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If there’s one thing we know about going to shows by now, it’s this: Don’t sleep on the openers—they’re just future headliners. Also, since you paid for the ticket, you might as well see each performer on the bill. But to help you figure out which shows deserve your time and attention, we’ve rounded up six opening acts from six concerts between now and Jan. 16 that are worthy of a timely attendance. Some are local, some are international, one is playing their first D.C. concert—ever, another has performed a few thousand times. So whether you’re going to a rock show in a pie shop, a rap show on the Wharf, or a reunion show at 9:30 Club, there’s often a good reason to get there early.
Dec. 16: Rosie Cima & What She Dreamed, opening for Cal Rifkin at Pie Shop
Local indie folk artist Rosie Cima crafts songs that work well when she plays solo or with her band. At this gig you’ll get the full sound, allowing for some extra catharsis on songs such as “Stuck” and “Waxwing.” Their 2021 album, Realm of the Warring Gods, is a fine showcase for Cima’s strong vocals and the band’s musicianship. For fans of Hop Along, there’s some quiet-loud-quiet and lyricism that rewards actually listening to the lyrics. Cima and her band are an act that could help flesh out many bills looking for some coffeehouse or jam band music vibes. And yes, that’s a compliment. Rosie Cima & What She Dreamed go on at 8 p.m. at Pie Shop, 1339 H St. NE. pieshopdc.com. All ages. $12–$14.
Dec. 18: Hedge Rider, opening for Heaven Forbid at Slash Run
This show makes the Get There Early cut because of the venue (Slash Run) and headliners Heaven Forbid, which features former members of Baby Bry Bry & the Apologists. For $5, at one of D.C.’s best burger bars, and co-signed by one of the city’s best frontmen (the aforementioned Baby Bry Bry), the first show from Hedge Rider is going to be something to see. Billed as “city lit psych folk,” Hedge Rider features members of The Shirks and The Wild Cats and will pair nicely with Heaven Forbid’s Hank Williams-inspired country. It’s a night featuring two not-punk bands made up of members of former punk bands at a punk bar with the Ramones painted on the outside. Hedge Rider go on at 9 p.m. at Slash Run, 201 Upshur St. NW. slashrun.com. 21 and up. $5.
Dec. 19: Reagan Cats and Tosser, opening for Stuck at Songbyrd
Opening act Reagan Cats give strong Franz Ferdinand vibes in sound, style, and name. The Baltimore band’s newest release, See It All, is slicker and shinier than the headliners on the bill. But this show has two openers. Support act, Tosser, is a solid, four-person modern garage rock band from D.C. that would fit quite nicely as an afternoon act during a daylong festival. With their short, ’90s-inspired, guitar-filled songs, they’re also in the running for best rock band in the city. Both acts, however, are a fine representation of what Baltimore and D.C. sound like right now. Along with Stuck, this is another well-rounded bill of local and regional acts at Songbyrd. Reagan Cats go on at 7 p.m. at Songbyrd, 540 Penn St. NE. songbyrddc.com. All ages. $12–$14.
Dec. 29: Laura Jane Grace, opening for Thursday at 9:30 Club
One of the most surprising aspects of Laura Jane Grace’s career is her versatility. From the anarcho acoustic punk on the first Against Me! recordings and the Butch Vig-produced attempts at mainstream rock success on New Wave and White Crosses to a more DIY sound on Transgender Dysphoria Blues and solo Americana-inspired records, and a seemingly never-ending tour, Grace is entering Bob Dylan or Phish territory. Like those legacy acts, Grace is able to pull from nearly 25 years of recordings to represent what she wants to present on any given night. Her solo shows feature a different set list each gig, touching on each era and giving listeners a different career overview nightly and devotees a reason to see every show. Few lifer acts remain this relevant and exciting in decade three. Laura Jane Grace goes on at 7 p.m. at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. 930.com. All ages. $35.
Jan. 7: Joony, opening for Key! at Union Stage
Maryland local Joony, 21, makes laid-back hip-hop full of tales of paranoia that is the perfect soundtrack for the here and now: His tracks recall the music taking over Instagram Reels and TikTok. Joony’s recently released Proud of U EP features six songs and clocks in at less than 14 minutes, but it never feels rushed and has the potential to be the sound of next summer. With a sound that’s a little bit A$AP Ferg, and a little bit Post Malone, Joony just may end up headlining Union Stage in a few months and Fillmore Silver Spring later next year. For now, Jooney goes on at 8 p.m. at Union Stage, 740 Water St. SW. unionstage.com. All ages. $45–$120.
Jan. 14: Amy Reid, opening for Andrew Toy at DC9
Of all the artists in this preview, no one builds worlds like Baltimore’s queer electronic artist Amy Reid. Her soundscapes/songs are calming, but not “easy listening.” It’s quite easy to zone out to her music, full of subtle synth lines and music that seems like it was always there, but still draws you in. Reid’s most recent EP, Dome Trax, washes over you, giving a lingering feeling of loss once it’s over. It’s powerful stuff that only really hits once it’s gone away. Headliner Andrew Toy will have the unenviable task of following Reid. Amy Reid goes on at 7:30 p.m., at DC9, 1940 9th St. NW. dc9.club. All ages. $12.