This is not, and will not be, a comprehensive concert calendar for D.C. and the surrounding area. This is my schedule. Whether or not you care is up to you. (Although I hope you do.) I do my best to go see the best shows our fair city has to offer. 'Best' is most accurately translated to those that catch my eye for one reason or another. In my efforts to highlight the concerts that I am choosing to attend, I'll make mention of the ones that I'm choosing not to go to multiple and various reasons. Along the way, there will be obnoxious sidebars about seeing a band the last time they came to town, when they played in front of me, the opening band, and the opening band members' significant others. It's just the way I think. It's obnoxious at times and elitist and judgmental the rest of the time. But it's my rationale for spending my time and money the way I do here in D.C. In most instances, I think you should consider doing the same.
Sunday, January 22 - Real Estate: The Black Cat
I haven't soured on Real Estate, as much as I just haven't kept up. Their 2011 album Days landed on plenty of people's year-end lists. My favorite thing they've ever done will likely always be joining Woods for their "No Rain" encore at the Rock and Roll Hotel a few years ago. Coincidentally, I think the best part of the night might turn out to be the opener: The Babies featuring Cassie Ramone of the Vivian Girls and Kevin Morby of Woods. If any of the aforementioned bands strike your fancy, then you're in for a good night.
Monday, January 23 - Twin Sister: Rock and Roll Hotel
Twin Sister may be best described as dream-pop, but are not wistful enough to be forgotten or bore to tears in a live setting. The songs are noticeably different, which is a low bar set by some of their peers. Even if you don't not like every song you hear from them, singer Andrea Estella should keep you engaged for long enough so you find something you enjoy.
Tuesday, January 24 - Widespread Panic: Fillmore Silver Spring
I am not a diehard Widespread Panic fan. At this point in time, my concert tally is somewhere in the double digits amassed by traveling little and seeing the band once or twice a tour -- maybe. This show, and ten others in four total cities mark the first ever "fully acoustic" tour from the band. If you didn't like Widespread Panic to begin with, this will hardly move you to find a ticket for the sold-out concert. For the casual fan like me, my interest is somewhere close to piqued.
Wednesday, January 25 -- Coeur de Pirate: 9:30 Club
To be perfectly honest, I know very little about Coeur de Pirate. When they were added to the 9:30 club schedule, I was intrigued enough with their name to give them a listen. There are likely few males of my ilk that don't have some sweet spot for beautiful French singer-songwriters. Even if I am entirely wrong on that last bit, it's what got me to not hesitate in buying a ticket.
Not Attending: Widespread Panic: Fillmore Silver Spring
One night will most likely be enough for me these days. If I didn't have to cross over to dark side Live Nation territory, I may have chosen otherwise. At this point, I'm comfortable with my decision.
Thursday, January 26 - Miranda Lambert: 1st Mariner Bank Arena
Miranda Lambert is responsible for two very good albums in 2011. Although it was her record with the Pistol Annies, not her solo effort, that ended up on my top 10 list, I'm not missing the opportunity to see her live. I balked last summer when she played Merriweather Post Pavilion. I refuse to let my biases keep my away this time, no matter how out of place I may feel at a pop-country show.
Friday, January 27 - Jeff Mangum: Lincoln Theatre
When Jeff Mangum reemerged from his part-time seclusion last year for a full tour, I skipped driving up to Baltimore because I didn't want to miss watching a Redskins game. After reading that sentence, you may think I don't deserve to attend this show. You might be right, but the Caps' middling first half and the Wizards' couple of wins won't keep me away from hearing Neutral Milk Hotel songs performed live for the first time.
Saturday, January 28 - Lamb of God: 9:30 Club
If you like heavy, you could do a hell of a lot worse than a metal show at the 9:30 club. There's something wonderfully oppressive about that amount of dense volume coming from their PA. My knowledge on Lamb of God is minimal, but every so often, I need some music with just the right amount of brutality to offset my ever-present sensitive side.
Maybe Attending: Class Actress: U Street Music Hall
If I can time it right, I'll do my best to get to U Street Music Hall to catch Class Actress before heading over to the 9:30 Club. If somewhat sultry electro-pop is your thing (and how could it not be?) then this is the show for you. Preview what you're likely to hear with 2011's very enjoyable album Rapprocher.
Not Attending: Jeff Mangum: Lincoln Theatre
While I adore just about every second of music the man has ever created, I cannot imagine needing to see him on back-to-back nights. Should he not play "Two Headed Boy, Pt 2," the first night and only the second, I will take it back and live in eternal regret.
Follow Ben E. Kessler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ben__k