Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul at Black Cat
Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul at Black Cat on March 30; Camille Vivier

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Thursday: Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul at Black Cat

Some bands might find it unnerving to be named one of 25 artists shaping the future of music, but Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul are taking the recognition, bequeathed to them by Pitchfork in January, in stride. “It’s good we weren’t aware of that during the writing process because that’s a big responsibility,” Adigéry says, laughing, on a video call with City Paper. The Belgium-based duo are driving and call quality is shaky, but spirits are high. “But it’s a great compliment,” Adigéry continues. “It’s really nice because we just do what we like to do. We try not to ever compromise.” Pupil interjects: “To be able to have some kind of cultural impact across the ocean is something that’s really special to us.” The two artists are close friends—their enjoyment of one another is palpable—and have been collaborating since 2016. Last year, they released their debut album, Topical Dancer. The electropop LP blends humor, social commentary, and dance in a way that feels entirely original and unbelievably fun. “Sometimes you need to be a bit less serious about things in order to bring some oxygen to the discussion,” says Pupul. “I think it helps if you can put things into perspective. For us, humor is something that works very well.” With a strong dose of satire and a bit of that banter between people from marginalized communities connecting and expressing frustrations with the mainstream, Topical Dancer addresses racism, xenophobia, and misogyny while also making you want to get lost on the dance floor. “It wasn’t a conscious decision to make dance music that also could invite you to think about self, to reflect on self. It’s just everything we like,” says Adigéry. “It’s just really nice as musicians to create this universe where everything that you love makes sense.” When they perform in D.C. for the first time ever, the duo says to come without expectations: “What we do is basically about having fun and connecting to people,” says Adigéry. Let’s dance! Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul play at 7:30 p.m. on March 30 at Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $20–$25. —Sarah Marloff

Friday: Immanuel Wilkins at Arena Stage

Immanuel Wilkins, courtesy of the artist
Immanuel Wilkins; courtesy of the artist

Immanuel Wilkins has big things to say. It’s not terribly unusual for a jazz artist to have grand ambitions, particularly when they’re 25-year-olds with the eyes of the jazz world on them. The rare thing about Wilkins is that he’s got the chops to match the audacity. The alto saxophonist’s sophomore recording, 2022’s Seventh Hand, marshals the forces of hip-hop, Southern Black gospel, deep blues, West African drumming, and free improvisation, and enmeshes them into his contemporary jazz framework. Wilkins uses these ingredients in a concoction that takes on no less than the divine-human relationship. It doesn’t hurt that his palette is as expansive as his vision (although his primary ensemble is a quartet)—but Wilkins also knows full well what he’s doing with them. It involves sophisticated compositions, multilayered rhythms, and an instantly distinctive voice on his alto. It’s post-bop jazz to be sure, but more to the point it’s part of the post-everything perspective that distinguishes the rising generation of musicians across genres. (The quartet he helms—pianist Micah Thomas, Rick Rosato, and drummer Kwewku Sumbry—are of like minds.) Dyed-in-the-wool classic jazz fans need not fret, however. Wilkins doesn’t buck the tradition; he knows it inside and out, and indeed his music finds him studying some of its dustier, less examined corners with both curiosity and relish. He comes to conquer—but he doesn’t come unprepared. Immanuel Wilkins performs at 8 p.m. on March 31 at Arena Stage, 1101 6th St. SW, as part of the Library of Congress concert series. Free. —Michael J. West

Sunday: My Body, My Festival at Pie Shop

Biomorphic Forms; courtesy of Alex Hamburger

In the wake of the Dobbs Supreme Court decision, which removed our constitutional right to abortion, D.C. jazz flutist and vocalist Alex Hamburger wanted to take a stand against last summer’s ruling while also raising money for choice in a city where abortions are still allowed. She and jazz pianist and singer Amy K. Bormet (founder of the Washington Women in Jazz Festival) have put together the inaugural “My Body, My Festival.” The local fest is a fundraiser for the DC Abortion Fund, a nonprofit that provides grants to people in the D.C. area or those traveling here who can’t afford the full cost of an abortion. Hamburger and Bormet asked WPFW Radio’s program director Katea Stitt to host and enlisted a range of mostly local musicians to perform, including their own Biomorphic Forms with drummer Keith Butler and trumpeter-synth player Nicole Davis. The group recently brought their jazz influenced by the sounds of nature approach to Blues Alley as part of last month’s 13th annual Washington Women in Jazz Fest. Others in the lineup include Jenna Camille, a Duke Ellington School grad pianist-singer who majored in jazz studies at Michigan State. She vocalizes in a ’90s-rooted neo-soul style about both personal relations and politics. Using both piano and electronic keyboards, Camille can also get jazzy and experimental. Elena La Fulana, a singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist from Nicaragua who lives in D.C., plays bilingual Latin folk with a lyrical activist element. The Honey Larks, featuring local vocalists Carly Harvey, Jenny Langer, and Holly Montgomery, sing rootsy Americana harmonies with a bluesy feel. Attic Sessions play pop-rock that sometimes incorporates a Brazilian jazzy tinge thanks to strong-voiced vocalist Taisha Estrada. While the genres may vary, the common denominator here is strong vocalists who are willing to speak out. My Body, My Festival starts at 4:30 p.m. on April 2 at Pie Shop, 1339 H St. NE. $25. —Steve Kiviat

Tuesday: Algiers at DC9

Algiers; Credit: Ebru Yildiz

In a video on the band’s YouTube channel, Ryan Mahan of the post-punk group Algiers talks about how he was inspired by the city of Algiers’ struggle for independence. A few years ago, the group even met with Saadi Yacef, an Algerian revolutionary and politician who also produced and starred in the film The Battle of Algiers. Mahan mentions the film, describing its influence in aesthetic and political terms, but what’s surprising is that the musician omits the memorable score by legendary composer Ennio Morricone. Acknowledged or not, you can hear similar echoes of Morricone’s work on Algiers’ latest album, Shook. The music is immediately urgent, with a sense of pulsing anger that resists the urge to boil over—except when it matters most. On songs like “A Good Man” or “Irreversible Damage,” the group defy easy categorization, combining punk with soul, industrial, and hip-hop. Like the film behind their namesake, there is a timeless energy that ensures they will be remembered long beyond their contemporaries. But for a more ephemeral experience, like their high-energy combustible live show, Algiers cannot be beat. Not only are they undeniably exciting, to hear their songs performed just might recruit you into their struggle. Algiers plays at 8 p.m. on April 4 at DC9, 1940 9th St. NW. $15–$18. —Alan Zilberman

Wednesday and Thursday: Malavika Sarukkai’s River Sutra at the Kennedy Center

Malavika Sarukkai, courtesy of the Kennedy Center

For one month this spring—specifically from World Water Day to Earth Day—the Kennedy Center is immersed in rivers. The RiverRun Festival (March 22–April 22) honors the world’s rivers and the cultures that flourished along them. RiverRun has brought hundreds of artists—musicians, dancers, actors, filmmakers, chefs, authors—to the District to pay homage to these waterways. One of these talents is Malavika Sarukkai, an Indian classical dancer and choreographer. Sarukkai was born in Tamil Nadu and trained in the South Indian state’s traditional bharatanatyam (similar to Chitra Subramanian of chitra.MOVES, profiled in our 2023 Spring Arts Guide). Bharatanatyam is one of India’s oldest dance forms, and the story unfolds primarily in the hands, which form mudras, or symbolic gestures. At the festival, Sarukkai will premiere River Sutra, a piece honoring the Ganga (Ganges), the holy river of India that trickles down from the Himalayas, flows through North India, and empties into the Bay of Bengal. Through sound and light and bharatanaytum’s classical forms, Sarukkai aims to present this mighty river to viewers, even as they sit alongside our own, far less grand, Potomac River. River Sutra is performed at 7:30 p.m. on April 5 and 6 at the Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW. $39–$55. —Mary Scott Manning

Opening Thursday, April 6: My Fair Lady at National Theatre

Every makeover montage owes a debt to My Fair Lady, the mother of all makeover stories, but after a long Broadway run, an Oscar-winning movie version, and countless revivals around the world over almost seven decades, it was perhaps time for this musical to get a face-lift. It’s tough to find a new spin on a beloved classic that’s been performed in endless permutations without veering too far off the rails, but director Bartlett Sher has found a loophole: going back to the original source material, George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion. My Fair Lady follows Cockney flower seller Eliza Doolittle as phonetician Henry Higgins attempts to transform her into a member of high society to win a bet. While much of the plot of My Fair Lady follows that of Pygmalion, the original play has a more biting take on gender and class politics, and (spoiler alert) this production reverts to Pygmalion’s more feminist ending. Sher’s production has been widely hailed as revelatory. Though some of the plot points are things of the past, the idea of men trying to control a woman’s appearance, tone, and station in life is infuriatingly relevant, and this version doesn’t let Henry Higgins off the hook for his misogyny. Though the take is fresh, the beats of the story, characters, and songs are the same as ever. The pleasure of seeing a familiar favorite is in seeing the recognizable numbers performed live, and seeing what new layers are found in this particular experience. Even the musical theater averse have heard songs like “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” and “On the Street Where You Live” and will be inclined to sway along. My Fair Lady, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Lowe, and direction by Barlett Sher, runs April 6 through 9 at National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. $45–$125. —Stephanie Rudig