With the summer concert season upon us, new music venues keep lighting up the area nightlife like fireflies. A sleek jazz lounge materializes beneath 14th Street. A colossal romper room gets reinvented in Ivy City. At least three new clubs sprout up at the recently overhauled Wharf. An experimental arts outpost blooms near Takoma Park. It’s easy to lose count.
But by our tally, more than two dozen listening rooms have opened in and around the District since 2013 — and at least 17 of them are programming must-hear music on a regular basis. To help give listeners a better feel for the rapidly changing terrain, we’ve listed those 17 newish nightspots below, along with the best show to catch at each venue in the hot months ahead.
For community-minded jazz fans, it’s hard to imagine a venue more perfect than this homey Brookland spot, where the bandstand feels close, the crowd feels neighborly and the snack bar is literally a row of canned sodas lined up on a piano bench. 2813 12th St. NE. jazzandculturalsociety.com.
Show: Over the decades, Houston native Paul Carr has made himself a fixture in D.C. jazz, both as a bandleader and educator. Here’s a chance to cozy up to the veteran saxophonist’s rich and stately tone. June 17. $10.
This penthouse nightclub sits atop Pike & Rose, an upscale mixed-use development complex, like the neighborhood’s crown jewel. And there’s elbow room up here. Unlike other dining-room venues, the table arrangements at Amp don’t feel cramped — unless the performers decide to scooch them around to create a makeshift dance floor. 11810 Grand Park Ave., North Bethesda. ampbystrathmore.com.
Show: The local go-go troupe Suttle remains one of the most versatile bands in the scene, pivoting from Marvin Gaye singalongs to Migos rap-alongs without blinking. June 8. $20-$25.
At first glance, this massive new concert hall at the Wharf does everything bigger — from its beaming marquee to the names that adorn it. But look closer and you’ll notice that the Anthem splits the difference between arena-level excitement and rock-club intimacy, with interior design details that cater to the Instagram set. 901 Wharf St. SW. theanthemdc.com.
Show: The woozy energy that courses through Janelle Monáe’s tech-minded future-funk evokes sonic dreamscapes that feel right on time. July 20. Sold out.
As hip breweries continue to pop up across the city, let’s hope the District’s rising brewmasters follow the lead of Atlas, which happens to host some of the best metal shows around. Grab a pint in the tap room, then head into the tank room to hear screeching guitar riffs bounce off the brewery’s towering metal vats. 2052 West Virginia Ave. NE, Suite 102. atlasbrewworks.com.
Show: The Chicago doom metal quartet Bongripper is D.I.Y. through and through. Doing little to promote its sprawling self-released albums, the band has managed to develop a cult following for unwinding tracks of chugging hypnosis. July 23. $15-$18.
The words “supper club” suggest a certain coziness, but don’t be misled. This repurposed art deco movie theater feels gigantic. Now under new management, the venue says it’s hoping to land more big-name R&B acts while staying true to the genres in its name. 7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda. bethesdabluesjazz.com.
Show: Of all the funk survivors working the circuit this summer, few sound as high-spirited as the S.O.S. Band, the Georgia-born outfit whose sparkling ’80s hits somehow grow both fresher and funkier with time. Aug. 17. $49.50-$59.
Have we been here before? Maybe in a dream? Almost. This national venue chain recently opened its D.C. location in the building that once housed Dream nightclub — but you might not recognize it, once the paint dries. In City Winery’s second-floor dining room, tables fan outward from a high, well-lit stage, while an additional rooftop listening area is expected to open later this summer. 1350 Okie St. NE. citywinery.com.
Show: Sure, Lori McKenna is one of the finest singer-songwriters in modern country music, but she’s a terrific talker, too. Garnishing her lowdown ballads with top-notch banter, she knows how to tell the story behind the story. July 22. $20-$32.
The LED lights embedded in the walls of this jewel-box dance club sparkle in time with the rhythm — but it’s the sound system’s immersive bass that will keep you enchanted into the wee hours of the night. 645 Florida Ave. NW. flashdc.com.
Show: In addition to co-owning and curating her own label, Intacto, the Nigerian-Dutch DJ Shinedoe weaves house and techno samples into bright mixes that ultimately feel warm and sensual. June 15. $8-$15.
This relaxed, second-story Georgetown club carries the torch for neighborhood nightspots of yore — the Bayou, the Cellar Door and the Crazy Horse Saloon. A steady stream of shows held in their adjoining lounge are free. 3401 K St. NW. gypsysallys.com.
Show: The programming at Gypsy Sally’s focuses on “Americana,” but wisely, their definition of the word is wide enough to include Elikeh, a local Afro-pop group fluent in percolating Togolese rhythms. June 1. $12.
This slick new venue in the epicenter of College Park has two levels — a tabled listening room on the ground floor and a general admission space up above — and has been booking everything in between: rappers, jazz combos, classical musicians, comedians, tribute bands, go-go groups, you name it. 7416 Baltimore Ave., College Park. milkboyarthouse.com.
Show: If you judge an artist by the company he keeps, Ciscero is in good standing. The Maryland rapper has been collaborating with many of the area’s sharpest, including GoldLink, Sugg Savage, Mike of Doom and more. June 7. $10-$15.
Imagine a quaint, ’50s-style diner (checkered vinyl floor) built inside an old barn (corrugated aluminum perimeter), adjoined by a nifty little recording studio (a stage area with padded walls). Then call the whole thing a “warehouse” and voilà! You’ve arrived at one of the strangest-looking, best-sounding new venues in town. 33 Pearl St. SW. pearlstreetwarehouse.com.
Show: The members of Louisiana’s Feufollet originally came together as teenage preservationists, hoping to protect traditional Cajun music. But since then, the band’s hybridized music has shown how traditions survive when they evolve. June 10. $20-$25.
On a recent weeknight, a pedestrian strolled past this repurposed Takoma bungalow and asked, “What goes on in there?” A guy smoking a cigarette in the front yard replied, “Everything!” Good answer. Since opening in 2016, this D.I.Y. experimental arts space has become home base for Washington’s most adventurous listeners. 6950 Maple St. NW. rhizomedc.org.
Show: For a perfect encapsulation of what Rhizome is all about, don’t miss legendary jazz drummer William Hooker when he improvises a live soundtrack to the 1926 silent Japanese avant-garde film “A Page of Madness.” June 15. $10.
This neighborhood bar has become a new staple of Washington’s hardcore punk community, and what’s not to love? Grab a burger and keep an ear out for bursts of ferocious energy from a rotating mix of touring acts and bands from the local underground. 201 Upshur St. NW. slashrun.com.
Show: Expect D.C. punk veterans the Rememberables to live up to their name by delivering a soundtrack worth blaring out of your car windows on a summer road trip. June 24. $8-$10.
One part record store, one part coffee shop, one part basement bar, this hybridized Adams Morgan spot has made itself into a prime gathering place for various communities by booking an eclectic mix of exciting, young hip-hop artists as well as the latest Internet buzz bands. 2475 18th St. NW. songbyrddc.com.
Show: It’s been hard to keep up with the output of New York rapper Le1f — the torrent of releases from the proudly gay MC continues to match the pace of his quickly evolving, rapid-fire, dancehall-inspired rhymes. June 9. $18-$20.
The writer A.B. Spellman once described a certain Greenwich Village jazz club as a “clean hole in the sidewalk on Seventh Avenue.” By that logic, it’s fair to call Sotto the most immaculate sinkhole on 14th Street. For a narrow subterranean jazz bar, this place feels particularly spacious and refreshingly chic. 1610 14th St. NW. sottodc.com.
Show: Omrao Brown, former owner of the shuttered Bohemian Caverns, is booking the acts at Sotto and has been wise enough to grant a regular Tuesday night slot to Warren “Trae” Crudup, a jazz drummer of tremendous wit and spark. June 5, 12, 19 and 26. Free.
By day, this hip Petworth spot serves Asian street food. By night, it’s a fancy cocktail bar that hosts an eclectic array of DJs from around the world — thanks to a booking partnership with U Street Music Hall. If you manage to spot folks on this dimly lit dance floor, expect to see your fellow party people dressed in styles that match the fashionable decor. 3813 Georgia Ave. NW. tentigersdc.com.
Show: The British producer Kidnap has racked up over 3 million followers on SoundCloud by blending the hushed, comforting sounds of his past (he used to make humdrum house music under the moniker Kidnap Kid) with the propulsive synth notes that evoke a life shifting into overdrive. June 15. $15-$20.
Mere footsteps away from the casino floor, this spacious concert hall looks good, sounds great and smells even better. That’s because perfumed casino air flows directly into the Theater, where the seats can be rearranged to accommodate anywhere between 1,500 and 4,000 — and without sacrificing any intimacy. 101 MGM National Ave., Oxon Hill. mgmnationalharbor.com.
Show: If you didn’t get a chance to see her residency in Las Vegas, Britney Spears is bringing her hits to you. The pop icon hasn’t been on a proper tour in six years and will showcase a medley of earworms from her beloved catalogue. July 12-13. Sold out.
The prefab Wharf begins to feel a little less like an amusement park for American hipsters once you descend the stairs of this transportative night spot. It’s dark, cool, tight and tidy — not unlike the rock clubs of Europe. 740 Water St. SW. unionstage.com.
Show: In one of the most hotly anticipated performances at this year’s D.C. Jazz Festival, trumpeter Jaimie Branch rides into town on the success of her spry 2017 album, “Fly or Die,” using her horn to punctuate all kinds of improvisational snap, crackle and pop. June 8. $15-$20.