Ari Voxx & the Sad Lads
Credit: Wesley Meyer; @occasionaloak

Whatever you do, don’t ask Ari Voxx if she’s OK. It’s a question the D.C. native singer-songwriter is tired of answering, she said so at a recent DC9 show, which is why her forthcoming album is titled I’m OK, Please Stop Asking. At first glance, it’s perplexing—why does she get this question at all? Voxx, who has a jazz-trained voice, writes soulful pop songs that get doused in misty, spacious production. The Voxx persona (the artist was born Ariana Harbin) is just as dreamy. Take a look at her Instagram page, or her recently published Tiny Desk contest submission, and you’ll find a cotton candy-colored world full of whimsical outfits and flower emojis. But it doesn’t take much further inspection to deduce why she’s always being asked how she’s doing—really doing. Voxx is refreshingly upfront about her chronic depression and anxiety in her lyrics, Instagram captions, and onstage banter. She won’t get out of bed on “Burden,” a funky peak-pandemic track, because “there’s nothing else better to do.” “My castle’s falling apart/ My dreams will never be art,” she croons on “Reflections,” her Tiny Desk submission. Voxx might not always be OK, but she’s singing and dancing her way through it. Dance along with her and the Sad Lads, her backing band, when they take the stage at Hill Center this April. Ari Voxx and the Sad Lads play at 4:30 p.m. on April 23 at Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital. $8–$15.