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Black Cat 27th Anniversary Show
When Black Cat first opened its doors in 1993, its founders were worried that D.C. was losing its place in the music world. There were hardly any independent music venues left, and there was no home for the city’s booming underground music scene. Black Cat quickly changed that, boosted by a music “renaissance” on U Street and the broader indie rock movement. In the nearly three decades since, the iconic space has hosted the likes of the Foo Fighters, Radiohead, Regina Spektor, and Sufjan Stevens. It has grown, evolved, and even changed its address. Now the club once again finds itself navigating unfamiliar territory as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps music venues closed around the world. But as they say, the show must go on! And what better way to welcome back an audience than a virtual birthday performance? To ring in its 27th birthday, Black Cat will be hosting a livestreamed concert from its main stage. Performers include Ted Leo, Algiers, Mike Watt, and David Combs. New music, old friends, and a handful of talented bands will transform your living room—at least for an evening. Grab some birthday cake and tune in as Black Cat kicks off a new year. The livestream begins at 9 p.m. on Sept. 18 on YouTube. Free; donations recommended. —Sarah Smith
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New From Japan
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art has offered some of the strongest virtual programming of the pandemic, facilitating the delivery of consistently entertaining and challenging films to viewers’ homes. New From Japan continues its hot streak with vivid, vital cinema, and two of the festival’s highlights focus on elder statesmen of Japanese visual art. The Past is Always New, the Future is Always Nostalgic profiles photographer Daidō Moriyama, who, as part of the Provoke scene in the late ’60s, redefined art photography with grainy, high-contrast black-and-white images. Director Gen Iwama takes an approach that’s 180 degrees from his subject’s style, using highly saturated colors as the film follows the now-octogenarian Moriyama taking photos around Tokyo. The documentary’s drastic visual departure from Moriyama’s monochrome images makes them stand out all the more, and it’s a treat to see the veteran at work, finding something worth capturing wherever he looks. The festival’s real coup is Labyrinth of Cinema from Nobuhiko Ōbayashi (director of the 1977 cult classic movie House), who died in April. Ōbayashi essentially worked on Labyrinth, which uses a core group of actors to dramatize different periods of Japanese history, from his deathbed, but the resulting three-hour fantasia proves that age didn’t tame his fever-pitched eye. Still, there was method to his madness, and mad-cap pacing eventually gives way to a more somber recollecting of Hiroshima. As we watch the same faces go through the centuries making the same mistakes, the inventive visuals seem like a valiant, if ultimately futile, attempt to reckon with the folly of human behavior. Labyrinth of Cinema streams from Sept. 18 to Oct. 2; The Past is Always New, the Future is Always Nostalgic: Photographer Daidō Moriyama streams from Oct. 2 to 16. Free. —Pat Padua