, only 6.2 percent of characters were Latinx. Sept. 12 to Oct. 2 at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. $13–$15. —Ella Feldman

Films Across Borders: Stories of Water 

At embassies, restaurants, and universities across D.C., Films Across Borders will present the many stories of water, our most vital resource. The films explore humanity’s relationship with water, on which all life on Earth relies, and which many of us take for granted. Documentaries will tackle water privatization in Bolivia, the deterioration of central Asian glaciers, and the untamed wilderness threatened by the construction of a border wall in the American southwest. Beloved films that contemplate life beneath the water (Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo) and a world struggling with the lack of it (George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road) will also be screened. Oct. 1 to Nov. 26 at multiple locations. Prices vary. —Will Lennon

Princess Mononoke

A girl wearing war paint and furs sucks infected blood from a wound in the neck of a wolf. She looks up with hate in her eyes and gore smeared across her lips and cheeks. The scene sounds like something out of a horror film, but it’s from an animated classic and the director of Porco Rosso, a movie about a magical pig who flies airplanes. It was during the production of Porco Rosso that Hayao Miyazaki was inspired by civil unrest in Yugoslavia to make Princess Mononoke, his most violent, cynical film. Mononoke is the story of a proto-industrial war machine bearing down on the defenders of the natural world. The titular princess, a wild-woman who was raised by wolves, stands off against the militia forces of Tatara Ba, or “Iron Town,” a mining village. Meanwhile, protagonist Ashitaka does all he can to minimize the bloodshed. Part war story and part fairytale, Princess Mononoke is a glimpse into a corner of the Miyazaki-verse with all the inventive wonder of Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro but with the danger, stakes, and grim implications of more grown-up films. Nov. 17 to 20 at AMC Georgetown 14. $13.25. —Will Lennon

A Few Good Men

Because the movie starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore is so iconic, many people don’t realize that Aaron Sorkin first wrote A Few Good Men as a play. Revisit the movie and it makes sense—it’s structured like a stage performance, a story told through dialogue. The Little Theatre of Alexandria presents a production of the play, directed by Kathleen Barth, this month. Character development is weaved through a lattice of investigation, litigation and, finally, the trial of two Marines accused of murdering their fellow soldier. For their defense counsel, the Marines end up saddled with Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, a lawyer known for netting his clients generous plea bargains. Things get more complicated when the Marines refuse to plea and Lieutenant Commander JoAnne Galloway, an intrepid Naval investigator, pushes Kaffee to follow the chain of command up to the real culprits. (Right here is where I would slip a “you can’t handle the truth” joke if I were a hack.) To Sept. 28 at The Little Theatre of Alexandria. $21–$24. —Will Lennon

What The Constitution Means To Me

Heidi Schreck’s 2017 play, What The Constitution Means To Me, became the surprise hit of New York’s 2018-2019 theater season. After opening off-Broadway, the show’s success led to a Broadway run and two Tony nominations. The play was a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for drama and comes to D.C. for a short run after its success scuttled a run at Woolly Mammoth this spring. Even before writing this one woman show in which Schreck herself stars, she was an award-winning playwright and performer. The play involves a series of reflections on speeches that Schreck made during high school constitutional debate competitions. She uses these reflections as the framework to examine how the Constitution has impacted four generations of women in her family. Sept. 11 to 22 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. $49–$169. —Sriram Gopal

August Wilson’s Jitney

Arena Stage has a tradition of showcasing the best of American theater as part of its American Giants series. The Southwest theater has presented nine of the 10 plays in the “Pittsburgh Cycle,” the career-spanning work by the late Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson that chronicles the 20th century African American experience. Jitney, written in 1979 and first staged in 1982, is the eighth play in this cycle. The production, which kicks off Arena Stage’s season-long celebration of Wilson’s work, centers on a jitney station that services Pittsburgh’s African American Hill District, an area that licensed taxi services ignore. Sept. 13 to Oct. 20 at Arena Stage. $41–$105. —Sriram Gopal

The New One

Mike Birbiglia very openly did not want to be a father. The comedian and storyteller feared the way his kids could hold him back in his career and the endless list of struggles that come with parenthood. In his new one-man show, The New One, Birbiglia toys with universal postpartum struggles in a provocative way. You’ve seen him in Sleepwalk with Me, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, Orange Is the New Black, and Billions, and he’s back telling a new story with the same humor—a story with just the right amount of wrong. His relatable solo show takes the discussion of childbirth and parenthood to its most frank and entertaining level. Sept. 24 to 29 at The National Theatre. $39–$114. —Lia Assimakopoulos


Fences is all about barriers—the racial barriers between white and black Americans in 1950s America, the generational barriers between a father and son, and the emotional barriers between a husband and wife. The 1985 play by August Wilson tells the story of Troy Maxson, a 53-year-old who once dreamed of playing professional baseball, but is now a garbage collector trying to provide for his wife, his brother, and his son. Fences is characterized with simple and honest moments—a pair of old friends drinking on payday, a family sitting on their porch—that serve as backdrops for Wilson’s characters to engage in poetic, emotional dialogues and monologues. In 2016, the drama was adapted into a film starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, for which Davis won the Oscar for best supporting actress. This fall, Fences will come to life at Ford’s Theatre under the direction of Timothy Douglas, who has made a name for himself directing Wilson’s plays. Sept. 27 to Oct. 27 at Ford’s Theatre. $20–$70. —Ella Feldman

Broadway Center Stage: Footloose

Kevin Bacon has not been invited to participate in the Kennedy Center’s semi-staged production of Footloose, so far as we know. Don’t let that dissuade you from checking out the musical adaptation of the movie about a town that literally bans dancing and the young man who helps them loosen up. With a soundtrack of ’80s classics both upbeat (“Holding Out for a Hero,” “Let’s Hear It for the Boy”) and aggressively saccharine (“Almost Paradise”), it’s a jukebox musical that has an actual plot and goes down like a spoonful of comfort sugar. The creative team and cast of the production includes director Walter Bobbie and performers J. Quinton Johnson and Isabelle McCalla. Expect them to have a good time and, uh, cut loose. Oct. 9 to 13 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. $59–$175. —Caroline Jones

The Haunting of Hill House

Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is one of the greatest horror stories ever written. It follows four characters who arrive at the titular house in search of the supernatural. The members of the Hill House club get more than they bargained for, naturally, and as the barrier separating reality from the supernatural erodes they begin to come unglued. Most recently, a hit Netflix adaptation has brought this story back into the pop culture conscious. The play, written by F. Andrew Leslie and based on the original novel, will arrive at The Little Theatre of Alexandria in October, just in time to haunt your Halloween. Oct. 19 to Nov. 9 at The Little Theatre of Alexandria. $21–$24. —Will Lennon

A Chorus Line

Step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch! Again! Thousands of aspiring Broadway dancers have stood in front of mirrors practicing that particular combination in the decades since A Chorus Line debuted at New York’s Public Theater in 1975. The original production won a Pulitzer and nine Tonys, and ran on Broadway for nearly 15 years, inspiring generations of dancers to perfect their high kicks and invest in gold top hats. This season, the classic story of aspiring performers who just want a job will be told in a more intimate venue: Arlington’s Signature Theatre. The cozy quarters will perfectly suit the show’s confessional nature and allow audiences to really hear the auditioners’ tales. Oct. 29 to Jan. 5, 2020 at Signature Theatre. $40–$110. —Caroline Jones

RENT:20th Anniversary Tour 

It’s been 23 years since Rent opened on Broadway, but the musical’s 20th anniversary tour—first launched in September 2016—is still going strong. (The extended encore makes more sense when you realize the show’s preferred measure of time is seasons of love, not calendar years.) Rent’s latest tour testifies to the enduring resonance of Jonathan Larson’s magnum opus, which loosely transposes the story of 1896 opera La Bohème onto New York’s East Village at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Candid in its discussion of sexuality, mortality, and other typically taboo topics, the musical boasts a memorable cast of misfit creatives and a rock-inspired soundtrack featuring such prescient lyrics as “How do you document real life when real life’s getting more like fiction each day?” Although the 2005 movie and 2019 TV adaptations of Rent garnered so-so reviews, this staging is poised to return the show to its live theater roots. Nov. 12 to 17 at The National Theatre. $54–$114. —Meilan Solly

The Virginia Opera: Il Postino

Opera may still count as high art, but today’s purveyors are trying their best to bring the genre down to earth. Thus an increasing number of new operas blur the lines between musical theater and opera, and take inspiration from popular literature, history, and movies (Moby Dick, Appomattox, and Dead Man Walking, just to name three in recent years in D.C.). The Virginia Opera, which performs in Norfolk, Richmond, and Fairfax, is notable for veering into nontraditional territory, having put on an acclaimed production of Kurt Weill jitterbug opera Street Scene last year. This season, alongside chestnuts like Aida and Tosca, is an opera-ization of Il Postino (The Postman), an opera based on the 1994 Italian film of the same name. In it, composer Daniel Catán imagines an alternate history in which beloved Chilean poet Pablo Neruda lives out his last days in exile playing wingman to his shy, lovestruck mailman. The movie and opera were both more pleasant to imagine than reality: He died shortly after the 1973 coup that brought to power a right-wing military regime that hated the likes of leftist romantic Neruda. It was said that Neruda died of a broken heart, until they exhumed his body and found traces of poison. Nov. 16 and 17 at George Mason University Center for the Arts. $40–$110. —Mike Paarlberg

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical)

One of our favorite birds is here and taking the Kennedy Center stage this fall in a show certain to remind you of your childhood. This 2003 New York Times best-seller was Mo Willems’ first children’s book, and sparked an entire series starring the infamous pigeon. When the bus driver has to leave for a while, he entrusts riders to prevent the mischievous pigeon from driving it. But when the delay leads to people being late, the determined pigeon springs into action. The millennial childhood staple has now evolved into a show written by Willems himself, featuring actors, puppets, songs, and plenty of feathers. Nov. 23 to Jan. 5, 2020 at the Kennedy Center Family Theater. $20. —Lia Assimakopoulos

Washington Concert Opera: Hamlet

When French composer Ambroise Thomas decided to write an opera based on Hamlet, he didn’t turn to Shakespeare. Instead, he based it on an adaptation of the original by Alexandre Dumas, better known for pulpy adventure books like The Three Musketeers. Two things Dumas wasn’t known for were faithful adaptations and a command of English. Thus Dumas’ version of Hamlet (he called it an “improvement”) has more sex, and lots more people get to live, including Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Gertrude, and the title character himself. For his opera, Thomas went even further, turning the story into a burlesque; he even throws in a fun drinking song for good measure. Predictably, the English press reacted with monocle-popping horror, declaring Thomas a “barbarian” for daring to make Hamlet fun. But you know what? Dumas was right. Washington Concert Opera gives you a chance to experience the better Hamlet, and consider that maybe happy endings are preferable to all that brooding. Nov. 24 at George Washington University Lisner Auditorium. $40–$110. —Mike Paarlberg

Come From Away

How does one make a feel-good musical about one of the darkest hours in recent history? Very deliberately, and with a whole lot of Canadian charm, it turns out. Come From Away tells the story of the 38 planes and more than 6,500 passengers and crew members who spent days in the town of Gander, Newfoundland, when American airspace was closed on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and the generous residents who aided them during their stay. The musical charmed local audiences when it played at Ford’s Theatre before its Broadway opening in March 2017. Nearly three years later, its touring company will close out the year at the Kennedy Center and bring the show’s signature hospitality to D.C. just in time for the holidays. Dec. 10 to Jan. 5, 2020 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. $49–$149. —Caroline Jones   

Jersey Boys

What started as four guys growing up in a similar way at a similar time turned into one of the greatest musical success stories of modern times. The Four Seasons’ unique sound was one the world could not get enough of, and while their onstage harmonies fit seamlessly, their offstage story was one that made them a sensation all over again. Jersey Boys dramatizes the formation, success, and eventual breakup of The Four Seasons through narration, action, and song. The Broadway classic highlights songs like “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry,” and “December, 1963 (Oh What A Night)”––the songs that made their story. Dec. 17 to Jan. 5, 2020 at The National Theatre. $54–$114. —Lia Assimakopoulos

Like what you’re reading? Support our journalism and help us make more like it!