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Is it just us, or was this winter the worst?

Weather records indicate that it was a bit colder and snowier than usual, and anecdotal reports from around the Washington City Paper office confirm that it felt longer, grayer, and generally Scroogier (climate-changier?) than any season in recent memory.

That’s all to say that this summer, you deserve an extra-special break. You suffered through too many pant hems soaked through with salt and slush; now dig out your booty shorts and get thee to a disco-pop dance party. You shivered in thick sweaters because your roommates were too cheap to turn up the heat; here’s your time to stroll in the sunshine at a festival or street fair. You rode three different buses to show up for that art opening on the darkest day of the year; reward yourself with a long, breezy bike ride to a gallery you’ve never seen before.

Our guide to the sunnier, sweatier months is full of D.C.’s best ways to fill your free time: concerts galore, plus visual art exhibitions, theater productions, film screenings, book talks, and a few festivals that include just about all of the above. Your time for hibernation has passed—claim your fair share of summer fun before the chill rolls back around. Your vitamin D deficiency will thank you. —Christina Cauterucci

Cover illustration by John-Patrick Thomas

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“Where are they now, these swarthy, seductive male virtuosos?” asked a narrow-minded classical music critic a few years back, lamenting the decline of machismo among violinists ever since the alpha male days of Niccolò Paganini, who “didn’t play the violin; he stroked it.” Paganini played in the early 1800s, so we have no witnesses to that particular fevered fantasy. But he sure was Italian, which I guess counts as swarthy. Swarthiness apparently makes Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos the new standard bearer of masculinity among violinists, here to wrest the instrument from the clutches of today’s mostly “pale, female, and sylph-like” soloists, along with a few introverted, elf-like girlie-men. (“Blonde too, in many cases.”) Kavakos might not see himself that way—in fact, nowadays, he sees himself as much a conductor as a soloist, and will perform both duties with the National Symphony Orchestra—but whatever he does, he obviously has a lot of ethnic and heteronormative stereotypes to live up to when he takes the stage. May 14–16 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. $10–$85. —Mike Paarlberg

For a short while, around the time its beloved Dear Science was released in 2008, Brooklyn art-rock group TV on the Radio may have been the buzziest of all buzz bands. But last year’s Seeds—TV on the Radio’s fifth record and first since the death of bassist Gerard Smith—came and went in relative quiet. Nevertheless, the band’s fussy, experimental spirit persists. Seeds boldly forgoes TV on the Radio’s trademark swirls of feedback and noise in favor of a pop sharpness, helping accentuate the vulnerability of lead singer Tunde Adebimpe’s voice and lyrics. In short, TV on the Radio may not be the darling act of indie rock at the moment. But when the band runs through its hefty catalogue of consistently great albums and songs at Echostage, it’ll feel like 2008 all over again. May 19 at Echostage. $40. —Dean Essner

Classical programs that feature works by composers who are not dead and not men are a rarity, so it’s nice to see Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho get some love from the Library of Congress and its commissioning fund for new music. Saariaho has her champions in Washington: Her Orion was included in a National Symphony Orchestra program in 2013 that featured violinist and fellow Finn Pekka Kuusisto. If that piece is any indication, Saariaho’s music can be hard to wrap one’s head around. She’s particularly fond of incessant droning and weird percussion—gongs, tubular bells, thundersticks—and critics tend to attach words like “existential” to her work, which isn’t promising if you’re a fan of more fun composers like, say, Mozart. Then again, if you like Mogwai, this might be up your alley. Just in case her new piano trio composition gets a little too angsty, violinist Jennifer Koh, cellist Anssi Karttunen, and pianist Benjamin Hochman will even out the program with a few Ravel and Debussy sonatas. May 22 at the Library of Congress Coolidge Auditorium. Free. —Mike Paarlberg

Twenty years ago, the Rentals, fronted by former Weezer bassist Matt Sharp, scored a modern rock hit with the buoyant singalong “Friends Of P.” The Rentals failed to find continued mainstream success in the same way Rivers Cuomo and Weezer did, but the band developed a cult following as its Moog-heavy power-pop confections aged. Last year, the group released Lost In Alphaville, its third full-length album and first since 1999. Sharp doesn’t take any major songwriting risks on Lost In Alphaville, but tight session drumming by Patrick Carney of the Black Keys and vocal features from Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius help add new levels of clarity and variation to his concise, bright arrangements. The Rentals may appear unsophisticated compared to current buzz bands that incorporate dense layers of electronics into their music, but Sharp’s pet project remains goofy, charming, and most importantly, a lot of fun. May 23 at the Rock & Roll Hotel. $20. —Dan Singer

Houston resident C.J. Chenier has been playing accordion with the Red Hot Louisiana Band since 1987, when he took over for his late father, “King of Zydeco” Clifton Chenier. He was once the group’s sax player, but Chenier now uses his deep voice for singing and his hands for working the squeezebox. The group’s songbook covers speedy zydeco, slower blues, rockin’ boogie, and waltzes. Chenier pens some songs himself, but he and the group have also transformed cuts by PJ Harvey, Hank Williams, Van Morrison, Tom Waits, and Curtis Mayfield. Naturally, he and the band add the bouncy accordion tones, rubboard scraping, and percussive beats to dance tunes from his dad including “Hot Tamale Baby” and “Can’t Sit Down.” May 28 at Artisphere. $20. —Steve Kiviat

Death’s story, as detailed in the 2012 documentary A Band Called Death, goes like this: In 1971, four brothers formed Death, arguably the very first punk band in the world. They were signed to a Detroit label in 1976, recorded and released two singles, and then disbanded in 1977. Over the 35 years that followed, the band’s records mysteriously started popping up in record stores and at garage sales across the country, and Death gained a cult-like following. Its music, which sounded similar to and yet predated modern punk bands, had record collectors salivating and music historians scratching their heads. When the documentary came out, the band reformed, lost its air of mystery, and gained a label. And although it’s down one original member, Death still rocks as hard as they used to. May 28 at Black Cat. $20-$25. —Tim Regan

With its tongue-in-cheek name and whimsical performances, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah had indie rock fans’ hearts from its first chorus of, well, clapping. Thanks to the tastemaking capacity of MySpace and LiveJournal, the band’s 2005 self-titled debut album generated some serious blog buzz, making the Philly/Brooklyn-based fivepiece a college radio favorite without a record label. But while its eruption onto the scene can be traced to interwebs magic, singer Alec Ounsworth’s enticingly off-kilter, David Byrne-esque vocals, paired with the band’s indiscriminate use of instrumentation—harps, brass, xylophones, megaphones—made CYHSY one of most lauded indie acts of the mid-2000s. In honor of the band’s 10-year anniversary, its members will perform its debut LP in full, playing album favorites like “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” and “Clap Your Hands!” to a crowd that has likely moved on from MySpace, but still craves the art rock it brought to the masses. May 29 at Rock & Roll Hotel. $20. —Carey Hodges

In 1978, Joe Ely and his band were playing in London. Members of the Clash showed up and told the Lubbock, Texas singer how much they loved his Honky Tonk Masquerade. Inspired by Ely’s twangy roadhouse sounds and enjoying their late-night carousing, the Clash soon had Ely and his band opening for its gigs on both sides of the Atlantic. After dabbling with synthesizers in the early ’80s and reuniting in the late ’90s with his early-’70s folk-rock quartet, the Flatlanders, Ely released the album Satisfied at Last in 2011 and his first novel, Reverb, in 2014. Ely’s profile is lower than when he was giving Spanish lyric tips to Joe Strummer, but he’s still singing barstool tales of the working class that mix shots of country, rock, and folk. June 1 at the Birchmere. $25. —Steve Kiviat

The hills of East Tennessee are better known for inspiring banjo breakdowns than rousing perplexing electronic compositions, but Johnson City native Holly Herndon is a cutting-edge creator of the latter. A visual artist, composer, and electronic musician, Herndon, who is currently working toward a Ph.D. in composition at Stanford, employs her eerie pretty voice and laptop to create wonderfully weird, glitchy arrangements laced with techno samples and layered with heavily manipulated vocals. She’s even used custom-made software that converts her Internet browsing history into audio signals to explore themes of society’s dependence on technology. Herndon’s bass-heavy arrangements are generally synced with video elements as well, disorienting audiences with colorful, disjointed videos that loop between real and animated images, creating an even more immersive live experience. June 3 at DC9. $12–$14. —Carey Hodges

On Older Boys, the second album from D.C. import Art Sorority For Girls, frontman Daoud Tyler-Ameen shows off his keen ear for melody and knack for clever wordplay to great effect. Highlights like “Man With a Van,” a contemplative ditty sung from the perspective of a personified New York City—Tyler-Ameen’s former home—weave cryptic rhymes through utterly infectious hooks. Tyler-Ameen’s acoustic guitar-led arrangements are relatively sparse, and as a result, his craftsmanship is on full display throughout. His brand of indie pop takes cues from the passionate emoting of the Get Up Kids and the pop-culture fixations of Fountains of Wayne, adding layers of familiarity and vulnerability to his songs far beyond each catchy chorus. In “Man With A Van,” the Big Apple tells Tyler-Ameen it “prays for your new neighbors,” but the D.C. music community should be thrilled to have a band like Art Sorority For Girls join its ranks. June 4 at the Black Cat Backstage. $10. —Dan Singer

When Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was born in 1974, his uncle, Pakistani singing legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, announced he would tutor his nephew in the art of singing Qawwali, the Sufi devotional music of South Asia. At 3, Rahat was singing, and by 7 he’d started formal training. In the years following his uncle’s death in 1997, Rahat has become the biggest star of the genre. Rahat sings in a high-pitched voice that gradually becomes louder and more dramatic on each song. He improvises, stretches out notes, and engages in call and response with backing singers over a pump organ and percussive tablas and dholak drums. Since 2004, Rahat has also reached audiences by contributing songs to Bollywood movie soundtracks. No matter the style, count on Rahat to imbue his material with a hypnotic fervor. June 6 at DAR Constitution Hall. $37-$297. —Steve Kiviat

At one point, U.K. punk and post-punk pioneer Wire was so averse to playing its past material that it toured with a Wire tribute band as its opening act. Seriously. The band, which has influenced later acts from Black Flag to Blur, has since loosened up a bit, playing “what we feel like playing,” according to singer/guitarist Colin Newman. The group’s 1977 debut, Pink Flag, was lauded for its minimalist approach, pairing dissonant guitar licks with spacey amp noise, and the quartet has experimented with synth-tinged prog rock and catchy harmonies that verge on power pop. Live, the legends provide a head-spinning catalogue, jumping from earsplitting growls to gorgeous instrumental runs. June 6 at the Black Cat. $20. —Carey Hodges

Spoiler alert: If you’re hoping the person behind Rhye’s vocals is a sultry woman, you’re going to be disappointed. Despite the name of its debut album, Woman, the R&B duo is comprised of two men, including singer Mike Milosh, whose silky, soothing voice is easily mistaken for a gal’s. Rhye’s music, which is often compared to the xx’s, might be a little too intimate for a first date, but would be perfect for a couple dizzy in the honeymoon period or riding the waves of a more mature relationship. The soft, subtle beats and sensual lyrics will make you want to take a spontaneous road trip to Assateague, where you’ll build a bonfire, make sweet love on the beach (National Park Service rules be damned!), and wish the summer could last forever. June 10 at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. $22–$25. —Natalie Villacorta

On paper, Lana Del Rey and Grimes seem to be polar opposites. The former is a torch singer whose slow, swooning ballads from last year’s Ultraviolence sound as if they were beamed in from the late ’60s or early ’70s. The latter is a plucky, futuristic electronic artist whose songs never lack in energy, as evidenced by her head-spinning breakout 2012 album Visions. Nonetheless, a bill featuring both Lana Del Rey and Grimes feels like a rare, exclusive pop summit, curated specifically to showcase two of the more talented young artists in music today. All that’s missing is an appearance from Lorde. June 11 at Jiffy Lube Live. $25–$79.50. —Dean Essner

You probably liked at least one Weird Al song when you were a kid. Chances are, you probably still like that song. Nostalgia seekers, rejoice: The greatest musical parodist that ever lived plays most of his greatest hits on tour. At Wolf Trap’s outdoor Filene Center, Weird Al-oholics can squeal along to classics like “Eat It” and “White and Nerdy” while jamming to such recent pop parodies as “Handy,” a remodeling-themed riff on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy.” Ask any hardcore Al fan and she’ll tell you the four-time Grammy winner and his band of merrimakers stage dazzling visual presentations that are equal parts funny and impressive. June 12 at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center. $40-65. —Tim Regan

It’s wise to be skeptical of SXSW hype. On the heels of the annual Austin festival, a handful of bands and musicians embark on successful American tours with more sold-out gigs than they normally deserve. Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett is the latest SXSW success story, but praise for her is more genuine than hype-driven: She’s wowed rock fans with her tight live band and deadpan delivery. Her songs are full of wry storytelling—fans of the Mountain Goats and Clem Snide will treasure her lyrics—and her instrumentals are a perfect complement, full of hooks and easygoing distortion. Barnett’s songs aren’t anthems; she connects to listeners like a friend might, the sort that tells a bittersweet yarn over drinks or a greasy breakfast. June 13 at 9:30 Club. Sold out. —Alan Zilberman

All you need to know about Neko Case is that she’s got an otherworldly, beautiful voice, a badass temperament, and a lot of songs to sing. Case’s latest album, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, is a testament to the artist’s childhood, love life, and losses sustained over the years. Soulful songs like “Night Still Comes,” a lighter-waving guitar-and-drum waltz, are balanced out by dancier tracks like Case’s fist-shaking rock anthem, “Man.” Onstage, Case is usually genuine and loving, able to make thousand-seat venues feel like barroom shows. Prepare yourself for emotions. You’ll have a lot of ’em. June 15 at the Lincoln Theatre. $45. —Tim Regan

Psych rock is having a moment. Over the past year or so, trippy, fuzzed-out guitar licks have made an appearance on everything from big-time country hits to mixtapes. But while some acts just accent their sound with woozy rhythms and acid-tinged guitar solos, the Portland-based indie rockers of Unknown Mortal Orchestra have made the genre their own. New Zealand expat Ruban Nielson fronts the band, although the group initially attracted attention for its anonymity. True to its name, it released its first ode to lo-fi, 2010’s “Ffunny Ffrends,” via a Bandcamp page, immediately racking up loads of blog love and heavy anticipation for its debut self-titled LP. The trio released a follow-up, II, in 2013, and its third LP, Multi-Love, is scheduled to drop later this month. Live, Nielson’s soulful falsetto soars above layers of druggy percussion and jittery riffs, turning the venue of the moment into a real-life lava lamp of kaleidoscopic grooves and glowing hooks. June 15 at U Street Music Hall. $17. —Carey Hodges

Just because Shamir isn’t of legal drinking age doesn’t mean his party persona lacks the extravagant sheen of any club kid from his hometown of Las Vegas. The self-possessed dance-pop wunderkind pairs polyrhythmic disco beats with a candy-sweet falsetto and an attitude tart enough to make a Sour Patch Kid’s eyes water. Though Shamir’s debut single “On The Regular” dropped last fall, with all its whistles, cowbells, and rib-quaking bass, it makes a better backdrop for all the fabulous, cutie-filled kikis you’ll have this summer. “Five foot 10, about a buck-20/Skinny as a rod but still won’t fuck with me,” Shamir raps on the track. Heed his warning, but dance your jewels off anyway. June 16 at U Street Music Hall. $15. —Christina Cauterucci

Juicy J’s career has been a series of unexpected twists. A decade ago, he got his first taste of mainstream success with the Memphis rap outfit Three 6 Mafia, which, surprisingly, claimed the Oscar for Best Original Song at the 2006 Academy Awards. Although Juicy J and the rest of the group absorbed as much of the resulting national acclaim as possible (a short-lived reality series on MTV; appearances everywhere), that moment proved to be the group’s pinnacle. But Juicy J’s arc entered an unexpected second phase at the beginning of this decade when he aligned with fellow perpetually stoned rapper Wiz Khalifa. Despite turning 40 this year, Juicy J maintains the exuberance of an artist half his age. His subject matter focuses almost exclusively on money, partying, and assorted forms of intoxication, but his popularity as a solo artist proves that those topics—and his energy—resonate with a sizable audience. As he extends a middle finger to age, Juicy J aims to keep proving that his comeback is no fluke. June 17 at the Fillmore Silver Spring. $29.50. —Julian Kimble

Co-founded by Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile, this band from Philly has been doing pretty well for itself lately. Although Vile left the group a few years ago to pursue a happily prolific and incredibly successful solo career, Granduciel has been leading the War on Drugs in similarly promising directions, both in terms of creative output and popular success. The band’s most recent record, Lost in a Dream, a shoegazy take on Americana, came out to rave reviews across the board, selling out at record stores and topping numerous best of 2014 lists. (Consequence of Sound named the War on Drugs its band of the year and Lost in a Dream album of the year, giving it a rare A+ rating.) It should come as no surprise, then, that both its shows at 9:30 Club are already sold out. June 20 at 9:30 Club. Sold out. —Elena Goukassian

Surprise! Blonde Redhead is still relevant. But like anything else 20 years old, the band has undergone some serious changes over the years. Blonde Redhead’s 2014 release, Barragán, is the aural equivalent to running into an old friend from college: There are some things you recognize, and a lot of things you don’t. For instance, lead singer Kazu Makino’s haunting vocals and grooving guitar riffs are still there, as are the reverb effects. But the band is more experimental than ever before. Songs like “The One That I Love” meander into minimalist territory with acoustic guitar and even harpsichord melodies. Though you should prepare to dance your ass off at this show, it would be wise to get ready for some emotional introspection, too. June 25 at the Black Cat. $20. —Tim Regan

There are musical enigmas, and then there’s Death Grips. The Sacramento punk-rap trio, composed of MC Ride, drum wizard Zach Hill, and keyboardist Andy Morin, is famously known for its bizarre antics, which include not showing up to a 2013 Lollapalooza gig, using a photo of Hill’s erect penis on an album cover, and calling it quits right before an extensive summer tour with Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden last year. But, to no one’s surprise, Death Grips is playing live again, and a ticket to see one of their irate, high-energy performances is worth it if all goes according to plan. However, with MC Ride, Hill, and Morin, it’s important to expect the unexpected. July 11 at 9:30 Club. Sold out. —Dean Essner

It would be difficult to overstate the impact that Dinosaur Jr.’s feedback-drenched hooks and wailing guitar solos have had on the last 25 years of alternative and indie rock. Although the group’s influence has been thoroughly canonized in texts like Michael Azerrad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life, Dinosaur Jr. also deserves praise for being the rare legacy act that transforms its hyped reunion into far more than a nostalgic cash grab. Dinosaur Jr.’s victory lap is entering its 10th year, and the three albumsthat members J. Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph have released during this stretch are surprisingly vital and highly enjoyable. Expect to sing along to classics like “Start Choppin’” and “Freak Scene” when Dinosaur Jr. headlines the Black Cat, but don’t discount gems like 2012’s “Watch The Corners” that showcase the distorted delights of the trio’s second wind. July 19 at the Black Cat. $25-$30. —Dan Singer

My Morning Jacket’s marathon sets at Merriweather Post Pavilion have become something of a summer tradition for area concertgoers. The band’s arena-ready anthems, which meld meandering classic-rock riffs with rootsy harmonies and psychedelic flourishes, go down smoothly alongside a warm July evening and a cold beer. Enigmatic frontman Jim James has a captivating stage presence; he’s got big hair and a bigger voice, and he prances around like a hyperactive child wearing a cape and a Roland sampler around his neck. My Morning Jacket is touring behind a new album, May’s The Waterfall, for the first time since 2011. Judging by the band’s brief set on the National Mall at the Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day festival last month, the colorful grandiosity of songs like “Believe (Nobody Knows)” and “Big Decisions” is bound to please longtime fans and reel in some new ones. July 26 at Merriweather Post Pavilion. $40-$55. —Dan Singer

Omara “Bombino” Moctar hails from Niger, but his hypnotic Saharan rock has captivated blues-craving audiences beyond the borders of his West African home. Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys counts himself as one of the Tuareg guitarist’s biggest fans, securing a producing stint on the artist’s third LP, Nomad. Auerbach’s signature southern grit adds a touch of Nashville cool to the album’s swirling guitar riffs, empowering chants, and psychedelic percussion, giving fluid arrangements a bit more of a structured bite. In addition to creating his groovy desert rock, the artist is also an outspoken social activist for the Ifoghas tribe. July 31 at the Hamilton. $20–$30. —Carey Hodges

The do-it-yourself ethos describes more than just crafty Pinterest users. It is also a music movement that eschews commercialism altogether, with a focus on affordability, engagement, and community. Last year’s In It Together Fest was all about DIY: Bands like Radiator Hospital and Two Inch Astronaut performed at St. Stephen’s church in Columbia Heights, and there were house shows scattered throughout the city at venues like the Dougout and Hole in the Sky. Through volunteers and donations, organizers hope this year’s fest will be bigger and louder than the last. The lineup has not been announced yet, but there are reasons to get excited: In It Together Fest’s website features a zine about last year’s fest, and DZ Records is selling a mixtape of the best 2014 acts online. July 31 and Aug. 1 at various locations. Donations suggested. —Alan Zilberman

Imagine for a moment a beautiful what-if: Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan trysting in Britain and having a kid of their own. The love child of that holy union, if only it had been, might have sounded just a bit like Laura Marling, a lush-voiced singer-storyteller out of England. On her fifth album now—at just 25 years old—Marling has lately made the same transition as Dylan did once upon a time, infusing her once-purely acoustic sounds with a few strummed on electric guitar. Whatever the instrument, though, the beating heart of her music remains the same: a voice that seems to live easily in ambiguity. Flirting at once with menace and melancholy, strength and vulnerability, Marling’s voice recalls a line from another artist who had a way with words—Walt Whitman. It’s larger than life; it contains multitudes. July 31 at 9:30 Club. $30. —Colin Dwyer

In 2014, Juan Formell—the Cuban composer, arranger, and bass player who founded one of the island’s top Afro-Caribbean dance bands, Los Van Van—died at 71. Now Los Van Van, led by Juan’s percussionist son, Samuel, will again be touring the U.S. Some Cuban exiles criticized Juan for being too supportive of Fidel Castro, but Samuel has recently called for free elections in the country. On the music side of things, the group has been hailed for updating traditional Cuban charanga with elements of western pop, rock, funk, disco, and hip-hop. Although the specific singers in this large outfit have changed many times over the years, whoever is leading the call and response vocals over the infectious polyrhythms is often warbling and chanting Juan Formell’s subtle lyrics that, while not political, offer witty social commentary hidden in puns and double entendres. Aug. 7 at the Howard Theatre. $40-300. —Steve Kiviat

At 21, Earl Sweatshirt is probably too young to be an asocial curmudgeon, but his latest album, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, is all the better for it. The album is entirely self-produced, and it feels like he’s finally come into his own, developing a Grinch-like persona that’s helped him escape the overbearing shadow of Odd Future. As it turns out, Earl actually does venture outside the studio on occasion, if only to hit the road and perform the fruits of his solitude. This summer, he’ll be accompanied by longtime collaborator and Def Jam recording artist Vince Staples, among others, on the Not Redy 2 Leave Tour. Aug. 23 at the Fillmore Silver Spring. $28.50. —Harold Stallworth

When a bunch of veteran Cuban musicians were recruited to play together in Havana and record The Buena Vista Social Club, a 1997 album of old-school mambos, cha-chas and boleros, virtually no one would have predicted it would sell 8 million copies. Its success was helped along by a 1999 Wim Wenders documentary and the many tours on which these talented and charming singers and instrumentalists embarked. Although a number of the original performers have died, a Buena Vista lineup guided by longtime bandleader Jesus “Aguaje” Ramos that includes some returning members will be playing on the Adios Tour. This year’s cast includes masterful singer Omara Portuondo, cowboy-hat-wearing guitarist Eliades Ochoa, laud player Barbarito Torres, and trumpeter Guajiro Mirabal. No mere cute novelty—these folks should have the audience up and dancing. Aug. 29 at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center. $25-$35. —Steve Kiviat

In 2013, the second Trillectro music festival was a mixed success: organizers were forced to hand out refunds and turn away eager attendees at the entrance of the Half Street Fairgrounds. It became clear that the festival needed a larger venue at which to continue its rapid expansion from the cool idea to fuse cousins EDM and hip-hop to a national magnet. With the festival’s 2013 woes in mind, the organizers moved the event to the Festival Grounds at RFK Stadium. After surviving periods of rain and placing local talent like Diamond District, GoldLink, and Ras Nebyu alongside national acts like Migos, Big Sean, and Travis Scott, Trillectro further legitimized itself, proving that it was worthy of the move. As the fourth installment looms, so does the question of how Trillectro can push itself forward once more. The excitement lies in waiting to find out. Date and price to be announced. —Julian Kimble

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What’s in the water this spring? D.C. will see not one, not two but three different exhibits showcasing works in a museum’s own collection. The National Gallery of Art will mount two of them, “In Light of the Past: Twenty-Five Years of Photography at the National Gallery of Art” and “The Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs at the National Gallery of Art.” Meanwhile, across town, the Phillips Collection will mount “American Moments: Photographs from The Phillips Collection.” The reason for the flurry of navel-gazing is unclear, beyond—one presumes—lower costs for organization and mounting. Of the three, the most promising seems to be the contemporary exhibit at NGA, which will at least feature the work of a range of artists who aren’t longstanding members of the photographic canon, including Sophie Calle, Adam Fuss, Idris Khan, Vera Lutter, Chris McCaw, and Christian Marclay. To July 26 at National Gallery of Art. Free; to Sept. 3 at National Gallery of Art. Free; June 6–Sept. 13 at Phillips Collection. $10–$12. —Louis Jacobson

Imagine walking into James McNeill Whistler’s famous Peacock Room and seeing paint dripping from the walls and broken shelves with vases falling off of them. This is contemporary painter Darren Waterston’s plan, but don’t worry: He’s not going to destroy the actual Peacock Room. Waterston is just taking cues from the room’s tumultuous history in recreating it. The Sackler describes Waterston’s installation as a “decadent ruin collapsing under the weight of its own creative excess,” and it alludes to the strained relationship between Whistler and British shipping magnate Frederick Richards Leyland, who allowed Whistler to work on the dining room in his London townhouse. Whistler and Leyland were friends but had an explosive falling-out while the Peacock Room was under construction, which the artist represented by painting two fighting peacocks on one of the walls, breaking into Leyland’s house in order to do so. Leyland later forced Whistler into bankruptcy. “Filthy Lucre” will be on display at the Sackler as part of the museum’s “Peacock Room REMIX,” which will also include special exhibitions of Whistler’s portraits of the Leyland family, sketches of the Peacock Room’s development, and on the West’s continued love affair with Chinese blue-and-white porcelain. May 16–Jan. 2016 at Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Free. —Elena Goukassian

Shirin Neshat’s career took off after 1993, when she debuted her controversial images of chador-clad women, including herself, brandishing guns and covered in calligraphed lines of Persian poetry. She’s since become an internationally acclaimed artist whose foremost productions have been in photography and video. Her dual-screen video installation, “Turbulent,” won the First International Prize at the 48th Venice Biennale. D.C. now has the opportunity to host these works and more in the Hirshhorn’s retrospective of the Iranian-American artist. It’s shocking that this is Neshat’s first major exhibition in D.C., given the politically charged dialogue inherent in her work and much-lauded previous showings of it across the globe and in smaller U.S. cities. Neshat’s complicated gender politics force viewers to contemplate their own culture’s gender relations. In black and white or color, film or photo, Neshat’s lush imagery is ripe for reflection, its rich layers of meaning unfolding in ways not always apparent at first glance. Thanks to some impeccable timing (her exhibitions too often coincide with new crises between the U.S. and Iran), this could be the summer exhibition to which viewers return more than once. May 18–Sept. 20 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Free. —Erin Devine

Local photographer Larry Cook excels at political portraiture. The Hamiltonian fellow, whose second solo show at the gallery, “Stockholm Syndrome,” opens this month, takes photos that grapple with masculinity, American identity, and the black experience in striking juxtapositions. One set of his images includes pictures of young black men wearing graduation robes alongside ones of old white men in front of flashy go-go backdrops; another series contains portraits of members of the Bloods, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Crips—a patriotic bunch, it would seem, in red, white, and blue. Not all of Cook’s work speaks in such frank tones—he also creates beautiful photos of black families and intimate video portraits—but his technical skill and unapologetic point of view make each piece worth talking about. May 19–June 20 at Hamiltonian Gallery. Free. —Christina Cauterucci

The National Portrait Gallery is known to trot out an image of a topical or recently deceased celebrity and hang it in a place of prominence in the museum. A new exhibition this summer asks viewers to question how we see celebrities, people with whom we’ll most likely interact through images alone. Some, like Annie Leibovitz’s opulent portrait of opera diva Renée Fleming and Will Cotton’s cupcake treatment of Katy Perry, perpetuate the celebrity-as-other idea while others, like Colin Davidson’s close-up image of Brad Pitt and Rick Chapman’s stark photo of Michael Phelps, seem to humanize these beings who might as well live on a different planet. Confronting their faces allows you to consider your opinion of them and how they achieved the title of “celebrity” in a much less noxious way than your typical TMZ paparazzo. May 22–July 10, 2016 at the National Portrait Gallery. Free. —Caroline Jones

Partnerships between real estate firms and art collectives aren’t exactly the norm, which is why the deal brokered between Brookland’s Menkiti Group and ReCreative Spaces generated some buzz in the neighborhood when it was announced back in March. The arts group is using part of a commercial structure at 1613 Rhode Island Ave. NE as an exhibition space sans rent while the owner, Menkiti Group, hunts for a paying tenant. Presented by ReCreative, (Up)Rising Festival is a free event that, according to the organization, will encourage participants to actively engaged with curated art installations and multi-faceted performances. The festival will take place in vacant spaces and local business along the 1600 to 2400 blocks of Rhode Island Avenue NE—Grassroots Gourmet, Zeke’s Coffee, and Good Foods Market, to name a few—and will feature contributions from Michael Auger, Aztec Sun Band, and more. May 24 between the 1600 and 2400 blocks of Rhode Island Avenue NE. Free. —Carey Hodges

In its fourth installment of “Women to Watch,” a biennial exhibition of emerging national and international artists, the National Museum for Women in the Arts has chosen a thematic exploration of the “natural world,” with all the complexity that term now implies. A central discourse in feminist art history was that, although women would embody subjects of high art as model or muse, the hegemony would not recognize or legitimize women as the artistic voices that created those works. Women then came to symbolize nurturing serenity and beauty, as well as primordial and unpredictable force. The NMWA will concurrently host a second exhibition, “Super Natural,” which features the most notable artists from its collection taking on “Mother Nature.” Between these two exhibitions, the dialogue on women and their relation to nature won’t get short shrift this June—something to think about this summer as you enjoy the great outdoors. June 5–13 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. $8–$10. —Erin Devine

Korean-American artist Nam June Paik is often referred to as the father of video art. You know that giant map of the U.S. at the American Art Museum made out of stacked TVs, where the states are outlined in neon lights? That’s his. Although Paik died in 2006, his obsession with manipulating television screens still resonates. Local musician/philosopher Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid) will pay tribute to the artist through a performance that melds contemporary art and music. The show will include a recent Miller composition juxtaposing the urban landscapes of Seoul and New York and a “virtual cello quartet and installation” based on Paik’s early collaborations with the “topless cellist” Charlotte Moorman. Will Miller take his shirt of as part off the homage? We’ll see. June 21 at Freer Gallery of Art. Free. —Elena Goukassian

This year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival will be reduced in size because the National Park Service has been installing fancy irrigated turf on large sections of the mall. Only Peru will be celebrated, (where most other years have featured two or more themes). Events will take place on smaller areas near the Museum of the American Indian. Despite the reduced scale, organizers have, as usual, done an exemplary job lining up musicians, dancers, craftspeople, and food caterers from Peru or the Peruvian diaspora. No fest is complete without food, so Peruvian Brothers, Kikiriki Restaurant, El Carbonazo, and Firenzes Gelateria will be serving up Peruvian chicken, pork sandwiches, quinoa salad, and gelato. Evening concert highlights will include Afro-Peruvian divas Eva Ayllón and Susana Baca warbling over full bands that feature box-drum percussionists. Daytime offerings will include Amazonian cumbia group Los Wemblers de Iquitos, as well as the Northern Peruvian folk music and dance of Marinera Norteña, led by Lucy de Mantilla. June 24–28 and July 1–5 on the National Mall. Free. —Steve Kiviat

The National Portrait Gallery gets historical and political with a photography exhibition focusing on Latino and women’s rights activist Dolores Huerta. Though often overshadowed by the legacy of Cesar Chavez, with whom she founded what was then known as the National Farm Workers Association in 1962, Huerta has been and still is a key player in the Latino rights movement. After being severely beaten by members of the San Francisco Police Department at a protest in 1988, Huerta also became a women’s rights activist, and she toured around the country in 2000 encouraging Latinas to run for public office. In 2012, President Obama presented Huerta with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Although this exhibition only covers her actions between 1962 and 1975 (when the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act was passed), Huerta is still active, advocating for the working poor, women, and children across the country. July 3–May 15, 2016 at National Portrait Gallery. Free. —Elena Goukassian

Leaping into a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit might be a good way to feel like a kid again. It’s also a good way to get banned from the premises by security. Starting July 4, grown-ups won’t have to disturb the peace to get their ball pit fix. In its upcoming interactive exhibit, “The BEACH,” the National Building Museum will pack an all-white enclosure with nearly 1 million recyclable, translucent plastic balls. Visitors will be able to wade out into the sea of fist-sized orbs or relax on beach chairs under umbrellas on a 50-foot wide “shoreline.” And since no beach outing would feel right without a trip to the snack stand, the museum is partnering with Union Kitchen to sell refreshments. Just make sure to leave your surfboard at home: The only waves you’ll encounter here will be the nostalgic kind. July 4–Sept. 7 at National Building Museum. $5–$16. —Tim Regan

I’m a sucker for the photobook: You get great art, and you look smart when you strategically place it on a coffee table. What’s not to love? Apparently, the National Gallery of Art gets it, because it’s mounting an exhibition titled “From the Library: Photobooks After Frank.” The Frank in question is Robert Frank, whose The Americans was published in the United States in 1959; it may not have been the first photography book to be published, but it was clearly an influential one. Attempting a survey exhibition of the past half-century of photo books offers some good raw material, but mounting such an exhibition will be tricky if curators don’t want visitors simply judging books by their covers. Aug. 8–Feb. 7, 2016 at National Gallery of Art. Free. —Louis Jacobson

When you think of the D.C. art museums that are in tune with current events, the Freer and Sackler galleries don’t necessarily come to mind. But an upcoming exhibit of works by Lara Baladi breaks that mold. An Egyptian-Lebanese artist based in Cairo, Baladi has taken a leading role in collecting digital photography and video from the Tahrir Square uprising of 2011. Among other things, Baladi has created an audio-visual archive of the Egyptian revolution that will be accessible to the public. Her own works of art come in many forms, including performance, architectural installations, photography, collage, sound, sculpture, and even perfume. Particularly inspired examples range from an ephemeral installation of a tower made of bricks and cement to “digitally woven tapestries” to a work made of “marble, photography printed on porcelain, trompe l’oeil, and permanent pigment printed digital photo-collage on gesso-coated aluminum.” Aug. 29 –June 5, 2016 at Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Free. —Louis Jacobson

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The title of Andrew Ervin’s latest novel, Burning Down George Orwell’s House, should pique the interest of book nerds of all walks. Its protagonist, Ray Welter, is a former big-shot advertising executive from Chicago who is obsessed with the late literary icon—so much so that he eventually leaves the country for Jura, an island off the coast of Scotland, where he has rented the very house in which 1984 was said to have been written. Thankfully, the story is saturated in enough world-class scotch and Old World paranormality—werewolves, to be specific—to keep it from veering into Misery territory. May 23 at Politics & Prose. Free. —Harold Stallworth

Ready or not, Fight Club 2 is coming—in the form of a series of 10 comic books. Almost 20 years after publishing the original novel that, among other things, gave us all a new perspective on bar soap, Chuck Palahniuk is partnering with Dark Horse Comics and artists David Mack and Cameron Stewart to bring us up to date on the unnamed protagonist’s midlife crisis and the disastrous return of Tyler Durden, his violently sociopathic alter ego. Palahniuk will read from both issue No. 1 of Fight Club 2 and his new (and first) collection of short stories, Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread. The night also promises to include prizes and games. (When I saw Palahniuk read on his Stranger than Fiction tour 11 years ago, he tossed plastic body parts to people who asked the best questions during the Q&A.) Admission to the reading includes pre-signed copies of both Make Something Up and Fight Club 2 issue No. 1, so there’s no signing afterwards. That’s just as well; he refused to sign my dollar bill in high school anyway, because “it’s illegal.” May 28 at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. $35. —Elena Goukassian

Awesome Con has had its bumps. Though last year’s show was jam-packed with celebrity appearances and colorful costumes, its failed world-record cosplay attempt left many feeling a little less than animated. That could be why this year’s convention doubles down on the marquee names: William Shatner, George Takei, a handful of the original Power Rangers, and Sean Astin (who’s graced Awesome Con’s stages before) are all making appearances. And plenty of D.C.’s notable artists and celebrities will be there, from that lovable Dracula man Count Gore de Vol to former Magic Bullet editors and comic cartoonists Carolyn Belefski and Rafer Roberts. The convention will also feature Super Art Fight, a spectacle promoted as a “surreal mixture of live art, pro-wrestling style characters and storytelling, and a dash of hilarious, improvised commentary.” Awesome. May 29–31 at Walter E. Washington Convention Center. $31.73–$79.32. —Tim Regan

Calling all awkward human beings—and even robots. Washington Post columnist and blogger Alexandra Petri’s first book of essays comes out this summer, and it’s a perfect read for people who must suffer through a family reunion with a creepy uncle or who hook up with a summer intern after too much sangria at Jazz in the Garden. A Field Guide to Awkward Silences is about embracing the uncomfortable moments that inevitably come up during life and discovering yourself in the process. Petri will make you feel much, much better about how awkward you are: This woman tried speed dating at a Star Wars convention in a Jabba the Hutt costume. June 3 at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. $12–$25. —Natalie Villacorta

It’s been nearly two decades since the beloved children’s author Judy Blume released a book for adults. That dry spell is set to end this year with the novel In the Unlikely Event, which is due out June 2—just two days before she stops by the District for a reading. At Sixth & I, the evening should be intimate: just you, Judy, and a few dozen more of her adoring fans—oh, and NPR pop culture guru Linda Holmes, who will be leading the conversation. Here’s a chance to see a favorite author in the flesh, hear her read, and (gasp!) finally get her to sign your dog-eared copy of Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. June 4 at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. $30-$45. —Colin Dwyer

Face it: You’re never actually going to hunker down and read James Joyce’s Ulysses. Embrace the next closest thing by sipping Irish whiskey while listening to other people struggle through the stream-of-consciousness sentences. In honor of Bloomsday—which marks the day Ulysses takes place (June 16) and is named after the protagonist, Leopold Bloom—Petworth Citizen is hosting a marathon reading of the novel. They’ll be serving coffee during the 30-hour-plus reading, booze when their liquor license allows, and breakfast in the morning. Owner Paul Ruppert and others will be dressed in Edwardian attire. Molly Bloom’s soliloquy will conclude the reading around 9 p.m. on the 16th. This is the first time Petworth Citizen has hosted a reading; Kelly’s Irish Times has done it in past years. June 15 at Petworth Citizen. Free. —Natalie Villacorta

David Sedaris first made a name for himself in 1992 with an uproarious (and now legendary) NPR essay about his experiences working as a Christmas elf at Macy’s. Since then, he has written and performed stories about everything from avoiding the use of gendered pronouns in French by always using the plural to strapping on a portable catheter during long flights and book tours. Sedaris is a wildly entertaining author to see live, not only because of his talent for telling hilarious-yet-touching autobiographical tales peppered with familial dysfunction, but also because he offers similarly acute comments and anecdotes in between stories. Sedaris published his last book, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, all of two years ago, but he’s such a captivating storyteller that he doesn’t even need a new book to go on tour again. Aug. 2 at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center. $25–$55. —Elena Goukassian

Can you live without books? If so, stop reading. If not, get pumped for the 15th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival. Thomas Jefferson’s quip, “I cannot live without books,” is the theme, in honor of the LoC’s acquisition of the third president’s library 200 years ago. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough, an expert on Jefferson’s predecessor, John Adams, is among the 100 authors participating. Other big names include New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and novelists Louise Erdrich and Marilynne Robinson. The festival promises to be “extra-special” this year, given the double anniversaries, including a program featuring major writers on war, like Rick Atkinson and Tom Brokaw. Sept. 5 at Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Free. —Natalie Villacorta

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Playwright Young Jean Lee’s creative process begins with fear. Part of her artistic mission is to ask herself what play she least wants to make and challenge herself with that very task. For Forum Theatre Artistic Director Michael Dove, producing Lee’s work has also meant allowing fear to be a barometer of what to program into his season. The Shipment, a title meant to evoke images of the confines of a slave ship, tackles issues of racial identity and stereotypes through humorous vignettes. It also confronts the challenges inherent in creating a show that addresses identity politics. Lee, a Korean-American woman, writes plays in collaboration with her cast and crew. Dove admits that “the tone and intention are trickier with this than with anything else I’ve ever produced.” Dove approached the script by tapping an African-American artist, Psalmayene 24, to direct. Yet Lee’s humor will be the access point for many audiences. “Taking the politics out of it, the brilliance of the writing is that it invites you into a highly entertaining piece of theater,” says Dove. “You find yourself laughing, and then the play calls you out on that.” May 21–June 13 at Forum Theatre. $30–$35. —Sophia Bushong

Opera Lafayette is one of those niche performance groups whose niche is so specific the company really should be doomed to obscurity, were it not so damn good at it. Within the opera world, there are chamber opera companies, and within the classical world, there is historically informed performance; Opera Lafayette is a historically informed chamber opera company that performs 18th-century French operas (i.e. the kind of opera no one cares about) and does it all on period instruments (i.e. instruments no one plays anymore). And yet the company draws a crowd and accolades despite doing something that really should only appeal to French literature grad students. Why? Because given those limitations, it’s terrifically inventive and ambitious. This time, it takes on André Grétry’s 1784 comic opera L’épreuve villageoise (The Village Trial), and sets it in a Cajun village during Courir de Mardi Gras, which True Detective fans will remember as something colorful and vaguely Satanic that happens in backwoods Louisiana. It’s safe to say this will be the most memorable performance of L’épreuve villageoise in a lifetime; this is also the first time anyone in the world has staged it since the 1860s. It’s one of the upsides to adopting a tiny niche: You don’t get much competition. May 30 at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. $65–$100. —Mike Paarlberg

Beginning in the 1860s and continuing through 1939, the organized crime group Zwi Migdal forced hundreds of thousands of young Jewish girls from Eastern Europe into prostitution rings in Argentina. This unsavory piece of history is rarely mentioned, but GALA Hispanic Theatre draws attention to it in the new original musical Las Polacas: The Jewish Girls of Buenos Aires. Book writer Patricia Suárez Cohen and GALA composer-in-residence Mariano Vales both hail from Argentina and tell the story of these women in English and Spanish through the perspective of Rachela, whose faith and spirit keep her going. The Kennedy Center’s production of The Book of Mormon might provide more laughs this summer, but GALA’s musical explains why hope can change one’s seemingly doomed fate. June 4–June 28 at GALA Hispanic Theatre. $20–$50. —Caroline Jones

Aida is one of those operas that demands producers go big or go home. Unlike some other opera chestnuts that can be reinterpreted (often over audience protests) in some weird, minimalist fashion like the Salzburg Festival’s Dalí-inspired La Bohème, Aida is an expansive experience, best taken in outdoors; better-budgeted productions include a menagerie of circus animals to tell Verdi’s balls-out Orientalist epic of war between ancient Egypt and Ethiopia. Sadly, Wolf Trap Opera is not one of those big-budget companies, so this “concert opera performance” won’t have sets, costumes, or elephants. But it will have some nice vocal talent accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra, including soprano Marjorie Owens and tenor Carl Tanner, reprising roles they’ve done with the Met. And it’s at Wolf Trap’s beautiful wooded amphitheater, so it has the outdoor thing going for it, which may be reason enough to go. July 24 at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center. $22–$75. —Mike Paarlberg

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The summer blockbuster season can be depressing. Instead of original entertainment, mainstream studios release a handful of tent-pole films that have no ambition beyond fan service. Luckily, the AFI Silver Theatre is addressing the dearth of decent cinema with a festival that celebrates Orson Welles, our original megalomaniacal movie genius. Alongside classics like Citizen Kane and Touch of Evil, AFI is showing his lesser-known films, including the terrific documentary F for Fake. While most Welles films are shown at least twice, the most exciting event is a weeklong showcase of The Third Man, the classic Carol Reed thriller in which Welles played the menacing Harry Lime. The only thing that’s missing is the 1986 cartoon The Transformers: The Movie, Welles’ final film. April 17–July 1 at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. $7–$12. —Alan Zilberman

The theme of NoMa Summer Screen this year is “Dance, Dance, Dance,” and the Aug. 12 finale of the weekly outdoor movie series is Footloose. Other happypants spectaculars such as Dirty Dancing, Grease, Singin’ in the Rain, and Flashdance are slated for earlier in the season. Those four flicks have one thing in common, beyond public adoration: I have seen them. Footloose, I have not. But based on my knowledge of the soundtrack, which was responsible for at least 4.3 percent of the yuckiness of the ’80s, I can ascertain that the film pits very heroic and vaguely sexual men (Kenny Loggins, Kevin Bacon, Shalamar) against unnamed evils. Our protagonists roll up their sleeves, crank up their personal cassette players, shimmy around a dusty ol’ town, and stick it to the man! EPILOGUE: Footloose is also the inspiration for Episode 11 of Yacht Rock. Aug. 12 at Storey Park Lot. Free. —Joe Warminsky