DC Black Pride

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The past week … or two years … have been rough. Take some time this long weekend to take care of yourself. At City Lights, we believe the very best way to clear your mind and unwind is to get lost in the music, spinning on a crowded dance floor or grassy field. And, for those needing an extra helping of community, DC Black Pride returns with in-person festivities after a two-year hiatus. Do what suits you. —Sarah Marloff

Thursday: Thumbscrew at Blues Alley

 Nobody names their band after a medieval torture device as a way of telling audiences, “Welcome! You’ll instantly fall in love with our stuff!” Outwardly, Thumbscrew seems all the more forbidding because of its membership. Guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Michael Formanek, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara are each among the most adventurous, uncompromising, and unpredictable figures in experimental jazz. Note the word “unpredictable”: Who would have foreseen that this collective (which is celebrating 10 years together) would practically burst with melody and groove? No, it’s not melody and groove of convention—any convention—but it’s right up front to be latched onto. It’s Thumbscrew’s textures and interactions that are harder to penetrate. Halvorson has a barbed style with careening distortions, which can become downright acerbic when they meet Formanek’s rough-hewn bass tones and Fujiwara’s driving but often arrhythmic beats. (Sometimes Fujiwara steers them off the song’s pulse entirely, which keeps the groove happening but places it on a sort of alternate timeline.) Even their most difficult clashes, however, offer enough information to let you know that they know precisely what they’re doing—even avant-garde bands don’t last a decade without some serious synergy. And if it’s sometimes a bit alien, it’s never anything but alluring. Thumbscrew performs at 8 and 10 p.m. on May 26 at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. bluesalley.com. $27–$42. —Michael J. West 

Thumbscrew, by Brian Cohen

Friday through Monday: DC Black Pride

DC Black Pride, the first official Black LGBTQ festival in United States history, returns May 27 with a full slate of events after suspending in-person activities in 2020 and 2021 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. In 1991, Welmore Cook, Theodore Kirkland, and Ernest Hopkins hosted the inaugural Black Pride event at Banneker Field to celebrate the African American LGBTQ experience and increase awareness and funding for HIV/AIDS programs. They also provided a safe space for the community to come together and address issues like racism, violence, and certain health concerns that are specifically important to Black communities. The success of DCBP spread across the country and inspired other cities to create similar Prides. This year’s theme—Bigger, Bolder, The Original Is Back—pays homage to the pioneering legacy of the hometown festival. DC Black Pride is presented annually by the Center for Black Equity, and this year’s event is definitely bigger, better, and more show-stopping than ever, or at least it feels that way after its two-year absence. The 2022 festivities will feature a plethora of educational workshops, seminars, entertainment, and a daily wellness suite sponsored by DC Health. Most of the official DCBP events are held at the host hotel, the Renaissance Marriott Downtown (999 9th St. NW). A few highlights include the Rainbow Row vendor expo, featuring more than 50 organizations and businesses; the Annual Mary Bowman Poetry Slam, a spoken-word competition hosted by poet Charity Joyce Blackwell; the DCBP Writers Forum with special guest author James Earl Hardy, best known for his B-Boy Blues book series; and Angela Harvey‘s new documentary Black Rainbow Love, a project that explores Black LGBTQ relationships. There will also be plenty of opportunities to party and revel in the brilliance of Black gay and trans culture. Scheduled to appear at various parties or balls are celebrities like Tamar Braxton, Keri Hilson, Saucy Santana, Tweet, TS Madison, Big Freedia, Tai’ Aysha, DJ Honey, and Myisha Hines-Allen from the Washington Mystics. DJ Mim, a popular local DJ and entrepreneur whose producing several events this weekend, is looking forward to the festivities. “Every year I love the celebration of Black queerness during DCBP,” she tells City Paper. “I love meeting new people, and as a promoter of events for women since 2009, I strive to provide a memorable experience and show the best D.C. has to offer.” The official DC Black Pride 2022 events kick off May 27 and run through May 30. See website for complete schedule and individual ticket prices. dcblackpride.org.Sidney Thomas

Saturday: Capital House Fest Salutes Sam “the Man” Burns at Fort Reno

Courtesy of Capital House Fest

From 1978 until his unexpected death at age 62 in 2020, Sam “the Man” Burns kept D.C. dance floors full thanks to his adept curation of his crates of disco and house dance records, the latter a Chicago-rooted style that meshes Black gospel derived vocals with pounding beats. Burns, who had folks moving over the years at now-gone clubs like Chapter II, Tracks, the Club House, State of the Union, Red, and U Street Music Hall, was also considered masterful at melding house records with occasional excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr. speeches, as well as African- and Latin- tinged club favorites. This godfather of D.C. house, who also worked at 12 Inch Records and DJ Hut, was beloved by the local club dance community and had the headlining final DJ slot at the 2019 Capital House Music Festival in Malcolm X Park. After the pandemic shut down the 2020 festival, the event returned in 2021 with a new name: Capital House Fest Salutes Sam “the Man” Burns. Back again, this year’s Capital House Fest events features a “Samposium” panel discussion, WPFW and Eaton Hotel radio tributes, as well as the closing outdoors festival itself. The lineup includes the likes of longtime New York house singer Barbara Tucker, Chicago DJ Alan King, D.C. DJ Chosen the HouseHead, and D.C. dance company Soundxpressed who will do a special tribute to Burns. The fest is free but organizers are requiring advance Eventbrite tickets and asking for donations to the Sam “the Man” Burns Legacy Foundation, which has helped pay for Burns’ son to attend college. The list of participants, the accessibility, and the philanthropic aspect would make Burns proud, as will attendees shaking their thangs. Capital House Fest runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on May 28 at Fort Reno Park, 4000 Chesapeake St. NW. caphousefest.com. Free. —Steve Kiviat

Sunday: Lucky Seven Headlines Songbyrd

Lucky Seven; courtesy of Lucky Seven

Here’s the situation: It’s Wednesday afternoon, and an arts editor strong-arms you into scouring D.C.’s vast events landscape for something—anything—to recommend for readers to do this weekend. Due tomorrow! You scroll through the calendars for local venues when you come across the Buffalonian rapper who graduated from Howard University, and who just so happens to be playing Songbyrd on Sunday, May 29. So you call up Lucky Seven to see what he has to say. On the racist mass shooting in his hometown: Lucky says he lives a few miles from the Tops supermarket where an 18-year-old white supremacist killed 10 people, almost all of whom were Black. “It coulda been me or my mother or my sister or my mens,” he says. “It was just fucked up, man.” Lucky didn’t know any of the victims on a personal level, but says he’s acquainted with three of them. The security guard would greet every shopper as they walked inside, he says. “I haven’t even been up in that direction since,” he says. “At this point, I don’t know what to say. This is America.” On his return to D.C.: Lucky considers the District his second hometown. He’s been back a few times since he graduated—to play during a Howard Homecoming event—but his show this weekend will be his first major headlining event here. While he was at Howard, he started an independent record label, Howhood University Records, with a few friends. He still releases music under the label today. But Lucky is worthy of ink beyond his connection to D.C. and the political relevance of his hometown. His music is dope. His latest album, Lucky & The Laser Gun, ranges from melodic to gritty with anime-inspired stitches between tracks. Check out “Orange Soda,” “Nuke Dropper,” and Snoopy’s Penthouse” for a taste.  The anime influence in Lucky’s music might surprise some, especially coming from a 36-year-old rapper who sounds like Jay-Z. But that’s the point. That’s who he is. “You might hear my music or see pictures of me and think one thing, but at the end of the day, I like to chill, smoke my weed, play my video games, and stream on Twitch,” Lucky says. “I’m pretty simple.” Lucky Seven plays at 7 p.m. at Songbyrd, 540 Penn St. NE. songbyrddc.com. $22–$30. —Mitch Ryals

Wednesday: SHAED opens for Coldplay at FedEx Field

SHAED, by Jared Zagha

First concert experiences are a significant rite of passage for any person. For SHAED members and twin brothers, Max and Spencer Ernst, seeing Coldplay at Pier Six Pavilion when they were 12 years old ended up being a life-changing moment that included an event most Coldplay fans would kill for: a chance run-in with lead singer Chris Martin. “Our mom spotted Chris Martin walking around the crowd before the show,” recalls Max. “So Spence and I ran over and got him to sign out ticket stubs and we still have them.” Tickets won’t be necessary for the members of SHAED when Coldplay returns to the DMV to play FedEx Field on June 1. Instead, they’ll be opening for them, along with H.E.R., chosen specifically by the English quartet. “From what we’ve heard, they kind of handpick who they want to perform,” says Spencer. “So we were really honored that they chose us to open for them.” June has also brought significant meaning to the band with the arrival of June River Ernst, daughter of SHAED lead singer Chelsea Lee and Spencer, at the end of January. “Somehow we have birthed … I have birthed the most well-behaved, greatest baby in the world,” says Lee, correcting herself. There’s also a possibility that baby June will play a small role in SHAED’s FedEx Field set (which would certainly make her Coldplay’s youngest opening act ever). If that doesn’t work out, Spencer thinks there’s always a possibility we’ll see June on stage in the future. “Maybe she’ll open for Coldplay one day.” SHAED opens for Coldplay at 7 p.m. on June 1 at FedEx Field, 1600 Fedex Way, North Englewood. coldplay.com. $34–$200. —Christina Smart