Jun 01, 2023
Across the country, music festival season is synonymous with spring and summer, from Coachella’s two-weekend desert takeover in April through to Governors Ball in the heart of New York and Bonnaroo on a farm in Tennessee in June and the globally expanded Lollapalooza’s Chicago showcase in August. But even as days shorten and fall begins, festivals in the D.C. area are going out like a supernova with a handful of the year’s most exciting lineups.
Campers and counselors are heading back to school, making Camp Tall Timbers in High View, W.Va., the perfect location for a sleepover festival focused on fresh-air dancing. Zapateo brings more than two dozen acts to the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just two hours from D.C., as dance collectives 140+ x FWB, Dance Club, Extended Play and Electric Kingdom join forces for the inaugural offering. While DJs are the main attraction, the weekend also features a live set by sonic explorer Dreamcastmoe and a showcase featuring D.C. rockers Tosser and hardcore acts Full Circle and Truth Cult. Sept. 1-3 at Camp Tall Timbers. zapateo.ooo. $69-$359.
DC JazzFest opened Wednesday and continues with a full weekend of programming across town. On Friday, the Anacostia Jazz Hop features a handful of free performances throughout the neighborhood, while the Grammy-winning Gregory Porter brings his gospel-fueled baritone to the Anthem and bassist Jonathan Michel leads Orrin Evans’s Imani Records Jam Session at Union Stage. The festival culminates with two days of music at the Wharf, headlined by Samara Joy, a preternaturally gifted vocalist who has drawn comparisons to legendary figures Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. Aug. 30-Sept. 3 at multiple locations. dcjazzfest.org. Free to $600.
For its ninth edition, All Things Go returns to Merriweather Post Pavilion and a two-day format. Indie-pop singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers — who headlined and co-curated the festival’s all-women lineup in 2018 — is returning, as is one-hit-wonder-survivor Carly Rae Jepsen. Continuing the festival’s commitment to women and queer artists are, among others, singer-songwriter supergroup Boygenius, electro-tinged tourmates MUNA, Southern gothic pop star Ethel Cain and indie-pop lifers Tegan and Sara. Cain performs Sunday, before the artist to whom she is most compared, pop icon Lana Del Rey. Show up early for Sudan Archives, who released one of last year’s best albums, and Meet Me at the Altar, a band reclaiming pop-punk. Sept. 30-Oct 1. at Merriweather Post Pavilion. allthingsgofestival.com. Sold out.
And while not technically a festival, Black Cat’s 30th Anniversary celebration packs the punch of one with a lineup full of D.C. punk royalty. Plenty of musicians will be pulling double duty across the two nights, including the influential Mary Timony in both Ex Hex and Hammered Hulls, and venue proprietor Dante Ferrando playing with both post-hardcore originals Gray Matter and house band the Owners. Dance-punk duo Flasher return to D.C. as does Ted Leo, bringing together the Pharmacists for a rare gig after years on the road. Perhaps most intriguing, a Sunday headlining set by beloved ’90s indie pop act Velocity Girl, reuniting for only the second time since their 1996 split. Sept. 8-9 at Black Cat. blackcatdc.com. Sold out.
Nine other concerts to catch in September
After fronting bands for years, Jeff Rosenstock has continued his prolific, DIY tendencies as a solo artist, penning verbose and vulnerable songs drawn from the hook-driven pop-punk, ska and emo of his youth. He says new album “HELLMODE” “feels like the chaos of being alive right now,” and on not-quite-title track “HEALMODE” he’s able to focus on the simplicity of love even in a climate-changed California. Sept. 6 at 9:30 Club. 930.com. $25.
As Suicideboys, cousins Scott “Skrim” Arceneaux Jr. and Aristos “Ruby da Cherry” Petrou lean into the skid of their moniker with a seemingly endless discography of sinister rap songs about depression, drug addiction and suicidal ideation. Drawing heavily from macabre rap originators Three 6 Mafia and pioneering SoundCloud rap crew Raider Klan, the duo isn’t necessarily doing anything novel, just connecting with the latest generation. Sept. 12 at Capital One Arena. capitalonearena.com. $45.95-$250.
New wave titans Squeeze and the Psychedelic Furs are bringing memories of the ’80s to an amphitheater near you. The former is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a band, commemorating a songbook that bridged the gap between the Beatles and Britpop. Meanwhile, the Furs’ hits have become stand-ins for the decade, with Richard Butler’s sneering vocals on songs like “Love My Way” and “Pretty in Pink” synonymous with the period. Sept. 14 at Wolf Trap. wolftrap.org. $49-$69.
Like many R&B singers before her, Victoria Monét first made her mark as a behind-the-scenes songwriter until her solo career took off. After penning tracks for the likes of Ariana Grande and Fifth Harmony, Monét made her mark with “Jaguar” in 2020, an EP she recently followed up with “Jaguar II,” a lush album that pairs her luscious voice with contemporary R&B songs marked by a timeless sound full of twinkling melodies and full-bodied low-end. Sept. 15 at the Howard Theatre. thehowardtheatre.com. Sold out.
After establishing his rap career with singsong jingles like “One Night” and “Minnesota,” Lil Yachty warbled his way to virality with last year’s frazzled “Poland.” But instead of doubling down on the latter’s experimental sound, the 26-year-old talent zagged on his fifth album, embracing psych rock and easy-listening funk. Bringing together new songs and old hits in concert will be Yachty’s greatest trick to date. Sept. 21 at Echostage. echostage.com. $46-$400.
Martyn Bootyspoon is the evocative alter ego of Montreal’s Jason Voltaire, a DJ-producer with a particular skill for crafting dance floor percolators that draw from the debauched traditions of ghettotech and booty bass. His latest, “Malware Trance,” crescendos like watching “Hackers” at peak time. “Melodically,” he’s said of the track, “I achieved the panic feeling of being seconds away from bricking your family desktop computer with a sinister .exe file.” Sept. 22 at the Owl Room. theowlroomdc.com. $11.33.
Like 50 Cent before him, Conway the Machine has an origin story worthy of a gangsta rap superhero: a 2012 shooting that left him with Bell’s palsy, facial paralysis, a slur and a new sense of purpose. Teaming with half brother Westside Gunn and cousin Benny the Butcher, the Buffalo rapper helped build Griselda Records into a shrine to New York drug rap from days past, serving malevolence and opulence in equal measure. Sept. 22 at 9:30 Club. 930.com. $32.
Ashnikko is a star for the TikTok age, combining internet rap and hyper pop and churning out post-genre, post-gender anthems like “STUPID,” “Working Bitch” and “L8r Boi,” a raunchy feminist spin on Avril Lavigne’s pop-punk favorite “Sk8er Boi” on which she sings, “She’s not a therapist / Don’t wanna take care of him.” Her debut album “WEEDKILLER” is harder-edged and industrial-infused, a nu-metal concept album about personal identity amid environmental disaster. Sept. 29 at the Anthem. theanthemdc.com. $37.50 - $57.50.
Italian prog rockers Goblin are best known for their scores for the horror films of giallo king Dario Argento. The band has existed in several forms since its ’70s peak, but it’s keyboardist Claudio Simonetti’s version that will be performing the live score to the Argento-produced “Demons” before a set of classic Goblin material like the iconic scores for “Suspiria” and “Profondo Rosso.” Oct. 2 at the Howard Theatre. thehowardtheatre.com. $35-$50.