Friday, May 10
Ex Hex at the 9:30 Club: When the D.C. trio released its debut album “Rips” in 2014, it was a necessary jolt of power rock complete with memorable hooks and killer guitar riffs courtesy of Mary Timony. It took half a decade for their follow up, “It’s Real,” but it seems like the time was well spent in buffing up their sound. Timony’s guitar prowess is still in full force, but the group sounds tighter, louder and better than before on the record — which was partially inspired by “Hysteria,” Def Leppard’s glam-metal opus. 8 p.m. $25.
The Late Shift: Alexandria Creates at Torpedo Factory: It’s not only Washington that opens up its museums for after-hours shindigs: The Old Town art space will debut new exhibits and have live performances and art-making demonstrations. There will also be a wide variety of craft workshops, including yarn wrapping and 'zine making. A special bonus for the night will be a mobile installation from Richmond’s Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, featuring the works of Virginia-born-and-raised artists, including photographer Sally Mann and influential painter Cy Twombly. 7 to 10 p.m. Free.
Truckeroo at the Bullpen: The monthly food truck gathering was supposed to begin its 2019 schedule in April, but was canceled because of the weather. Fingers crossed the season can start up proper Friday. While food trucks are no longer the new and trendy option for foodies, Truckeroo is still a great opportunity to have dinner served food-court-style from standbys including Red Hook Lobster Pound and DC Slices, or try specialty items from trucks such as Urban Poutine. 4 to 11 p.m. Free admission.
How to Look at Art at the Hirshhorn: This city is fortunate to be flush with exciting new exhibits almost every season, but maybe you’ve been scared to ask a simple question: “What am I looking at?” The Hirshhorn, home to the Smithsonian’s most modern (and arguably most abstract) art, will host a guided lunchtime tour of its gallery where staff will explain things you might’ve only sheepishly asked a close friend. 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Free.
Queens of Egypt: The Mother of All Parties at National Geographic: After-hours parties at National Geographic headquarters offer the best of two worlds. First, there’s the chance to explore the museum’s spectacular “Queens of Egypt” exhibition without being rushed or jostled by tour groups. There are TED-style “lightning talks” with National Geographic scientists and researchers. And then, there’s the party: a DJ-and-percussion set by Madame Gandhi, dancing in the building’s courtyard, drag queen performances and a “mummy’s day” card crafting station for those who need to make something for Mother’s Day. (Might want to take care of that before you hit the open bar.) Tickets are limited and will not be sold at the door. 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. $60.
Saturday, May 11
Funk Parade on U Street NW: The Funk Parade almost died last year, but thanks to a crowdfunding campaign (and an assist from the D.C. government), the annual musical march through D.C.’s U Street neighborhood went on as planned. Now in its sixth year, the event is under new management: D.C. nonprofit group the MusicianShip has been entrusted with keeping the funk alive. As in past years, the Funk Parade will host a free music festival and street fair during the day before the parade (featuring local marching bands, dancers and musicians) snakes down U Street NW. Concerts starring local bands follow, and a $10 wristband is available for priority access to the venues, many of which are on U Street. New this year is a morning conference about music, social issues and the city’s arts scene. Festival: 1 p.m., free; parade: 5 p.m., free; concerts: various times, free-$28.
E.U. Open House: Washington is one of the most international cities in the world, and it’s at its most global during the month-long Passport D.C. program. This weekend’s E.U. Open House gives Washingtonians a glimpse inside 28 embassies and the European Union delegation headquarters. Activities include traditional music and dancing, interactive cultural displays, basic language lessons and the chance to taste national foods, wines and beers. Though lines can be long at the more popular destinations, this is one of those only-in-Washington experiences that can be rewarding with a little bit of planning. Times and locations vary. Free.
Day of the Dog at Congressional Cemetery: Congressional Cemetery’s permanent residents include politicians, war heroes, Native American chiefs and musicians. But the large Capitol Hill burial ground is also known for the living, breathing dogs that run among the tombstones. While there’s an extensive wait list to join the K9 Corps, which allows the privilege of walking dogs in the cemetery, anyone can explore the grounds during the annual Day of the Dog. The festivities include tours of the historic cemetery, a dachshunds-only “wiener waddle” and, for those looking for a new best friend, adoptable dogs and cats. 10 a.m. Free.
Third anniversary party at Suns Cinema: In three short years, the Mount Pleasant movie theater/bar has established itself as one of the city’s gems. To celebrate another year in business, the space is expanding. The building’s second floor will be the home for near-daily screenings of specially curated films, while the first floor will turn into an operational bar at nights from Tuesday to Sunday. The bash on Saturday night will be held in the new upstairs space alongside live music spun by DJ Youtube Commentz. 8 p.m. No cover charge.
Jillian Jacqueline at Milkboy Arthouse: Jacqueline’s intriguing spin on country-pop has captured the attention of Nashville singers, songwriters and tastemakers — she’s often one of the first names mentioned in conversations about new rising stars. Last fall, she released her second EP, “Side B,” which has racked up millions of streams on Spotify and features a collaboration with Keith Urban (“If I Were You”). Jacqueline says the most valuable lesson she has learned, even as her career has taken off, is patience: “Your career is never going to look the way you think it’s going to look, but if you trust in the process and follow your heart, it’s always going to be better than you thought it could be.” 8 p.m. $15-$18.
Ben Platt at the Anthem: Nearly four years after Ben Platt jump-started his career at Arena Stage, where he starred in the world-premiere run of eventual Broadway smash “Dear Evan Hansen,” the 25-year-old returns to the Southwest Waterfront to tour his debut album, “Sing to Me Instead.” Filled with piano-driven ballads and introspective musings on love and regret, the record marks a soulful transition into the pop music realm for Platt. The Tony-, Grammy- and Emmy-winning actor plans to perform all 12 tracks from the album at the Anthem, along with a selection of covers. 8 p.m. $50-$130.
Tot Rock Festival at Mount Vernon Recreation Center: Children’s music is a field that tends to fly under the radar even in a busy cosmopolitan area like the Washington region. It’s a niche market whose target audience doesn’t make consumer choices. Parents with small children often already have too much on their plate and as such will grab for the most prominent offerings. But there’s quite a vibrant scene for children’s musicians in Washington. There’s even a free regional festival: Tot Rock Fest in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood. This year’s lineup features four local children’s musicians (all regular performers in the DMV), who just happen to be among the Washington area’s most creative and distinctive. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free.
ChurchKey Tenth Anniversary Celebration (Volume 1): A decade after opening, ChurchKey remains D.C.'s preeminent beer bar. While the actual anniversary isn’t until October, celebrations will be spread over the next sixth months, because why not? The kickoff event features an all-star lineup of beers that aren’t usually available in the area, with drafts from the Veil, Trillium, Bissell Brothers, Other Half, Monkish and Hudson Valley. If this is just the start, you have to be pretty excited about what’s coming down the pipeline. 11:30 a.m. Free admission; beers priced individually.
Knife Knights at Pie Shop: Ishmael Butler doesn’t just contain multitudes, he contains galaxies. The leader of jazz rap pioneers Digable Planets has spent the past decade exploring the Afrofuturist cosmos as half of Shabazz Palaces and is now making the rounds as half of Knife Knights. After collaborating with Seattle multi-hyphenate Erik Blood for years, the pair finally sat down — with a handful of collaborators — to work on music outside of the Palaces purview. The result is “1 Time Mirage,” an album of hip-hop at its most experimental and electronic that is lush and noisy, hypnotic and claustrophobic, and much more. 8 p.m. $14.
Sunday, May 12
International Spy Museum reopens: The first visitors through the doors of the International Spy Museum’s shiny new building at L’Enfant Plaza will be partygoers at a glitzy, “top-secret affair” grand opening on Saturday night (tickets for the adults-only party cost $299 per person), but on Sunday everyone is invited into the museum’s new space, with fun activities also happening outside the building, such as a performance from the National Symphony Orchestra Youth Fellowship Program, sleight of hand from magician Peter Wood and makeup artists who will demonstrate the art of disguise. $14.95-$24.94.
Nag Champa Art Ensemble at the Eaton Hotel: Are you older than old-school? Then maybe you knew Experience Unlimited, the legendary D.C. troupe, whose 1977 debut vinyl platter was “Free Yourself.” The label responsible for first putting “Free Yourself” in rotation was Black Fire, an imprint founded by Jimmy Gray, a District-raised DJ and impresario who built his operation on a strong aesthetic (progressive Afrocentrism) and an enduring business model (an artist-friendly 50-50 profit split adopted by countless indie labels that followed). To celebrate, swing by an unofficial, unorthodox release party taking place on Sunday featuring the Nag Champa Art Ensemble, a genre-melting group that’s carrying the spirit of Black Fire into the 21st century. These guys are heirs to the Black Fire ethos, literally. Nag Champa bandleader Jamal Gray is Jimmy Gray’s son — and he’ll have records at the merchandise table. 4 p.m. Free.
Show Me the Body at Union Stage: Show Me the Body is among the best that New York’s underground has to offer. The trio churns out vital hardcore punk that draws from metal, noise music and hip-hop, contorting the familiar patterns and rhythms of hardcore into angular attacks and delivering a visceral live show. Plus, the band’s politics don’t stop at the music’s edge: Their Corpus collective focuses on community building, direct action and empowerment. The band’s latest album, “Dog Whistle,” is its latest salvo in the war on the status quo, and nothing is off limits: “Every institution has hand in the business of death and eclipse,” the band intones. 7 p.m. $15.
— Hau Chu, Adele Chapin, Thomas Floyd, Rudi Greenberg, Fritz Hahn, Chris Kelly, Chris Richards, Michael J. West and Emily Yahr