One more night with Bruce and a rare evening with Pulp keep me away from the District for a couple of nights this week. As if we needed further evidence that concert promoters do not consult with me before plotting out tours, The Magnetic Fields will be at the 9:30 Club on Monday. With no disrespect intended to the Lisner Auditorium, missing the opportunity to see these legends perform within the safe confines of my favorite venue in town leaves my heart in ruins. With help from the Boss, and Pulp on Tuesday, this too shall pass -- eventually. In exchange for getting to see Jarvis Cocker et al. at one of the best sounding and looking venues in the country, I'll have to forgo White Denim at the Rock and Roll Hotel and Nada Surf at the 9:30 Club. It might not be the most popular decision with everyone, but it's one I'm willing to make. And let us not forget about the ever exciting re-opening of The Howard Theatre. Luckily for me, there's more than enough live music in our nation's capital Wednesday through Sunday.
Wednesday, April 11 - Yellow Ostrich: Black Cat
Yellow Ostrich has evolved from a vehicle for the lo-fi works of Alex Schaaf, to a real-life rock band. And if you ask me, the progress made from 2010's The Mistress to this year's Strange Land can barely be measured. Schaaf has managed to maintain his unique ability to convey heartwarming earnestness and familiar heartbreak. There are no distractions, just a richer sound.
Not Attending - Tanlines: DC9
Tanlines offers contemplative lyrics over beats that are more soothing than they are big. Their approach to pop music is thoughtful without being overworked, but there's enough substance to keep both your mind and body moving.
Thursday, April 12 - Chain and the Gang: Black Cat
When D.C. great Ian Svenonius takes the front of the stage with the rest of Chain and the Gang he becomes more teacher and preacher than bandleader. The countercultural message is what you might expect from a Svenonius-led band compiled of other rock stalwarts. The story is just told through a funkier lens than you may have otherwise guessed.
DC9 delivers with another night chock full hardcore punk/metal. The five-band bill is led by the Boston natives, but the darker side of the DMV is adequately represented by Pygmy Lush and Hex Machine. Add in Loma Prieta and Git Some and that makes five. Music starts at 6:45, so there's plenty of opportunity to enjoy some of this show and what's happening down the street at the Black Cat.
Friday, April 13 - Margot & the Nuclear So and So's: Rock and Roll Hotel
Richard Edwards avoids the typical pitfalls of chamber pop. Like so many others, Margot is not short on band members, but none feel like window trimming. Strings, horns, percussion come together to make the simplest sounds you could expect from an ensemble of its size. And as the audience is treated to tracks from the band's most recent record, Rot Gut, Domestic you might forget all of this and think you're at a rock show.
Howler: Red Palace
There was a point in time when I fully intended to take in all of Howler's set. I was excited by last year's This One's Different EP, most notably its lead track "I Told You Once." Upon hearing their full-length release, America Give Up, my excitement waned just a bit as I could not avoid the comparisons to a New York band that, against my will, rose to stardom in the early 2000s. That being said, I am not diametrically opposed to Howler's musical output, and will be present at least long enough to see Chappo open.
Saturday, April 14 - Scream: St. Stephen's Church
As Positive Force DC is want to do, Saturday's show benefiting DC Jobs With Justice is packed with high quality punk and rock. The bill consists of Outlook, Möbius Strip, Beasts of No Nation, and Scream. Good music, a good cause, and it will only cost you $10.
Not Attending - Lost in the Trees: Black Cat
Lost in the Trees are not just another folk band from the southern half of the eastern seaboard. There is an indistinguishable number of layers to each song, creating rich textures. They avoid the flowery in favor of the ambitious. Be sure to make it inside in time to hear Poor Moon.
Not Attending - The Jezabels: Red Palace
This Australian four-piece are often labeled as such, but they are more parts pop than than they are any type of indie. And thank goodness for that. There's no fear of the catchy or attraction to the obtuse. The Jezabels treat an audience to complete songs, with all the catchiest ingredients included.
Sunday, April 15 - Lambchop: IOTA
Kurt Wagner brings the wistfully enigmatic Lambchop south of the border to Arlington on Sunday. They're still a little bit country, but the band's most recent album demonstrates that they can make an accessible pop record with the best of them. These most recent songs, however, deal with loss and regret and tackle what it means to continue on without a dear friend. Remarkably, Wagner will guide us through sadness without being mired in darkness.
Not Attending - Peelander-Z: DC9
It makes a lot of sense that Japanese-born, New York-based musicians would draw on influences spanning from American post-punk and hardcore just as much as Japanese rock and pop culture. There is nothing, however, that is remotely sensible about the off-the-wall musical stylings of Peelander-Z, and that's the point.
Not Attending - The Roots: The Howard Theatre
More on these television big shots next week as they play back-to-back nights at the reborn Howard.
Follow Ben E. Kessler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/wmftc