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Usually, City Lights aims for events of different varieties. But this week, D.C. is exploding with so much music it was impossible to overlook, what with local rapper Logic returning to the region, Portland crust punks headlining the Runaway, Sleigh Bells at 9:30 Club, a jam packed day of reggae, and more.
Thursday: Hellshock and Poison Ruïn at the Runaway
The theme of this absolutely facemelting evening at the Runaway is hardcore punk meets metal. First, you’ve got Hellshock, a band usually classified as crust punk, aka “stenchcore,” which is what happens when you plunge the jagged edges of punk into the inky abyss of deathcore. That said, they’re as heavy as the heaviest of heavy metal. The Portland-based band has been a mainstay on the punk scene for over 20 years, and their lineup has ex-members of Remains of the Day and Detestation. Then you’ve got Poison Ruïn, a band from Philadelphia’s vibrant DIY scene. Poison Ruïn is a messy but unique genre-mash that sounds like doom metal one second and superfast hardcore the next. (You can hear everything from Black Sabbath to Fugazi in their sound.) Mac Kennedy, the band’s mastermind, originally aspired to map aspects of the medieval dungeon crawler aesthetic commonly associated with heavy metal over a more nimble, anarcho-punk sound. The result is like taking a morning star to the face in the middle of a mosh pit. Kennedy often starts his compositions as somber keyboard pieces before translating them to guitar. This was the case with “Demon Wind,” a Poison Ruïn song recently featured on the Metal Massacre 15 compilation. Kennedy wrote the track in an attempt to use the trappings of cosmic horror to evoke the terror of a manmade ecological disaster. Listen for “Demon Wind” and “Doppelgänger,” another standout track, in Poison Ruïn’s set. The show will also feature Rigorous Institution, Hellshock’s fellow Portland crust punks, and Asesinato, a quartet of metal thrashers from Chile. The show starts at 9 p.m. on Aug. 18 at the Runaway, 3523 12th St. NE. therunawaydc.com. $15. —Will Lennon
Friday: Wiz Khalifa and Logic at Jiffy Lube Live
The fan bases of Wiz Khalifa and Logic will collide to create an unforgettable concert at Jiffy Lube Live on Aug. 19 as part of the Vinyl Verse Tour. Merging Logic’s new album, Vinyl Days, with Khalifa’s latest, Multiverse, their co-tour creates just that—a new multiverse for rap and hip-hop fans. Maryland native Logic released Vinyl Days Documentary last month, which details the making of his last studio album for Def Jam Records. The rapper will switch record labels to BMG, allowing him to own his song masters for the first time. Vinyl Days is Logic’s seventh studio album and packs a whopping 30 tracks. The songs trek through throwback beats that influenced and inspired the rapper, and various friends and collaborators. DJ Funkmaster Flex of New York’s Hot 97, who pioneered the first hip-hop radio show, appears on the song “Rogue One. “Bleed It” samples the Beastie Boys, while Khalifa co-stars on “Breath Control.” Don’t miss the chance to hear Logic’s song “Decades” live, which chronicles the dark times he trampled through to reach fame. All 30 tracks of the album are included on Logic’s setlist for this tour. Khalifa, who appeared in the documentary as well, will perform hits such as “Black and Yellow” and “We Dem Boyz.” Also expect to see his poignant homage to Mac Miller, Nipsey Hussle, and Juice Wrld in “See You Again.” Aside from the headlines, 24kGoldn, DJ Drama, C Dot Castro, and Fedd the God are also on the Vinyl Verse bill. With Khalifa and Logic together, the concert will be like your favorite crossover episode from television, but IRL. And you certainly don’t want to miss Logic’s homecoming. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 19 at Jiffy Lube Live, 7800 Cellar Door Dr., Bristow. bristowamphitheater.com. $29–$110. —Simone Goldstone
Saturday: DC World Reggae Festival at RFK Stadium
The promoters of this weekend’s DC World Reggae Festival are ambitiously featuring musicians from the Caribbean and Africa as well as celebrating Jamaica’s 60th anniversary while also highlighting local acts. Originally scheduled to run two days, the event has been compressed into one standout day and will include longtime Jamaican singer Beres Hammond, Nigerian favorite Tiwa Savage, Barbados soca vocalist Rupee, Cameroonian singer and rapper Naomi Achu, D.C. based Haitian band Lokal, and others. There will also be a slate of DJs to keep the dancing going between performers. Headliner Hammond has been crooning R&B-tinged lovers rock reggae since the 1970s, but he didn’t become a big name until he began working with dancehall reggae producers in the 1990s. These producers helped ensure that his emotional lyrical appeals were part of a lush presentation and aided by distinctive rhythms. While his focus is romance (the lovers rock subgenre is typically described as “apolitical”) , the Sam Cooke fan has gotten a bit political on songs such as “Putting Up Resistance.” Called “Queen of Afrobeats,” Lagos resident Savage was once a business administration graduate in London, a student at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, and later a songwriter and vocalist who wrote for Fantasia and backed up the likes of Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, and George Michael. In 2010 she moved back to Lagos where her soft yet assertive vocals, upbeat tempos, and distinctive fashion style led to her own hits, hosting Nigerian Idol, and becoming an activist promoting HIV/AIDS prevention and fighting back against sexual assault in Nigeria. Savage who has collaborated on songs with the UK’s Sam Smith, and American R&B singer Brandy, was recently part of a remix of Bob Marley’s “Jamming.” That multicultural take on this timeless classic could go over well at this show. Doors open at noon on Aug. 20 at RFK Stadium, 2400 E. Capitol St. NE. dcworldreggaefestival.com. $75–$150. —Steve Kiviat
Tuesday: Sleigh Bells at 9:30 Club
By the time I get Sleigh Bells‘ lead singer Alexis Krauss on the phone, she has already gone for a four-mile run, had a dip in Lake Michigan, and just finished some bouldering (a form of free rock climbing). While some might see this as Krauss taking her post-lockdown freedom to the extreme, it turns out it’s completely normal for the singer. “My best friend and I have a phrase that we like to tell each other which is ‘100 days in one,’ says Krauss. “That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy rest … But I tend to try and pack my days with the things that I really enjoy doing.” These days that includes touring with bandmate, guitarist Derek Miller in support of Sleigh Bells’ fifth album, Texis, which lands at the 9:30 Club on Aug. 23. Given that the noise pop duo exploded onto the scene in 2010 with their debut, Treats, and have been consistently touring and releasing albums ever since, many would be surprised to learn that Krauss had to go on unemployment when the pandemic hit. (The music industry is the only part of the entertainment industry where the artist gets paid last). “I’m so grateful that Sleigh Bells is still a working, thriving band, but we are a small, independent band,” explains Krauss. “Derek and I are both working class people. We don’t come from a lot of money. And so for us, when we’re not touring, we’re not working.” With the tour that was initially being postponed from the beginning of 2022 finally underway, Krauss is thrilled to be back on the road. “I’m just so filled with gratitude for the ability to do this,” says Krauss. “Because, you know, I think we all just realize how fragile everything is and how easy it is for the things that we just take for granted to disappear.” Sleigh Bells play at 7 p.m. on Aug. 23 at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. 930.com. $35. —Christina Smart
Wednesday: Florist at DC9
Emily Sprague was a gearhead from an early age. Using GarageBand, she started recording music on her laptop in her bedroom at 14. Within two years, she got her first USB microphone and became enthralled with the upgrade in sound quality. She eventually moved her studio into her dad’s storage shed. “I’d set up on top of some bins and have my keyboard on top of some other bins on the other side of the room,” she recalled in a 2016 interview. “But I’d hang stuff on the walls and try to make it seem like it was a cool studio. Paint some wood, put it up on the walls.” Inspired by both Pauline Oliveros and Enya, Sprague laid out what could count as her life’s mission statement: “The thing I’ve always wanted to do, and still want to do, is record sound.” Under the spell of such a broad pursuit, she is a river of ideas, endless and powerful, whether with her homespun ambient records or playing in Florist, which blends deceptively winsome indie rock with deep emotion that can strike in unexpected ways. The songs wander but land hard. This is especially so with what has become a project spanning multiple songs and albums—processing the death of her mother. I became a devoted fan while listening to 2019’s Emily Alone. I was hooked by Sprague’s voice: clear-eyed, close-mic’ed, and vulnerable, “runnin’ round lookin’ for treasure in the ground/ You always told me you loved me/ Just memories now/ I’m runnin’.” It’s instructive that this solo recording was still under the Florist moniker. The band describes itself on its bandcamp page as a “friendship project” as if kindness and love were instruments too and just as vital to their songs as guitars and field recorded rain drops. On Florist’s new self-titled album released in July, Sprague is still processing it all, but this sense of togetherness-as-an-instrument shines through. The album is a sprawl of full-bloomed songs and off-the-cuff jams. It’s spontaneous and heartfelt. Of course, it sounds terrific. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 24 at DC9, 1940 9th St NW. dc9.club. $15. —Jason Cherkis
Looking Ahead: Elie Grappe’s OLGA at Planet Word
On Aug. 25, District Cinema, in collaboration with Immigration Film Fest and Planet Word Museum, will screen the 2021 film OLGA in support of United Help Ukraine, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing humanitarian aid to Ukrainian survivors of war. French filmmaker Elie Grappe’s debut feature follows a teenage Ukrainian gymnast, Olga, preparing for the European Gymnastics Championships in Switzerland as tensions rise between Russia and Ukraine. Olga attempts to stay focused on her passion, but the situation is quickly complicated upon learning that her mother, a journalist, is involved in the Euromaidan protests, which have begun in Kyiv. Grappe paints a raw, honest portrait of a child torn between competing in the sport she has dedicated her young life to, and the family she is unable to return to in her war-ridden homeland. It envelops the striking moral dilemma of a coming-of-age drama inside the much larger backdrop of real-life political turmoil, and provokes ideas about trauma, grief, and survival, manifesting in the life of a young girl during suffocating political conflict. District Cinema will donate 80 percent of ticket sales to United Help Ukraine. District Cinema, Immigration Film Fest and Planet Word screen OLGA at 7pm on Aug. 25 at Planet Word Museum, 925 13th St, NW. districtcinema.co. $18. —Natalie Keane