It certainly would appear that under no circumstances does my week of concerts end the way it begins. Those in attendance on Monday and Sunday nights will likely have little in common by way of musical taste. Both fan and artist alike, however, appreciate that which diverges from conventional norms, not for the sake of disrupting the status quo, but naturally gravitating towards honest forms of self-expression. The comparisons can't be pushed any further without winding up with a handful devoid of straw, but the fact that these artists have anything in common at all has me looking forward to the days ahead.
Monday, July 23 -- Frank Ocean: 9:30 Club
I, like so few Americans, have not listened to all of Channel Orange, and formed a very strong opinion. I've read the gushing reviews of Frank Ocean's latest, and one foot remains in the slightly skeptical. For now, to me, he's still the R&B guy from Odd Future -- which only gets you so far. But never one to miss being part of a groundswell, I'll be at the 9:30 Club.
Not Attending -- Amy LaVere: IOTA
Amy LaVere may be the toughest man or woman to ever pluck the upright bass. My knowledge of those who have played the instrument is limited, but I would be surprised if anyone can top this singer-songwriter-actor. (She played Wanda Jackson in Walk the Line.) There's no doubt that if you broke LaVere's heart, she just might kill you, but couple her musical ability with an almost unprecedented level of seductive sweetness, you might not even mind.
Tuesday, July 24 -- Iceage: Black Cat
Iceage locate the jangle buried deep inside the heart of punk music. Once this group of young Danes found a modicum of pop punchiness, they buried it deep inside slightly obtuse layers of fuzz and plowed full steam ahead. It's four bands for a whopping $13. If you can't make it until later in the evening, at least get inside in time for Dirty Beaches.
Not Attending -- Mile Greene: DC9
It's opener Family of the Year that I regret missing. I'm a sucker for singalongs at the top of multi-part harmonies. There's no shortage of this particular folk-derived sound, but as far as I'm concerned, there can never be enough.
Wednesday, July 25 -- THEESatisfaction: Black Cat
It's entirely possible to trace back THEESatisfaction's sound on a relative narrow path of soul and funk music. Luckily, Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White took a series of purposeful detour along the way. Perhaps nothing describes what will occur at the Black Cat more accurately than the way they describe meeting each other: "a clearly cosmic happenstance."
Not Attending -- Liars: U Street Music Hall
Liars have given the unimaginative no choice but to stop referring to them as "dance-punk." Six albums later, the band manages to be both confrontational and ethereal. Instead of blissfully attacking a crowd straight-on, the sound will surround at U Street Music Hall on Wednesday night.
Thursday, July 26 -- Black Clouds: Rock and Roll Hotel
Technically, this show belongs to A Place to Bury Strangers, and if I didn't have a ticket for a show across town already, I would have likely planted myself at the Rock and Roll Hotel for the duration of Thursday night. Instead of missing out on the noise-fest entirely, I'll go about the rest of my Thursday with any sense of hope tarnished by soaring metal flourishes. Everything is not going to be OK.
Tallest Man on Earth: 9:30 Club
The man who started as the guy who sounds creepily like a Sweden Bob Dylan has carved out a niche of his own, so only those who have lived under a rock for the last six or so years would are make the comparison. Under absolutely no circumstances is the likening an insult, but Kristian Matsson has proven that one can sing of love and fractured relationships with a reminiscent vocal style, without relying on critical juxtaposition for validation.
Not Attending -- Möbius Strip: Fort Reno
I've sung the praises of Möbius before, and I'd gladly do it again. I won't exactly hope for another rain out as the Fort Reno begins to draw to a close, but my selfishness prevents me from not keeping the thought in the back of my mind.
Friday, July 27 -- Pants Velour: Rock and Roll Hotel
Pants Velour dare you to give them a label. It's pop. It's a bit of hip-hop with an equal helping of R&B. If your busy trying to categorize this musical collective, you just may miss out on a whole lot of fun. On Friday night, no one will want to have a good time more than the people on stage.
Saturday, July 28 -- The Shondes: St. Stephen's Church
If a show benefiting Girls Rock! DC isn't enough for you, and it should be, consider the daringly diverse lineup, connected by the single strand of a female presence. I swear... I wouldn't otherwise point it out, but with any luck current Girls Rock! will take the helm as headliners in the not too distant future. The Shondes, with their (honestly) unique brand of power-pop make the wait very, very enjoyable.
Sunday, July 29 -- Mayhem Festival: Jiffy Lube Live
One should try his or her best to never miss a Slayer show. Their fellow headliners will also captivate my attention, but it's unlikely that any of them would have the overpowering magnetism to force me to cross the DC-VA border. There are likely more bands on this lineup that I dislike than enjoy, but when Motörhead, Anthrax... and Slayer evil force would focus on anything else?
Not Attending -- Charli XCX: U Street Music Hall
If anyone is foolish enough, I'm currently taking wagers that Charli XCX will be headlining a bigger venue upon return to our fair city. Her dark lyrics exist within the confined of perfectly constructed pop songs. Charli's words aren't sugar-coated, they're irresistibly armed to the teeth.
Follow Ben E. Kessler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ben__k