Thursday, April 5
When you win a couple of Oscars, you can do whatever you want--even if that means you want to form a middle-of-the-road country band. Kevin Costner did just that, but if you're a fan of his (acting) work, tonight's concert at Strathmore is a chance to see him up close. If you were already psyched for this concert and are just now finding out Costner is an actor, you're a weirdo.
8 PM at Strathmore, $35 to $90.
The Shondes play a brand of uptempo rock music, but Louisa Rachel Solomon's voice is too good to call it punk. While most of the tunes are fairly straightforward and fun, they've got some traditional Jewish music influences, and a violin adds another layer to their sound.
8 PM at Rock & Roll Hotel, $10.
Friday, April 6
Dischord is still around, but lately more Washingtonians have been starting their own DIY record labels. One of those, Windian Records, is celebrating its anniversary with two nights of shows at Montserrat House, across the street from the 9:30 Club. Night one features garage rockers the Penetrators. Both nights have plenty of loud, brash bands you've never heard of from all around the country. Get on it before your friends do.
8:30 PM at Montserrat House, $12 (a two-night pass is $22).
Did we mention the other festival going on this weekend (forget about the cherry blossoms)? Artisphere is celebrating the 20th anniversary of indie zine Chickfactor with two nights of outrageous shows--tonight you get Stevie Jackson, lead guitarist of Belle & Sebastian; Frankie Rose, formerly of the Vivian Girls; and a couple of local acts. Saturday, you get the reunion of Black Tambourine--led by Chickfactor founder Pam Berry--a local band featuring Berry's pretty voice over neverending background guitars. Don't miss it--they haven't played a show since 1991.
7:30 PM at Artisphere, $25 (a two-night pass is $45).
Cursive got pretty big in the early 2000s, when everyone was into being sad and pop-punk was really popular. Cursive never quite fit into that--they've always featured interesting instruments (organs, horn sections, etc)--but you'd be forgiven for lumping them in and forgetting about them. Recently, they've redefined their sound, played Letterman, and are hoping to make you remember they exist.
9 PM at Black Cat, $16.
From our French-Canadian neighbors to the north come Plants and Animals--a three-piece rock band who sound much larger. For a band with such a small following, they sure sound radio- and arena-ready. See them at Red Palace before they inevitably get picked to open for U2 or something.
9 PM at Red Palace, $10.
Saturday, April 7
In 2006, it was impossible to escape whatever song the Grey's Anatomy showrunners felt like lacing over some dramatic ending (trust me, I tried desperately). That show, and "Chasing Cars," essentially launched Snow Patrol's mainstream US career, though they'd been around for much longer. Since then, they've released a couple albums, but they're still Chasing Cars' popularity (GET IT)? They play the 9:30 Club tonight.
7 PM at 9:30 Club, sold out.
Sunday, April 8
It's Easter, and your options are limited--the Screaming Females at Black Cat are your best bet. Their live show is guitar solo after guitar solo, with some screaming in between and during--it's nothing short of chaotic, and pretty fun. Don't miss opener Laura Stevenson & the Cans.
8 PM at Black Cat, $12.
Monday, April 9
It's near impossible to have even a modicum of interest in rap in this city and have avoided seeing Wale. Even so, you've never seen him at an event as important as this--the reopening of the Howard Theatre after the venue's been ignored for 30 years. The Howard's got a stacked lineup coming up, so keep an eye on what's going on there.
7 PM at Howard Theatre, $35.
Caveman formed just two years ago, but they've already had their first New York Times write up, topped a bunch of "best new band" lists, and played shows with acts such as Blue Oyster Cult and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Being from Brooklyn will do that for you, but so will making beautiful music that slowly builds and crescendos, interlacing vocal harmonies, and breaking it back down before someone gets hurt. They play Red Palace tonight.
8 PM at Red Palace, $10.
Tuesday, April 10
Ironically, Nada Surf's half anthem, half rant about the cool kids, "Popular," made them pretty big in the mid-'90s. They've calmed down a bit since, and released their seventh album in January. They play the 9:30 Club tonight.
7 PM at 9:30 Club, $22.
Austin's mantra is "Keep Austin Weird," and White Denim are definitely helping out with that noble goal. They have a frontman who's the son of a lesser-known but beloved mustachioed MLB catcher, Geno Petralli. As for the band, expect lots of psychedelic influences, jarring guitar riffs, and vocals mixed down to sound like they're barely there.
8 PM at Rock & Roll Hotel, $12.
Wednesday, April 11
Hot Chelle Rae sing songs about partying aimed at preteens. They have profound lyrics like "la, la, la, whatever" and two songs spinning on 99.5 constantly--but even with $15 tickets, they haven't sold out 9:30 Club, which gives me some confidence in Washington's parents.
6 PM at 9:30 Club, $15.
In name, Tanlines are two producers who spin beats. In practice, they rely on bongo and guitar samples more than they do on crazy synths, but there's a little of that, too. Go to their show at DC9 if you want to feel like you're at a futuristic Caribbean resort dance party.
8 PM at DC9, $12.