Friday, Sept. 6
Flash of the Spirit Worldwide Sounds Festival at various locations: Have you ever heard of Navajo rock? Or Latin bluegrass? Flash of the Spirit festival wants to introduce you to some of the worldly, experimental sounds that might have slipped under your radar. The nearly two-months-long celebration invites bands from all over the globe to perform at Rhizome, Tropicalia and other local venues, with a few documentary screenings at Mount Pleasant’s Suns Cinema sprinkled into the mix. This is a rare treat to see performances by one of the only Tuareg female guitarists in Niger, Fatou Seidi Ghali (Sept. 19, Library of Congress), and Peruvian-cumbia band La Inedita (Sept. 20, Bossa Bistro). Through Oct. 22. Free-$25.
Mdou Moctar at Black Cat: The best guitarist you’ve likely never heard of hails from Niger. Mdou Moctar serves as one of the best ambassadors of Tuareg music and cemented his status with this year’s radiant “Ilana (The Creator).” The album pulls off a wonderful magic trick: Moctar’s guitar brilliance evokes classic, psychedelic rock music while sounding unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. Catch him on Friday night as he combines forces with the Brazilian quartet Boogarins. 8 p.m. $18-$20.
‘I made this dance and nobody cares but you’ at Dance Place: When you think of going to a dance performance, you might think of ballet or at least something on a formal theater stage. Well how about watching a whole show through a peephole? Brookland’s Dance Place will host local director Ben Levine’s newest performance this weekend, which will encourage audience members to take in the show one at a time. 7 p.m. (and every 45 minutes until 9:15 p.m.) Showtimes vary through Sunday. $35 (includes one drink ticket).
Hungry Human Hippos at MedStar Capitals Iceplex: Kickball or softball on the Mall is old news at this point, so how about Hungry Hungry Hippos on the sheet of ice where the Washington Capitals practice? D.C. Fray is hosting the human form of the popular board game at the rink on top of Ballston Quarter on Friday night. Four to six competitors will team up to round up balls all over the ice. You can sign up as a fully formed team, or individuals are welcome to register and be matched up with others on-site. 7 p.m. $30 per person.
Art Park at RIA: The Phillips Collection isn’t content with having just one popular ongoing art soiree (its Phillips After 5 series, held every first Thursday of the month), so it’s branching out into Northeast to claim Fridays, too. The Dupont gallery is partnering with local organizations including Nonstop Art and the D.C. Public Library to host gatherings for the next year at a new art park on Rhode Island Avenue NE. There will be live interactive painting that’s open to all comers who want to leave their mark at the new space. There will also be an array of food vendors, live music and even a pop-up selling houseplants and pottery. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Free.
Saturday, Sept. 7
The Reach opening festival: The Kennedy Center’s ambitious $250 million expansion, which includes modern rehearsal studios, classrooms and a large public plaza, opens to the public with a free 16-day festival of the arts. Highlights include a hip-hop block party headlined by De La Soul, an interactive celebration of National Dance Day capped by a performance of “Fela!” and a Family Day with hands-on activities and a singalong screening of “The Muppet Movie.” Free, timed entry passes are “sold out” for most of the major events, but the Kennedy Center will be running standby lines to allow as many people as possible to experience the new space. Various times at the Kennedy Center. Free, but timed tickets required.
Calle Latina Block Party at La Cosecha: The grand opening of La Cosecha, the long-awaited Latin American market and food hall near Union Market, is a reason to be excited, but the day-long block party marking its arrival is a really big deal. Genre-flexing, Grammy-winning Los Angeles band Ozomatli is the headliner but definitely not the only attraction: There’s face-painting and dance classes for kids, cooking demos by La Cosecha’s chefs, pop-up shops and bars, and music and dance performances by local artists and DJs. And, of course, a lot of food. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free.
Rosslyn Jazz Festival at Gateway Park: A Houston-based big band with appearances on “Late Show with David Letterman” and NPR’s Tiny Desk concert series on its résumé headlines this year’s Rosslyn Jazz Fest in Arlington. Hear the Suffers play what it calls “Gulf Coast Soul” at this free outdoor festival, which also brings in food trucks and a pop-up beer and wine garden. The day’s lineup includes D.C. go-go musicians JoGo Project and two New Orleans acts: funk band Cha Wa and cellist Leyla McCalla. 1 to 7 p.m. Free.
Uniform at Black Cat: When the hardcore duo Uniform set off in search of musical inspiration for their latest album, they found an unlikely source: Bruce Springsteen. The Brooklyn thrashers teamed with Providence heavies the Body to conjure the ferocious “Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back” — a turn of phrase from one of the Boss’s all-time great yarns, “Atlantic City.” You won’t get the same melodies as you do from Springsteen as you adjust your ears to the harsh howls between the two bands, but that’s intentional. If you sift through the pounding industrial sounds, you’ll find a gem about embracing the battle that, against all odds, some problems won’t simply go away — and that’s okay. 8 p.m. $20.
Sneaker Con at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center: The convention center will be sneaker heaven when Sneaker Con rolls into town with 150,000 pairs of shoes. This convention originally started in New York as a way for sneakerheads to add to their collections, and now Sneaker Con pops up in venues around the world. Ticket holders can bring shoes they’re interested in selling or trading, and sneaker experts will be on hand to see that these pairs of Jordans and Yeezys are authentic. Through Sunday. Noon to 7 p.m. $25 single-day pass, $40 weekend pass.
Danny Gatton tribute at the Birchmere: The music of Danny Gatton, like pretty much all the best things about D.C., wasn’t just a singular experience, but rather something meant to be admired by all. The District-born guitarist graced our sonic frequencies with his blending of blues and rockabilly riffs to create a distinct brand of what was referred to as hillbilly jazz. It has been 25 years since his death, so a mess of local Gatton disciples, including guitarist Dave Chappell and drummer Big Joe Maher, will commune to deliver a fittingly boogying tribute to the guitar virtuoso. 7:30 p.m. $25.
Sunday, Sept. 8
D.C. Beer Week: D.C. Beer Week has moved back to September after a few years in the August doldrums. The celebration of our local beer scene is all over the map: In addition to the usual tap takeovers and happy hours, essential events include Brewers on the Block, an outdoor festival with more than 40 brewers pouring at Union Market (Sept. 14); Aslin Beer Co.’s fourth anniversary party, with 120 beers on tap from across the country (Sept. 14); and a panel discussion about women in beer hosted by Red Bear Brewing (Sept. 12). But first, head to Bluejacket on Sunday for the tapping of the annual Solidarity Beer, a collaboration between a large group of local brewers. This year’s offering is an unfiltered German-style kellerbier, which will be poured from Franconian gravity kegs — an old-fashioned method that uses natural carbonation for serving, not pressurized gas. Brewers that contributed to the Solidarity Beer, including Red Bear, District Chophouse and Hellbender, will have beers on Bluejacket’s taps for the occasion, beginning at noon. Through Sept. 15.
D.C. State Fair at Gateway D.C.: The District hasn’t let the issue of statehood prevent it from putting on a charming state fair that celebrates the rich culture found within its borders. D.C.’s version has expanded into a big-time operation in its 10th year; you’ll find a wide selection of local vendors and food trucks alongside a pet parade and music at the new location in Southeast. But what you really want to come for are all the classic fair contests. There are new ones this year, including a prize for best hot sauce, but the best ones are the tried-and-true live competitions, such as hula hooping or limbo, sloppy joe eating and watermelon-seed spitting. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free.
Adams Morgan Day: This month is packed with neighborhood celebrations, including the H Street Festival (Sept. 21), Clarendon Day (Sept. 21), and Barracks Row Fall Festival (Sept. 28), but everything kicks off with the 41st edition of the Adams Morgan Festival, which will once again close 18th Street NW between Columbia Road and California Street. Highlights include a music stage at 18th Street and Columbia Road curated by Songbyrd Music House; a family fun zone with an obstacle courses and games at Marie Reed Elementary; an artists’ market with paintings, prints and photographs for sale; and parties on sidewalks of local businesses. Don’t miss the special Adams Morgan Festival IPA, a collaboration between Atlas Brew Works and Roofers Union, which will be available on tap at neighborhood bars while supplies last. Noon to 6 p.m. Free.
Brandee Younger at Studio K of the Reach: Album titles aren’t always supposed to be so on the nose, but the latter word of Brandee Younger’s latest album, “Soul Awakening,” sure seems to fit the path of her career. The 36-year-old harpist has already collaborated with her share of accomplished jazz peers, including Pharoah Sanders and Ravi Coltrane — she has even released albums on the legendary labels Blue Note and Impulse. But 2019’s “Soul Awakening” is a self-released effort that dazzles, as the accompanying bass, percussion and saxophones all masterfully stay in orbit around the sheer force of Younger’s harp. And for the cherry on top, one of Younger’s compositions, “Hortense,” was featured earlier this year in Beyoncé’s documentary “Homecoming.” 6 p.m. All passes claimed.
— Hau Chu, Fritz Hahn, Adele Chapin and Stephanie Williams