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Ben E. Kessler Headshot

Concert Whereabouts (May 28 - Jun. 3)

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Radiohead make their long-awaited return to D.C. proper, and I head south to see a country pop star. A variety of factors went into making this decision. They did not include my generally contrarian spirit or a desire to be ironic. I do not keep my Miranda Lambert fandom a secret. Her music is as honest as anyone's. It's truth-telling that I'm looking for, and while I would prefer not to be forced to listen at Jiffy Lube Live, I am willing to go to Virginia to bear witness. Overall, it's a generally light week for me, but between Miranda and Freedia, you'll at least see a nice cross-section of what makes this country of ours so great.

Tuesday, May 29 -- The Dandy Warhols: 9:30 Club

While the quality of studio output has been anything but consistent, these throwbacks to a darker and hazier time in rock music have done their part to prove that they are more than just a fractured friendship and well-documented feud with another band. It's been long enough since Courtney took a shot at Anton in song, so maybe we should move past it -- but then again, maybe not.

Thursday, May 31 -- Chappo: DC9 Opening for HURT at Rock and Roll Hotel

Even if the name doesn't ring a bell, I'd be willing to bet you've heard Chappo before. Don't believe me? Listen to "Come Home" and then return. Even if I'm not right, I can at least now guarantee that this one is stuck in your head and doesn't plan on leaving any time soon. Alex Chappo has managed to find the formula for writing a catchy-as-hell three-minute pop/rock song without ever putting forth a formulaic product.

Friday, June 1 -- Dr. John: Birchmere

Dr. John needs no help staying current. Nearly 45 years after Gris-Gris, he is essentially incapable of not doing New Orleans proud. The city embodies his music nearly as much as he embroideries his cultural Cajun roots. Entering the studio with Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, Dr. John emerges in 2012 a more focused version of the man who made a perfect album way back when.

Saturday, June 2 -- Big Freedia: Rock and Roll Hotel

And on Saturday night, we are treated to a performance from another member of the New Orleans royal family. There is no question that Big Freedia, the queen of bounce music, will deliver unto DC a show in the truest sense of the word. If you doubt whether you are ready, there's always the "Twerk, Bounce & Pop" dance lesson earlier in the day.

Not Attending -- Chain and the Gang: Comet Ping Pong

If you've seen one Chain and the Gang show, you haven't seen them all.

Sunday, June 3 -- Miranda Lambert: Jiffy Lube Live

Miranda Lambert audiences are the benefit of damn-near incredible track record in the studio. Even the toughest of critics would be hard pressed to argue that she isn't batting 1.000 thus far. Her best record, is likely not even one baring her name on the cover. You could put together this setlist in your sleep.

Not Attending -- Radiohead: Verizon Center

It's Radiohead. As far as I know it can't rain inside Verizon Center. If you hit traffic on your way to the venue, blame WMATA. I hesitate to say this ticket is as safe a bet as they come, only because the greatest enemy of shows such as this one are unfair expectations.

Not Attending -- Tune-Yards: 9:30 Club

To be expected, Merrill Garbus has graduated from an opening spot at DC9 to a sold out show at 9:30 club in short order. Garbus is no overnight success. It took two critically acclaimed albums to reach this point. Her trajectory, however, remained steadily upward because of an unwillingness to give up a slightly askew approach.