Thursday, July 19
People have called Eleni Mandell the female Tom Waits (no, she’s not ScarJo, though that cover album was pretty funny). She doesn’t have the gruff voice, but listen to the sparse instrumentation laced behind her story-like lyrics and it’s easy to see why.
8:30 PM at Iota Club and Cafe, $12.
Friday, July 20
Another week, another pair of legendary hard rock bands in the hizouse: Kiss and Mötley Crüe take the stage at Jiffy Lube Live, where old people go to make some quick cash so they can disappear off the face of the earth again.
8 PM at Jiffy Lube Live, $32 to $185.
Long before Pete Wentz put on eyeliner for the first time, the Promise Ring were making emo. Don’t expect catchy hooks or big guitar solos—this is emo before the “pop punk” was thrown in. Some have called them the best the genre has to offer, so fans are understandably elated that they’ve reunited after ten years.
8 PM at 9:30 Club, $25.
New Jersey’s Gaslight Anthem have been everywhere lately—their mix of punk and soaring Springsteen-esque (but not in the same way the Killers tried to be like Bruce) songwriting has even the Boss calling himself a fan. Their latest album, Handwritten, represents a bit of a return to their harder roots after they played around with all sorts of genres on 2010’s American Slang.
7 PM at U Street Music Hall, sold out.
It’s not super local, but the biggest music event on the East Coast this summer is happening about two hours away in Dover, Delaware. Jack White, the Black Keys, and the Killers headline the Firefly Festival, which is chock full of it-bands like Yeasayer, Bassnectar, the Flaming Lips, and Modest Mouse. Single-day tickets are still available.
All weekend, $68 to $88.
Saturday, July 21
Say what you want about Nicki Minaj and her latest album, but the radio at least seems to like it. The CD is full of club bangers, Britney Spears-esque pop songs, and very little of Ms. Minaj’s lyrical backflips, but it gets the job done. Catch her live tonight.
7:30 PM at DAR Constitution Hall, $44 to $124.
Since forming a few years ago, Deleted Scenes have become one of Washington’s most celebrated indie bands, drawing comparisons to another one of Washington’s favorites, the recently reformed Dismemberment Plan. They play trippy lo-fi tunes, and their latest, Park the Van, comes out at Saturday’s release party at Red Palace.
8 PM at Red Palace, $12.
Sunday, July 22
With a voice like Reba and a trophy case that’s starting to catch up to Ms. McEntire’s, Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles is undoubtably one of the most beloved country singers around today. The duo had taken some time off from touring and recording to “chill and relax,” but is back on the road. Time for some new songs, guys.
7:30 PM at Jiffy Lube Live, $30 to $80.
Sunday’s Hot Chip and Sleigh Bells concert represents the best of what Merriweather has been doing the past few years: Take a band that sells out the 9:30 Club, pair them with another band that sells out the 9:30 Club, and call it a Merriweather show.
6 PM at Merriweather, $35 to $45.
Monday, July 23
Frank Ocean rocked the hip-hop world a couple weeks ago when he came out with a note on his Tumblr, right before the excellent channel ORANGE, a worthy followup to Nostalgia, Ultra, dropped. He quickly put on a fantastic Jimmy Kimmel performance and sold out his entire tour. Represents everything that’s right with R&B today.
7 PM at 9:30 Club, sold out.
Tuesday, July 24
If you’re looking for something tasty and easy to digest, Surfer Blood are your band. They make laid-back, ’60s-sounding surf rock, perfect for a day at the pool or the beach.
7 PM at Rock & Roll Hotel, $16.
It comes around every year, just with worse bands and a more corporate feel. But if you feel like playing hookie and hanging out with a bunch of high school punx, Warped Tour is the show for you. Taking Back Sunday, Anti-Flag, and All Time Low represent one of the weakest groups of headliners ever, but where else are you going to see dozens of underground-ish bands for less than $40?
11 AM at Merriweather, $36.
Wednesday, July 25
If this show were taking place in 1998, the world would explode and tickets would be hundreds of dollars. Wolf Trap brings you just about every ’90s alt-rock band you could want: Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit, and Marcy Playground. Collectively, they made about 20 incredible karaoke songs I sing regularly to this day, and it’s good to see the last couple can continue to live off the song or two they were known for.
7 PM at Wolf Trap, $25 to $42.