Monday, Dec. 10
Gang of Youths at 9:30 Club: If their achingly earnest song titles weren’t enough of a hint — “The Heart Is a Muscle” and “The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows” among them — Gang of Youths is a band that wears its heart on its sleeve. The Australian quintet’s breakout album, “Go Farther in Lightness,” launched the band to stardom in its native land, with vocalist David Le’aupepe waxing poetic about spiritual awakenings over the multi-guitar assault of melodies that uplift his existential sagas. It’s an approach that might remind listeners of classic-rock bands of yore, or maybe younger, nostalgia-leaning groups such as the Gaslight Anthem and the War on Drugs. 7 p.m. $20.
Merry TubaChristmas at Kennedy Center: This year will mark the 45th anniversary of this spirited assemblage of the Washington area’s low brass community. The Kennedy Center will play host to area tuba, sousaphone and euphonium players — some dutifully dressed as Santa, elves and other merry figures — as they play a concert of traditional holiday music. If you have been hiding a secret tuba talent and want to get onstage at one of the area’s most revered halls, registration is open to all starting at 3 p.m. For those wanting to watch the show, tickets will be distributed in the Nations Gallery starting at 4:30 p.m. — limited to two per person. 6 p.m. Free.
Tuesday, Dec. 11
Eyedress at U Street Music Hall: It’s fitting that this trippy Filipino troubadour titled one of his albums “Shapeshifter.” His darts through chillwave, dream pop and psychedelic-crust-punk resist any sort of easy musical categorization. The 28-year-old musician, born Idris Vicuña, expounds on vivid tales of his frenetic life in Manila using sparse beats, which give way so his hazy yelps can puncture through. While his sounds are sometimes elusive — including two recently released tracks in Tagalog — what’s clear from his barked English is that he’s unpacking the anxiety of growing up and raising a family in the wake of rising fascism in the Philippines. 7 p.m. $15.
‘Ellington’s Nutcracker’ at Blues Alley: If the staid renditions of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” aren’t putting you in the holiday spirit, head to Blues Alley on Tuesday or Wednesday night. D.C. trombonist Eric Felten leads his annual tradition of a jazzy big band performance of Duke Ellington’s reimagining of the “Nutcracker” suite along with other festive tunes. Earlier shows on both nights are already sold out. Through Wednesday. 10 p.m. $30.
Wednesday, Dec. 12
Charles Lloyd & Lucinda Williams at the Coolidge Auditorium in the Library of Congress: It’s easy for marquee artists to rest on their laurels and play the hits, but that probably wouldn’t be much fun for Charles Lloyd and Lucinda Williams. Lloyd, the restless jazz virtuoso, continues to pour albums out at a consistent clip after more than five decades. Meanwhile, 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of Williams’s iconic entry into the Americana songbook, “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” — and surely, the songstress could coast at shows, playing that album in its entirety. Instead, the two are on the road together, performing selections from their refreshing new collaborative album, “Vanished Gardens,” which features groovier reimaginings of Williams’s richly drawled tunes of turmoil and winding concoctions of known American songbook staples. 8 p.m. Preregistration sold out, but free tickets may be available in the standby line.
‘Miss Saigon’ at Kennedy Center: The traveling production of “Miss Saigon” lands at the Kennedy Center for the holiday season. This new version of the tragic love story, which originally debuted in 1989, features over-the-top sets (including that famous helicopter), soaring ballads and a bit more gritty realism. Based on the opera “Madame Butterfly,” the musical centers on a teenage Vietnamese girl named Kim who falls in love with an American G.I. in the last days of the Vietnam War. Through Jan. 13. $49-$175.
‘Cowboy Bebop: The Movie’ at the Japan Information and Culture Center: Chances are if you know nothing about anime, you might have seen something influenced by the popular series “Cowboy Bebop” — or will feel right at home when watching its homage-heavy story and style. In just 26 episodes, the show inspired sequences of “Kill Bill Vol. 1” and the work of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson. To celebrate the 20-year anniversary of its debut, the Japan Information and Culture Center is hosting a screening of the movie that served as an extension of the series. Preregistration is full but a limited number of last-minute registrations will be available in the hours before the event. 6:30 p.m. Free.
Thursday, Dec. 13
‘Banned in D.C.’ at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: Few works have captured the peculiar alchemy of the outcasts and weirdos who cemented Washington’s punk scene in music history quite as well as Cynthia Connolly’s tome, “Banned in D.C.” On the 30th anniversary of its publication, Connolly and co-author Leslie Clague will talk about the process of documenting such iconic local outfits as Minor Threat and Bad Brains and their own role in carrying the message of the District’s DIY spirit. 7 to 9 p.m. Free; advance tickets are sold out, but walk-up seats are available the day of the show.
Ras Nebyu at Songbyrd: One of the most illuminating moments on Ras Nebyu’s bright new album, “Uptown Lion Walkin,” takes shape in a concise metaphysical brag: “Third eye seeing better.” Do you see what he sees? The D.C. rapper has always sounded alive and alert, but nowadays, his hi-def visions of a mercilessly gentrified city feel like little flashes of omnipotence. While his third eye has a lot to do with it, so do his own two feet. “Walking would prompt me to open my mind,” the 27-year-old says of his impulse to compose rhymes while strolling the streets. “Initially, it wasn’t really to write. It was just to unwind.” But lyrics started blooming in his head — four lines here, eight lines there — and before long, he was drafting a portrait of a mutating District as he marched across it in real time. 8 p.m. $12-$15.
Friday, Dec. 14
‘The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me’ at Kennedy Center: Just like the classic Christmas song “The Friendly Beasts,” this holiday family opera focuses on the animals in the nativity story. In this tale, a young angel ponders which animal should lead Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, and a unicorn, flamingo and the humble donkey are all in the running. The Washington National Opera originally premiered composer Jeanine Tesori’s opera based on an award-winning children’s book in 2013. This year’s cast includes members of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program and the WNO Children’s Chorus. Through Sunday. 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $49-$79.
Lindsey Stirling at the Anthem: Lindsey Stirling is the perfect artist for the pop culture moment, where remix-mashup covers often outpace originals on YouTube and reality-competition TV shows still proliferate. The 32-year-old veteran of “America’s Got Talent” and “Dancing with the Stars” is an accomplished mixer. She dances while playing violin, adds classical strings to electronic beats and gives her own spin to pop hits and classic cover fare. Whatever’s in the mix, it’s working: Three of her albums have topped both the classical and dance charts, and her latest, 2017’s holiday album “Warmer in the Winter,” is the focus of her current tour. 8 p.m. $75-$229.
‘A Christmas Messe’ at Folger Theater: In 1619, students at Oxford University wrote “A Christmas Messe,” a holiday play in which the characters were components of a Christmas dinner — Trencher and Tablecloth, Bread and Salt, and King Beef and King Brawn — arguing over who should be served first, framed by soliloquies from the hungry Belly and ended by intervention from the Cooke. The Folger Consort is using this text — preserved as a manuscript in the Folger Library — as the backbone of a concert of English holiday music, from early medieval carols through Tallis and Byrd and all the way up to the Vaughan Williams arrangement of “Greensleeves.” Through Dec. 23. $52.
— Hau Chu, Adele Chapin, Chris Kelly, Anne Midgette and Chris Richards