Canadian rock quartet PUP plays a sold-out show at Black Cat on May 17. (Vanessa Heins)

You might only have so much time for brash guitar rock dudes, but one of the year’s most potent doses of adrenaline comes courtesy of Canada’s PUP. “Morbid Stuff,” the third album from the Toronto quartet, finds them scavenging through the beer-fueled, heart-on-sleeve ragers of their first two albums and emerging with some new insights. Singer Stefan Babcock sneers some winding tales throughout his verses, but the band’s quest for the meaning of life cranks up when his bandmates join in with gang-vocal choruses — “Just cuz you’re sad again, it doesn’t make you special at all.” Maybe the best way forward is going through it together. May 17 at 8 p.m. (doors open) at Black Cat. Sold out.

The Last Poets

When the Last Poets released their first album nearly 50 years ago, they didn’t intend to invent hip-hop as we know it. As founding member Abiodun Oyewole told the Guardian, “What we really got going is poetry. We put poetry on blast.” Their work has been sampled and cited by rap legends including Notorious B.I.G., A Tribe Called Quest and N.W.A. It’s fitting, then, that their performance in Washington isn’t just a simple concert, but a whole block party with some special guests. The trio will be celebrating the release of their vital record “Transcending Toxic Times,” which puts their fiery verses over grooving bass lines and propulsive percussions. Joining the Last Poets will be one of their most loquacious musical disciples, Talib Kweli. May 19 at 3 p.m. at Busboys and Poets Anacostia. $25.


At this point, presidential elections happen more frequently than Chromatics album releases. What a shame, as the world could use more of the quartet’s spellbinding electro pop. Their long-promised release “Dear Tommy” seemed all set to go in 2015. As lore goes, bandleader Johnny Jewel had a near-death experience and took to destroying every last copy of that record. The band has reportedly gone back into the studio to rerecord, but there’s still no sign of when an album will come out. Their first set of live shows in five years began earlier this month with the band’s comfortably dreamy tunes performed in front of a projection of new short films directed by Jewel. May 22 at 7 p.m. (doors) at the 9:30 Club. $31.

Emo pioneers American Football will perform at Black Cat on May 23. (Atiba Jefferson)
American Football

Can a band find success reinventing their sound two decades deep into their career? Maybe if they take a 17-year hiatus in between. The quartet from Urbana, Ill., are considered the godfathers of emo thanks to their 1999 debut album, which features Mike Kinsella’s soul-searching lyrics buoyed by distinct time signatures and guitar arrangements. The band reunited in 2016 with a follow-up album that tried to capture the magic of their younger, angstier years. The newest record, which grapples with the emotions of maturing, sounds lush, with new instrumentation in the mix and enchanting guest vocalists including Paramore’s Hayley Williams. When the band composed new material for their latest album, perhaps they took Kinsella’s words from 20 years ago to heart: “Honestly, I can’t remember teen dreams / All my teenage feelings and the meanings.” May 23 at 7:30 p.m. (doors) at Black Cat. $27-$30.