November’s top shows: Kanye West, Charli XCX, Laura Mvula and more

This month's concerts are, for the most part, more low-key than we experienced during a head-spinning October. So prime your ears for a rising British singer, an exuberant dance-pop princess and performance artists moonlighting as a band. But also know that a certain outspoken rapper will be rolling through town with what's certain to be the spectacle of the month: Kanye West is on his first solo tour in five years.

Kanye West


(Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)

This summer's gloriously messy, metal-tinged "Yeezus" is easy to appreciate for its artistic ambitions, but the album-as-manifesto is the last thing you'd choose to get a concert crowd into a party mood. Yet it's this bleak, angst-ridden well from which Kanye West is drawing for his first solo tour since 2008's "808s & Heartbreak." So don't expect to see the backpack-wearing, jovial "Louis Vuitton don" or reality television's freshly minted fiance at Verizon Center: Yeezy is not only diving into his recent dark material and wearing on-stage masks for much of the show,  but he's also invoking Jesus and treating the stage like his personal pulpit.
Buzz factor: 10. But did you need us to tell you that? The first chance to see West in years, coupled with the savvy choice of Kendrick Lamar as his tourmate (the rapper has only upped his game since his appearance at this year's Sweetlife Festival), makes it November's concert behemoth, even if it won't be quite as much fun as seeing, say, Katy Perry.
Nov. 21 at Verizon Center, 601 F St. NW. 800-745-3000. www.verizoncenter.com. $39.50-$199.50.

Holy Ghost!


(Photo by Ruvan Wijesooriya)

If you harbor a soft spot for the ice-pick electronica of Depeche Mode or old Factory Records acts such as the Happy Mondays, the brainy dance music of Holy Ghost! could trigger flashbacks. Disco, house music and guitars are embodied in the clubby jams of this Brooklyn duo - childhood friends Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel. The band returns to the 9:30 Club with fresh material from its second album, "Dynamics," released this spring.
Buzz factor: 6. Disco has had a micro-comeback since the band's self-titled 2011 album channeled the '70s sound with a fresh twist. "Dynamics" hasn't made quite the same splash, but delves further into "Saturday Night Fever" terrain.
Friday at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. 202-265-0930. www.930.com. $20.

CocoRosie


(Photo by Rodrigo Jardon)

As art-rock duo CocoRosie, sisters/free spirits Bianca and Sierra Casady sing in nasally, otherwordly tones and employ a variety of bells and whistles, from weird costume changes to video projections. But make no mistake, CocoRosie's music, particularly its new album, "Tales of a GrassWidow," is grounded in beats, including '90s hip-hop, freak folk and electro.
Buzz factor: 5. Freak folk's moment in the sun has passed, but if you're a fan of bands (including Animal Collective) that present music as one big crafty, artsy spectacle, get tickets now for this show.
Nov. 7 at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW. 202-408-3100. www.sixthandi.org. $25.

Charli XCX


(Photo by Dan Curwin.

You might not recognize rising Brit pop singer Charlotte Emma Aitchison by her real name or by her stage name, Charli XCX. But if you've jammed to Icona Pop's "I Love It" in the car or at the club, you already know this wild-haired, spandex-clad singer has a knack for electro-pop earworms. Charli XCX helped write "I Love It" for the Swedish duo. But the young singer's own album, this year's "True Romance," is packed with richer treasures, including the loopy sparkler of a kiss-off, "You (Ha Ha Ha)," and the slightly less profane "Nuclear Seasons."
Buzz factor:  6. The singer fits right in with the new generation of pop party girls, including Icona Pop and Aitchison's U.S. counterpart, Sky Ferreira (who's performing at the 9:30 Club on Nov. 18). If you missed Charli XCX's June show at U Street Music Hall because you were sipping cocktails on a rooftop somewhere, let the cooler weather draw you inside for this return engagement.
Nov. 16 at U Street Music Hall, 1115 U St. NW. 202-588-1880. www.ustreetmusichall.com. $20.

Laura Mvula


(Andrew Cowie /AFP/Getty Images)

It would be easy to compare smoky-voiced English songstress Laura Mvula to Amy Winehouse or Adele. And, on her debut album, "Sing to the Moon," released this spring, the newcomer is certainly as soulful as her musical predecessors. But the classically trained Mvula paints from a different palette, channeling girl groups, jazz balladeers and big-band orchestras, and for those who'd pay money to hear just one upbeat British chanteuse, the one-time receptionist is also endlessly more optimistic.
Buzz factor: 8. The glittering, harmony-driven "Green Garden" off "Sing to the Moon" has propelled Mvula to fame abroad, but stateside, her rise has been a bit of a slow burn. But that's certain to change: Mvula gained fame when she was nominated for England's Mercury Prize along with David Bowie, Savages and James Blake (who ultimately won this week). See her at the Hamilton this month, before she's playing far bigger venues.
Nov. 19 at the Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW. 202-787-1000. www.thehamiltondc.com. $22.50-$27.50.

Lavanya Ramanathan is a professional eater/drinker/thinker for Weekend and the Going Out Guide. University of Texas. Northwestern University. Rap fan.
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Lavanya Ramanathan | October 30, 2013