Credit: Paul Hoppe

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MUSIC

Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen is known for her emotionally raw lyrics and striking, sparse solo performances. Those who have broken her heart receive no quarter in her songs. Her piercing voice can breach the folded arms of even the most jaded listeners. These talents, along with a supreme confidence, have endeared her to more and more young women with each album. Olsen’s new record, My Woman, supports her emotional power with her best songwriting yet. Clearer melodies, fuller compositions, and a full band showcase an artist who’s growing and learning. Some may interpret her new sound—full of soul and ’60s California breeze—as a shift towards pop music, but Olsen has always had pop in her bones. She’s just a better songwriter now and able to bring it to the surface, and she’s no longer letting her flames run wild, scorching everything. Instead, My Woman is a series of fireworks, controlled and crafted, but still a marvel to behold. Sept. 15 at 9:30 Club. $20.—Justin Weber

Farm Aid 2016

Since 1985, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp have gotten together to put on a benefit concert for family farms. Farm Aid’s consistent focus is impressive: It’s tempting for festivals to grow and grow until they’re unrecognizable anymore, but Farm Aid has always kept its mission in mind, growing into an organization that farmers can depend on. Nelson, Young, and Mellencamp will headline as usual, and if 2016 has taught us anything, it’s to see your old favorites while you still can. Aside from the legends, this is one of the strongest lineups in years: Alabama Shakes, Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price, and Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats represent exciting new directions and voices in country music and southern rock ’n’ roll. Sept. 17 at Jiffy Lube Live. $49.50-$189.50.—Justin Weber

Built to Spill

Naming the quintessential indie rock song of the ’90s is a tough gig that depends on the person—some will say it’s Pavement’s wistful “Gold Soundz,” others claim Guided By Voices’ brilliant exercise in brevity and heart, “Game of Pricks.” Really, though, the correct answer is Built to Spill’s “Car,” a song that manages to be both obtuse and lyrically simplistic, slack and full of pointed honesty. “Car” is probably about the wonders of youthful self-discovery, but it could also be about how self-discovery drives people apart. “I wanna see it/ When you find out what comets, stars, and moons are all about,” sings the honey-voiced Doug Martsch, right before the track explodes into a mini-symphony of cellos, synths, and dissonant guitars. Regardless of meaning, “Car” is somewhat of a nonchalant classic, a song that, like ’90s indie music overall, makes its ample amounts of sentiment and rock energy seem effortless. Sept. 18 at 9:30 Club. $25. —Dean Essner

Manu Dibango & The Soul Makossa Gang

Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango’s 1972 hit “Soul Makossa” has a series of infectious elements that worm their way into your ear right from the start. It kicks off with a funky central Afro-soul beat before the vocal chant “Mama ko, mama sa, mako makossa” comes in, followed by a horn section riff, and then Dibango’s insistent sax line. Popularized first in the U.S. by New York discos, it eventually made the charts, was covered by many, and years later, a variation of it turned up in Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin.” But the 82-year-old Dibango first made his name long before that track with his role as a member of African Jazz, an orchestra that combines Latin American dance rhythms with Congolese ones. This eclectic player, who has collaborated with Fela Kuti and Herbie Hancock alike, has a sweet spot for schmaltzy jazz, so expect him to vary his set with warm instrumental takes on songs like “Over the Rainbow.” Sept. 18 at Howard Theatre. $30–$400. —Steve Kiviat

Peter Bjorn and John

Swedish band Peter Bjorn and John has led both a charmed and cursed existence. The band is responsible for one of the 2000’s best and most recognizable indie rock songs “Young Folks”—a bouncy, minimalistic little pop track driven to iconic earworm status thanks to its recurring whistling part—but not much else. On subsequent records, the band would try out a variety of genres—electronica, ‘60s garage rock, synth pop—none of which led to any “Young Folks”-type splendor. Yet Peter Bjorn and John don’t seem too concerned with its one-hit-wonder status. In concert, it makes for a tight, energetic ensemble that performs its lesser known material with zeal and enthusiasm. But when it comes time for “Young Folks,” the group doesn’t balk at the crowd’s extra excitement, either. Sept. 24 at The Lincoln Theatre. $35. —Dean Essner

The Suffers

Do you want to feel good? Really good? Then you need a little Gulf Coast soul in your life. The Suffers, a new Houston 10-piece group, and its mix of soul, reggae, and Muscle Shoals groove, are the remedy to any malady. The power of soul with a tropical tint feels relaxing and empowering all at once. The group’s self-titled debut hit headphones this past February and captures the energy present in The Suffers’ live shows. Frontwoman Kam Franklin could steal the stage—she’s charming, funny, and has a voice that buckles knees—but she knows just when to pull back and let the band take over. From ballads to barn burners, The Suffers know how to have a good time and leave an audience with smiles all around. Sept. 29 at Rock & Roll Hotel. $14. —Justin Weber

Tristan Perich

Mixing acoustic instrumental with electronic music is so hot right now. Just ask Mason Bates, the Kennedy Center’s first-ever composer-in-residence, part-time DJ, and unofficial muse of Silicon Valley, who’s also earned commissions from YouTube. For contemporary classical music, a subgenre that struggles for an audience within a genre that already struggles for one, adding a few blips and bloops can make an otherwise confusing polytonal experimental piece go from “This is boring and stupid” to “I bet this sounds great on MDMA.” Tristan Perich isn’t the most famous contemporary composer featured in the National Gallery’s free concert series this fall—that would be Philip Glass (performing Oct. 2). But he’s certainly intriguing. His blending of piano with 40-channel, one-bit electronics isn’t exactly dance-friendly; it’s noisy and challenging, more USAISAMONSTER than Aphex Twin. So it may be a while before he starts seeing some of that venture capital money. Sept. 30 at National Gallery of Art. Free. —Mike Paarlberg

Femina

Femina, a trio from a small town in the southern Patagonia region of Argentina, rap—though in a sweet manner over its own acoustic guitar strumming. But its music is much more than that: These two sisters and their childhood best friend warble and harmonize on pop-rock numbers while incorporating cumbia and bolero rhythms often tapped out on a wooden percussive box. On its latest album Traspasa, opening cut “Buen Viage” cleverly includes all the group’s techniques in a well-arranged manner. It starts with exquisitely picked chords before the speedy, sugar-coated wordflow starts, and then suddenly a strongly sung melodic chorus—with gorgeous harmony—kicks in. Its repertoire is memorable even if you can’t identify the styles or understand the language. Oct. 1 at Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre. Free. —Steve Kiviat

Squeeze

Though it’s commonly lumped in with other classic rock bands of the time, Squeeze was an anomaly—too jovial for punk rock, too soulful for new wave, and too idiosyncratic for mainstream pop. The band was also lovably nerdy; one of its best known hits, “Pulling Mussels (From a Shell),” is a hilarious, hyperaware tale about the sex habits of the British working class that includes lyrics about aphrodisiacs, Swiss folk heroes, and pulp literature. The band’s quirky spirit comes from the songwriting duo Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, whose partnership has persisted—despite a few extended hiatuses over the years—since the early 1970s, a span of time that would sever most creative relationships. But it’s not the case for Squeeze, who can channel the rollicking guitar and witty spirit on “Pulling Mussels (From a Shell)” in a 2016 concert as if it were 1980. Oct. 11 at 9:30 Club. $55. —Dean Essner

DJ Shadow

2016 has been a big year for sample-based electronic artists. First, The Avalanches returned from a 16-year hiatus to drop its sophomore LP Wildflower, the follow-up to 2000’s beloved Since I Left You. And then, Josh Davis—aka DJ Shadow—released his fifth album The Mountain Will Fall, his first since 2011. Though it was Wildflower that grabbed more headlines, DJ Shadow’s record was quietly evolutionary. The Mountain Will Fall is easily Davis’ most cutting-edge release in years, eschewing his usual patchwork-y method of piecing together retro samples in favor of guest performers (like Run The Jewels and Nils Frahm) and EDM synths. But The Mountain Will Fall is still a distinctive DJ Shadow album, which means the beats are towering and muscular, and will fit in perfectly in concert with all the songs from his 1996 classic Entroducing. Oct. 13 at 9:30 Club. $35. —Dean Essner

Girma Bèyènè andFeedel Band

For many years, Ethiopian musician Girma Bèyènè was a gas station attendant here in D.C. Back in Addis Ababa , his country’s capital, however, he had been a star arranger, composer, and singer for decades. Bèyènè had first come here in 1981 on tour as a pianist with the Walias Band, which was one of many groups to have rendered his funky jazz standard “Muziqawi Silt.” He gave up on music in 1984 after his wife, who inspired his songcraft, died that year. Now, decades later, after moving back to Ethiopia, this keyboard master has returned to the stage. Bèyènè’s songs are defined by his vocals, which distinctively blend Ethiopian traditions with suave Nat King Cole crooning, and his instrumental numbers cleverly stir together atmospheric, film noir-feeling sax blowing, fuzztone guitar, and finger-snapping rhythms. For his musical return to D.C., he’ll be joined by D.C.’s Ethio-jazz specialists, Feedel Band, whose bassist and saxman played with Bèyènè in the Walias Band 35 years ago. Oct. 14 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. $20–$28. —Steve Kiviat

Amanda Shires

The modern music industry rarely lets artists develop into great musicians anymore. At times, it seems like every new artist is expected to have a dynamic debut and forever chance the glory of their “early stuff.” For most musicians, that’s not how it works. They get better with practice and experience. Luckily, Amanda Shires has been able to take a more old-school route. She started as a fiddle player and worked her way up as a member of various ensembles from the Texas Playboys to John Prine while she recorded her own solo records. The result of this gradual growth is her fifth—and best—studio album, My Piece of Land. Written just before the birth of her daughter last year, Shires contemplates the meaning of home and struggles with the anxiety that comes with having something to lose in a way only a new mother and an artist reaching her peak can. Oct. 21 at Gypsy Sally’s. $16–$18. —Justin Weber

Rahim AlHaj

The oud is the oldest stringed instrument in the world, a type of fretless lute that’s a 5,000-year-old ancestor to the guitar. It’s still very much a living instrument, however, with numerous schools and styles of playing, often distinguished by geography: funky Yemeni, folksy Egyptian. Few Americans would likely be aware of this if it weren’t for the occasional oud musician to get caught up in refugee crises produced by international tragedies, such as the Armenian genocide, or the failed post-Gulf War uprising against Saddam Hussein that brought Iraqi oud master Rahim AlHaj to the U.S. AlHaj is a reminder that those countries that benefit from the talents of those who flee their home countries are ones that don’t build walls. Oct. 23 at Phillips Collection. $20–$40. —Mike Paarlberg

Ryley Walker and Circuit des Yeux

“They’re better live” is certainly a familiar refrain to most regular music listeners, often an excuse for a band with more stage presence than talent, so pardon the cliché: Ryley Walker and Circuit des Yeux are better live. Not because they can hide behind wild antics or crank up the PA to 11, but because a live performance allows the group space to explore and improvise. Walker, who often sounds bored on his records, frees himself from expectations and constraints to grow his songs into experiments at the boundaries of American primitive guitar. As Circuit des Yeux, Haley Fohr leans over her guitar, hair hiding all expression casting a mysterious silhouette, singing deeply as she layers loops on loops on loops until it feels like the room will explode. What they share is a trance-inducing quality that’ll leave audiences transported. Oct. 26 at DC9. $12–$14. —Justin Weber

Hilary Hahn and Robert Levin

Hilary Hahn may not quite be the world’s biggest name to handle a violin, but she arguably deserves to be, and may yet be someday. She’s not as smiley as Itzhak Perlman or aw-shucks as Joshua Bell, and she doesn’t showboat. She’s a soloist for whom the word “serious” is most commonly thrown around. One demonstration of her seriousness is her commitment to keeping classical music relevant, a genre for which the word “dinosaur” is most commonly thrown around. In 2013, she commissioned, recorded and performed a series of short new works by living composers, including Spain’s Antón García Abril. García Abril is probably best known stateside, if at all, for scoring 1960s and ‘70s Italian spaghetti westerns like Texas, Adios and Spanish horror films like The Werewolf vs. The Vampire Woman and Dr. Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo. This year, the Washington Performing Arts commissioned six solo pieces from him for Hahn to debut, the first three (which, in a way-too-cute gimmick, the composer gave names starting with H, I, and L) she did this spring at Strathmore, and the last three (A, R, and Y) she unveils this fall at the Kennedy Center. Oct. 28 at the Kennedy Center. $38-$95. —Mike Paarlberg

Stormzy

Pioneered by artists like Wiley and Dizzee Rascal at the beginning of the millennium in London’s intimate rave culture, grime is finally beginning to grab a foothold here in the states. This isn’t too surprising considering Drake is newly besties with grime superstar Skepta, and Kanye West was surrounded by a posse of grime emcees at the Brit Awards in 2015. With a famously forward-thinking nightlife, D.C. is certainly no stranger to the sound, and the city has recently hosted grime artists like DJ Spooky, AJ Tracey, and Skepta. November will see popular grime emcee Stormzy’s first visit to the District, and it’s a must-see for those intrigued by the buzzworthy genre. With rich influence from dancehall, reggae, and jungle, grime is characterized by futuristic synths, aggressive basslines, and a gritty, underground vibe. As heard on his prominent 2015 single “Shut Up” and his 2014 debut album Dreamer’s Disease, Stormzy brilliantly interprets these elements and has proven himself to be an electrifying ambassador of the sound. Oct. 28 at Rock & Roll Hotel. $25. —Casey Embert

Argento Chamber Ensemble

In the world of new music and contemporary classical, both “new” and “classical” are relative terms. So is “successful.” The Argento Chamber Ensemble, which has been around since way back in 2000, has achieved a pretty good level of notoriety for what they do, premiering new works by living composers that usually involve making sounds that their instruments were not originally intended to make. You might be surprised to hear buzzing, scratching, farting, and other noises out of a woodwind, which is probably what they mean when they promise “an homage to the soundworlds of the clarinet and its brethren.” The ensemble’s Library of Congress program features a brand new work by Irish composer Ann Cleare, a “classic” (from the ’80s) piece by Salvatore Sciarrino, and Mahler’s 10th Symphony. The latter was, of course, left unfinished by the composer’s death, which leaves more room for creative doodling in a transcription by Avengers: Age of Ultron scorer Rossano Galante. Oct. 29 at Library of Congress, Coolidge Auditorium. Free. —Mike Paarlberg

National Symphony Orchestra with Nicola Benedetti

The 2016-2017 season marks Christoph Eschenbach’s final season as the National Symphony Orchestra’s music director. He came to D.C. by way of a more prominent orchestra, in Philly, with an enormous amount of hype—a war-orphan-turned-superstar pianist-turned conductor, with old world glamour and a rolodex of celebrity friends—but he couldn’t quite live up to it. His impulsive conducting style, heavy on intuition and light on technique, made for often erratic programs, and some questioned his $2 million-plus salary, the highest in the nation. But when Eschenbach is on, he’s on, especially when tackling those Romantic-era standards he’s known for. So a Tchaikovsky program is a safe bet—in this case, his third symphony and the Polonaise from Eugene Onegin. Eschenbach also has a rep for cultivating rising stars, most famously a teen pianist with a penchant for sequined suits named Lang Lang. Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti was another of Professor Esch’s gifted youngsters; he showcased her at Chicago’s Ravinia festival four years ago, and now brings her to the Kennedy Center to perform a still-new violin concerto written by jazz legend Wynton Marsalis. Oct. 27 to 29 at the Kennedy Center. $15–$89. —Mike Paarlberg

Kero Kero Bonito

Super kawaii South London trio Kero Kero Bonito tackles life’s hard topics in its future-pop music: things like beating boys at video games, the importance of finishing your homework, and how many shrimp one must eat before one’s skin turns pink. Vocalist Sarah Bonito’s bilingual sing-songy raps often flow from Japanese to English on a whim while flawlessly decorating a cutesy, 8-bit J-Pop soundscape produced by partners Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled. After a series of sugary sweet singles, Bonito Generation, the anticipated follow-up to its 2014 debut album, Intro Bonito, is expected in October, so one thing’s for sure: Its inaugural performance in D.C. this fall won’t be lacking in neon-colored, glitter-flecked whimsy. Nov. 5 at U Street Music Hall. $15. —Casey Embert

Four Goldberg Variations

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There’s something deeply masochistic about wanting to hear Bach’s Goldberg Variations four times in one day, but some Bach fans are like that. Those who perform the variations tend to describe them as either “monotonous” or “hellaciously monotonous,” and they were among Bach’s more obscure works until an up-and-coming pianist named Glenn Gould made them inexplicably famous, in a surprise (to everyone, including him) hit recording in the ’50s. He only did so by cutting the work’s 80-minute run time in half. The whole thing reads like a homework lesson in composition, 30 variations of mostly the same melodies in mostly the same key. The National Gallery’s all-day Goldberg festival mitigates the insanity with four different types of performances. Historically informed purists can check out Ignacio Prego’s performance on the instrument for which they were originally written, the harpsichord (most recordings, like Gould’s, are on piano). Those who prefer chamber ensembles can enjoy transcriptions for string and wind instruments. And those who wish to get as far away from the original as possible—the wisest choice—can hear pianist Dan Tepfer’s jazz interpretation. Nov. 6 at National Gallery of Art. Free. —Mike Paarlberg

Seu Jorge

On Nov. 8, the long national nightmare that is Election 2016 will finally be over. What better way to celebrate the returns (or mourn the defeat of Donald Trump, if you’re into that sort of thing) than by commemorating the first and greatest loss of 2016: David Bowie. And not just with your standard-issue, DJ-ed retrospective, but with possibly the finest interpretations of some of Bowie’s greatest works: Hear Brazilian singer-songwriter Seu Jorge perform his touching, acoustic covers of Bowie hits like “Life on Mars?,” “Space Oddity,” and “Rebel, Rebel.” First recorded for Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Jorge’s Portuguese covers are even more poignant after Bowie’s death. Even the Thin White Duke loved them, saying that Jorge “imbued” his songs with a “new level of beauty.” Regardless of what happens after Election Day, we could all use some beauty. Nov. 8 at Howard Theatre. $38.50–$191. —Chris Kelly

Wayne Shorter

There is very little, if anything, that Wayne Shorter can’t do on the saxophone. Not only is his artistry revered throughout jazz circles, Shorter, as one of the few remaining 20th century jazz icons that is still alive and playing at a high level who has influenced a wide spectrum of non-jazz artists. With sideman work and compositions that stretch back to the days of the Miles Davis Quintet and the jazz-fusion brilliance of Weather Report, Shorter, now in his 80s, continues to tour with his quartet, featuring pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade. They are coming to the Kennedy Center to perform a new work, “Unfolding,” co-commissioned by the Kennedy Center, which offers a sonic interpretation of the Big Bang theory. Scientific stuff aside—as long as it swings, I’m there. Nov. 12 at Kennedy Center, Eisenhower Theater. $25–$59. —Jerome Langston

Black Violin

There have been several attempts to combine hip-hop and classical music, a lot of them corny. Rappers as varied as Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Jay Z, and Migos have gone from sampling orchestral loops to performing in front of backing orchestras playing those loops live. It’s evidence of hip-hop’s rise to become the dominant form of pop music as well as classical’s desperation for anything approaching street cred. The Ft. Lauderdale duo Black Violin, comprising Kev Marcus Sylvester and Wil Baptiste, goes another route, starting from classical training on string instruments (violin and viola, respectively) and looping in hip-hop beats. The group’s brand of fusion has gotten it stage time with Alicia Keys and the Wu-Tang Clan, and production work for Lupe Fiasco and Kanye. While largely instrumental, its songs include spoken-word parts riffing on current issues of race in America. The album Stereotypes references both the 2014 Ferguson protests and the duo’s own experiences with stereotyping as black classical musicians. It’s a better classical formula for reaching younger audiences than, say, the Seattle Symphony’s “Baby Got Back” concert with Sir Mix-A-Lot. Nov. 12 at Music Center at Strathmore. $25–$55. —Mike Paarlberg

The Daughter of the Regiment

Last spring, the Washington National Opera blew its wad, so to speak, with its long-anticipated, hugely expensive, years-long undertaking of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. So who can blame them for following up with a couple light and easy comic operas? Of the two, Donizetti’s La fille du régiment is the more interesting, mostly by default, because the other one is The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart’s ridiculous, 18th-century version of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet. Donizetti’s comedy treads on familiar opera territory, of the soapy variety, with a forbidden romance across class lines: in this case, across opposing sides of the Napoleonic Wars. WNO will return to more serious, envelope-pushing material in the spring, with Jake Heggie’s take on Dead Man Walking and Terence Blanchard’s Champion, about gay boxer Emile Griffith. Until then, fun and dumb will be the prevailing mood at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House. Nov. 12–20 at Kennedy Center Opera House . $45–$315. —Mike Paarlberg

Hiss Golden Messenger

MC Taylor’s upcoming LP, Heart Like a Levee, shares a title with a performance he held at Duke University back in November 2015, where his mystic country soul music paired perfectly with William Gedney’s striking photos of a Kentucky coal mining camp in 1972. Taylor writes that the genesis of his new record was earlier than that, while waiting out a January 2015 storm in D.C., wracked with the guilt of being away from his family. The magic in the music of Hiss Golden Messenger is that it draws from both old memories and modern emotions. It is a product of the past, steeped in muddy waters and caked in clay, but it’s not static. Backed by the best band in the business with Phil Cook on guitar, Matt McCaughan on drums, and James Wallace on piano, Taylor connects the old and the new in song as he learns to balance work, family, and art. Nov. 17 at Rock & Roll Hotel. $15. —Justin Weber

Andrew W.K.

If you still think Andrew W.K. is a comedy rocker whose act starts and stops at hitting himself in the face with a brick and partying until he pukes, you haven’t been paying attention in years. After releasing a few albums full of over-the-top, hard rock party anthems (along with albums composed of Japanophilic covers and new age improvisations), W.K. has turned his philosophy of partying into a Tony Robbins–styled empire, turning his focus from concerts to self-help seminars, advice columns, and now, with The Power of Partying, his first nationwide speaking tour. As the tour touches down at the Black Cat, prepare to find joy, truth and enlightenment through partying—hopefully without puking first. Nov. 17 at Black Cat. $20. —Chris Kelly

Mitski

There’s no better way to combat all those scary coming-of-age feelings, like stark loneliness, fleeting happiness, and unrequited love, than by totally indulging in them. With lyrics like “What do you do with a loving feeling/ If the loving feeling makes you all alone,” it’s clear that Mitski, indie rock’s favorite sad girl, knows her way in and out of her emotions like the best of them. This summer, the Brooklyn-based artist released her fourth album, Puberty 2, for the angsty teenager in all of us. With a vocal range that stretches from a guttural wail to a comforting croon, Mitski transforms the trials and tribulations of growing up into a more tangible experience, one that’s all too easy to relate to. Seeing her live this fall will feel less like a performance and more like a heart-to-heart with your bestie. Nov. 18 at Black Cat. $16–$18. —Casey Embert

PWR BTTM

Brooklyn queer punk duo PWR BTTM eschews subtlety. Members Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins are known for plastering their faces with glitter and paint on stage while clad in outrageous, Kevin Barnes–like costumes, and their band name refers to sexual partners who maintain dominance even while they’re on the “bottom.” Yet their fearless creativity fits with the music— which is raw, loud, and bursting with garage rock catharsis. “My girl’s so sad/ Everything I do makes her mad/ Cries and cries till his eyes are red/ Two ugly cherries up in his head,” sings Hopkins on “Ugly Cherries,” a track about struggling with the everyday ups and downs of being queer. It’s a line that could probably work fine in a sullen folk song sung by a buttoned up singer-guitarist. But that’s far from PWR BTTM’s modus operandi. It came to rock its sadness—not just live in it—one speck of glitter at a time. Nov. 21 at DC9. $12–$14. —Dean Essner

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

They’re “the best orchestra in the world,” at least according to a 2008 poll by classical music bible Gramophone, which convened an international panel of music critics and gave them the absurd task of comparing things that can’t really be quantifiably compared: symphony orchestras. And hey, rankings are necessary clickbait keeping entire publications afloat: Think U.S. News & World Report. In the orchestra world, “best” is often a matter of legacy, and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw has that in spades. It was founded in 1888, with a reputation for consistent quality assured by long tenures for its chief conductors (it’s only on its eighth). Its seventh, under whom it won that 2008 accolade, Mariss Jansons, is no longer around, and for the orchestra’s D.C. visit, it will be led by a guest, Russian conductor Semyon Bychkov. But for an orchestra as old-world, burnished-mahogany as the Concertgebouw, even its guest conductors have a lot to live up to: One of its more notable frequent guests was Gustav Mahler, who conducted six of his own symphonies with the orchestra. This program will feature Mahler’s fifth, because of course. Nov. 29 at Kennedy Center Convert Hall. $48–$120. —Mike Paarlberg

Norah Jones

You might not think that new music from Norah Jones would generate the level of interest from today’s avid music consumer, as say, new Frank Ocean or Beyoncé, but if December’s already sold out pair of shows at the Lincoln Theatre is any indication, you’re wrong. Jones will be touring in support of her new album, Day Breaks, which drops Oct. 7. The Texas native’s tour brings her to the rather intimate-sized Lincoln Theatre for a two-night stand to perform cuts from her new piano-driven album, which harks back to the global superstar who gave us 2002’s quiet epic Come Away With Me, rather than the edgier material she’s been making ever since. Dec. 3–4 at The Lincoln Theatre. Sold Out. —Jerome Langston

Biliana Voutchkova & Michael Thieke

With Sonic Circuits promoting experimental music and Rhizome DC in Takoma providing a community space for cultural experimentation, D.C. will be rife with compelling noise and ambient artists this fall. For those looking to get into experimental music, dive in head first and go to any show Sonic Circuits and Rhizome DC are hosting. They will all challenge listeners in new ways. One of the highlights is the violin and clarinet duo of Biliana Voutchkova and Michael Thieke. They take their time thoughtfully poking their way through strange soundscapes. For new listeners, the deliberate tempo and familiar instruments are ideal, allowing them to hear Voutchkova and Thieke play with tone and rhythm and better understand the difference between pushing boundaries and button mashing. Dec. 12 at Rhizome DC. $10. —Justin Weber

MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES

“It Takes a Nation: Art for Social Justice with Emory Douglas and the Black Panther Party, AFRICOBRA, and Contemporary Washington Artists”

Emory Douglas was to the Civil Rights movement what Aaron Douglas had been to the Harlem Renaissance. As the Black Panther Party’s Minister of Culture, he influence politically charged artists that engage identity and social practice, like the group AFRICOBRA. With a nod to the communist revolution that influenced them, the Black Panther artists largely adopted graphic arts for its social messages. This exhibition includes responses to that body of work by local artists who will likely find some fertile inspiration for expressing Black Lives Matter. The show is fundamental to anyone interested in the prominence of social practice in art now, with a look back at its roots in the Black Panther Party and the 1960s. Coinciding with the opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, it deftly complements that museum’s inaugural programming. Through Oct. 23 at American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center. Free.—Erin Devine

“Other Worlds of Imagination and Wonder”

Just over the D.C. border in Prince George’s County, the Brentwood Arts Exchange is the cornerstone of an emerging arts district, mounting exhibitions that favor experimental form and important social issues. This year’s season opener brings contemporary craft into an examination of fragility and stability in the natural world. Laurel Lukaszewski’s unglazed porcelain arrangements transform space, crawling along walls and crevices or suspended from ceilings. Often composed of hundreds of individual pieces, the minimal, complex structures reference organic forms. Joseph A. Corcoran fuses transparent blown glass and mixed media elements into sculptural abstractions reminiscent of an unearthly, biomorphic reality. The resulting collaboration joins a number of recent exhibitions fixated on the many concepts of “environment” in art. Through Nov. 12 at Brentwood Arts Exchange at Gateway Arts Center. Free. —Erin Devine

“Notes from the Desert: Photographs by Gauri Gill”

Gauri Gill, an Indian-born, U.S.-educated artist, has spent years photographing western Rajasthan, a region in northwestern India. The Sackler Gallery’s exhibit of 57 of Gill’s black-and-white prints often turns intensely personal, as with her documentation of the family of Izmat, whose elder daughter, Jannat, died at age 23. It’s not for nothing that Gill’s work has been compared to the Depression-era documentary work by Dorothea Lange—though in images like “Izmat,” Gill’s hybrid old-new look offers a bracing contrast to Lange. In that image, the titular subject appears in the crown of a delicately rendered tree, barely distinguishable from the leaves. Sept. 17 to Feb. 12, 2017 at Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Free. —Louis Jacobson

“NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection”

Don and Mera Rubell have been collecting contemporary artwork for the Rubell Family Collection since 1964. The 6,800-piece collection is now at home in a former Drug Enforcement Administration confiscated-goods warehouse in Miami. As collectors, the Rubells readily recognize that many works by women artists remain undervalued in the current market. They’ve moved to purchase them, aiming also to impact contemporary artists’ lives. For “No Man’s Land,” the Rubell Family Collection pulled works from women artists acquired over the last five decades. The show’s organization suggests a conversation between the new acquisitions and those that joined the Rubell collection decades ago. The original, sprawling exhibit opened at the Rubell Family Collection in December, coinciding with Art Basel Miami Beach. The traveling version of the exhibition is a selection of those pieces chosen to highlight a dual focus: the female body and the “process of making.” The show features 37 artists from 16 different countries. The show places the acrylic, rhinestone, and enamel portraiture of Mickalene Thomas alongside Rosemarie Trockel’s wool paintings and the infinity nets of Japanese star Yayoi Kusama, highlighting a diversity of approach in form and media. Sept. 30 to Jan. 8, 2017 at National Museum of Women in the Arts. $8–$10.—Emily Walz

“In the Tower: Barbara Kruger”

Climbing the narrow spiral staircase to reach the National Gallery of Art’s Tower Gallery, you can’t help but feel as though you’re sneaking into somewhere you shouldn’t be. So it’s reassuring that for the space’s reopening (after a nearly three-year renovation), the featured artist will be a familiar sight to D.C. museum-goers: Barbara Kruger’s commanding word art is also currently on view at the Hirshhorn and in the permanent collection of the American Art Museum. The Hirshhorn recently acquired Kruger’s series “Untitled (Know nothing, Believe anything, Forget everything),” created between 1987 and 2014, and encompassing some of her most iconic works. Her signature style of black-and-white photographs with striking bands of red or black holding her evocative phrases, screen printed onto glossy vinyl, will be on full display. In addition, many of her original paste-ups and process work will be exhibited along with a video interview with the artist, offering a fresh view of some of her more recognizable works. Sept. 30 to Jan. 22, 2017 at National Gallery of Art. Free.—Stephanie Rudig

“Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959–1971”

When a museum highlights a recently acquired collection, the results can feel more like an obligatory (and yawn-inducing) show-and-tell rather than a cohesive, absorbing exhibition. But when the collector is Virginia Dwan, it could become the exhibition of the season. Dwan was one of the most visionary, avant-garde gallerists of the 20th century, so it makes perfect sense that her recent gift to the National Gallery of Art of 250 paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures will reopen the gallery’s East Wing. Her Los Angeles space was the city’s epicenter for Minimalism and Conceptualism throughout the 1960s. For several years, her gallery operated from both coasts—a revolving door for the most progressive artists working in the U.S. The most exciting feature of Dwan’s legacy was her seminal role in supporting the Land Art movement, so expect to see works by artists like Robert Smithson and Walter De Maria that aren’t often featured in museums. Sept 30. to Jan. 29, 2017 at National Gallery of Art. Free.—Erin Devine

“Photography Reinvented: The Collection of Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker”

More than two years after the National Gallery of Art announced it had acquired several dozen photographs from the Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker Collection, a selection from the collection will go on display Sept. 30. It’s heavy on works from the Düsseldorf School, including Thomas Struth, Candida Höfer, Andreas Gursky, and Thomas Ruff, and it also includes works by other leading contemporary photographers, including Hiroshi Sugimoto, Cindy Sherman, Vik Muniz, and Jeff Wall. My favorite work, however, is the massive, 75.5 in. x 195 in. image from 2003 by Thomas Demand titled “Clearing.” The work is a widescreen portrayal of a lush forest of greenery—made from thousands of individually fabricated leaves—lit by bright waves of sunlight. The work, which I originally saw more than a decade ago in his solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, is at once fake yet utterly believable, and universal in its connection to the viewer. Sept. 30 to March 5, 2017 at National Gallery of Art. Free.—Louis Jacobson

“Ragnar Kjartansson”

Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson is an enigmatic artist, and a hard one to pin down. He works across multiple media, but most of his works are time-based, and seem to reside somewhere between performance art, recital, and avant garde cinema. In his video installation “The Visitors,” musicians positioned throughout a ramshackle mansion perform a dirge for over an hour, and the action unfolds over nine screens simultaneously. Many works focus on exhaustively repeating actions, but rather than becoming tedious, they offer richness or absurd humor as they progress. The video piece “God” casts Kjartansson as a particularly philosophical lounge singer, repeatedly warbling “sorrow conquers happiness” while backed by a full band. In works such as “The End,” a series of 144 portraits of Kjartansson’s friend—produced one per day during the 2009 Venice Biennale—the repetitive process is as important, if not more so, than the finished piece. Keeping things extra strange, a live performance of Kjartansson’s “Woman in E,” in which a solitary woman will continuously strum an E minor chord atop a rotating pedestal, will run for the duration of the exhibit. This will be Kjartansson’s first comprehensive U.S. exhibition. Oct. 14 to Jan. 8 at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Free.—Stephanie Rudig

“Wanderer/Wonderer: Pop-Ups by Colette Fu”

If as a kid you enjoyed pulling secret tabs and turning wheels in pop-up books, Colette Fu’s work is certain to impress. Fu has extensively photographed her hometown of Philadelphia and her ancestral home of the Yunnan province of China with a focus on the varied ethnic tribes living in that region. In turn, she uses her photographs to construct elaborate pop-up book structures, and they put Pat the Bunny to shame. The designs are intricate and dense, with many overlapping layers creating immense depth and scale. Many give the sense of a National Geographic photo spread turned into sprawling, trippy theater sets. Adding to the epic scale is the fact that some of the works, once unfolded, are the size of coffee tables. Fu’s books are so dynamic and engaging that they practically beg to be played with—never has the “no touching” rule been so hard to follow. Oct. 14 to Feb. 26, 2017 at National Museum of Women in the Arts. $8–$10.—Stephanie Rudig

“From Royal Mail to Public Post”

Celebrating the 500th anniversary of the world’s first public postal service—the U.K.’s Royal Mail—D.C.’s most underrated museum will show documents from 1635 and 1840. Beginning with King Charles I’s decree to expand the mail service from just a courier for the royal family into the expansive public service it remains today, the exhibition covers the first mail coach, the first postal uniforms, the establishment of the Post Office Investigation Branch (the world’s oldest official criminal investigation unit), the first mail train, and the first money order. The show ends with the introduction of the first postage stamp, a concept that revolutionized the way the world (still) sends its letters and packages. Say what you will about lost mail; the Royal Post introduced a line of communication between regular people that would eventually help pave the way to democracy. Oct. 21 to Jan. 16, 2017 at National Postal Museum. Free.—Elena Goukassian

DANCE AND PERFORMANCE

The Blues Project

For fans of tap dance and contemporary blues musicianship, the collaborative work of tap dancer/choreographer Michelle Dorrance, and folk/blues singer and composer Toshi Reagon, should evoke quite a bit of excitement. Dorrance has emerged as a major figure in the world of tap, having won a MacArthur Genius Grant for her artistry, while Reagon has received steady acclaim since her debut in the ’90s. The D.C.-reared musician’s powerful singing and guitar playing are featured throughout The Blues Project, and serves as a narrator to the intense, highly athletic tap-dancing performed by Dorrance, along with members of her dance company. Reagon is joined by her own group, BIGLovely, and together, both ladies—having had stand-out individual performances at previous Kennedy Center shows—stand a strong chance of surpassing their prior work with The Blues Project. Oct. 5 to 6 at Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. $25–$75. —Jerome Langston

VelocityDC

As the city’s big-tent dance festival, VelocityDC’s format is something like a competitively priced dance sampler. As part of its mission to spotlight the range of local companies and choreographers, its program features 10-minute clips from groups who dance jazz, contemporary ballet, percussive and tap dance, hip-hop, and the Indian classical dance form Bharata Natyam. Though that program alone covers more kinds of dance than the average person might see in a year, the festival also includes site-specific performances that will unfold in front of Sidney Harman Hall and free performance-and-discussion sessions before each evening’s program. Oct. 7 to 8 at Sidney Harman Hall. $18–$30. —Emily Walz

The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight

Not a lot of dance performances have a philosophical consultant. The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight isn’t like a lot of dance performances. The philosopher in question is Dr. Alva Noë, known for reframing consciousness not as a state of mind, but a dynamic, whole-body activity. This has made him popular with the dance world, where many are also engaged in exploring the relationship between movement and consciousness. It’s particularly true for Claire Cunningham, a Glasgow-based performer and choreographer who identifies as a disabled artist, using crutches in her dances and to move through the world. In creating this show, Cunningham reunites with Jess Curtis, the choreographer behind performance company Gravity. Curtis is the one who first introduced Cunningham to the post-modern dance technique called contact improvisation. Their multimedia duet explores how we move in the world and how that shapes the way we see and are seen. Oct. 22 to 23 at Dance Place. $15–$30. —Emily Walz 

Cinderella

Although the choreographer—in this case the great Christopher Wheeldon—usually gets all the glory in ballet productions, in the San Francisco Ballet’s Cinderella, set and costume designer Julian Crouch deserves just as much. By all accounts, the colorful sets, costumes, and puppets (yes, puppets) that accompany Wheeldon’s choreography and Prokofiev’s score are nothing short of spectacular. The highlight is a giant tree that turns into a carriage, co-designed and operated by Basil Twist—the superstar of puppetry. With this much visual stimulation to go with the classic score and award-winning choreography, this will be a great ballet for first-time audience members and dance buffs alike. Oct. 26 to 30 at Kennedy Center Opera House. $29–$139. —Elena Goukassian

Debbie Allen’s FREEZE FRAME…Stop the Madness

The continuing debate over how to address gun violence in America, as well as its broad reach into the Black Lives Matter movement, provides quite a potent context for the new Debbie Allen theatrical hybrid, Freeze Frame, which makes its East Coast premiere next month at the Kennedy Center. Combining dance, music, and cinema into a narrative gumbo that seeks to address the heady subjects of gun violence and its connection to racism—Allen directs and leads a cast of dancers and actors who are associated with her acclaimed dance academy. These include Vivian Nixon, Allen’s daughter and now a stage star in her own right. The hip-hop inspired choreography mixes in with modern dance elements, and is accompanied by original music by the likes of Stevie Wonder and Arturo Sandoval, among others. Allen is a legend of stage, TV, and cinema, so getting to experience her artistry live, within any context, should be worth the cost of admission. Oct. 27 to 30 at Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. $29–$109. —Jerome Langston

alight dance theater

Greenbelt-based alight dance theater is reprising a pair of firsts this fall. Blue Mountain Express, which premiered in 2013, was the first evening-length collaboration for dancer-choreographers Eleni Grove and Matina Phillips. The piece is a bluegrass-infused travel story featuring four strangers aboard a train bound for destinations unknown. The story follows as they reveal details about themselves, in the process discovering their dissimilarities and convergences between one another. Artistic director Angella Foster is the creator of the second piece, Women’s Work. As Foster’s MFA thesis, it was a foundational work for her that has now been re-staged for alight. Inspired by stories from Foster’s grandmother, the piece focuses on a community of strong women in rural Kentucky. Aproned dancers carry out repetitive motions that allude to days filled with tasks, with a voiceover setting the scene. Both are emblematic of alight’s story-based approach to performance, mixing dance with theater and spoken word. Oct. 29 to 30 at Dance Place. $10–$25. —Emily Walz

COMEDY

Amy Schumer

“Are you that girl from the television who talks about her pussy all the time?” That’s how Julia Louis-Dreyfus, playing “Julia Louis-Dreyfus,” greets Amy Schumer in Inside Amy Schumer’s infamous “Last Fuckable Day” sketch. The line is a tongue-in-cheek nod to Schumer’s reputation but also shows how far she’s come since the sketch first aired last April. Since then, she’s gone from raunchy, sex-obsessed stand-up comedian to raunchy, sex-obsessed filmmaker, cultural commentator, and (controversial) feminist icon. Inside Amy Schumer reached new heights as it focused its aim on the patriarchy, and she’s added both “opened for Madonna” and “wrote a book of essays” to her resume. And with Inside Amy Schumer on hiatus “for the foreseeable future,” Schumer will have the chance to tackle the issues of the day in the forum where she first made her name—likely with as much rauch as ever. Sept. 23 at Verizon Center. $52–$140.—Chris Kelly

Hannibal Buress

Halfway through his most recent comedy special, Hannibal Buress finally addresses the elephant in the room: how his bit about rape allegations against Bill Cosby went viral, took down a once-beloved comedy legend, and caused him a bit of blowback. In typical fashion, Buress deadpans, “Well, that situation got out of hand. Yikes.” Two years on from that infamous set, Buress has capitalized on his increased public profile, stealing scenes as Lincoln the dentist on Broad City and attempting to break into the late-night talk show game. Now, he’s back doing what he does best: returning to the stage for “The Hannibal Montanabal Experience” (outdoing the name of his breakthrough special “Animal Furnace” in the absurdity department) to deliver observational comedy from his unique perspective, his laidback energy underselling sometimes vicious punchlines. Just ask Bill Cosby. Nov. 2 at DAR Constitution Hall. $23–$63.—Chris Kelly

Dylan Moran 

The Irish comedian, best known for his rumpled hair and matching disposition in hilarious shows and movies like Black Books and Shaun of the Dead, will bring his ever-popular “Off the Hook” stand-up routine to the U.S., making fun of everyone in the world, including himself. No one is safe from this hilarious curmudgeon; Moran even has a long bit making fun of children in a sing-song voice—including their annoying “needs” and the ridiculous way they make friends (“I like bats. Do you like bats? Yeah? Brilliant! Let’s build a treehouse!”). Moran always has terribly pessimistic-yet-insightful comments about politics—both in Europe and abroad. It’ll be interesting to hear what he has to say about Clinton, Trump, and the overall craziness of this year’s presidential election. Oct. 20 at The Lincoln Theatre. $35.—Elena Goukassian  

The Bentzen Ball

Brightest Young Things’ Bentzen Ball returns for its fifth (non-consecutive) edition this October with another four days of wide-ranging comedy antics curated by underground darling Tig Notaro. While the full line-up has not been revealed, Notaro has already tabbed alt-cabaret star Bridget Everett (perhaps best known for her raunchy songs on Inside Amy Schumer), the guys behind the Stuff You Should Know podcast, D.C. storytelling troupe Story District, and more. Plus, she will open the festival with “The Most Very Specialest Evening,” a night of comedy that features Aparna Nancherla, a New York-via-DMV comic who released her debut album through Notaro’s Bentzen Ball Records imprint in July. It’s a special homecoming for Nancherla, who’s gone from hosting showcases during the Bentzen Ball’s 2009 debut to headlining its latest incarnation. Oct. 27 at Lincoln Theatre. $30.—Chris Kelly

Norm MacDonald

Like most comic’s comics, comedy nerds all have a favorite Norm MacDonald bit. It doesn’t have to be a joke from his stand-up; perhaps it’s a talk show guest spot, his ESPY Awards monologue, one of his unnumerable O.J. Simpson jokes on Weekend Update, a bit of dialogue from Dirty Work, a meandering, Hemingway-esque Twitter story, or a segment on his short-lived shows and podcast. Soon, that hodgepodge list is likely to include excerpts from Based on a True Story: A Memoir, his first book. As its title suggests, it is both memoir and not; press materials describe it as “dispatches from a road trip to Vegas” that may or may not have happened: Fear and Loathing with comedy instead of drugs. Perhaps his speaking engagement at Sixth & I will pull back the polite, Canadian curtain to reveal the true character of one of comedy’s strongest, most individual voices. Or maybe the audience be left sitting in the awkward pauses, trying to figure out the joke. Sep. 22 at Sixth & I. $23–$50.—Chris Kelly

BOOKS AND TALKS

Kati Marton

Long after even Nikita Khrushchev had abandoned Stalin, an aging literary editor in Budapest continued to be faithful. This editor was British-born American Noel Haviland Field—Harvard alumnus, U.S. State Department employee, and international humanitarian aid worker. Disenchanted with the social and economic situation in the United States in the 1930s, Field became a Soviet informant. In Prague in 1949, Field was kidnapped when his attackers covered his mouth and nose with a chloroform rag. The trouble was, his abductors weren’t working for the U.S. government; they were working for Stalin. The Hungarian secret police tortured Field and his wife. He spent five years in solitary confinement. While Field was being held by the Hungarian secret police, his future biographer, Kati Marton, was a small child growing up in the same city. Around the time of Field’s release, Marton’s own parents—prominent journalists—were themselves arrested. Freed as a result of the short-lived Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the Martons left Budapest and settled some years later in Chevy Chase. Marton, a journalist herself, digs into the Field family’s correspondence and Soviet secret police records to reconstruct the life and ideological commitments that led Field to support Stalin, despite the horrors he suffered at the hands of Stalin’s agents. Sept. 17 at Politics & Prose. Free. —Emily Walz

National Book Festival

It’s been 16 years since then-First Lady Laura Bush and then-Librarian of Congress James H. Billington decided to stage a book festival in D.C. With its increasing popularity and move off the Mall, it’s undergone some growing pains. Last year, attendees complained of difficulty navigating the convention center and that the most popular events filled quickly. Organizers are working to remedy these issues this year by adding a large main stage and allowing more time between events. The festival packs more than 130 events into its 12 hours at the convention center by splitting the program into a multitude of categories with talks, signings and other events unfolding simultaneously all over the convention center. As for who’ll be attending, it’s a big list of heavy hitters, both of the literary and non-literary world: Stephen King, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Salman Rushdie, Shonda Rhimes, Bob Woodward, and Newt Gingrich, among others. Sept. 24 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Free. —Emily Walz

Sebastian Mallaby

As the 13th Federal Reserve chair, Alan Greenspan presided over U.S. monetary policy for 18 years, piloting the U.S. economy through the boom years of the ’90s and to the doorstep of the mid-2000s financial collapse. Though he became one of the nation’s most famous economists, his first profession was as a jazz saxophonist. In his 20s, Greenspan became a devotee of Ayn Rand and a member of her inner circle, pledging his allegiance to the Objectivist philosophy. A libertarian and a firm believer in the market’s ability to govern itself, he famously dismissed concerns about a housing market bubble and objected to regulating derivatives. When times were good, he was lauded. When the economy crashed, members of Congress grilled him on what had gone wrong. To chronicle the turns in Greenspan’s life and career, journalist and author Sebastian Mallaby spent five years researching this book and more than 100 hours interviewing Greenspan himself. The result is a portrait of Greenspan that paints him neither as a maestro nor villain but simply the man behind the curtain. Oct. 17 at Politics & Prose. Free. —Emily Walz

T.C. Boyle

The award-winning L.A. author’s reading at Politics & Prose coincides with the release date of his latest novel, The Terranauts. Like many of T.C. Boyle’s novels, The Terranauts is loosely based on an unusually specific historical event—in this case, the Biosphere 2 experiment in Arizona in the early 1990s. For those who don’t remember, the purpose of the biosphere was to test the viability of a closed ecological system full of a variety of plants and animals, where a small group of voluntary researchers would attempt to sustain themselves for two years. The ultimate goal was to see if an entirely human-engineered, Earth-like space could function properly. Ultimately, the experiment failed, due to both technical difficulties and infighting among the research scientists. Boyle takes this history and frames it into a fictionalized environmental dystopia, implying both an ecological apocalypse and the inevitable human inhabitation of Mars. With only four people inhabiting Boyle’s biosphere for two years, there’s obviously also a lot of drama involved. And, as with all of his novels, the socio-economic connotations weave a red thread throughout. Oct. 25 at Politics & Prose. Free. —Elena Goukassian

Abbi Jacobson

These days, Abbi Jacobson is probably best known for co-creating and co-starring on Broad City, but before her comedy career took off, she studied fine arts at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She’s recently returned to her roots, authoring and illustrating two coloring books in the past few years, and this fall she’ll release Carry This Book (not intended for coloring, though you can do what you want with your copy). The book speculates and catalogues what various luminaries, from Michelle Obama to Amelia Earhart to Bernie Madoff, might be carrying in their purses and briefcases, and is packed full of Jacobson’s delightfully vibrant illustrations. Jacobson will be on hand at Sixth & I to do a reading, which is bound to be flavored with her witty humor. Oct. 27 at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. $35–$50. —Stephanie Rudig

FILM

What’s Up? Docs!

Ever wondered how the now-ubiquitous documentary film evolved? This fall, The Documentary Center at George Washington University introduces its new non-fiction film series, What’s Up? Docs!, to screen some of the most influential documentaries produced. The inaugurating fall season’s theme is, appropriately, roots: Films that defined the documentary form. Starting Sept. 8, films will be screened on the second Thursday of every month at the Marvin Center Auditorium on GWU’s campus, followed by a post-screening discussion. October’s selection, Primary (1960), from legendary director Robert Drew, is the series’ earliest film, and a seminal influence for the form. Other screenings include the 1974 Vietnam War doc Hearts and Minds, the Maysles Brother’s classic 1970 Rolling Stones doc Gimme Shelter, and 1984’s The Times of Harvey Milk, about the slain giant of the gay rights movement. Through Dec. 8 at George Washington University’s Marvin Center Amphitheater. $10–$50. —Shilpa Jindia 

Broken Pots, Broken Dreams: Working in Jingdezhen’s Porcelain Industry

Mass production has fundamentally altered life past the point of living memory. But what about art? Anthropologist Maris Gillette assiduously documents the effects of the modern state and economy on the renowned tradition of porcelain arts in Jingdezhen, the “porcelain capital” of China. With Chinese identity and culture kept at an arm’s length during a time of international upheaval, Gillette’s 2009 documentary provides a rare access point into China, and a ground-level view of immense change. Oct. 1 at the National Museum of American History’s Warner Brothers Theater. Free. —Shilpa Jindia

No Regrets For Our Youth

Legendary Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa was known for a lot of things. Not among them:  strong female leads. In fact, among the 30 films he made in his 57-year career, only one featured a female protagonist, No Regrets For Our Youth. Starring legendary actor Setsuko Hara, who died last September, this collaboration marked a rare departure from her usual partnership with director Yasujiro Ozu. The 1946 film marked the beginning of Japan’s golden age of cinema and a new departure from the strongly propagandistic and militaristic tones seen in Japanese film during the second World War. Kurosawa’s film about a young woman coming to political consciousness still dug into Japan’s wartime atmosphere, but used this strong-willed female rebel to push against societal and social norms.  Oct. 2 at the National Museum of American History’s Warner Brothers Theater. Free. —Shilpa Jindia

Double Exposure: Investigative Film Festival & Symposium

Now in its second year, Double Exposure: Investigative Film Festival & Symposium is hosted by a nonprofit group of deep-dive journalists called 100Reporters. The fest and its conferences bring together reporters and filmmakers who feel a duty toward their fellow man to tie “stirrings of artistic curiosity to practical consequences and groundbreaking storytelling to policy changes.” Though this year’s lineup has yet to be announced, last year’s films included of-the-moment offerings such as Deep Web, Cartel Land, and 2016’s Academy Award Best Picture Spotlight. Said Spotlight director Tom McCarthy of the event: “Every city in America should have an investigative film festival.” Oct. 6–8 at the National Press Club. TBA. —Tricia Olszewski 

Metropolis 

When Fritz Lang’s sci-fi expressionist masterpiece first came out in 1927, the silent film was accompanied by a large orchestra playing music inspired by the likes of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. Since then, numerous musicians—including Freddie Mercury—have composed and performed a variety of new film scores, each creating a completely different feel and interpretation of the film. In November, Constellation Theatre invites local composer and percussionist Tom Teasley to perform his own original score for its Metropolis screenings. It’ll be interesting to see (and hear) just how well the Weimar-era story of a rigidly stratified society in a futuristic urban dystopia melds with Teasley’s rhythmic array of djembes, maracas, and marimbas. Nov. 16–19 at Constellation Theatre Company. $20-$45. —Elena Goukassian

Community Stories Festival

With its myriad film festivals, D.C. may be earning itself a spot on the film map, but the cinema boom is not limited to the city: The scene is flourishing in the DMV suburbs as well. Support local filmmakers—and documentary film incubator Docs In Progress—at the Community Stories Festival in November, a rare festival that highlights and nurtures documentary films about local “people, places, history and happenings.” Screenings will take place at the AFI Silver Theater and the Takoma Park Cultural Center, and the final day will include community workshops at the Docs in Progress office in Silver Spring. Previous entries profiled neighborhood cafes, diners, bookshops, and more—small sites of human collision, and their beautiful, mushrooming effects. Nov. 9–12 at various locations. —Shilpa Jindia

THEATER

Angels in America

When Angels in America: Millennium Approaches premiered in San Francisco back in May of 1991, it was still early in the country’s recognition of AIDS as a national crisis and epidemic. But by the time Tony Kushner’s theatrical meditation on the volatile issues of sexuality, religion, politics, and gender identity premiered on Broadway in 1993, the play—presented in two parts—thrilled audiences and critics alike, while winning the Tony Award for Best Play, and the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. So it’s no surprise that there’s significant hype greeting Round House Theatre’s 25th anniversary production of the Kushner classic with Part I: Millennium Approaches and Part II: Perestroika, presented in repertory. Co-produced by the Olney Theatre Center, and directed by Jason Loewith and Ryan Rilette, the cast of eight, including the perennially excellent D.C. native Tom Story as Prior Walter, will get to inhabit multiple characters throughout the two productions. The production is bound to remind audiences that many of the big social issues attached to the ’80s are still sparking plenty of drama today. Through Oct. 30 at Round House Theatre. $10–$66.—Jerome Langston

Sense and Sensibility

“Jane Austen for those who don’t usually like Jane Austen” was how The New York Times’ Ben Brantley admiringly characterized Bedlam Theatre Company’s high-energy adaption of Jane Austen’s 205-year-old novel last February. That hit production will still be running when the Folger’s local iteration kicks off, this one featuring four-time Helen Hayes Award winner (and Folger regular) Erin Weaver as Marianne Dashwood, the younger of the two Dashwood sisters whose romantic adventures following the death of their father and the loss of their ancestral home have captivated eight or 10 generations of readers. This version begins with the cast in contemporary dress, wandering among the audience, before they begin to dance, gradually assume the steps and then the wardrobe of their 19th century alter egos. It’s the Austen you love, in a modern coat. Through Oct. 30 at the Folger Elizabethan Theatre. $30–75.—Chris Klimek

What We’re Up Against

When Eliza, a young and promising architect, joins a mostly-male firm, she’s confronted with the kind of sexism that sticks her office in a broom closet and prevents her from getting any real work done (“This is what we’re up against,” her male coworkers rail upon discovering her talent). It’s a serious and all-too-relevant subject, surely familiar to many in D.C.’s corporate environments, and  What We’re Up Against has been consistently acclaimed as a biting and devastating satire. As playwright Theresa Rebeck has said, her work generally centers on “a lot of poor behavior.” Through a world of air-duct design and literal glass ceilings—ending with a shocking twist—as much as this poor behavior makes us laugh, it’s impossible to forget that outside the theater, it’s all too real. Sept. 24 to Oct. 15 at Keegan Theatre. $35–$45.—Noa Rosinplotz 

Freaky Friday

It’s every woman’s worst nightmare: waking up to discover she’s turned into her mother. Fortunately for the characters in this world premiere of the musical interpretation of Freaky Friday, it’s not quite that simple. When an enchanted fortune cookie switches the bodies of an aspiring teenage punk rocker and her overworked mother the day before the mother’s wedding, chaos ensues. With a pop-rock score by the Pulitzer-winning composers of Next to Normal and a partnership with Walt Disney Motion Pictures, the musical is sure to carry the same lighthearted but emotional message as its inspirations: We can never truly understand somebody until we learn to walk in their shoes. Oct. 4 to Nov. 20 at Signature Theatre. $40–$99.—Noa Rosinplotz 

Fringe POP 

Continuing Capital Fringe’s quest to create year-round, interdisciplinary programming, Fringe POP is the organization’s first annual festival of short films and plays. Taking place over Columbus Day weekend, Fringe POP will merge short films with 10-minute plays, mixing projections and live performances under the theme of exploring public vs. private spaces. Needless to say, the festival will be experimental; the performance portion will include things like a Boy Scout getting into social media trouble and existential problem solving with an orange peel. If you liked the weird Fringe Festival plays this year, this mini-festival is made just for you. Oct. 6 to 9 at Logan Fringe Arts Space. $25–$34. —Elena Goukassian

The Year of Magical Thinking

The sudden loss of a loved one is immensely difficult to internally process, let alone describe in writing. But Joan Didion did just that following the death of her husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, composing her searing grief memoir The Year of Magical Thinking in 88 days. It earned nearly universal acclaim, and Didion, who had adapted several of her previous novels into screenplays, went on to turn Magical Thinking into a one-woman play starring Vanessa Redgrave. Briefly presented at Studio Theatre in 2011, the play returns to D.C. this fall at Arena Stage, with Kathleen Turner in the role. The author and the actress portraying her couldn’t look more different (Didion’s tiny features and short stature make her look fragile while Turner’s deep, immediately recognizable voice matches her impressive height), and yet both are commanding presences on stage. While Turner is technically playing Didion in this production, she’s also a woman delivering a monologue about death, a topic so relatable that the stage version of the author repeats “it will happen to you.” Given Turner’s past successes on the D.C. stage, her interpretation of Didion’s words will stir emotions in Arena Stage’s intimate Kogod Cradle. Oct. 7 to Nov. 20 at Arena Stage. $70–$90.—Caroline Jones

Kiss

The casting notice for Chilean actor-turned-playwright-and-director Guillermo Calderón’s Kiss—which gets its stateside premiere at Woolly—says that actors should be prepared to perform in a sudsy, soap-operatic style. But there’s more at stake than just people’s feelings in this political potboiler, which is variously synopsized as a piece about two couples with a standing dinner-date wherein they try to forget that they’re living under an oppressive regime and a piece about a group of Western actors trying to understand the Syrian play they’re working on. It could be both! Woolly’s own blurb reports the piece involves “an intense, furtive video chat with what might be an exiled author, living on the run while escaping persecution.” What’s less opaque is that the cast features Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey and Tim Getman, spouses who met performing in Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Injuries at Woolly six years ago, and whose joint appearances together in subsequent Woolly productions like Detroit and The Nether have been unforgettable. Director Yury Urnov was responsible for Woolly’s striking 2014 production of Marie Antoinette. That still doesn’t tell us what Kiss is, really, but it gives us a clue what it won’t be: boring. Oct. 10 to Nov. 6 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. $20–$69.—Chris Klimek

Straight White Men

For anyone who loses sleep wondering about how hard it is to be a straight white man, the answer to your prayers is here. In Young Jean Lee’s play, three (straight, white) successful brothers come home to their father’s house for Christmas. Over Chinese food and beer, the audience is indoctrinated into the world of these men (who, despite their demographic, are portrayed as extremely socially aware): their worries, triumphs, and perspectives on the world around them. Lee, a New York–based playwright whose past works have also focused on race and gender, has a clear-headed but compassionate view of her subjects. Love ’em or hate ’em, it never hurt anybody to spend a couple of hours living like a straight white man. Nov. 9 to Dec. 18 at Studio Theatre. $20–$85.—Noa Rosinplotz 

Titanic: The Musical

We’ve all watched Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet leap off a sinking ship in the 1997 movie Titanic. Lesser known is the musical of the same name, released the same year, and inspired by real-life stories of Titanic passengers from the first-, second-, and third-class, including three Irish girls named Kate and the captain of the doomed boat. The production will be directed by Signature Theater’s Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer, and is based on Peter Stone’s book of the same name. With a Tony award-winning score by Maury Yeston and a cast of more than 50, the visually groundbreaking 360-degree production has all the makings of a success. Dec. 13 to Jan. 29 at Signature Theatre. $40–$108.—Noa Rosinplotz