Thursday, Jan. 26
Utopia After Dark: An Evening East of the River at Anacostia Community Museum: “The Utopia Project,” an interactive exhibition running through February at the Anacostia Community Museum, asks viewers to consider real and imagined roadblocks to social change. This after-hours event features a chance to explore the exhibit with cocktails and music from DJ Jahsonic. Although all the free advance tickets have been claimed, “limited walk-ins” will be accepted at the door, and early arrival is suggested. 7 to 10 p.m. Free.
Judy Gold at Bier Baron Comedy Loft: Judy Gold has been a fixture on the comedy scene since the 1990s, touring as a stand-up, starring in HBO and Comedy Central specials, appearing in off-Broadway productions, writing for “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” — you name it, she’s done it. This spring, Gold is bringing a one-woman show based on her book “Yes, I Can Say That” to the New York stage. But first: This weekend, Gold visits the Bier Baron’s Comedy Loft for a three-night, five-show stand. Seating is first-come, first-served, and there’s a two-item purchase minimum per person. Through Saturday. $25-$35.
Thursday Night Bluegrass Jam at DC Brau: Summer seems so long ago, as do the memories of the Brau Ramble, the bluegrass showcase held in the beer garden outside DC Brau’s upper Northeast brewery. The high, lonesome sounds return to the taproom for the first time in 2023, thanks to Ira Gitlin, a banjo and bass player who’s played in bands such as the Oklahoma Twisters and Bob Perilla and Big Hillbilly Bluegrass. Gitlin hosts the jam, and musicians are invited to bring their instruments and join in over a cold, fresh beer. 6 to 8 p.m. Free.
Friday, Jan. 27
Holocaust Remembrance Day concert: The Austrian Cultural Forum hosts the Peachtree String Quartet, which includes members from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Violinist Christopher Pulgram is the son of an architect forced to flee Austria in 1939. The program includes works by Austrian composer Franz Schubert and Gideon Klein, a Czechoslovakian pianist who composed music in a concentration camp. The evening concludes with a wine reception. 7 to 9:30 p.m. Free.
Greensky Bluegrass at the Anthem: Sure, Greensky Bluegrass’s genre is in the band’s name, but that doesn’t stop the group from experimenting. More than two decades since the Michigan-based quintet formed, Greensky Bluegrass has shown there is no limit to the boundaries it’s willing to break. Its latest release, “Stress Dreams,” is a pandemic album if there ever was one. Fast beats and dance-worthy guitar and banjo breaks are coupled with melancholy lyrics about the simultaneous disarray of the world — and of everyone’s psyches. Consider the chorus of the song “Monument”: “You can build a castle / But it crumbles to a cave / Funny how a monument / Looks just like a grave.” It’s a song about best-laid plans — with a speedy banjo that thrums with an optimism at which the lyrics only hint. Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. $45-$75.
‘Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See’ at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library: This traveling exhibit, designed in partnership with the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, and the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Institute, is designed to not only tell the story of Emmett Till but to encourage families to talk about issues of racism and social justice. (It is designed for ages 10 and older.) It explores not only the story of Emmett Till’s lynching, but also how his mother’s subsequent actions galvanized the civil rights movement. Through March 12. Free.
Saturday, Jan. 28
Lunar New Year: Parties marking Lunar New Year began last weekend — the actual holiday was Sunday — but festivities continue through the coming week. Saturday’s headline event is at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where the Lunar New Year family celebration features craft time; cultural performances, including a pair of lion dances; an art scavenger hunt; and a themed menu in the museum’s Courtyard Café. The day is co-sponsored with the Embassy of China and the Korean Cultural Center. (11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free.) Rockville’s Lunar New Year celebration Saturday at Thomas S. Wootton High School includes performances by local cultural groups, snacks and craft activities to take home. (10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free.) The Asian American Chamber of Commerce presents the annual Lunar New Year gathering Saturday at Tysons Corner Center, which features Chinese, Indonesian and Korean dance; a magic show; Mongolian fashions; and Vietnamese songs to honor the Year of the Rabbit. (1 to 3 p.m. Free.)
Those looking for a more casual event with a date-night vibe can head to Blagden Alley’s Tiger Fork, where lions will dance in the dining room and on the patio at 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday. Bar seating is probably the best bet, as no reservations are needed to enjoy the cocktails, inspired by Hong Kong and traditional Chinese medicine. (Dinner service begins at 5 p.m. Cocktails, $15-$16.)
A Weekend of Indigenous Games at the National Museum of the American Indian: If recent cold blasts mean you’ve been staying in more than usual, even your favorite board games might be getting, well, boring. Learn something new at the National Museum of the American Indian’s Weekend of Indigenous Games, with experts teaching guests of all ages how to play traditional games from Hawaii, the Great Plains and Bolivia in the museum’s spacious Potomac Atrium. Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Free.
Animation Show of Shows at AFI: This long-running AFI event returns after a two-year pandemic hiatus with a lineup of 10 animated films, including nine recent and one restored classic. Some are stop-motion, and others are hand-drawn or computer-animated, but each film ties to the theme of examining a world in crisis. Saturday at 2:30 p.m.; Sunday at 6:45 p.m. $13.
Road to 2025: A BTS ARMY Celebration at Union Stage: Since late 2021, BTS fan organization ARMYs Who Travel has hosted more than 60 dance parties celebrating the South Korean supergroup, traveling across the country from Los Angeles to New York. BTS is on hiatus for two years while its members complete required military service — hence the “Road to 2025” theme — but in the meantime, fans will keep dancing to their favorite hits, including at this 18-and-over night at Union Stage. 10:30 p.m. $25.
Monster Jam at Capital One Arena: You might have heard of Monster Jam — a spectacle featuring giant trucks flying through the air, wheelie contests and freestyle stunts — but this edition includes a new king-size vehicle: the ThunderRoarus. An hour before engines roar to life, a pit party lets guests see 12,000-pound trucks up close and meet drivers and crews, while a play area has inflatable slides and a remote control truck course. There’s also a post-event driver meet-and-greet for holders of “Winners Circle” tickets. Saturday at 1 and 7 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m. $20-$250.
Amir Alexander at Flash: Amir Alexander began DJing in 1993, and his sound and skills have continued to evolve over the last three decades. His latest EP, “Love Notes to Brooklyn,” strips back some of the heavier production choices listeners might expect to hear in Chicago house music and have grown to expect from Alexander’s extensive discography. On the titular track, vocals are coming at you from all sides, so electronically distorted they barely sound human. There’s a deep, sensual beat that anchors the track’s soulfulness. By the end of the song, the voice is louder, and faster percussion makes the beat sound like it’s cracking at the edges. “The Deepness” takes the taste of soul music found in the title song and turns it into a whole meal. It’s a slow and provocative buildup; a subdued, dance-worthy beat pounds as if it’s struggling to break out of a locked box. Another voice comes in, but it’s less distorted this time. Still, it echoes as the sounds of nature — an ocean’s wave or a bird’s chirp — are heard in the distance. After Alexander’s long tenure as a mainstay in the DJ community, his progression is a delight. 10 p.m. $10-$20.
Tarotplane at Rhizome: Ask PJ Dorsey — the Baltimore guitarist who works under the name Tarotplane — about what draws him toward the greater psychedelic soundscape, and you’ll feel as grateful for his presence of mind as the answer he drops. “Some music just feels too literal,” Dorsey says. “I’ve always been interested in abstraction, in travel, in mental travel. … Music has always taken me on a journey, it’s always taking me somewhere else. So I’m never really here.” Having first learned how to step outside of his brain after encountering the music of Pink Floyd at age 8, Dorsey says he’s been scouring record stores for similar escape hatches ever since. He found them in psych-rock, German kosmische, shoegaze, ambient techno and, roughly 10 years ago, through the gently psychedelic instrumentals he began recording as Tarotplane. It created something of a riddle, though. How do you make music that removes you from your life when you’re spending your life making it? 7 p.m. $10-$15.
Sunday, Jan. 29
‘This is Britain: Photographs from the 1970s and 1980s’ at the National Gallery of Art: The 1970s and ’80s were a turbulent time in Britain, thanks to soaring inflation, industrial action, blackouts, riots and the ongoing Troubles in Northern Ireland. A new exhibition at the National Gallery of Art examines how a rising generation of photographers saw and documented a country experiencing profound social change. Opening day features an introductory lecture from curator Kara Felt, beginning at noon. Through June 11. Free.
Indigenous artists showcase at Woolly Mammoth: Celebrating the works of Indigenous artists like drum group Uptown Singerz and Portland-based writer and drag clown Anthony Hudson, this event features a performance of a two-person show about Navajo life and sexuality, conversations with local visual artists, and a display of video installations in the lobby. 6 p.m. Free.
Tuesday, Jan. 31
Sphinx Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center: The Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, a Black and Latinx ensemble composed of past and current members of leading orchestras across the United States, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, makes a stop in Washington as a co-presentation with Washington Performing Arts and the Kennedy Center and in cooperation with the Washington Chorus. The program in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall features pieces such as Carlos Simon’s “Motherboxx Connection” and Joel Thompson’s “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed,” which quotes the last words of seven African American men killed by police or other authority figures. 8 p.m. $20-$50.
Sara Curtin at Pearl Street Warehouse: Sara Curtin’s songs carry a sweet honesty. This is evident on “Blame Time,” the first song of her 2017 project, “Or So It Seemed.” A slow and steady strumming immediately evokes nostalgia as Curtin’s crystal-like voice floats in. It’s a song about fading relationships; the folksy D.C. native blames time, as the title says, but also herself. Curtin hits the crux of why fraying friendships hurt with lyrics like, “Syndicated memories of running wild in Brooklyn.” Curtin’s storytelling never reaches saccharine levels of longing but instead finds a balance between vivid recall and honest introspection. On her 2023 EP “Goodbye Forever,” Curtin sings with her signature clarity but a newer aggression. The woman’s plight of constantly apologizing takes center stage on “So Sorry.” She opens the song swinging — “Sorry I can’t control my mouth / My mouth / Sorry I can’t control what comes out / Or how it sounds to you” — as her voice floats above rock-and-roll-y drums and an echoing electric guitar. 7 p.m. $12-$15.
Dry Cleaning at the Howard Theatre: The cover art of Dry Cleaning’s 2022 album is a light pink bar of soap with blonde strands of hair on it spelling out the title, “Stumpwork.” A strange image on its own, but not when considered with the ethos of this British post-punk band, known for routinely taking the least expected musical turns. Florence Shaw’s calm, sometimes stoic delivery teeters between talking and whispering. Dry Cleaning’s debut 2021 album, “New Long Leg,” cemented the band’s idiosyncratic identity. In the song “Strong Feelings,” Shaw says, “My only ambition in life is to rip the roots of your hair,” in a matter-of-fact tone over mystical-sounding soft-rock-esque guitar and drums. The band excavates seemingly minute observations on life, on how the small things become the big things. 8 p.m. $25-$50.
Wednesday, Feb. 1
United Ukrainian Ballet: ‘Giselle’ at the Kennedy Center: United Ukrainian Ballet is an apt name for this group of 60 performers, primarily dancers who fled Ukraine after Russia invaded in 2022, who came together as a new company in The Hague. Choreographer Alexei Ratmansky — formerly a principal dancer with the Ukrainian National Ballet and artistic director of Moscow’s Bolshoi — created a new production of “Giselle,” the famous ballet about illicit romance, betrayal and vengeance. This series of performances at the Kennedy Center marks its U.S. premiere after appearances in Amsterdam and London last year. Through Feb. 5. $29-$159.