Your Best April

Spring has sprung! The cherry blossoms don’t look too bad and neither does April. From insane asylums to baseball stadiums, kung fu to pandas, here are 30 reasons the next 30 days will be good.

To make every month better, follow us on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram + Pinterest.

Architecture of An Asylum @ National Building Museum open through January 15, 2018

Straight jackets, electric shock machines, and high, high walls are all the sort of things that come to mind when you think of an asylum. While the facilities were all the rage during the 19th century, the deinstitutionalisation of the 1970s and 80s left a bad taste in the national conscious. Horror stories emerged about the treatment of patients, whether it was neglect or outright abuse. These stories still seep into pop-culture, serving as the theme for a season of American Horror Story, adding color to an urban legend in the documentary Cropsey or used as the setting in classics like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. No matter how far we get away from the golden age of the asylum, something about those often grand and horrifying old buildings still keep us up at night.

But this is only one of the stories the National Building Museum is trying to tell. While their exhibition covers our country’s constantly changing ideas about the treatment of the mentally ill (whether for the better or for the worse), the museum is also tackling how those ideas were reflected in the very bones of the buildings. Using architectural drawings, patient created paintings of the hospital, and a model that was constructed for the World’s Fair, the museum traces how these different theories ended up changing the very spaces patients, lived, worked and were treated in. More than that, the museum replicates those architectural details in the exhibition, putting you behind the high walls and twisty corners of St. Elizabeths itself. -Kaylee Dugan

Architecture of an Asylum

Kung Fu Wildstyle @ Freer & Sackler Galleries (Sackler, sublevel 3) opens April 1

How cool does this sound? Kung Fu Wildstyle, explores pop culture through contemporary street art, featuring works by legendary street artist and hip-hop impresario Fab 5 Freddy and Hong Kong graffiti and hip-hop pioneer MC Yan. They examine how Bruce Lee and kung fu affected New York City’s street culture and emerging hip-hop scene in the 1970s. Fab and MC Yan also show how this influence came full circle when hip-hop inspired a generation of Hong Kong street kids in the 1990s. Also, check out the full list of wildstyle around town (concerts, movies and more) events. -Svetlana Legetic

Boom Box Bruce (detail), 2012; Fab 5 Freddy

WPA Auction & Afterparty April 1

Washington Project for the Arts is taking over Uline arena to show off the insane amount of talent D.C. has to offer, all while raising money to ensure that contemporary art has a place in the District. If you care about D.C.’s art scene (0r are looking to decorate a brand new apartment / up your collecting game) this is not an event to be missed. Check out our full preview here. -Svetlana Legetic

Artwork credit:Roberto Visani, The King is Not Dead, 2016, Mixed media on paper 38 x 40 in.

Alternativas/es + EXPORT @ Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain opens April 6

April is AIA DC’s Architecture month celebration and our friends and partners at Spain Arts and Culture are serving up two anchor exhibitions to satisfy all your design needs: EXPORT. Spanish Architecture abroad, which offers a global analysis of the current state of Spanish architecture outside its borders, and Alternativas / Alternatives, a selection of projects presented at the XIII Spanish Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism. The preliminary images look amazing, and check out all related programs and opening reception info here. -Svetlana Legetic

photo courtesy of Spain Arts & Culture

Smithsonian Exhibits on World War I opens April 6

I think it’s fair to say that we celebrate a lot of dumb anniversaries in the US. (You should probably gear up now for a bunch of Titanic commemorative shit later this year.) It’s rare that we recognize an anniversary that actually means something, but the Smithsonian has identified a day genuinely worth reflecting on: April 6 will be the 100 year anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I. That’s obviously an awfully big deal, and to pay tribute to its importance, new exhibits on the war and its impact are opening across the museums on April 6. Probably a better way to spend your time than a BuzzFeed listicle. -Trisha Brown

Make Trouble by John Waters available April 11

John Waters gave a speech to the graduating class of 2015 at the Rhode Island School of Design that, of course, “went viral,” thanks to its plainspoken words of advice on life as a creative person. The text of that speech has been collected in a new book just in time for graduation season 2017, entitled Make Trouble. -Matt Byrne

Roughneck by Jeff Lemire available April 18

Jeff Lemire’s a hugely talented graphic novelist and writer whose work has been compared to that of both Raymond Carver and Steven King. His new graphic novel, Roughneck, follows a brother and sister who attempt to re-connect after years of silence by hiding out at a hunting camp in the woods. The artwork that I’ve seen thus far has been fantastic, I’m stoked for this one. -Matt Byrne

Image result for Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

Decanter Wine & Racing Festival @ Laurel Park Race Course April 8

2017 is the year we take THE MOST BREAKS from D.C. and what better reason to leave the politically charged confines of The District than wine. The 7th Annual Decanter Wine & Racing Festival combines two of our favorite things that are also in Pretty Woman: Wine and Horses (what did you think we were going to say?). It’s an all day even featuring live turf and dirt races, a variety of Maryland wines, local food & artisans, and live music. Wear your best hat! -Jenn Tisdale

Craft Brewers Conference April 10-13

Once a year, pretty much every craft brewery in U.S. (and beyond) descends upon one city for the Craft Brewer’s Conference. During the day, there are seminars and trade shows, and these things have nothing to do with you (though they may ultimately affect the quality, recipes, and packaging of the beer you drink months from now). So far, so nerdy, but here’s where it gets interesting: At night, the city is overrun by brewers and industry folks, so every beer bar throws events to woo them (and regular beer drinkers like you and me).

And for the first time since 2013, CBC is in DC this year. What can you look forward to? Well, there’s an old Jerry Seinfeld sketch about the first time you hear about Halloween as a child. (Just watch it.) If you’re a fan of craft beer, that sentiment pretty much describes the feeling of your hometown hosting CBC. Who’s coming to CBC? EVERY BREWERY THAT I LOVE IS COMING TO TOWN FOR CBC!

The line-up of events is dizzying, and they’re filled with breweries you won’t otherwise find in D.C.: Trillium, Other Half, Surly, Fremont, and on and on. Needless to say, beer directors like Meridian Pint’s Jace Gonnerman and NRG’s Greg Engert have been planning these events since last fall (if not earlier). Also, local breweries like 3 Stars, DC Brau, and Ocelot have brewed special collaborations with out-of-town breweries just for CBC. I’ll have stories three stories on CBC beers in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled. A special CBC edition of Draft Picks is on the way, too, but until then, check out DC Beer’s calendar for the full rundown of events. -Phil Runco

Colossal in theaters April 7

Colossal stars Anne Hathaway as a hard-partying lady who hits a rough patch in her life and soon after discovers that she has some sort of psychic bond with a Kaiju-style monster attacking cities on the other side of the world. And apparently, based on a handful of early reviews, the movie gets even weirder from there. I’m in! -Matt Byrne

Film and Talk: A Legacy of Mies and King: Modernizing the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library @ National Building Museum April 13

As you may (hopefully) know, Washington DC’s central library, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library closed in March for a 3-year renovation project. If you didn’t know that, or if you’re not sure why the library is a big deal, you might want to check out a free event at the National Building Museum on April 13 that features a screening of Modernizing the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, a documentary about the legacy of the library and Francine Houben, the woman chosen to lead its renovation. -Trisha Brown

Sandy Wexler on Netflix April 14

Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix exclusive, Sandy Wexler, looks bad in a different way from the way his movies usually look bad, which is novelty enough to make me morbidly curious about this one. Sandler plays a legendary, lumpy talent agent in the 1990s who falls in love with one of his clients, played by Jennifer Hudson. He’s doing a funny voice, is dressed goofy, and managed to rope in cameos from a bunch of famous people. I dunno, dude. -Matt Byrne

Born in China in theaters April 21

The latest offering of Disneynature docs, Born In China, is a survey of the rich and varied wildlife in China. These annual Earth Day releases aren’t the most hard-hitting or revelatory, but man, sometimes it’s just nice to watch footage of wild animals on the big screen, you know? -Matt Byrne

Jay Som @ DC9 April 1

As I mentioned in my interview with her, Jay Som’s Everybody Works is an instant classic and probably going to make my year-end “Best of” list. And we’re not the only ones loving this album: it’s already receiving critical acclaim from plenty of publications, including Pitchfork and Spin.

Unfortunately for most folks, Saturday might be the last chance you’ll get to see her in such a small, intimate venue like DC9 – and that show is very much sold out. Might be worth scouring Craigslist for a reasonably priced ticket, or hanging about DC9’s rooftop and hoping someone wants to sell theirs. There are few shows that I think are worth paying over listing price for, but this is definitely one of them. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez

Diet Cig @ Rock & Roll Hotel April 13

I don’t know very much about these guys, and only started listening to them a few weeks ago, but if they’re good enough for Bob Boilen, then they’re good enough for me. The duo’s new album Swear I’m Good At This is out on April 7, which means we’ll be one of the first cities to get to see them perform the entirety of the record live. Should be a high energy, high fun, high fructose good time. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez

Woods Love Is Love available April 21

The psych folkies in Woods have never made a bad album, so why would they start now? Love Is Love was written and recorded in the weeks following the election and word is that it’s a very thoughtful and meditative collection of tracks. Big fan of these guys, as well as thought and meditating, so I’m in! -Matt Byrne

The New Year Snow available April 28

It’s been nine years The New Year released their last album, so you can imagine my delight when they announced a new full length is coming out this month! These pioneers of sleepy, guitar driven indie rock have been crafting perfect albums for more than two decades (the band features the songwriting duo Bubba and Matt Kadane, who formed The New Year following the dissolution of their old project, Bedhead), and I can’t wait to check out the perfectly-titled Snow after such a long wait. -Matt Byrne

https://brightestyoungthings.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/PARTY.png

Cherry Blast @ Dock 5 Union Market April 14

Once again Cherry Blast is going to bring you the sights, sounds, tastes and scents of Tokyo in one pink-filled event! Six of D.C.’s best chefs will provide authentic Japanese cuisine while you stroll through the Night Market tasting Japanese whiskey. Plus you’ll have access to a VIP Tea Room and interactive art inspired by Japanese culture. And because this is a goddamn party after all, there will OF COURSE be live music all night long. Think Pink. -Jenn Tisdale

Washington Nationals Opening Day April 3

The 2016 National League East Champions were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. D.C. was disappointed. Advertisers and Major League Baseball were disappointed. For the next three weeks, baseball fans had to sit through Bryce Harper commercials while he was back home near Vegas. The rest of the country was happy. The most dramatic World Series of the modern era ended the longest losing streak in modern sports. There’s no reason to think the future isn’t anything but bright. -Brandon Wetherbee

Nationals Field Preview-31

Meow Madness on Hallmark Channel April 3

The Kitten Bowl is the Hallmark Channel’s delayed-response knockoff to the Puppy Bowl, which airs on Animal Planet on the same day as the Super Bowl. Meow Madness is a spinoff of The Kitten Bowl, paying tribute to NCAA Basketball’s March Madness (though this airs in April). For fans of: cats, kittens, kitties. -Matt Byrne

Prison Break miniseries premieres on Fox April 4

I genuinely worry that the glut of high-quality TV in the 21st century is keeping people from revisiting the glorious spectacle that was Prison Break. For those who were only 11 years old when the show premiered in 2005, the central premise was simple: in order to free his brother from death row, Michael Scofield tattooed the prison blueprint onto his body and then got arrested so he could break them both out from the inside. The show eventually went off the rails, but season one’s brand of completely nuts was suspenseful and fun as hell. Considering the new miniseries requires that Michael returns from the dead, I’m hopeful it will live up to its own legacy. -Trisha Brown

Talk Show the Game Show premieres on truTV April 5

Guy Branum is incredibly funny and I’ve got high hopes for his new series, Talk Show the Game Show, which is exactly like what it sounds like: an escalation of the gamification of late night chat shows to its most logical conclusion. Thankfully this series seems self-aware and generally a less @midnight-y @midnight, which is great news. -Matt Byrne

Better Call Saul returns to AMC April 10

Better Call Saul’s first two seasons were better than most of the show it spun off from, so let’s hope that trend continues! Word is we get to actually see the origins of Saul Goodman, the persona we first met in Breaking Bad, this season, so that’s something! But really I could watch this slow moving character drama for eight more seasons without any tangible plot development if it’s as good as those first two seasons. -Matt Byrne

Image result for Better Call Saul season 3 gif

The Leftovers returns to HBO April 16

The Leftovers is my favorite television show and it’s coming to an end this Spring. It’s melodramatic, ridiculous, intense, and occasionally surreal and funny. Last season’s closing episodes really leaned into the post-apocalyptic David Lynch vibes which I loved, so here’s hoping there’s more of that to come! -Matt Byrne

Image result for The Leftovers season 3 gif

A Handmaid’s Tale premieres on Hulu April 26

For probably totally coincidental reasons having nothing to do with current events, Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which features a totalitarian government that subjugates women, has shot up bestseller lists in recent months. The Hulu adaptation of the story has been in the works for about a year, so the Trump presidency doesn’t seem to have directly inspired the miniseries. That said, the current state of political affairs will almost certainly be credited with a surge in Hulu subscriptions within the next few weeks. -Trisha Brown

Image result for A Handmaid’s Tale gif

Casting JonBenet premieres on Netflix April 28

Netflix is jumping head first into the meta documentary and I am all about it. We’ve seen great examples of this kind of filmmaking with The Nightmare and Kate Plays Christine (which, to be clear, I haven’t seen yet but I’ve heard it’s great and I want to see it so so bad), so I’m not surprised that Netflix has been inspired by these weird and poignant indie docs. The Amanda Knox documentary is a great example of what Netflix is capable of doing when it comes to true crime, and watching them blend the lines of fact and fiction like this is incredibly intriguing and truly spooky. Netflix is truly knocking it out of the ballpark in all kinds of different ways (and they have been for years now) so I have no reason to believe they’re going to drop the ball on this one. -Kaylee Dugan

Mortified DC: Spriiiiiiiing Breeeeeeeak! @ Town April 12

The long running story telling show returns to D.C. for an intimate show at Town. Relive past not-glories of strangers proving that there really are no good old days. -Brandon Wetherbee

Ballet Across America @ Kennedy Center April 17-23

Listen, ballet may not be your thing generally. But if you’re going to try a new thing or be open-minded, this would be the time to check it out. Ballet Across America is focused on innovation and diversity, and this year it’s curated by Misty Copeland (the first African-American women to ever be made principal dancer for the American Ballet Company) and Justin Peck (the second ever Resident Choreographer of New York City Ballet). -Trisha Brown

Ballet Across America

Fun Home @ The National Theatre April 18-May 13

The Tony winner for Best Musical in 2015, the show based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel memoir is critically and commercially acclaimed but doesn’t have the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Tony winner for Best Musical in 2016. -Brandon Wetherbee

Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebration @ Folger Shakespeare Library April 23

If you, like me, had a ninth grade English teacher who was weirdly obsessed with Shakespeare you probably have his April 23 birthday burned into your brain permanently. Time to put that information to good use by celebrating at Folger Shakespeare Library’s birthday party for the Bard of Avon. To celebrate or not to celebrate? Well, there’s free cake and sword-fighting demos, so… -Trisha Brown