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Slave Ambient, the latest from The War on Drugs, is adorned with hazy blue-and-red artwork that suits the album’s warm, swirling sound. The Philadelphia band places a premium on production: Soupy, Spiritualized-esque atmospherics surround Adam Granduciel’s Tom Petty sneer, and even the tunes themselves meld together at times, softened by Eno-like sonic washes. Yet Slave Ambient is full of songs that would be right at home in the Bob Dylan songbook. If it all sounds vaguely familiar, it’s easy to get lost in—and high on—all the same. (Ryan Little) 9:30 p.m. at Red Palace. $10.
Former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello is at Birchmere under the moniker The Nightwatchman. His album World Wide Rebel Songs isn’t as headbanger-friendly as Rage’s self-titled debut, but he’s still doing the heady politics thing. 7:30 p.m. $25.
The Black Cat celebrates its 18th birthday tonight with a stage full of local bands; The Max Levine Ensemble headlines. 8 p.m. on the mainstage, $5. Backstage is Party Lights, everyone’s favorite girl-group and garage dance party. 9:30 p.m., $5.
HR from Bad Brains will play an acoustic set tomorrow night at The Fridge. The event, a fundraiser for a documentary about the musician himself, will be hosted by Chuck Treece from McRad. Thomas Blondet DJs. 6 p.m.
One of the best outdoor Labor Day weekend options may be the 23rd Annual Blues Festival at Carter Barron on Saturday. The event, hosted by the D.C. Blues Society, includes a musical instrument petting zoo for kids; guitar, harmonica, and vocal workshops; and an after-party for $12. Noon, free admission.
If you’re a regular Arts Desk reader, you know we’re fans of Volta Bureau, the dance music production team of Will Eastman, Micah Vellian, and Outputmessage. Tomorrow night, the ensemble plays a release party for its single “Hope,” alongside local DJs Jay Simon, Chris Nitti, and Lxsx Frxnk. 10 p.m. at U Street Music Hall. $10.
Pull your “Skateboarding is Not a Crime” t-shirt out of the bottom drawer for tonight’s Thrasher magazine photo show at The Fridge. It’s a one-night-only event in celebration of the skater mag’s 30th anniversary. 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Free.
The annual Page-to-Stage Festival kicks off tomorrow at Kennedy Center. All weekend, more than 40 local theater troupes will host open readings and rehearsals of works in progress. Admission is gloriously free. Check out the schedule on the Kennedy Center’s website.
Tomorrow, THEARC hosts the East of the River Film Festival, a showcase of independent short films by local filmmakers. It’s free all day from noon to 10 p.m.
You could probably spend the next couple days watching Irish films at the National Gallery of Art. This weekend brings showings of the 1952 comedy The Quiet Man and 1959’s This Other Eden. Free.
Brightest Young Things hosts its last pool party of the summer. The theme: back to school. Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. $15.