Atlanta rapper Trinidad James. (Photo by Gavin Guidry)

With music festivals South by Southwest and Coachella just around the corner, Washington area venues are suddenly thick with bands with an international following as well as newcomers trying to build buzz. Then there are the odd YouTube sensations, who arrive in town like sideshow attractions rather than full-fledged performers. Here are the five shows you should know about, with ratings for the artists’ buzz and the likelihood of a sell-out.

Trinidad James

No one had heard of Atlanta rapper Trinidad James before October, when “All Gold Everything,” his slow-as-sizzurp Southern rap jam, hit YouTube. And just like that, the video, which showcased James’s proclivity for gold teeth, shirtlessness and adorable puppies, racked up 6.9 million views. Now, the MC is ascendant, complete with a contract with label Def Jam and a tour that is bringing him to the Howard.

Buzz factor: 7 (and rapidly slipping). James’s rap skills are dubious, and references such as “counting them Franklins” seem firmly planted in 2007. It’s no wonder some have wondered whether “All Gold Everything” is simply the latest laughable YouTube meme. Can a single, mediocre track propel a national tour? It’s iffy.

Likelihood of a sellout: Low.

March 4 at 8 p.m. at the Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. 202-803-2899. $17; VIP, $100.

Django Django

A thread of American blues is woven through last year’s self-titled debut album by this London-based band. But then there are those chants that recall Bollywood movies, electronica’s fast pacings and clapping beats and the swirling synthesizers of psych rock. The result is an ambitious, infectious juju that hasn’t yet found a serious following stateside, but surely will. The art rockers are playing the 9:30 Club.

Buzz factor: 8. “Django Django,” released abroad a year ago, landed on many best-of lists.

Likelihood of a sellout: Medium.


March 9 at 10 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. 202-265-0930. $20.

Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers

San Francisco singer-songwriter Nicki Bluhm has the smooth delivery of a veteran blueswoman, with just a tinge of country. Just listen to her coo the refrain in her band’s viral cover of the Hall & Oates classic “I Can’t Go for That,” which was recorded in the tour van. The band, which includes Bluhm’s husband, Tim Bluhm, is coming to the Hamilton at the end of the month.

Buzz factor: 6. The band, already well-known in its home town, is on the bill at Bonnaroo and the Newport Folk Festival this summer, signaling a rising profile.

Likelihood of a sellout: Low.

Listen:I Can’t Go for That {No Can Do)

March 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW. 202-787-1000. $17.

Sigur Rós

Longtime keyboard player Kjartan Sveinsson recently left the Icelandic avant-garde band, but the group nevertheless hit the road this winter with new material that departs from its ambient sound. After several sold-out European dates, the band is bringing its moody soundscapes and always eye-popping visuals to George Mason’s Patriot Center.

Buzz factor: 7. No tickets to Coachella? Here’s your chance to see one of festival’s top acts, and its famously technicolor show, without the scalpers and portable toilets.

Likelihood of a sellout: Medium.


March 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Patriot Center, 4500 Patriot Cir., Fairfax. 202-397-7328. $56.

The Ruby Suns

With his latest release, “Christopher,” the Suns’ traveling frontman Ryan McPhun has abandoned the poppy indie model that served him well in three previous albums for the synthetic sheen of electronica, an interesting choice for this break-up record. The single, “Kingfisher Call Me,” is a dreamy piece of pop that channels Toro Y Moi and hints that the Ruby Suns’ performance at the Black Cat will be anything but your average rock show.

Buzz factor: 6. The band’s latest sound is layered and compelling, even if you’re not already a fan.

Likelihood of a sellout: Medium. The band has a strong fan base, but it’s playing in the intimate backstage space.

Listen:Kingfisher Call Me

March 5 at 8 p.m. at the Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. 202-667-4490. $12.