October 2017 will be the best month of live music in D.C.
BYT at large | Oct 3, 2017 | 9:00AM |

There’s an argument to be made that October 2017 will be the best month for live music in D.C. in the modern era. With the new venues (The Anthem may have the best programming of 2017 and they’ll only be open 2 and a half months of the year), wind down of the festival season and ideal weather for touring, the calendar is extremely solid. So we’re making the argument that next month is the best ever in D.C. for concerts.

The following is our picks for the show of the night through October. Some venues we love don’t make an appearance (Songbyrd has a good schedule, especially the Jessica Lea Mayfield and Blank Range show). Some nights made it difficult to pick just one show (October 19 shows that didn’t make the include Guns N’ Roses @ Capital One Arena, Eli “Paperboy” Reed & High and Mighty Brass Band @ Pearl Street Warehouse, Hope Sandoval and The Warm Inventions @ 9:30 Club, Ministry and Death Grips @ Fillmore Silver Spring). We think this is the best way to blow our your ear drums in October.

Tuesday, October 3

Daniel Johnston & Friends: Hi, How Are You Tour performing with members of Fugazi @ Lincoln Theatre

Daniel Johnston will be playing his most famous album. It’s the one referenced on that one shirt Kurt Cobain wore. Even if you’ve never listened to Daniel Johnston, you know what I’m talking about. He’ll be playing with members of Fugazi. It will be great. -Kaylee Dugan

Wednesday, October 4

Chicano Batman, Khruangbin @ 9:30 Club

Candidly, I don’t know much about Chicano Batman, but I really dig their name and the few tracks I’ve listened to. And sure, not all art has to be political, but it sort of is these days – particularly when a band wears their Latinx identities on their sleeve. I can get behind this for sure. It doesn’t hurt that tour-mates Khruangbin play gnarly, Thai-funk inspired rock – high energy, supremely groovy, and almost completely instrumental. This is the show for you if you like spiraling guitar solos and nerding out to synthesizers (who doesn’t?).  -Jose Lopez-Sanchez
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Thursday, October 5

Sun Kil Moon featuring Magik * Magik Orchestra, Steve Shelley and Josh Haden @ The Miracle

Mark Kozelek’s music is not a particularly cheerful man, and nor is his music. The singer-songwriter paints bleak, wrenching portraits of his life and that of his extended family back in Ohio – stories filled with tragedy, death, and plenty of black humor. Despite the sombre themes, or perhaps because of it, Kozelek is a magnetic presence on record and on the stage. His voice is gravelly and rich, his guitar playing subtle and nuanced, and the characters in each track multidimensional and compelling. His last record, 2014’s Benji made many end-of-year lists, and remains a moving, deeply gorgeous piece of art. Kozelek is joined by the Magik Orchestra for the very first of the Union Stage team’s shows at The Miracle Theatre. The show will be intimate and lush and depressing and you should absolutely grab a ticket. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez

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Friday, October 6

Kesha @ Fillmore Silver Spring

Kesha is back and she’s not pulling any punches. Her new album Rainbow is cathartic pop at its best. It’s the kind of music you can cry to and dance to in equal measures. The Fillmore seems like a small venue for an artist of her fame, but that’s a good thing. It’s a more intimate show than what you would get at the Capitol One Arena, and that’s exactly what this record calls for. -Kaylee Dugan

Saturday, October 7

Alvvays @ Rock & Roll Hotel

Canadian indie-rock quintet Alvvays captured lightning in a bottle with their self-titled debut album, propelled to number one on the US college radio charts by their incredibly catchy and sweet lead single “Archie, Marry Me”. While the latest release doesn’t quite have any one song that rises above the fray the same way, Alvvays can still do jangly guitars and intricate melodies better than most. The Rock and Roll Hotel is a great fit as a venue for them – it has just the right amount of grit for their blistering pop rock. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez

Sunday, October 8

All Things Go Fall Classic @ Union Market

Three days of peace, love, and music have evolved from being a hippie happening in a sleepy New York farm town to being a sign of kids in general, worldwide gathering together to celebrate hip, youth culture. Therefore, the final day of the fourth annual All Things Go Fall Classic at Union Market is yes, our collective hipster #newDC moment for fun in the sun. Is it something more? Sure. All Things Go has never attempted a three-day shindig before, so it’s significant. There’s an EDM day, a rap day, and Sunday’s all about the most ethereal of pop vibes (including headlining indie American “Pumped Up Kickers” Foster The People) so there’s something for everyone. Maybe the biggest winner of the now-trifecta event will be the fans. Now, unlike in the past, they get time to absorb, relax, and refill on the event’s improving and developing, but yes, definitely still winning, formula. -Marcus Dowling

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Monday, October 9

Halsey @ Capital One Arena

Halsey may not be the best pop artist making music right now, but if you’re looking for a night of dancing and drinking and feeling like a teen, this is most definitely her best bet. Hang around to hear her most popular single (and probably the only song you know), “New Americana,” but tracks like “Ghost” and “Castle” are also bangers. I haven’t listened to her new album. If I’m being completely honest with you, I probably wont. -Kaylee Dugan

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Tuesday, October 10

Buddy Guy @ Birchmere

Buddy Guy is still touring at the age of 81. There’s a strong argument to be made that without Guy’s first LP, there’s no Jimi Hendrix. Regardless, see the living legend while you can. This is not a pity or nostalgia pick. It’s more of a recommendation to sit in on a master class. -Brandon Wetherbee

Wednesday, October 11

Tricky @ U Hall

Tricky’s rise to trip-hop legend status has not been straightforward or easy. The Bristol native’s troubled early life is well-documented, as was his early career success with Massive Attack, and then as a solo artist after the release of the genre-melding Maxinquaye. And while his star has not shone quite as brightly as those heady days in 1995, I’m almost certain it was by design – Tricky himself expressed his discomfort with celebrity and attention, and has spoken candidly about his demons. Nonetheless, he’s never stopped making intelligent, challenging music, and now he’s back on tour – accompanied by long-time close collaborator and erstwhile romantic partner Martina Topley-Bird (who sang vocals on “Black Steel”). Worth going to see how that fire still burns between the two of them. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez

Thursday, October 12

Foo Fighters @ The Anthem

The Foo Fighters are possibly the most significant sonic ambassador for the burgeoning pop cultural juggernaut that is the Nation’s Capital. Thus, there’s likely no other band at no other place and no other time than the opening of the 6,000 seat Anthem venue along Southwest’s Wharf, where there absolutely must be an accompanying Foo Fighters performance. Yes, it’s a terrible pun, but it’s also entirely true for this occasion. Everything about this event, even down to Dave Grohl himself, represents “the best of [us].” This is much more than a concert, it’s an inflection point for the future of the city, and it’s resonance as a socio-economic and socio-cultural bellwether for the nation. Sometimes a concert is bigger than just being a music show. -Marcus Dowling

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Friday, October 13

Against Me!, Bleached @ 9:30 Club

Against Me!’s never ending tour continues with headliners in their own right Bleached. Similar genre shows like this are great. It’s like going to a festival without having to be outside. Anyway, we’re big fans of Grace and co. and have no reservation is endorsing a $25 Against Me! 9:30 Club Friday night show. -Brandon Wetherbee

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Saturday, October 14

Ciné-Concert: Man with a Movie Camera @ National Gallery of Art

Relive your college film class days at the National Gallery of Art! The museum with the best film program in D.C. does these Ciné-Concerts every once in a while and they’re a total treat. Directed by Dziga Vertov (which means ‘spinning top’ in Russian… this is the only thing I remember from film class), Man with a Movie Camera is a seminal piece of film. A mix of documentary and surreal-ish art, it’s a fascinating look at the Soviet Union and life at the time. Adding some live music in the mix can only make it better. -Kaylee Dugan

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Sunday, October 15

Trombone Shorty, Vintage Trouble @ The Anthem

Yo Trombone Shorty is FUN as hell live. Come for the horns, stay for the second line. We need some more black joy in this country, always. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez

Monday, October 16

Phoenix @ The Anthem

Remember when people discovered Phoenix and  “Lisztomania” was huge and they seemingly headlined every single festival for like three summers in a row? Those were the days. You can’t go back to that younger version of yourself, but you can go get your fill of stadium worthy indie pop at IMP’s newest venue. -Kaylee Dugan

Tuesday, October 17

Toadies, Local H @ Black Cat

Yes, Toadies will play “Possum Kingdom” and Local H will play “Bound for the Floor.” But we’re recommending it for the new songs Local H will perform. It’s too easy to categorize the two man band as a nostalgia act or a gimmick (they’ve been doing their thing long before The White Stripes made it acceptable for The Black Keys to sell out arenas). Local H front man Scott Lucas is one of America’s best songwriters and most committed performers. If he played more songs with an acoustic guitar he’d be spoken of as a peer of E from the Eels or Jeff Tweedy. If he played less mid tempo songs he’d be on par with David Yow of The Jesus Lizard. But since he’s an amalgamation of loud and quiet, hard and soft, he’s forever underrated. -Brandon Wetherbee

Wednesday, October 18

LCD Soundsystem @ The Anthem

Does LCD Soundsystem deserve our adoration or scorn for coming back? Are we not giving them enough of either?

I’m conflicted about the fact that they have two nights at The Anthem; on one hand, they are among a handful of bands whose sound defined my early 20s. I can clearly tie some of my happiest (and bittersweet) memories to their music, whether it was “Daft Punk is Playing At My House” or “Someone Great”. And arguably, few passages are as cathartic as when the drums come in on “Dance Yrself Clean” (I’m dancing in my seat as I write this, y’all). On the other hand, while American Dream received some love from Pitchfork and other outlets, I’ve found it to be a weak facsimile of what they used to do so well. I don’t know guys. Maybe I’m old and cranky, or maybe James Murphy is.

All that being said, I saw them twice in 2010 and they were AMAZING, so I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez

Thursday, October 19

Cardi B @ Echostage

To say that Cardi B is having a moment right now is an understatement. Her massive single “Bodak Yellow” is a once-in-a-lifetime hit that most artists work their entire careers to have. The song also made her the first female rapper to have a number one spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 since Lauryn Hill in 1998. While Bodak Yellow will most likely define her career, Cardi B’s draw as performer is found in her personality. She is unapologetically confident in her desire to “be famous forever,” and refreshingly blunt about her “passion for money and paying my bills.” As my Cardi B-loving sister told me once, “She’s just real, who cares what she raps about.”

But if you do care, or want to apply some sort Hot 97 rubric to her ability, check out her hard-hitting single “Lick” featuring Offset or “Foreva”, which features a minimal beat that brings Cardi B’s menace to the forefront. Comparisons to Nicki Minaj are only fair, but Cardi B has shown that she is many things to many people; that sort of attitude usually bodes well for a live show. -Ruben Gzirian

Friday, October 20

Queens of the Stone Age @ The Anthem

The most important (and best) rock and roll band plays D.C.’s newest club. Show of the month. There’s a reason it’s sold out. That being said, I’m glad it’s not at whatever the new name for the Verizon Center is. QOTSA belongs in clubs. -Brandon Wetherbee

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Saturday, October 21

Daniel Caesar @ Fillmore Silver Spring

Daniel Caesar isn’t a household name yet, but holy hell he is talented and low-key amazing. With a versatile, incredibly appealing voice, music that straddles bedroom pop and grown R&B, and great aesthetic, this 22-year old Toronto native is getting a lot of people very excited. Freudian, his debut album, was released about five weeks ago and it’s been on heavy rotation on my Spotify. Absolutely worth a trip to Silver Spring. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez

Sunday, October 22

Black Kids @ DC9

That first Black Kids album is a solid wall of excellent indie pop. From the lovelorn magic of “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You” to the other lovelorn magic of “Love Me Already”, Black Kids found their niche and they were damn good at it. I have no idea why they took a nine year hiatus, but I’m glad as hell they’re back. Their new album, Rookie kicks off right where 2008’s Partie Traumatic ended, with stupidly danceable songs about relationships and heartbreak. It’s good to have you back, friends. -Kaylee Dugan

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Monday, October 23

Benjamin Booker @ 9:30 Club

Monday shows usually aren’t ideal but Booker belongs on a Monday. His music is introspective and laid back. You can attend this show and fully enjoy it without feeling like garbage the next day. Booker is like reading a good book. If that sound dismissive, it’s not. I want to see Booker during difficult times when I need a pick-me-up. Early week shows are good for introspection. -Brandon Wetherbee

Tuesday, October 24

The Smoking Popes, Chris Farren @ Black Cat

The Popes version of pop punk led to Alkaline Trio which led to Fall Out Boy which led to Panic! at the Disco which led to fun. which led to every song you hear on modern rock radio. The originators are still the best of the crop. See them in a very small room with someone you love. Or like. -Brandon Wetherbee

Wednesday, October 25

Kris Delmhorst and Jeffrey Foucault @ Gypsy Sally’s

We overlook this Georgetown venue more than any other in D.C. We also overlook good folk music. These two musicians make good folk music. They also happen to be married and are touring together supporting Delmhorst’s new record THE WILD. The tracks we’ve heard sound like ear worms waiting for the right dramatic scene in the right dramatic television series. -Brandon Wetherbee

Thursday, October 26

Aminé @ Howard Theater

23-year old Portland rapper Aminé wants you to know he’s an outsider. The son of Ethiopian immigrants, the young rapper struggled to create an identity in Portland’s nascent hip-hop scene, and his well-received debut album Good for You is a mixed bag of musical cues that at times mesh the lyricism of conscious rap with production cues straight from Atlanta. He also wants you to know that he’s a regular dude and that he makes some killer banana bread.

However you decide to perceive him, his talent is undeniable. Aminé’s breakout single “Caroline” showcased his variable flow, and songs like “Turf” deliver personal substance missing from many of the artists he joined on XXL’s 2017 Freshman Class. Mid-way through the first song on Good for You, Aminé unabashedly declares that he is “André’s [3000] prodigy.” The claim is borderline sacrilegious, but when was the last time a young artist verbally aspired to follow in the footsteps of a such a hard-to-describe luminary? How he intends to do that is anyone’s guess, but you owe it to yourself to go check out a young talent unafraid to try. -Ruben Gzirian

Friday, October 27

Paperhaus, Go Cozy @ Black Cat

D.C.’s biggest musical champions Paperhaus celebrate their record release with fellow D.C. band Go Cozy. Paperhaus also has a song titled “Go Cozy.” Paperhaus is also a venue. So the guys in Paperhaus love music so much they operate their own venue and title songs after fellow bands they like. Those are good reasons to listen. Another is their headphone friendly psychedelia. -Brandon Wetherbee

Saturday, October 28

Death From Above @ Fillmore Silver Spring

There’s a great metal lineup at Atlas (Defeated Sanity, Outer Heaven, Perpetuated) and we considered recommending Primus and Clutch at The Anthem, but we prefer the specific kind of loud DFA delivers. Wear ear plugs. Maybe bring a second shirt. You’re going to sweat a lot. Beer will be spilled. It’ll be fun and fast. -Brandon Wetherbee

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Sunday, October 29

BJ the Chicago Kid @ Fillmore Silver Spring

BJ the Chicago Kid (born Bryan James Sledge) is one of those artists that you’ve heard before but can’t recognize. His features on songs like Schoolboy Q’s “Studio”, A$AP Mob’s “Way Hii,” or Solange’s “F.U.B.U.” all showcase the versatility of his soft Chicago-soul inspired voice, but it’s in his solo albums—2012’s Pineapple Now-Laters and 2016’s In My Mind—that he truly shines. On tracks such as “His Pain,” Sledge wraps painful introspective lyrics in a gospel harmony. His delivery on that track is so expertly crafted that you almost forget the gut-wrenching Kendrick Lamar feature. In other songs such as “Woman’s World,” Sledge delivers a compassionate performance reminiscent of a bygone soulful era.

In a 2016 interview with NPR, Sledge emphatically stated “what’s love without a soundtrack!” Whether you gravitate to his soulful renditions of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” or his more hip-hop influenced “It’s True,” BJ the Chicago’s ability to breakdown raw emotion into digestible musical cadences will provide you solace. -Ruben Gzirian

Monday, October 30

T-Pain acoustic @ U Hall

T-Pain’s Tiny Desk concert is the most viewed video on NPR Music’s YouTube Channel ever. That’s a fact. I think people were surprised that T-Pain could actually sing – that the man born Faheem Rashad Najm in Tallahassee, Florida had some pipes on him, as opposed to relying on Autotune to carry him. To some degree, the shock at hearing his unfiltered voice was to be expected; after all, the singer was one of the first to popularize its use in rap, and his presence singing the hook on many of the decade’s biggest hits meant that his sound became synonymous with the plug-in. But underneath it all is a sensitive soul who expresses himself beautifully through music and his voice, and damn if I’m not really excited to see him in the intimate confines of U Street Music Hall. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez

Tuesday, October 31

Nothing But Thieves @ Rock & Roll Hotel

When I first heard Nothing But Thieves’ “Amsterdam,” off their most recent album Broken Machine, I was immediately taken back to a version of myself I thought I left behind in 2010; a version obsessed with the British alternative rock scene and devout to bands like Kasabian. This is not a slight against Nothing But Thieves. If anything, their latest work, which follows three years after their well-received self-titled debut, is a reminder that the British rock music I gravitated to during my 20s is evolving to meet me in my 30s.

Nothing But Thieves development as a band has little to do with their musical delivery; every song is direct and grand in the same way early Muse songs were before someone told them they were the biggest band on Earth. Ever. And while that may seem like a recipe for painful redundancy, Nothing But Thieves balances upbeat anthems (“Itch”) with more tempered melodies (“Sorry”) to deliver mature heartfelt lyrics that showcase the band’s evolving consciousness of present-day issues. -Ruben Gzirian