The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

4 concerts to catch in the D.C. area over the next few days

The Mary Wallopers. (Sean McMahon)
5 min

The Mary Wallopers

On its 2019 EP, “A Mouthful of the Mary Wallopers,” the Mary Wallopers band puts its signature on old Irish ballads. The Irish folk band’s DIY spirit is strong. The musicians made a name for themselves through live-streamed performances during lockdown, attracting fans with a high-energy ethos that informs much of the band’s sound. The vocals aren’t clean but are stirring, and the guitar playing isn’t straight-edged but is chaotically good. The strings occasionally come in, sometimes in short bursts, matching the spirited musical atmosphere. The ballads the Mary Wallopers record and perform aren’t new, but the band’s energy gives them a fresh beginning. So songs like “The Turfman from Ardee,” about coming across an old and tired turfman who doesn’t want to go on, come alive and feel relevant. The band’s debut self-titled album was released in 2022, and the intensity hasn’t subsided. On the anti-English song “Building Up and Tearing England Down,” frontman Charles Hendy’s rousing voice shakes with emotion at the end of a verse. “They’re a concrete master race, there to keep you in your place / And a ganger man to kick you to the ground,” Hendy sings about his people serving an empire that isn’t theirs. March 12 at 8 p.m. at Union Stage, 740 Water St. SW. $15.

CoCo Jones

CoCo Jones is a Disney child star turned serious actress and even more serious R&B singer with a voice that is not to be played with. One of R&B’s greatest singer-songwriters, Babyface, featured her on his 2022 project “Girls Night Out,” in which every song features a woman who’s had an undeniable impact on the genre. A co-sign like that — when you don’t even have a debut album out yet — is quite the feat. Jones is slowly building toward a full-length album, though, as evidenced by her 2022 EP, “What I Didn’t Tell You.” It’s a sensual project; sultry production anchors the slow jams, but it’s Jones’s voice that makes it all click. The song “ICU” starts with haunting “oohs” and calm percussions. Jones aches for a lover she can’t let go. “And though we may grow / I don’t know why we don’t grow apart,” she sings, the last note getting lost in the emotions. You can’t help but believe her. March 12 at 8 p.m. at Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. $45.


Irish rock band Inhaler has two albums of irresistible anthems. The band consists of vocalist Elijah Hewson, also on guitar; Josh Jenkinson on guitar, too; Robert Keating on bass; and Ryan McMahon on the drums. Together, they make smashing melodies that worm their way into the listener’s ear. Particularly, the melodies from the guitar riffs, frequent and satisfying, feel like a signature for this guitar-heavy band. The titular track off its 2021 debut album, “It Won’t Always Be Like This,” shows off Inhaler’s ear for melodies. The song starts off swinging, with slamming guitars and loud drums. “You’re in my head,” Hewson sings in the chorus. “It won’t always be like this, be like this / I’m dead, honey, I’ll be dead.” A sad sentiment sweetened by a glitzy guitar riff. On its 2023 project “Cuts & Bruises,” the band’s identity is strong but something feels different. It’s not all guns blazing anymore; the production is stripped sometimes — like on the song “Perfect Storm.” Minimal percussion and slow guitar strings prop up Hewson in the beginning: “There’s something in the room with us tonight / It’s caught between the dawn and morning light.” His voice almost breaks with sadness, and — before more instruments meet him in a triumphant chorus — it’s like the calm before a storm. March 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. (doors open) at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Sold out.

Aoife O’Donovan

Aofie O’Donovan, a Grammy Award-winning folk artist, has been a member of various groups, including the bluegrass quintet Crooked Still and the folk noir band Sometymes Why. Most recently, she formed the trio I’m With Her with Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz. O’Donovan moves seamlessly through these groups and genres and subgenres with transcendent vocals. Her voice can reach almost-belting status while keeping that crystallike tone intact. But it’s when O’Donovan reverts inward — when it sounds like her voice is slipping out of the deepest parts of her — that she sounds most powerful. Her latest solo album, “Age of Apathy,” released in 2022, is full of moments like that. “Town of Mercy” starts with just a piano and O’Donovan’s voice. She connects a winter scene to the peace that mercy brings. “The snow flies, it’s confetti, the end of a parade / Leaves a vacant silence knee-deep in the charade.” O’Donovan’s voice is subtle and soft — like fluffy snowflakes floating onto snow. She’ll be covering Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” at the Birchmere, a possible better bang for your buck than Springsteen’s arena tour later this month. March 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Birchmere, 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $39.50.