We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
It’s unlikely that Jens Lekman is the only musician to attempt to make a rhyme with “coochie coo,” but he’s probably the only one to get away with it. The Swedish singer-songwriter is also the only crooner who can write an entire album about first kisses, asthma inhalers, and losing a finger while slicing an avocado and pick up an international cult following in the process. With deadpan lyrics set against sunny melodies, Lekman has made a career with his awkward persona; his onstage gawkiness, complete with high-waist pants and dreamy babble, is enough to make any bookish girl swoon. But he may have crossed the schmaltz line on his latest album, Night Falls Over Kortedala, with grand gestures of timpani, orchestral swirls, and Hanson-esque doo-wop. Lekman’s ditched his all-girl backup band in crisp white dresses for a sort-of new band (with old friend Viktor Sjöberg) and some nu-metal-looking contraption called an Octopad—which, coincidentally, Linkin Park also uses. As Lekman says on the new album, “The best way to touch your heart is to make an ass of myself.” Lekman performs with Patrick Cleandenim and Viktor Sjoberg at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at the Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $14. (202) 667-7960. —-Jen Girdish
Some people admire and protect their love objects; others tear them apart and force them to do things they were never meant to. Marcin Ramocki and Justin Strawhand‘s 8-bit is about the latter kind of lover: devotees of early video games who now use that primitive technology (based on 8-bit processors) to make music and art. The documentary seems to have been shot mostly in New York and includes one Japanese 8-bitter, but many of the participants are European. Remember Atari Teenage Riot? That Berlin trio is not mentioned, but many kindred spirits appear, producing tinny “chiptunes” on antique electronic devices. The film covers the pre-PC video games available only to mainframe programmers and traces 8-bit art to pioneering “crackers.” They opened the gates for cyber-trespassers to strip shooter games of violence, ponder the games’ “illusion of choice,” and turn Gameboys into flashbacks to the Casiotone era. The film shows at 8 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th St. & Independence Ave. SW. Free. (202) 633-1000. —-Mark Jenkins
The man who invented Charlie Brown liked baseball, loved dogs, and had a persecution complex fit for a Third World dictator. “No one loves me,” Charles Schulz told a friend shortly after the Peanuts creator was diagnosed with the colon cancer that ultimately killed him on Feb. 12, 2000. In his biography, Schulz and Peanuts, David Michaelis depicts his subject as a lifelong injustice collector who grew up in an emotionally distant (but not abusive) household and inflated the least slight from childhood classmates into memories of bullying. Famously, he channeled those anxieties into a comic strip that, in its ’60s heyday, sublimated a generation’s angst into wishy-washy Charlie Brown and its id into freewheeling Snoopy. Less famously, Schulz’s fear of failure made him edgy and hypercompetitive, even when he was the master of a $20-million-a-year global juggernaut. (When For Better or for Worse creator Lynn Johnston told Schulz she planned to kill her strip’s family dog, Schulz threatened to retaliate by having a truck hit Snoopy.) Michaelis’ portrait of Schulz is built on a pair of what feel like simplistic assertions: Peanuts was so melancholy because Schulz’s mother died, and the strip became a snooze starting in the early ’70s because he had settled into a happy marriage with his second wife, Jeanne. But Michaelis’ inventive use of Peanuts strips throughout the book do help bolster his claims—: When Schulz’s marriage to his first wife, Joyce, was in tatters, Lucy Van Pelt was never so crabby, fussbudgety, and prankingly cruel. Michaelis discusses and signs copies of his work at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at Olsson’s Books & Records, 418 7th St. NW. Free. (202) 638-7610. —-Mark Athitakis