Serving as a purveyor of the age-old adage of forgoing that which isn't nice in favor of nothing at all, you will not find a single word about the biggest shows in the D.C. area this week. To be honest, I care little about what happens at Wolf Trap on Tuesday and Wednesday. My modicum of caring stems largely from the fact that Lee Ranaldo is opening up for Wilco on this tour. It's not that I would have anything particularly mean to say -- just wouldn't be able to come up with anything all that kind either. In fact, if the show had been within the boundaries of the District, I may have considered purchasing a ticket. For those who love this band, and I have no doubt that these people exist in nearly countless numbers, I am positive the shows will be everything you've ever wanted all over again. For me, however, I would be slightly bored... or at least indifferent.
Monday, July 16 -- Refused and OFF!: Fillmore Silver Spring
Influential punk music abounds up in Silver Spring. This bill demonstrates the inclusiveness of the genre. Those who will share the stage have the western world covered: from California to Sweden and from the utterly paranoid to even the poppy side of hardcore. These two bands exist under the penumbra of important punk, but that's where the similarities begin and end.
Tuesday, July 17 -- Beach Week: Black Cat
D.C. natives Beach Week manage to make sun inspired pop music without sounding as if they heard their first Beach Boys record yesterday and started a band today. The Miller sisters don't get lost in their own haze. Fuzz is the springboard for strong vocals, not a distraction tool.
Thursday, July 19 -- Chromatics: Rock and Roll Hotel
One need not look any further than their most recent album to understand Chromatics' greatest strengths. In fact, start with the opening track -- a cover of Neil Young's "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" titled simply "Into the Black." Timeless songs don't require a new approach, but the haunting overtones added in this update take the sullen and make it stunning.
Not Attending -- The B-52's: Wolf Trap
Given the relative frequency of which these pop music legends play the 9:30 club, I feel comfortable enough not making the trip south to Trap Road. Whether your ideal B-52's show consists of Love Shack over and over again or you tend to think the Athens natives released at least three perfect albums -- missing one of their shows is never an easy decision.
Friday, July 20 -- The Promise Ring: 9:30 Club
Just before emo became an insult, The Promise Ring thrived in the 90s making earnestly expressive pop-punk music. 10 years after their last release, they're back in D.C. for one night with promises of heartfelt anthems daring you not to sing along.
Chain & The Gang: St. Stephen's
Just because we're lucky enough to see Ian Svenonious et. al perform several times a year does not mean we should take it for granted.
Saturday, July 21 -- Nicki Minaj: Constitution Hall
My one and only Nicki live experience was when she opened for Britney Spears at her most recent stop to Verizon Center. From my limited firsthand experience I can all but guarantee that this one will transcend its cavernous enclosure. The boisterously high energy emanating from the stage may not take you to anywhere you want to go, but it may just get us out of DAR.
Not Attending -- The Mean Season: Velvet Lounge
In a perfect world, I would be able to see The Mean Season play the middle set at the Velvet Lounge on Saturday night. Because, as I've said over and over and over again, I like them a whole heck of a lot. If you aren't already a fan like me, go listen, and then tell me you didn't become an instant convert.
Sunday, July 22 -- Fang Island: U Street Music Hall
Fang Island have combined indie-pop esthetics with a tension-and-release playing style that makes a crowd want to shed its skin and climb walls in the best way possible. Trading the wide Red Palace for the long of USMH, this Brooklyn-based, by way of Providence, RI, band will hardly be concerned with room dimensions. As long as long as everyone has room to high-five everyone... everyone will be just fine.
Dent May: DC9
With or without his ukulele, Dent May proves that one need not be brooding in order to be appropriately sentimental. Equally whimsical and forlorn, May is a nice reminder that if we cannot laugh, we would most likely cry. He may be the first to tell you, however, that it's just fine to do both.
Follow Ben E. Kessler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ben__k