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Shadow Woods Metal Festival

Screams and sick riffs rend the night air as you scarf a vegan hot dog before heading off to check out your10th band of the day. Afterward, you stumble to your tent so you can get some rest before doing it all again the next day. This is the experience you’ll find at the Shadow Woods Metal Festival in White Hall, Maryland, just outside of Frederick. For the past two years, Shadow Woods has seen metalheads descend into the woods for a weekend of camping and underground metal. While there are a number of well-known acts headlining this year’s iteration—including Panopticon, Vastum, and Woe—Shadow Woods is more about checking out new bands that you’ve never heard of. Expertly curated by organizer Mary Spiro, the bands at Shadow Woods run the gamut of extreme metal subgenres, and there’s something to tickle even the most particular listener’s fancy. Add in workshops, art and food vendors, black metal yoga, and a beautiful campground in the middle of the woods, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for one hell of a good time. Sept. 14 to 17 at Camp Hidden Valley. $50–$175. —Keith Mathias

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists

It’s been seven years since Ted Leo & the Pharmacists released The Brutalist Bricks. Since then, Leo teamed with Aimee Mann as The Both, but he also faced and overcame a host of personal and professional challenges that made a new Pharmacists record anything but a foregone conclusion. Thankfully, he turned to Kickstarter to finance a new (solo) record, with more than 3,000 backers almost doubling his $85,000 goal. Leo told Stereogum that his new album, The Hanged Man, “truly encompasses the massive amount of life that I’ve lead since the last one came out… I’ve lived more in the last seven years than in the previous 20.” Now, he’ll be able to share the fruits of that tumult with a city that considers him an adopted son during a two-night homecoming. Sep. 15 to 16 at Black Cat. $20. —Chris Kelly


Over the course of their career, Toronto’s BadBadNotGood has made a name for themselves by emulating what’s popular. In 2011, the trio could be seen putting unique jazz spins on the likes of Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt, and their video clips went viral as a result. Drummer Alex Sowinski wore a pig mask for really no reason at all. In the six years since, BadBadNotGood has picked up a member—saxophonist Leland Whitty—and become a quartet. They no longer play the background or rely on anyone else’s hits to stay relevant. The band’s 2016 album, IV, was easily one of the best releases of the year and the most solid offering in their discography. Dipped in 1970s soul and Spaghetti Western funk, BadBadNotGood finally developed their own sound and brought Future Islands vocalist Sam Herring (“Time Moves Slow”), instrumentalist Colin Stetson (“Confessions Pt. II”), rapper Mick Jenkins (“Hyssop of Love”), and singer Charlotte Day Wilson (“In Your Eyes”) along for the ride. Who says you can’t turn up to saxophone solos? Sept. 17 at 9:30 Club. $25. —Marcus J. Moore   


While D.C. has its rightful place in shaping the sound of hardcore punk as we know it, the Northern Virginia post-hardcore scene of the late ’90s and early ’00s is similarly significant. And at the forefront of that scene were Pageninetynine, who blasted their way to the top before their respective members—all longtime friends—split off to form other bands, like City of Caterpillar, Pygmy Lush, Malady, Ghastly City Sleep, and Big Hush. Reunions might seem a little overplayed these days, but Pageninetynine’s run of reunion shows with their recently reunited Virginia brethren Majority Rule feels special. Most ’90s and early ’00s punk and emo reunions of the past few years have happened at expensive, high-profile music festivals (lookin’ at you, Riot Fest and Coachella).  Revenues from this joint reunion tour will go to progressive groups and charities (in this case, Casa Ruby). In a time where bands can—and often do—reunite like this to make a quick buck, it’s nice to see Pageninetynine and Majority Rule do it in true punk fashion: to stand up and support the issues they believe in. Sept. 22 at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church. $15. —Matt Cohen

Jay Som

Melina Duterte isn’t here for your neat little boxes. In fact, she rebukes them through her music, a hard-charging romp of guitar riffs, distorted indie rock, and shoegaze. On her recent album as Jay Som, she didn’t sound as distressed as she would’ve in years past, choosing this time to focus on the various aspects of love, and not just the bad shit. Still, no matter the release, there’s also a carefree element to Duterte’s art that recalls warm summer evenings, when the heat’s a bit too stifling, yet a festive night in the city awaits. This is music for letting loose, for pondering serious questions with no real answers. It’s indie rock for the restless soul. Sept. 23 at Rock & Roll Hotel. $15. —Marcus J. Moore

National Symphony Orchestra: Season Opening Gala Concert

Gianandrea Noseda makes his much ballyhooed debut as the National Symphony Orchestra’s new leader at their season opening gala concert at the Kennedy Center, with all the pomp and circumstance and big names (Yo-Yo Ma!) that an omnibus appropriation affords. He’s the latest in a line of would-be messiah-conductors who promise to turn the NSO into a truly world-class orchestra. Noseda, an Italian conductor equally at home in the opera and symphonic orchestra worlds, may well be suited to be that savior. However, season openers tend to have little in the way of surprise or innovation. So if you want another, less-hyped view of Noseda, check out his program with superstar pianist Yuja Wang in late November, or his direction of a very rare piece, Luigi Dallapiccola’s Partita earlier in November. Sept. 24 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. $65–$175. —Mike Paarlberg

Open Mike Eagle

Like many “creatives” today, Open Mike Eagle is a jack—er, Mike—of all trades. This fall, the rapper-slash-comedian is poised to release a new record on the Mello Music Group label (home to Oddisee, Apollo Brown, Pete Rock, yU): Brick Body Kids Still Daydream. The concept album—dedicated to residents of Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes and their lives after its destruction—is his anticipated solo follow-up release to 2014’s brooding and wry Dark Comedy. (2016’s acclaimed Hella Personal Film Festival is a collaborative album with producer Paul White.) When he’s not touring and spitting, Mike Eagle—his Christian name—is self-producing podcasts and variety shows, notably his long-running UCB LA series The New Negroes, which was picked up by Comedy Central this spring. Collaborator and equally-heady MC Scallops Hotel (aka Milo) opens. Sept. 27 at Black Cat. $12–$14. —Peter Lillis

Rainer Maria 

After an 11-year hiatus, Rainer Maria has returned with S/T, their first new LP since 2006. The trio’s sound has evolved from their Midwest emo roots into a heavier, more confident indie rock, and the evolution feels so natural it’s like the band never broke up at all. Caithlin De Marrais’ voice sounds richer than it used to, but still swirls with emotion. Drummer William Kuehn and guitarist Kaia Fischer have gotten even better at building a maelstrom, and De Marrais’ vocals send it soaring. Rainer Maria is an influential, well-respected turn-of-the-century pioneer, and that reputation has only strengthened with time. S/T feels unencumbered by the past and free from expectation. Old fans will find that they probably didn’t realize how much they missed Rainer Maria, and new fans will be able to jump right in without hesitation. Sept. 28 at Rock & Roll Hotel. $16–$18. —Justin Weber

Terence Blanchard

Terence Blanchard performs at Blues Alley every fall. But it’s not always with his E-Collective, the electronica/hip-hop/jazz ensemble that he assembled in 2015. Blanchard has long been associated with the neo-traditionalist school (which, in fairness, is where he got his start), even though he’s always been more than willing to push the envelope. But he’s never before made quite such a definitive leap as now: The E-Collective exists to explore the sociopolitical realm of America in the 2010s, and as such it demands exploration of the musical realm in that time and place, too. The band’s album, Breathless, isn’t a nod to Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 film, but to Eric Garner’s 2014 dying words, “I can’t breathe.” Sept. 28 to Oct. 1 at Blues Alley. $50–$55. —Michael J. West

Group Doueh 

Hailing from the Western Sahara, near Morocco and Mauritania, Group Doueh are a raw-edged guitar-driven family band. The ensemble’s patriarch, Doueh—a self-described fan of Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Dire Straits, and his local traditional Sahrawi music—combines his influences into a buzzing, droning sound. He’s accompanied by members of his family who sing, chant, and sometimes play additional instruments like percussion, guitars, or keyboard. But as noisy and discordant as they can sound, they still manage to keep a rhythmic dance beat underneath the flashy axework. The vocals, which are more rooted in Islam than traditional American rock, add an additional, albeit less Western-friendly, charm to the unit’s distinctive tuneage. Oct. 6 at Tropicalia. $15–$20. —Steve Kiviat

All Things Go Fall Classic

Most music festivals acquire their massive audiences by delivering a little something for fans of different genres and styles. The result is often a day (or days) spent hopping between stages and tents to maximize the amount of time spent in the audience of our favorite musicians. It’s a logistical problem that often saps the fun out of the experience. All Things Go might have finally solved the festival dilemma with its fourth annual Fall Classic. Looking to groove to big, brash EDM anthems by the likes of Galantis and The Knocks? Head to the fest on Friday. Indie pop by Foster the People and Bleachers more your speed? See you on Sunday. If you’re a fan of cutting edge hip-hop, the Fall Classic is at its best on Saturday, with headliners Young Thug and Vince Staples, joined by D.C. talents Jay IDK, Innanet James, and April + Vista. The typical festival experience isn’t for everyone, but finally, there’s a festival for the rest of us. Oct. 6 to 8 at Union Market. $69–$169. —Chris Kelly

Man Forever

We’ve all been happy, sad, or angry when listening to music. We often seek it out to amplify those emotions. But when’s the last time you were astonished by music? I’m talking about the rare and cherished reaction that leaves your mouth agape and mind melting. Man Forever’s Play What They Want is 2017’s most astonishing record. John Colpitts (aka Kid Millions), through sheer technical skill, an all-star list of collaborators (including Yo La Tengo and Laurie Anderson), and surely a touch of sorcery, has created a grandiose symphony of percussion. Colpitts’ nimble arrangements seem simpler than allowing listeners to be propelled by the complex percussion and swept away by the meditative vocals. Play What They Want is challenging, but accessible. Listeners will be able to recognize influences from Max Roach to Brian Eno. While it’s unlikely it can be recreated in person, Colpitts’ performance at D.C.’s best venue for experimental music should be too tantalizing for any adventurous listener to miss. Oct. 7 at Rhizome DC. $10. —Justin Weber

Thelonious Monk Centennial Celebration with Jason Moran and Kenny Barron

“Thelonious Monk is the most important musician. Period.” At least, that’s what Jason Moran says about the groundbreaking, era-defining bebop pianist. Born October 10, 1917 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Monk was an improviser, composer, and performer of extraordinary vision and voice in the music world. He wrote twisted melodies, wracked harmonies, and performed solos often as odd as his off-stage persona. But everything he wrote, discordant as it sounded, flowed with the kind of lyricism and poetry of the most beautiful balladeers. In that way, Moran says, “he offers people [even outside the jazz and music field] a vision of what is possible.” To honor one hundred years of Monk, Moran is putting together a night of musical performances that will reflect how Monk’s artistic presence still pervades the music world. Moran will be joined by guests including D.C.’s own Tarus Mateen and NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron as the musicians perform quartet and solo interpretations of some of Monk’s most famous moods. The night culminates with passages from In My Mind, Moran’s reworking of the Monk Orchestra’s 1959 Town Hall concert, uniting many of the night’s performers in a singular, cacophonous close. Oct. 8 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. $20–59. —Jackson Sinnenberg

Mura Masa

When Alex Crossan picked up and left his conservative, homogenous hometown of Guernsey, England, and set off for the bustling, multicultural city of London, he bravely took his musical endeavors from his bedroom to the world’s stage. Channeling influences from artists like James Blake, Gorillaz, and Lil Jon, Crossan produces an artful style of electronic music as Mura Masa. His self-titled debut album released earlier this summer serves as an ode to his muse—the sprawling diversity of London. As the sounds of kalimba, steel drums, and marimba decorate jazzy hip-hop beats and futuristic U.K. garage, Mura Masa proudly serves as a sonic ambassador for a compelling world of global flavors directly inspired by the street sounds of his adoptive city. Oct. 11 at 9:30 Club. $25. —Casey Embert

Mdou Moctar

Mdou Moctar is kind of like the modern Jimi Hendrix of his home country of Niger. Or maybe more like Prince. Well, definitely more like Prince, especially considering he starred in the 2015 Tuareg language adaptation of Purple Rain, Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai, which literally translates to “Rain the Color of Red with a Little Blue In It.” At any rate, Moctar is an unparalleled musical innovator, playing traditional Tuareg guitar music on a left-handed Fender Stratocaster. He’s one of the first musicians to perform Tuareg music with electronic instrumentation. Moctar is currently embarking on his first-ever U.S. tour, with the help of Multiflora Production’s Jim Thomson, and his performance at Comet Ping Pong with The Messthetics is sure to be one for the history books. Oct. 12 at Comet Ping Pong. $13–$15. —Matt Cohen

UrbanArias: Shining Brow

Opera librettists’ ears perk up when they hear “Hey, did you know this famous person was also a huge asshole?” Their creative juices really start flowing when they hear “Did you know there was adultery and murder involved?” So it’s really remarkable that there haven’t been more operas devoted to Frank Lloyd Wright. The great architect had built an early home, Taliesen—Welsh for shining brow—in Wisconsin for his translator-turned-mistress Mamah Borthwick. Both left their spouses and children for each other. However it didn’t become the tourist attraction that Fallingwater did partly because of the gruesome circumstances of a murder spree that took place there. An insane servant killed Borthwick and six others with an axe and fire and then drank acid. That’s a hell of a lot more riveting than Don Giovanni, so credit goes to composer Daron Aric Hagen and librettist Paul Muldoon for figuring that out. Oct. 14 to 21 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. $39–$42. —Mike Paarlberg

Kali Uchis 

When Kali Uchis was just 17 years old, her father kicked her out of their family home in Northern Virginia. The Colombian-American singer hit the road in her little SUV with all of her belongings in tow—including a laptop, a USB microphone, and a MIDI keyboard—and never looked back.  On her own and much to her traditional family’s chagrin, Uchis nurtured her calling as an artist and performer, boasting a sound that is truly unlike that of any of her peers. Uchis’ voice is sultry, playful, and saturated with a little sadness—like Billie Holiday meets Amy Winehouse meets Uffie. Por Vida, her first studio EP, featured a sassy ode to ’60s soul and breezy reggae vibes with a bunch of A-list contributors—like Tyler the Creator, BadBadNotGood, and Kaytranada—along for the ride. This year, she released a feel-good summer jam, “Tyrant,” featuring London-based singer Jorja Smith, drumming up palpable anticipation for her forthcoming debut album. Oct. 17 at U Street Music Hall. $20. —Casey Embert

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions

If you think there’s a mysterious, alluring quality to Hope Sandoval’s voice, just wait until you see her live. Whether she’s performing with Mazzy Star or with her backing band, The Warm Inventions, for her solo music, Sandoval leans into the dreamy, atmospheric nature of her music, performing in near darkness, with nothing but a dim light revealing her to her audience. The result is a transfixing show that matches the airy, laid-back quality of her music, but it’s not an effect—she’s just really shy when performing, which explains why she doesn’t tour all that often. When Sandoval comes to the 9:30 Club this fall with The Warm Inventions to support her latest effort, the just-released Son of a Lady—a follow-up to last year’s Until the Hunter—it’ll be a rare opportunity to catch one of our generation’s greatest voices. Oct. 19 at 9:30 Club. $30. —Matt Cohen

Combo Chimbita

Colombian music may be best known through the pop stylings of Shakira and the rock ’n’ roll of Juanes, but the South American country has a range of traditional sounds.  Two U.S.-based, Colombian-led bands, New York’s Combo Chimbita and D.C.’s own Gaiteros de SanGuashington, will present hybrid approaches that mesh traditional Colombian folkloric tunes with influences from elsewhere in South and North America.  Raspy-voiced Chimbita vocalist Carolina Oliveros and her band have roots in psychedelic rock and soul, and they meld those influences with cumbia, dub reggae, and Haitian konpa. The members of the group certainly have playing chops and they aren’t afraid to show them off. But Gaiteros de SanGuashington are a bit more old school—almost country music-esque— in their approach. Singer Ve-lu intonates high-pitched cumbia, vallenato, and tropical pop melodies over accordion, bass, and percussion rhythms with less flash and soloing. But no matter what the style, both groups remember to keep those insistent hand-drummed beats going to keep people moving. Oct. 20 at Atlas Performing Arts Center. $25–$32. —Steve Kiviat

Dizzy Gillespie Centennial Celebration

Let’s just call 2017 jazz’s centennial year. The music’s been around for longer than that, of course, but it was first recorded in 1917—and a slew of major figures were born that year as well. One of them was John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie, born on October 21, 1917 and an outsized figure in jazz and to some extent in D.C. (Gillespie ran for President in 1964, promising to make Miles Davis CIA head and to make The White House into The Blues House—God, if only that had been the presidency’s brush with celebrity.) How could The Kennedy Center, with its ever-history-conscious Jason Moran as its artistic director for jazz, not celebrate with an enormous gala? The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band and Diz protegees from Jimmy Heath to Antonio Hart will be on hand—along with some surprises. Oct. 21 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. $19–$59. —Michael J. West

The Effects

One of the surest stamps of quality in D.C.’s music scene these days is including Devin Ocampo somewhere in the credits of your album, whether he’s playing drums or guitar, or maybe engineering, mixing, or mastering the whole shebang. (This publication once called him the scene’s Best Lifer.) Of course he’s got his own projects, too, including the fin de siècle post-hardcore of Faraquet and the sneakily arena-ready mini-epics of Medications. For the past few years, Ocampo has been ramping up The Effects, a tight new trio with David Rich (Buildings) on drums and Matt Dowling (Deleted Scenes) on bass and keyboards. “New” is relative, of course: A guy with Ocampo’s previously acknowledged talent for melodic, high-impact vocals and intelligent, ringing guitar riffs isn’t going to make many quantum leaps at this stage of his career, but The Effects sound fresh. Rich and Dowling, no slouches themselves, give everything an undercurrent of hunger, and by the time the trio plays the Black Cat in October, they will have had several tuneup shows in support of Eyes to the Light, an album that promises to crackle with life. Oct. 25 at Black Cat. $10. —Joe Warminsky


Though Paperhaus and its founder Alex Tebeleff have been mainstays in the local music scene for years—Tebeleff is a DIY music activist and a house show organizer—nobody in D.C. has ever tried to emulate their jammy, psych rock sound. And on the first single “Go Cozy” from the group’s upcoming record Are These The Questions We Need to Ask?, which Tebeleff recorded with Deleted Scenes’ Matt Dowling and Den-Mate’s Rick Irby, the band remains as distinctive as ever. Sprawled out over nearly seven minutes and stuffed with multiple movements, “Go Cozy” is a dreamy triumph, filled with woozy guitar phrases and burbling, Silver Apples-like synths. In other words, it hits the Paperhaus sweet spot—something no other local group can do anyway. Oct. 27 at Black Cat. $12–$15. —Dean Essner

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic

Throughout the 1970s, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic were perhaps the top purveyors of acid-fueled funk and soul. In listening to albums like Free Your Mind… and Maggot Brain, there was no telling just where the music would go (or what planet it came from), but it always pushed the limit of sound and what black music could be. Fast-forward 40 years, and Clinton has become the godfather to the same sort of bizarre funk that Shabazz Palaces, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat now create. (Clinton is reportedly working on a solo album for Lotus’ Brainfeeder record label.) When Clinton comes to D.C.—a town that Clinton affectionately dubbed “Chocolate City” once upon a time—he’ll see an ever-changing city with rapidly changing demographics. Black art never goes out of style, though. Nov. 3 at the Howard Theatre. $45–$85. —Marcus J. Moore 

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

Though the practice is decades old, modular synthesizers are all the rage. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith—a classically trained composer from Washington’s San Juan Islands who will be releasing her sixth full-length album, The Kid, on Western Vinyl this October—found herself so enamored by a Buchla 100 synthesizer earlier this decade that she abandoned her piano and guitar studies, opting to instead focus her ample creative energy toward creating modular synthesizer soundscapes. What separates Smith from her knob-turning peers is her songwriting prowess. Rare are soundscape artists that are also gifted vocalists, poets, and composers. And rumor has it she has a stellar visual accompaniment at her live performances as well. Nov. 4 at DC9. $12–$15. —Peter Lillis

Lee Ranaldo

There’s no substitute for experience. This cliche rings true, for performers as well as audience members. If you haven’t seen seasoned guitarist Lee Ranaldo these last forty-ish years, performing with Sonic Youth, solo, or with The Dust (Alan Licht, Steve Shelley, Tim Lüntzel), it’s high time you gained some experience. Or, be one of the few to experience one of the first shows from The Messthetics, a noise-power trio featuring Fugazi’s unstoppable rhythm section (Brendan Canty and Joe Lally) and D.C.’s guitar hero Anthony Pirog. Gain some insight on a Saturday night. Nov. 11 at Black Cat. $18. —Peter Lillis

The Mariinsky Orchestra

Russian conductor Valery Gergiev is known for a lot of things conductors prefer not to be known for, like his personal wealth—his $16.5 million-a-year salary made him Russia’s richest musician, according to Forbes—and his personal friendship with Vladimir Putin, two things which are probably not unrelated. The relationship goes back to before Putin’s presidency, when Putin was deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, the home of Gergiev’s Mariinsky Orchestra. Their relationship is more patronage-based than partisan, though when you’re getting paid that much, and appearing in his campaign ads, does it matter? With or without Putin, the Mariinsky is a legendary orchestra, albeit one that’s been coasting a bit on that legend, and Gergiev is its public face and tireless promoter. But having friends in high places doesn’t hurt. Nov. 12 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, presented by Washington Performing Arts. $45–$115. —Mike Paarlberg


There’s a reflexive laziness underlying the unfortunate term “world music,” meaning any music that isn’t from North America or Western Europe. But sometimes it’s appropriate, for bands like DakhaBrakha, a Ukrainian folk quartet that plays a lot of stuff that is neither Ukrainian nor folksy. To be sure, they play melodies from their home country while wearing enormous wool hats indoors, but then move to drone rock veering from West Africa to Russia, South Asia, Australia, and other regions, on a multitude of wind and percussive instruments. They’re also big fans of Soviet director Aleksandr Dovzhenko’s 1930 silent film Earth, so much so that they wrote a soundtrack to go with it. One can get a similar sense of nostalgia underlying their spirit of internationalism, a sentiment that’s sorely lacking today. Nov. 17 at the Music Center at Strathmore. $28–$58. —Mike Paarlberg

St. Vincent  

With its lush strings and muted piano, “New York,” the first single from Annie Clark’s fifth album as St. Vincent, is only a squelching guitar riff or plucky synth line away from being right in the sonic wheelhouse of her first four records. However, her lyrics strike a different tone. Because St. Vincent tracks are normally character-driven and cryptic—such as the nameless suburbanite fretting over “the strangers who sleep where I sleep” on “The Strangers” or the prostitute who asks for “no kisses, no real names” on “Chloe in the Afternoon”—“New York,” with its lines about watching your friends move away and falling out of love, suggests a more personal and universal direction for her new material. “You’re the only motherfucker in the city who can handle me,” she sings, channeling the most elusive character in the St. Vincent songbook for a change: herself. Nov. 27 at The Anthem. $44–$149. —Dean Essner


The enormous hype that greeted the release of Jay-Z’s latest studio album, 4:44, this past June, only furthered the case for Jay-Z  as the greatest living rapper. 4:44 immediately became his most critically acclaimed album in years, and also became his 14th album to peak at number one on the Billboard 200, extending his lead among all solo acts. But beyond those measurable accolades, the new album sparked passionate debates within the larger hip-hop community over its lyrical take on fatherhood, marriage, and some expected and unexpected jabs at fellow artists. The musician born Shawn Corey Carter follows up his album with the 4:44 Tour, which makes a stop at the Capital One Arena (fka Verizon Center and MCI Center) in late November, just a few days before his 48th birthday. His first headlining tour in three years, the show will cover material from his massive catalogue of rap classics, as well as potential new classics, like “Kill Jay Z” and “Smile.” Despite laudable recent efforts by the likes of Drake and Kendrick Lamar, the reign of Jay-Z clearly continues. Nov. 29 at Capital One Arena. $39.50–$199.50. —Jerome Langston


If you take the sullen, impressionistic songwriting of David Berman from the Silver Jews and pair it with the power chord-loving, arena rock sensibilities of a group like The Replacements, you get Montclair, N.J. band Pinegrove, who on their debut LP Cardinal manage to make a lyric as jagged and offbeat as “Is there anyone here I know/ I look around the room/ Whatever, I let it go/ Steve’s in Germany/ That’s it” sound anthemic. However, the record isn’t all minutiae and crippling millennial fear; there are also strong notes of hope and beauty for songwriter Evan Stephens Hall. “I wanna visit the future and dance in a field of light,” he sings on “Size of the Moon.” And given all the anxiety and self-deprecation Cardinal channels, it’s hard not to believe him here. Dec. 5 at Black Cat. $18–20. —Dean Essner

Robert Glasper Experiment

He’s become so successful at blurring the lines of jazz that Robert Glasper doesn’t always seem to know that he’s doing it. When his Black Radio albums came out in 2012 and 2013, Glasper insisted that they weren’t to be taken as jazz records despite his decade-long career in the genre. But the phrasing and the harmonies were unquestionably dense with jazz language, and beneath a cavalcade of R&B and hip-hop guest stars was Glasper and his Experiment, a quartet with an unquestionable jazz pedigree. Some critics pounced, bearing the tried-and-true accusation/cliché that Glasper had “abandoned jazz.” Only a few, perhaps not even Glasper himself, seemed to quite understand that he was expanding it, and has continued to do so ever since. Dec. 20 at the Birchmere. $59.50. —Michael J. West

Erin Juliana

If you’ve ever marveled at the unfolding of a particularly elaborate paper snowflake or chain of dolls, Erin Juliana’s paper cut works will send your mind reeling. Her complex artworks overflow with incredible detail and tender craftsmanship, with scenes that evoke everything from fantastical Renaissance tableaus to grotesque fairy tales to vintage medical tomes. Impossibly contorted figures, fragments of skeletons, architectural forms, and various flora and fauna fill these intricate and often perfectly symmetrical cutouts. Juliana draws inspiration from her own issues with spinal disorders, and uses the imagery to ruminate on the broader theme of feminine forms and beauty. Through Oct. 8 at VisArts. Free. —Stephanie Rudig


Elise Wiarda could be D.C.’s High Priestess of art and spirituality. Born in Holland just before World War II, she experienced the terror and anxiety of a Nazi occupation while still realizing an ecstatic escape through the beauty of art, music, and poetry, as cultivated by her intellectual family. Now at age 80, with decades of service to D.C. as both a curator of contemporary art and a healing practitioner for serious illness, Wiarda has gathered her close friends in celebration of that beauty. Among them are some of the area’s most renowned artists: Sam Gilliam, Martin Puryear, and Helen Frederick are all a part of this exhibition, which is thematically connected only by mysterious imagery. If you’ve recently felt a bit overwhelmed by the discordance and hate of recent events, Apparitions may provide a moment of transcendence. Through Oct. 27 at Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery at the Smith Center For Healing And The Arts. Free. —Erin Devine

Before the 45th | Action/Reaction in Chicano and Latino Art

Most casual art fans associate Mexican art with Frida Kahlo, risen to iconic fame, commercialized, and toted—literally—onto every sellable item. Yet attention is rarely given to other Mexican artists who have been telling important stories for decades. Art institutions and media have much work to do to recognize the feats of Chicano artists working in the U.S. Most Chicano artists capture the constant injustices happening across their country— misdeeds that tear families apart, do not fairly compensate workers for hard labor, and are misrepresented in history books, if they are ever represented at all. In spite of all that, the colorful pieces in Before the 45th vibrate with pride and power. Chicano art was a voice of resistance before it became a hashtag. The show explores the injustices Chicanos have seen over the past four decades through the eyes of Southern California-based artists, and their themes still relevant today. This exhibit is an opportunity to educate yourself on history you may have never learned, and to use your eyes to truly see. Through Dec. 29 at The Mexican Cultural Institute. Free. —Laura Irene

Scraps: Fashion, Textiles, and Creative Reuse

The term “upcycled fabrics” may bring to mind an image of the clothes made from drapes in The Sound of Music, but the work of the three textile designers highlighted in Scraps is far more innovative, employing inventive techniques and end results that are closer to couture than curtain dresses. Reiko Sudo of Nuno Corporation weaves fabrics with washi paper and feathers, and converts plastic bottles into felt and printing fabrics with silicone film. At Riedizioni, Luisa Cevese utilizes surprising materials for textile design, including polyurethane and metallics, as well as fabric bits and selvages (the finished edges of fabric that prevents it from unravelling). Christina Kim partners with artisans around the world for her clothing line, Dosa, highlighting traditional techniques and handcrafts. So as not to waste any of these precious handmade fabrics, the fragments are collected and incorporated into future designs. The exhibit will not only show these finished products, but examine the sustainability and design thinking behind the objects. Through Jan. 7, 2018 at the George Washington University Museum and Textile Museum. Free. —Stephanie Rudig

Inside the Dinner Party Studio

Judy Chicago’s seminal installation The Dinner Party, which functions as an abridged history of women’s historical achievements, is perhaps the most iconic work in the history of feminist art. The massive installation includes giant tables covered in place settings representing notable women in history, each setting with its own hand-painted china plate and embroidered napkin. The tables sit on a floor of marble tiles embellished with women’s names, and are flanked by tapestries marked with excerpts from one of Chicago’s poems. This multifaceted and colossal undertaking required five years and hundreds of volunteers to complete, and Inside the Dinner Party Studio reveals the incredible process behind the masterpiece. The exhibit features concept sketches, samples and test pieces, and behind-the-scenes video shot during the making, offering a unique glimpse into how this mammoth artwork was created. Sept. 17 to Jan. 5, 2018 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. $10. —Stephanie Rudig

Posing for the Camera: Gifts from Robert B. Menschel

Art exhibits structured around a collector’s choices are usually risky. Will the collector’s aggregations of art produce intellectual and aesthetic coherence? It remains to be seen whether Posing for the Camera: Gifts from Robert B. Menschel at the National Gallery of Art breaks the mold, but the roster of photographers holds out some promise, as does the premise: an examination of how the act of posing for a portrait changed after the invention of photography. The exhibit stretches from the early 1840s through the 1990s—a challenging span to encompass within just 60 works. But the list of artists is impressive—Lewis Carroll, Edward Weston, Man Ray, Robert Frank, Timothy H. O’Sullivan, and Brassaï—and the inclusion of scientific, commercial, and amateur photography is inspired. Sept. 17 to Jan. 28, 2018 at the National Gallery of Art West Building. Free. —Louis Jacobson

Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)

Few artists have created work more in tune with the current furor over Confederate monuments than Kara Walker, who typically uses violent imagery and racist stereotypes to attack polite histories of the antebellum South. Walker’s show at SAAM highlights a series of prints for which she enlarged fifteen pages from the 1866 Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War and superimposed her own shadowy, stenciled figures over each scene. In these prints, silhouettes of hyper-sexualized bodies, giant distorted heads, and floating severed limbs blot out conventional illustrations of massed troops and battlefields. Ultimately, Walker’s alterations of these images underscore how traditional representations of the Civil war typically erase the horrors of the African-American experience and ignore the central role slavery played in secession. Oct. 13 to March 11, 2018 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Free. —Jeffry Cudlin

Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today

Magnetic Fields brings together works by 21 African-American female artists across six decades in order to correct the canon. Traveling to the National Museum of Women in the Arts from the Kemper Museum in Kansas City, the show features a variety of materials and approaches, including color field painting by Alma Thomas, sculpture made from shredded rubber tires by Chakaia Booker, and wall-mounted work made from wood and fabric scraps by Abigail DeVille. The show counters the notion that black artists in the past have tended to favor storytelling and representations of struggle—as prescribed by the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s and ’70s—yet also suggests that identity underpins the aesthetic choices of people from different places and times. While grouping all of these disparate artists together under the same umbrella may risk blurring important art-historical distinctions, Magnetic Fields nonetheless promises to offer plenty of strong, previously under-appreciated works and fuel for conversation. Oct. 13 to Jan. 21, 2018 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. $10. —Jeffry Cudlin

Mark Bradford: Pickett’s Charge

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s upcoming installation, Pickett’s Charge, a commissioned work by Mark Bradford, couldn’t be more timely, appearing in the wake of a resurgent—and urgent—debate over the Civil War and how to memorialize it. Bradford based his eight-piece, circular work on Paul Philippoteaux’s “cyclorama” of the same name that depicts the pivotal Confederate charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, which became a turning point for the entire war. Bradford’s work incorporates portions of Philippoteaux’s 1883 painting, along with more abstracted layers of collaged paper that have been transformed by the artist. Beyond the work’s thematic weightiness, its site-specific form will be notable: It rethinks Philippoteaux’s enveloping work within the context of the Hirshhorn’s circular walls. Pickett’s Charge will encircle all 360 degrees of the museum’s third floor, stretching nearly 400 linear feet. Nov. 8 to Nov. 12, 2018 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Free. —Louis Jacobson


All boundaries between performer and audience member dissolve as they mingle together on the dance floor. Suddenly, a performer in a gray T-shirt beckons to a person in the crowd. “May I dance for you?” Just like that, the performance has begun. As other performers spontaneously break into dance, one or two brave souls from the audience join in, creating an organic, improvised mass dance session. This is the premise of closer, the pet project of the Minneapolis-based BodyCartography Project. For the D.C. installment, select local professionals will also be joining in on the fun. Sept. 16 to 17 at Dance Place. $15–$30. —Regina Park


For lovers of tap dance, the upcoming showcase “Lotus: Tap Stars Reunite to Celebrate the Art Form” is surely a highlight of The Kennedy Center’s centennial celebration of President John F. Kennedy. The roots of tap dance go all the way back to the minstrel show days of the 19th century, and accordingly, it reached its popular peak many decades ago. Yet there is still a committed and enthusiastic audience for the art form, which in part is due to the mid-’90s success of the Broadway musical Bring in `Da Noise, Bring in `Da Funk. Six tap dancers, who performed in that Tony Award-winning musical, will celebrate the art form and its history in this one-night-only performance set to live jazz. The dancers include D.C. natives Baakari Wilder and Joseph Webb, both of whom are now major stars in the world of tap. Oct. 7 at the Kennedy Center. $29–$49. —Jerome Langston

La Bayadère

The world has changed greatly in the past 400 years, but Russia’s Mariinsky Ballet still sets the high bar for excellence, just as they have since 1738. This fall, the prima donnas of ballet will leap onto the Kennedy Center stage with La Bayadère, a work first created for the Mariinsky by Marius Petipa, performed here in honor of Petipa’s 200th birthday. Take a journey with the Mariinsky through an ethereal tale of love, betrayal, and—ultimately—the afterlife. Oct. 17 to 22 at the Kennedy Center. $39–$150. —Regina Park

Ilana Glazer and Phoebe Robinson

In previous generations, a comedy tour featuring some of the nation’s most loved and sharpest humorists would have been pretty common. There’d be stops at comedy clubs, visits to all the late night TV shows, and eventually a TV special or album. Today, a comedy tour feels like a unique event. Ilana Glazer (Broad City) and Phoebe Robinson (2 Dope Queens and New York Times best-selling author of Don’t Touch My Hair) make their presence felt in nearly every medium from TV to books to public radio. Glazer even executive produces Robinson’s Sooo Many White Guys podcast, on which she interviews women, people of color, and LGBTQ guests. While these masters of urban millennial laughs are seemingly everywhere, they’re rarely not filtered through some screen or stream. Seeing Glazer’s stoner shenanigans or hearing about Robinson’s latest dating fiasco live on U Street will be a good reminder that the hardest laughs typically come in person. Nov. 14 at The Lincoln Theatre. $35. —Justin Weber

Todd Glass

“There are comics and then there are comic’s comics,” says Norm MacDonald. “Todd Glass is the rare comic’s comic’s comic. Which means six people find him funny.” As ever, MacDonald hides some truth behind his withering deadpan. Todd Glass has been doing stand-up comedy since the early ’80s, building up a respectable following which, yes, included comic’s comics like Louis CK and Sarah Silverman. But like Marc Maron before him, he didn’t achieve the success of his more-famous friends until the age of the podcast: both his own, The Todd Glass Show, which mixes social commentary with zany, long-running bits, and an episode of Maron’s WTF on which he came out as gay. “I was sort of in the closet, a term I’m not crazy about,” he told Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. “I’d rather it be something tougher, maybe ‘busting out of the shed’ or something.” Busting out of the shed not only let Glass be himself, but it also introduced wider audiences to another great comic’s comic. Dec. 1 to 3 at DC Improv. $20. —Chris Kelly

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between writing for Marvel’s Black Panther comic book series and being a national correspondent for The Atlantic, Baltimore native and Washington City Paper alum Ta-Nehisi Coates is releasing the follow-up to his acclaimed bestseller Between the World and Me on October 3. We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy is a collection of eight essays building upon some of his most widely-circulated Atlantic pieces, interrogating and grappling with former President Barack Obama’s years as Commander-in-Chief and how Obama’s status as the first black president precipitated Donald Trump’s rise to become America’s “first white president.” Local mainstay Sankofa Video Books & Cafe presents the first of three book discussions Coates will have in the District this year. WAMU host and journalist Kojo Nnamdi leads the conversation. Oct. 9 at Metropolitan AME Church. $0–$200. —Nena Perry-Brown

From Vault to Screen: Recent Restorations from the Academy Film Archive

Between the AFI Silver Theatre and fall’s buildup to the Academy Awards, it is easy to forget that the National Gallery of Art has some of the best film programming in the city. In September, it showcases some newly restored, rare films for the movie nerd in all of us. Highlights include early work from Gus Van Sant, Les Blank, and restored experimental animation. There is also Cock of the Air, a Howard Hughes-produced aviation comedy that’s even funnier than its dated, cheekily ribald title. No matter your preferences or preferred genre, this series offers films that you will assuredly never find anywhere else. Through Sept. 30 at the National Gallery of Art. Free. —Alan Zilberman 


In the horror film canon, no film is quite as simultaneously vivid, vibrant, and grotesque as Dario Argento’s 1977 masterpiece Suspiria. A hallmark of the Italian giallo film movement of the ’60s and ’70s, Suspiria is the story of a young American girl, Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) who arrives at a prestigious German dance academy, only to find that things aren’t exactly, well, normal. The film opens with Suzy showing up at the academy on a dark, stormy night. She then witnesses a terrified student bolt through the doors. That student is soon brutally murdered by some sort of entity, and as Suzy gets acclimated to her new school, she begins to unravel a dark mystery, centered around a murderous coven. Argento’s film is acclaimed for its vivacious style, highlighted by a vivid color palette and Italian prog-rock band Goblin’s sinister score. When the AFI Silver screens the new 4K restoration of this horror classic, it’ll pop on the screen like never before. Oct. 27 to Nov. 2 at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. $13. —Matt Cohen

Native Gardens

All it takes is a pop-up condo or a beer garden to unearth the real, uncomfortable tensions between D.C. gentrifiers and folks who have had roots in the city for generations. Opening at Arena Stage, Native Gardens knowingly exposes that nerve in a darkly comic way. It’s about two sets of couples—one young, the other old—who become neighbors and friends, at least until an erected fence gets in the way of an immaculately manicured garden. This play promises to have a No Exit sense of misanthropy, coupled with a painfully modern nesting extinct. Class and race are issues within Native Gardens as well, so Arena is banking on theater’s capacity to shine a light on how things are, as opposed to offering a reprieve. Sept. 15 to Oct. 22 at Arena Stage. $56–$110. —Alan Zilberman


Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, his darkest and arguably funniest musical, only seems to get better with age. It debuted off-Broadway in 1990 and more than a decade later, its Broadway production won five Tony Awards. Another decade later, this revue of the history of American presidential assassins and how their personal pathologies were amplified by the culture around them feels strikingly relevant again. Sondheim warps Americana sounds as he tries to twist the audience into sympathizing with the likes of John Wilkes Booth, John Hinckley, and seven others. “Everybody deserves to be happy,” the main theme argues, but our culture’s obsession with fame, celebrity, and guns means that “every now and then, the country goes a little bit wrong.” Like last year’s rendition of Into The Woods at the Kennedy Center, the actors will double as musicians. The intimacy of the Logan Fringe Arts Space, where performers regularly interact with the audience, should only serve to bring audience members deeper into the macabre carnival. Oct. 5 to 15 at Logan Fringe Arts Space. $25. —Justin Weber


Genre fusion is a tired shtick, but En Garde Arts has revamped multimedia to new heights with Wilderness. The project combines visceral choreography with an original folk-rock score, all set to a backdrop of a documentary that follows six modern families as they battle hot-button issues such as mental health, addiction, and sexual identity. This coming-of-age story, which was chosen as a New York Times Critics’ Pick, will be in town for only three days. Oct. 12 to 15 at the Kennedy Center Family Theater. $29–$35. —Regina Park

Grace Notes: Reflections for Now

Many were inspired by President Barack Obama’s eulogy of Pastor Clementa C. Pinckney, following the mass shooting at Charleston, South Carolina Emanuel AME Church in 2015. Acclaimed visual artist Carrie Mae Weems was specifically moved by President Obama’s decision to sing “Amazing Grace” during his eulogy, and that moment provided the impetus for her multi-media theatrical work, Grace Notes: Reflections for Now. This D.C. premiere tackles the weighty issues of racism and gun violence through song, dance, spoken word, and visual media. The artist, known for her provocative work that explores issues of race, has assembled an impressive roster of collaborators, including composers James Newton, Craig Harris, and Nona Hendryx, poet/actor Carl Hancock Rux, and dancer Francesca Harper. It should all make for a theatrical presentation that might be hard to process for some, but is nevertheless necessary. Oct. 20 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. $29–$59.                                                                                                                                                                       —Jerome Langston

Burning Doors

As the only theatre in Europe that’s banned on political grounds, it’s safe to say that the Belarus Free Theatre is probably the best possible company to pull off a modern contemporary performance on political oppression. Burning Doors is an intense, disturbing look into the realities of imprisonment—much of it taken from the company’s own experiences—and looks at the endurance of the human spirit as it suffers through the most brutal of tests. Maria Alyokhina, of the famed Russian band of punk dissidents Pussy Riot, will also be appearing in her stage debut. Oct. 26 to 27 at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. $7–$27. —Regina Park

Mean Girls 

Every decade gets the high school satire it deserves. The ’80s had the violent, blackhearted Heathers, the ’90s had the Jane Austen-for-mallrats romp Clueless, and the 2000s had the eminently-quotable Mean Girls. The first two eventually found new life beyond the screen—Heathers was adapted as a musical, Clueless as a TV show—a trend Mean Girls will continue with a musical adaptation of its own. With the book by Mean Girls scribe Tina Fey, music by 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt composer (and Fey’s husband) Jeff Richmond, and lyrics by Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde), expect the same biting humor that made the original a modern classic. Just don’t expect fetch to happen. Oct. 31 to Dec. 3 at The National Theatre. $48–$108.        —Chris Kelly

Nina Simone: Four Women

The iconic career of singer-songwriter Nina Simone has been told in numerous films, including the 2015 documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, which earned an Academy Award nomination. But on the stage, Simone’s life hasn’t been explored quite as intricately. In Nina Simone: Four Women, playwright Christina Ham imagines a direct historical inspiration for Simone’s many Civil Rights anthems, including “Mississippi Goddam” and “Four Women.” Directed by Arena Stage veteran Timothy Douglas, and starring Howard University graduate Harriett D. Foy, the play is set in 1960s Alabama, following the Birmingham church bombing that killed four African-American girls. That tragedy becomes the catalyst for the singer’s deep commitment to activism, and in this story bonds her with a group of other similarly inspired black women. It’s hard to know if the singer, who died in 2003, would have imagined the persistence of racial turmoil in current day America, but it certainly provides a potent context for this Civil Rights-inspired art. Nov. 10 to Dec. 24 at Arena Stage. $51–$91. —Jerome Langston