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Chris Thile has been called a genius for quite a long time. The mandolinist was still in elementary school when he started as the frontboy of Nickel Creek, a trio whose members became the photogenic faces of the last decade’s “newgrass” movement. In 2012, the MacArthur Foundation made it official, awarding the 31-year-old Thile a $500,000 “genius” grant. Tonight’s show at 9:30 Club marks his first D.C. appearance since the big announcement was made, but fans of Thile and his current band, Punch Brothers, already know that 2012 was a very good year. In February, the group released a well-crafted studio album, Who’s Feeling Young Now?, and followed that up in November with Ahoy!, an EP featuring covers of songs by Josh Ritter and Gillian Welch. Both albums reflect a return to progressive bluegrass. The former album has meandering and atonal moments, but their latest work feels more mature: the perfect combination of rock sensibility, Baroque counterpoint, and bluegrass technique.
Punch Brothers perform with Sarah Jarosz at 7 p.m. at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $28. (202) 265-0930. 930.com.