Every week, the Going Out Gurus round up the week’s can’t-miss concerts, DJ nights and beer tastings. Here are five we think should be at the top of your calendar:
Wednesday: Ah, the universal language of rock-and-roll. Few things are more life affirming. Los Vigilantes hail from Puerto Rico and rip through their songs fast, loose and reckless just like their garage rock brethren around the world. Some of those brothers in ragged glory are North Carolina’s Paint Fumes, who play infectious and energetic garage rock that has enough interesting detours to keep listeners slightly off balance. Locals Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb also play at Comet Ping Pong.
Thursday: There’s a doable double bill on tap Thursday night that showcases two sides of the pop spectrum. The early half is Alex Winston , a Detroit newcomer whose shimmering songs feature irresistibly huge hooks. Her debut LP, “King Con,” at times sounds like a modern update on the girl-group sound of the ‘60s - one song brighter and bouncier than the next, all sung in a chirpy, high-pitched voice. She’s at the U Street Music Hall. Eleanor Friedberger is no chirper; she’s simply a speaker. Her songs succeed largely thanks to her hyper-detailed lyrics, which make her one of the best storytellers in music. The Fiery Furnaces singer continues to tour behind 2011’s “Last Summer,” her invigorating solo debut of rollicking summer stories, and stops off at the Black Cat.
Friday: The D.C. music scene continues to mine the tropical sounds of the African, Latin and Caribbean diasporas, and the results are solid releases, great shows and sweaty dance parties. DJs and musicians have been joining the fun, and with Empresarios , those two worlds come together with everything from Latin disco funk to boogaloo. Joining them at the Hamilton are Alma Tropicalia, an all-star group of musicians from several working bands around town who explore ‘60s Brazilian tropicalia, mixing psychedelic pop with rock, samba and forro.
Friday: Next week, the annual Forward Festival brings five days of DJs, emerging artists and music-related panel discussions to venues across Washington. This weekend, there’s a small-scale Forward Festival preview headlined by Dutch DJ/producer Dave Huismans, who records a thundering mix of dubstep and techno as 2562 as well as wicked electronic dance music under the moniker A Made Up Sound. Joining him at the blank-slate 1351 H Street NE arts space building are local DJ duos Navbox and Measax and Whighzeguy and Refuge. Visual artist Capsaicin will project images around the venue while the music plays.
Saturday: You may think that most of the National Cherry Blossom Festival events are targeted at tourists, but that’s not always the case. Case in point: the Pink Line Project’s annual Cherry Blast party, which brings DJs, artists and musicians to a 15,000-square-foot Lightbox space in Anacostia. Check out light installations, aerial dancers, the Batala Brazilian drum troupe and interactive exhibits; dance to electronic music by Protect-U, Heavy Breathing and various VJs; grab a snack at the Busboys and Poets pop-up cafe; or get a drink at one of the bars. (One beverage is included with each ticket.) As in previous years, organizers are running shuttle buses to Anacostia: Grab a school bus in Dupont Circle (on Massachusetts Avenue) or at 13th and H streets NE. Or take Metro: The Anacostia station is two blocks from the venue.
Still need more ideas? A dozen are waiting for you after the jump.
Thursday, April 19
The Howard Theater has been welcoming some great D.C. natives onto its stage, from Wale to Meshell Ndegeocello, so it’s nice to see that momentum continue with Alice Smith . Her blues, rock, soul and jazz sound touches everything that’s historical about the Howard, even as it’s unmistakably modern.
Pizzeria Paradiso honors the beers of the Tarheel State and the Palmetto State at its Georgetown and Dupont Circle bars tonight, serving more than 30 ales, lagers and stouts from nine Carolina breweries, including Asheville Brewing Company, Foothills Brewing Company and Westbrook. Check the list on eatyourpizza.com, and pay attention: Some beers will be served at only one of the locations, while others can be found at both.
During happy hour this Thursday, the Level lounge in Annapolis is donating 20 percent of sales of its summery 360 Gimlet cocktail — organic vodka, lime and a lime-infused foam — to local autism charity the Bowen Foundation. Stop by between 6 and 8 p.m. for live music, a raffle and drinks for a good cause.
Friday, April 20
Saturday, April 21
If your inner goth is bummed about the onset of hot, sunny weather, Saturday’s show at St. Stephens Church should transport you to a cold place. A quartet of loud, heavy and dark bands — Screen Vinyl Image, LTW, Washerwoman and Lenorable — will perform at a benefit for the Washington Animal Rescue League.
We’re big fans of newly redesigned local Web site All Our Noise, particularly its Bite-Sized Sets feature, which is one of the best live music series on the Internet. (Some favorites — Real Estate; Sharon Van Etten; T-Model Ford.) There’s a party at Montserrat House with local bands Sun Wolf, Buildings and Plums to celebrate the site’s relaunch.
Friday’s show is long sold out, but the Howard Theatre added a Saturday encore for the pairing of D.C. hardcore legends Bad Brains and Wu-Tang’s most wicked worsdsmith, GZA.
Chaise Lounge plays ’50s and ’60s jazz, but not the kind of Miles and Coltrane bop that most people associate with that era. Instead, it’s a swinging romantic lounge sound with Marilyn Older’s vocals floating above brass and the occasional Latin rhythm, like something you might have found on one of those “Swingers”-era “Intoxica” compilations. The group marks the release of its new album, “Insomnia,” with a party at the Hamilton. Arrive at 7 p.m. for a pre-show cocktail party with the band; the performance begins at 8:30.
Sunday, April 22
The good folks of We Fought the Big One are always spinning the best in rare and outsider post-punk the first Friday of every month at Marx Cafe, and on Sunday they’ll be spinning at CD Cellar to help welcome Zarjaz, former frontman of U.K. DIY obscuro-favorites Tronics. He performs a rare gig at the Arlington record store.
Monday, April 23
DJ Sam Burns is giving over one of his retro cinema nights to the quick-footed acolytes who burn up the dance floor during his house music sets. Urban Artistry is hosting a showing of the classic breakdancing films “Beat Street” and “Planet B-Boy” and will likely give Blackbyrd Warehouse’s hardwood floors a good workout, too.
Mixologists from across the area gather at Dirty Martini for the Industry Cocktail Competition , including Duane Silvester (Bourbon Steak), Gordon Banks (Jackie’s Sidebar), Taha Ismail (Graffiato) and Rachel Sergi (Jack Rose). Admission includes an open bar from 6 to 9 p.m. and free hors d’oeuvres, plus live music and discounted drinks after the competition.
Chicago singer-songwriter Willis Earl Beal is far from the “classic” definition of singer-songwriter, favoring an appealingly scattershot sound that has made him one of 2012’s most buzzed-about artists. He opens for Wu Lyf at Rock & Roll Hotel.