There are times when we all have to make decisions, and other times that I refuse. This week is an example. When experiencing a concert conflict, do not give up all hope. We shouldn't be punished because two acts are playing in the same night within walking distance of each other. If all the stars align, this city provides for multiple shows in one night. Sometimes, late and early shows will allow for one to take in full performances in the same evening. This week is not an example. It might be a pipe dream, but at this point I hold tickets for events that are roughly happening at the same time. At this point, I honestly believe I'll see everyone I want this week, even Fiona Apple.
Monday, March 26 - Kevin Seconds: Black Cat
The legendary 7 Seconds front man brings with him others cut from similar cloth. The three musicians preceding Seconds' headlining slot (Vic Ruggiero, Franz Nicolay, and Kepi Ghoulie) all have punk on their resumes, but express themselves equally well with a variety of acoustic instruments. The best singer-songwriters are often those who tend to stray from the assumed folk sound. The audience will be treated to rare talent four times over at the Black Cat.
The Joy Formidable: 9:30 Club
The Joy Formidable have graduated from the backstage at the Black Cat to a packed house at the 9:30 Club. And they've done so without much new material. The crowd favorites when the people were fewer in numbers remain the same today. This isn't to say the band isn't maturing or moving forward, but rather their rise in popularity was simply due to an expanded listenership. To know Ritzy Bryan and crew's timeless and raucous take on popular music, may very well be to love them.
Tuesday, March 27 - Metronomy: Rock and Roll Hotel
The group who found the intersection of pop, rock, and dance return to the Rock and Roll Hotel, and this time with rising stars Friends along for the ride. If you think you had enough Metronomy the last time they came to town, catching the opener before they're selling out clubs on their own could be a wise move.
Not Attending - Sleigh Bells: 9:30 Club
I don't know what I wanted from Sleigh Bells with the release of their most recent album, Reign of Terror. I was blown away when first hearing the abrasively scuzzy "Crown on the Ground" on their self-released 2HELLWU CD-R. Maybe there isn't anything left for them to do, but to stay the course. And I'm glad they are. I'll likely be back sooner, rather than later.
Wednesday, March 28 - Grant Hart: Black Cat
Grant Hart is the songwriter from Hüsker Dü that didn't spend any extended time in D.C., so don't miss this opportunity. His solo material has all the accessibility of the aforementioned band. It too has kept its edge without needing to be overbearingly aggressive. Grant Hart need not prove anything. He already has.
Might Be Attending - Fiona Apple: 6th and I Synagogue
It's already been said. And I've already said enough. But this time, however, I might actually be going. Maybe Fiona will show up too.
Not Attending - Van Halen: Verizon Center
It would be difficult for one to argue that the most recent Van Halen album isn't pretty damn good. One might object to the nepotism involved, but I'd find it hard to believe that the same person could close his or her eyes and tell the difference between Michael Anthony and Wolfgang Van Halen. That being said, no matter how good everyone has been saying these shows have been, the tickets cost far too much for me to do anything beyond stare at the show's page on Ticketmaster and balk.
Thursday, March 29 - Alcest/Deafheaven: DC9
The term "hipster" is even less a descriptive adjective when referring to a band. Still, the term "hipster metal" is bandied about when Deafheaven is mentioned. Fans of the darker side of the genre tend to be exclusive, but the last time I checked, we need not look alike to play good music. And if you're looking for incredibly bleak and heavy soundscapes on Thursday, good is about the worst thing you'll call the lineup at DC9 that night.
Friday, March 30 - First Aid Kit: Black Cat
To be expected, the voices of the Sodberg sister's are natural pairs. They compliment each other so well, that Johanna and Klara allow First Aid Kit to far surpass any preconceived notion of how passive a couple of Swedes making American folk music should sound. They draw on their influences more than they seek to move past them, but there's just a little more punch than you'll find from others with equally beautiful voices.
SBTRKT: 9:30 Club
Plan and simple, I want to be present for Willis Earl Beal's first stop in DC. The genre-bending dubstep of SBTRKT isn't entirely my cup of tea, although I would likely spend the rest of the evening at the 9:30 club, if not for what was happening at the Black Cat. Beal's minimal, modern, and raw take on blues, however, is what I'm looking for more often than not.
Saturday, March 31 - Perfume Genius: IOTA
I thought the first Perfume Genius record was pretty close to perfect, and then I heard Mike Hadreas' 2012 effort, Put Your Back N 2 It and heard an even more complete album. Having seen Perfume Genius only once before, and in an opening slot, I'm looking forward to a respectful crowd and a painfully honest and emotional performance.
Not Attending - Cloud Nothings: Red Palace
Cloud Nothings are no overnight success, but they have managed to make the one-step leap of a sparsely attended opening gig in D.C. to selling out an even larger venue. Cloud Nothings sold more tickets this time around on the strength of the very well-received, and Steve Albini-produced, Attack on Memory. Cloud Nothings take a no-holds-barred approach to rock and roll, and embody that sound on stage.
Sunday, April 1 - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Verizon Center
Typically, this is the man and the band that need no introduction. But this is my first time seeing E Street without its Big Man. My first reaction was that the name should be retired all together. But after learning of the horn section's inclusion of Clarence's nephew Jake, and reading more on Bruce's decision to carry on the legacy, I've made just about an 180-degree turn.
Not Attending - Andrew W.K.: 9:30 Club
I admit it. Like many others, I was late in realizing the simple genius of Andrew W.K. That brilliance will be on display as he performs, in its entirety, the strongest effort from his ouvre of party anthems I Get Wet. It can't all be fun and games, however. The Boss says I have to be elsewhere on Sunday night.
Follow Ben E. Kessler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ben__k