Here are some books to read, films to see, food to eat, drinks to drink and more culturally relevant recommendations to enjoy while you’re not protesting for basic human rights.
If you’re interest in art skews a little more traditional, than you’ve come to the right place. This exhibition explores the colored sculptures of Della Robbia that were produced between the late 19th and early 20th century. The works are beautifully colored even to this day and paint a lush picture of life in renaissance Florence. They just seem relaxing to look at. -Kaylee Dugan
It’s like The Labyrinth but with lights! D.C.’s own Kelly Towles has created an actual light maze, 45 feet in diameter, and bonus: inflatable! Plus you’ll get to check out your next apartment, The Pearl. Stop acting like one more stop on the Metro (Silver Spring baby!) is so traumatizing. Go get lost in the maze. – Jenn Tisdale
Looking for a different kind of Valentine’s Day event? One that is both unimpeachably cool (Bad Religion’s Brian Baker DJing! Baby Alcatraz!), supports the arts (the event is a fundraiser for Transformer’s Flat Files Store and also a fundraiser for the arts organization itself) and is just the right kind of special and interactive (Kissing booth by Linda Hesh! DIY Valentine’s photo cards courtesy of Lomography! Site specific installations by some of our favorite DC artists and collectives!) and also features an open bar and is totally cool to go to no matter what your romantic status is? Well, then Transformer’s First Annual Heartbreaker’s Ball is for you. We are excited to be media partners for it, so get tickets here and lets make sure this is the first of many. -Svetlana Legetic
Nothing has me more excited for February than the Hirshhorn’s upcoming Kusama exhibition. Her work with mirrors and polka dots and color is a sight to behold, and if the Hirshhorn’s Ragnar exhibition taught us anything it’s that they what the hell they’re doing. Timed passes are up for free on the Hirshhorn’s website on February 13th, so grab them before they’re all gone and revel in the fact that you’re going to see something magical. Things like these are a nice reminder that sometimes living in D.C. is fucking great and we should not take it for granted. -Kaylee Dugan
The NGA is taking a lens to the idea of urbanity with their exhibition that encompasses artistic depictions of the urban from 1920 to 1950. There are prints by Louis Lozowick and Reginald Marsh, but there are other less well known artists represented as well. Go back through time and see how people interpreted city life. Damn, art is cool. -Kaylee Dugan
Joan Cornella has had a great few years, transitioning from cultishly adored cartoonist with a rabid online following to Wilco album cover designer seemingly overnight. Zonzo is the second collection of his subtly psychedelic, hallucinatory work, featuring 50 all-new wordless tales of violence, depravity, and brutal coincidence. -Matt Byrne
Lots of people are big fans of Neil Gaiman, lots of people like mythology, and lots of people will read whatever they can find about Thor and the rest of the Norse pantheon Marvel made famous. So this book will do well. But whether or not you want to read it, know the publisher’s description refers to this book as “an instant classic,” includes the term “bravura rendition,” and was almost definitely written by someone who has read American Gods three dozen times. -Trisha Brown
It’s sort of amazing that Viet Than Nguyen found the time and energy to put together a collection of short stories, given how busy he’s been collecting awards – including the Pulitzer Prize – for his 2015 novel The Sympathizer. But find the time he did, which is great news for us. Nguyen, who before The Sympathizer was exclusively a non-fiction writer, is one of the most important voices in the book world right now no matter what form he chooses.
George Saunders is one of our finest living authors, and boy are folks stoked for his first full-length novel, which follows a slew of novellas and short story collections released over the last two decades. Lincoln In The Bardo is a fictionalized account of Abraham Lincoln’s struggle with the death of his 11 year old son. Sounds heavy but also probably not as heavy as you’d expect, considering this is a Saunders work! Great! -Matt Byrne
I can’t recall the moment I stumbled across Kate Berlant and John Early as a comedy duo. At times I am unable to tell where one ends and the other begins, such is the power of their humor together. They complement each other perfectly. Kate has performed on the Bentzen Ball and John has, sadly, only been in my heart. They’ve done much together, including my favorite video: Paris. Not only will they be performing at The Howard they are also premiering 555, an anthology miniseries of five short films that unfold in a stark, humid, surreality of Hollywood. – Jenn Tisdale
This is both exactly how it sounds and nothing like you’re thinking. Hosted by comic/writer/musician Lane Moore, Tinder Live is just that, but it’s also a hilarious look at some of your favorite Tinder tropes (DUDE ON A MOUNTAIN. DUDE WITH KIDS WHO MAKES SURE YOU KNOW THOSE AREN’T HIS KIDS) and Lane Moore is fucking hysterical. She usually has a few guests on the show. So far our favorite WaPo writer (and wielder of the wildly popular Emo Kylo Ren Twitter handle) Alexandra Petri will be there with more to come. This will be good for a couple and a non couple so swipe right on this show. -Jenn Tisdale
Iron Gate, to begin with, is one of D.C.’s most romantic restaurants. And while the carriage house is a perfect seal-the-deal/special occasion date opportunity, the front bar is where all the action will be over the next few weeks. Possibly (probably?) taking a cue from the success of Miracle on 7th Street, the area has been overloaded with hearts, red chandeliers, a “kiss cam” selfie op in the mirror and more. All of this would be for naught, of course, if the drinks and food were not great. The cocktail menu has some seriously girly winners (the elderflower forward “I’ll Have What She’s Having”) but also offers options serious enough for the most highbrow cocktail drinker (we recommend the “You Make Me Want To Be A Better Martini”). Pair with some granita oysters and you have yourself a perfect Valentine’s month outing. Full story coming on BYT today. -Svetlana Legetic
Last February, when Ocelot released Talking Backwards for the first time, it was a big deal. Hopped with Citra, Simcoe, and Mosaic, the 10.8% triple IPA was unlike anything being produced in the D.C. area (at the very least). It showcased enormous hop flavor and aroma, while remaining remarkably dry and crisp – a marvel for a beer that boozy. Understandably, people lost their shit. Now, a whole year has passed, and the legend of Talking Backwards has only grown bigger. So, yeah, tonight is a big deal. That’s when the annual Meridian Pint collaboration will be released for second time at… well, yeah, at Meridian Pint, but also its sister restaurants, Brookland Pint and Smoke & Barrel. If you remotely like IPAs, you need this beer in your life. Also, check out my recent imperial-sized profile of Ocelot and the beer. (500 bottles of the beer will be available at the brewery on Thursday.) -Phil Runco
Speaking of big beer releases, here’s another doozy. On Friday, Port City will release its sixth anniversary beer, aka Colossal 6. This year, Jonathan Reeves and his team have brewed up a Russian Imperial Stout. After producing (fantastic renditions) of a quad and an old ale the previous two years, they’re giving the people (and brew team) what they want: a 10.2% subtly roasty, subtly cocoay, impressively dry dark beer that’s complex yet approachable. If you head to the brewery on Friday (or Saturday!), you’ll be able to buy a four-pack (or three), and drink pints of the beer for wildly reasonable $7. I have a long, serious feature on the beer coming here on BYT this Friday, so come back to learn more. Until then, check out this DCBeer.com post on the beer. -Phil Runco
Calling all hopheads. Once a year, Wyoming all-star brewery sends its best, freshest, hoppiest offerings to 40 bars around the country. This is the kind of cool stuff you get to do when you’re a hot-shit regional brewery. In D.C., they’ll be sending their beer to, duh, ChurchKey. The star of the line-up is award-winning double IPA 2×4, which I consumed in mass quantities last SAVOR week. Other offerings will include Lambda (a triple IPA brewed and double dry-hopped with Simcoe and Mosaic), Citradamus (an imperial IPA brewed exclusively with Citra hops), and PilsGnar (a Pilsner, because Jesus Christ, sometimes you need a delicious break from hops). (It’s probably a hoppy pilsner.) (Whatevs.) -Phil Runco
Learn all about wine and being a sommelier in one of the most beautiful dining rooms in D.C.! Andy Myers (ThinkFoodGroup) and Elli Benchimol (Joe’s Stone Crab) will walk you through their favorite wine pairings and trust me, you are going to be hungover the next day. I’ve done two events where Myers was the somm and both times I was a wreck. What I’m saying is that you’re going to have a good time. -Kaylee Dugan
If you like booze and you like D.C. I can think of no better marriage of those two beautiful things than the DC Distillers Festival. You’ll have the opportunity to sample more than 60 different liquors all while dancing to a live jazz band. It’s an all day all night speakeasy and you’re going to be wasted at the end of it. Just try not to die. -Kaylee Dugan
The Lure theaters February 3
Ummm…hi, this movie is self-described as a “mermaid horror musical comedy”…do I need to explain the appeal further? (If so, please get out of my life.) If you were having any reservations about it, just watch the trailer and I guarantee you’ll be a convert. To say I’m excited is a major understatement. (Like, congratulations, Poland…you have significantly improved my outlook on this year.) -Megan Burns
The Comedian in theaters February 3
The Comedian has been in production in one way or another since 2011, with Martin Scorsese originally attached to direct Robert De Niro as an aging insult comic who starts dating a woman half his age, who teaches him about life. Wow. Scorsese bailed and Sean Penn (Sean Penn!!) came on board to direct soon after, with Kristen Wiig as the love interest. Then Jennifer Aniston but she left and was replaced with Leslie Mann who is actually in the movie. All these women were cast as someone who was supposed to fall in love with a mean 73 year old man. Sean Penn didn’t end up directing it, that task went to Taylor Hackford who also did An Officer and a Gentleman, Ray, and something called Love Ranch which is what I say when someone asks me what kind of salad dressing I like. Anyways the trailer for this movie looks insane and mentions on like six different occasions the act of “going viral.” -Matt Byrne
The Lego Batman Movie in theaters February 10
I still haven’t seen Suicide Squad. (I could already tell I would be disappointed with it after my heart was so full watching that one post-Comic Con trailer.) Anyway, the moral of this story is that The Lego Batman Movie is going to kick Suicide Squad’s ass, and will also be (I assume) a source of much-needed feel-good vibes in 2017. I have no reservations about this movie. Go see it. If you hate it, you can yell at me. I will not refund your tickets, but I will feel sad about your taste level. (PS, do you think if it was called The Playmobil Batman Movie we wouldn’t be in our current horrible situation? PPS, if you think our current horrible situation is not horrible, I would swipe left on you v. hard if we saw each other on Tinder.) -Megan Burns
Lovesong in theaters February 17
Welp, the queer baiters have got me again, but I’m hoping it will be worthwhile // although I never know how to feel about Jena Malone, I feel 100% good things about Riley Keough, and as they will be exploring the complexities of female friendships and/or more-than-friendships I will be present for whatever transpires. (If nothing else, it looks like it was beautifully shot. I can appreciate that in spite of other potential letdowns.) Will it outdo that one movie (Jack and Diane) where Riley Keough played a gay werewolf? I mean, probably not, but at least we can all agree that Juno Temple is (like Bed-Stuy) a person that people keep swearing will happen but just never fully does. (Sorry not sorry this got tangential.) -Megan Burns
The Bad Kids @ Busboys & Poets February 23
This film is part of the Indie Lens Popup Series and will 100% make you cry. Directed by Lou Pepe and Keith Fulton, The Bad Kids is located in an impoverished Mojave Desert community. Black Rock Continuation High School is an alternative for at-risk students with little hope of graduating from a traditional high school. It’s their last chance. This coming of age story shows extraordinary educators and talented students combat the crippling effects of poverty. If you’re looking for hope, and I think most of us are…you’ll absolutely find it here. – Jenn Tisdale
Get Out in theaters February 24
Early reviews of Jordan Peele’s Get Out have been very positive and seem to confirm that it follows through on the creeping menace and cutting satire hinted at in the film’s very cool looking trailer. Everyone’s calling it Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner meets Stepford Wives or whatever and honestly that’s fine with me. -Matt Byrne
Rock Dog (ROCK DOG!!!) in theaters February 24
I saw the trailer for Rock Dog like three times this weekend and I still can’t tell you what it’s about. Released last summer in China, the US release of the film features Luke Wilson as the film’s titular Rock Dog: the Dog who Rocks, Eddie Izzard as an aging rock star who is also a kitty cat, and Lewis Black as an evil corporate executive who is also a wolf. The animation looks about as good as a video game cut scene and overall the thing just seems like one of those movies that’s built backwards from the inevitable full cast dance party ending. Love you Rock Dog! -Matt Byrne
Restaurant Week runs through the first weekend in February. 250 restaurants are participating. Not all of the deals are deals. We recommend 16 specific meals.
Scott Drewno is one of the nicest chefs in D.C. and The Source has started doing some pretty awesome events this year. This is the one we’re most excited about. There will be all you can eat Chinese BBQ, live action stations (I’m not sure what that means but I don’t care!), lion dancers, and wine pairings. I wish I had Chinese BBQ right now. -Kaylee Dugan
The most romantic holiday of the year is an excuse to make reservations and eat at a restaurant you normally wouldn’t frequent on a weeknight. Make your plans now.
Of course Baltimore has a vegan weekend. Most people may just think of it as the city where The Wire took place, but if you know anything about the city and it’s insufferable artsy side (I mean that with love), it all makes sense. There’s going to be a vegan food crawl, a vegan mac and cheese smack down, and a huge vegan brunch. I love cheese more than life itself, but I’m honestly intrigued by the mac and cheese smack down. Good food is good food whether you’re using fake cheese or real cheese. -Kaylee Dugan
Every year, W Hotel puts a cherry on top of their monthly free concert series with a Valentine’s Day showcase which always features some of our favorite local bands with the backdrop of one of our favorite views. This year the line-up includes Baby Bry Bry, Cinema Hearts & Brushes. Bring your dancing shoes. Event is free, but RSVP. -Svetlana Legetic
Road to SXSW Showcase February 16
We recently dropped some hot music info. at your doorsteps, D.C. The lovely folks from Events DC want to send ONE LUCKY BAND to play at SXSW this year. Sadly submissions are closed but we’ll be announcing the top three semi-finalists soon! Those three bands will perform at a Road-to-SXSW show on the 16th. It will be a true Battle of the Bands. Just like in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure! SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES. -Jenn Tisdale
Cashmere Cat is yet another Scandinavian producer making a name for himself operating in the space where EDM and hip-hop overlap – the young Norwegian producer is responsible for some pulsating, ass-shaking tracks for a wide range of starlets and rappers.
Cashcat came to prominence as the man in the studio for two of Ariana Grande’s early hits, “Adore” and “Be My Baby“. While the pair didn’t collaborate on Ariana’s 2016 release Dangerous Woman, Cashmere Cat continues to make infectious tracks, and is seemingly willing to work with anyone under the sun. Expect lots of wasted white kids having a hell of a finger-snapping good time. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez
Want further proof that D.C. Public Libraries are the best? A little while a go, DCPL produced a compilation LP featuring some serious heroes of the D.C. Music scene that will be released at the appropriately titled Rock the Stacks. The project is in memory of Annie Lou Berman, an essential member of the D.C. creative community, board member of the D.C. Public Library Foundation and amazing person, who succumbed to cancer earlier this year. Some of Annie Lou’s favorite bands have donated original or previously unreleased recordings to the project while others collaborated to make fresh recordings in the state-of-the-art Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library recording studios, including Thievery Corporation, Deathfix, Fort Knox Five, Shortstack and Small Doses. The release party will feature many of the bands on the album, including Elmapi, Furniteur, Warm Sun and The ALB Allstars (a supergroup of members appearing on Rock the Stacks-check out their promo video here). GET TICKETS NOW. -Svetlana Legetic
Rapper-producer and D.C. native Oddisee is a favorite on these pages, and for fair reason: he’s one of the most intelligent, lyrically-gifted contemporary rappers, with an ear for a catchy melody and challenging song structures. “CounterClockwise”, from 2015’s The Good Fight, is incredibly gripping and dynamic – partly due to it’s clever use of space and sound within a 5/4 time signature (which as you might imagine, isn’t precisely commonplace in popular music). -Jose Lopez-Sanchez
Noise rock charmers Pissed Jeans are back with more aggro odes to the crushing mundanity of day-to-day life with the all new Why Love Now, co-produced by the legendary Lydia Lunch. Track names like “Have You Ever Been Furniture,” “Activia,” and “(Won’t Tell You) My Sign” have me real excited for this collection of petty complaints and attacks on modern masculinity. -Matt Byrne
I’ve been listening to Telefone, Noname’s debut mixtape, nonstop for the last few months – and I’m sad that I was late to the game, missing its release last summer. The Chicago rapper and slam poet has an incredibly assured voice and way with words, which she’s been honing for the last few years since first appearing as a featured rapper on a track on Chance the Rapper’s 2013 mixtape Acid Rap. The larger sample size here shows us that her talent runs deep, and I’m hopeful this is a next step in establishing yet another young Chicago talent. Noname is precisely the kind of voice we need in hip hop right now, and I’m excited to see her play in the cozy confines of U Street Music Hall. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez
I got into Japandroids in the summer of 2012, around the same time everyone else did. Their album Celebration Rock was singularly devoted to a simple idea: that rock and roll catharsis is the most important thing in their world. Their shows are like that, too: I saw them play the day after the June 2012 Derecho. It was one of the hottest day of the year, and since The Rock and Roll Hotel already feels cramped, the sweaty crowded made the room so hot and muggy that I thought the guitarist was going to pass out. He didn’t, and instead played one of the most intense, and best rock shows I’ve ever seen. Japandroids new album isn’t as anthemic as their last one – how could it be? – and yet I fully expect to feel that young, wild, and ultimately exhausted when they finally play D.C. again. -Alan Zilberman
Spy in the Wild premieres on PBS February 1
Spy in the Wild is a new nature documentary miniseries that features footage culled from over 50 spy cameras embedded inside animatronic animals that were set out to chill with the real life versions of those animals. I bet there’s gonna be both some really awesome and interesting shots and then also some real quality first-person footage of these things getting completely torn apart by their confused/threatened peers. -Matt Byrne
Detroiters premieres on Comedy Central February 7
The long-awaited premiere of Comedy Central’s new series Detroiters is upon us. The insanely talented Veep ensemble member Sam Richardson co-stars with former SNL cast member Tim Robinson as a pair of friends struggling to live their dreams as part-time actors living in Detroit. -Matt Byrne
The History of Comedy premieres on CNN February 9
From CNN: This new CNN Original Series explores what makes us laugh, why, and how that’s influenced our social and political landscape throughout history.
From Jenn Tisdale: I hope this makes me love comedy again.
Girls returns to HBO February 12
If her experience campaigning for Hillary Clinton is any indication, actress/writer Lena Dunham shouldn’t quit her day job. …Oh no! She has: this is the final season of HBO’s Girls, among the network’s more bisecting of shows. Many, many people hate the half-hour comedy for its unabashed white privilege and spoiled, selfish characters. The rest of us think they’re missing the point: this satire dares to explore self-discovery and -actualization among the most bubbled of Brooklyn bubble-dwellers. With season 6, I hope for more of the same. The journeys are real — no matter the navel-gazing — and the dialogue crackles and burns.
Yes, I hate the characters on Girls, too. And I can’t wait to see what they do this year. -Tristan Lejeune
Big Little Lies premieres on HBO February 19
HBO’s miniseries based on Liane Moriarty’s runaway bestselling mystery comedy, Big Little Lies, could go really well. Or it could be a real shitshow. Reese Witherspoon is the driving force, and the cast (including Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, Adam Scott, and Alexander Skarsgård) is solid. Those are good signs. The trailer indicates the setting has been moved from Australia to Califorina, and it has almost no hints of the book’s humor. Those are bad signs. Truth be told, I’ll watch either way. The quality will only determine how fervently I subtweet it. -Trisha Brown
Interested in boning up on your understanding of fascism for any reason now that we’re arrived in a post-Obama America? Arena Stage has you covered. Watch on the Rhine is the story of a German/American family that has returned to the D.C. suburbs just before the US enters World War II. Written by Lillian Hellman in 1941, the play covers political, cultural, and family themes. In terms of capturing an important view of one moment in time, you can’t do much better than that. -Trisha Brown
As of February, Prince Charles will have been first in line for the British thrown for an eye-popping 65 years, the longest-serving heir apparent in the island nation’s vast history. Will he ever reign as king? Should he? After all, Charles is (looks around, makes sure sure no one is listening, then whispers) …twice-married.
Shakespeare Theatre Company’s latest, King Charles III, explores — in iambic pentameter, no less — a future in which the current Prince of Wales has ascended the throne. Mike Bartlett’s inventive script got raves in London and New York, where the show won Olivier and Tony awards aplenty. The show opens at Sidney Harmon Hall on February 7. Check this space for BYT’s review the following week. -Tristan Lejeune
Hey, remember Valerie Plame? Given that she was a covert operative with the CIA, you shouldn’t, but you probably do anyway. Her cover was blown, probably on purpose, certainly by assholes. Anyway, Intelligence is a play based on that story. Part of Arena Stage’s Power Plays series, Intelligence wasn’t authorized by Plame, and the description states upfront that “certain dramatic elements have been added to the documented facts.” Which pretty much guarantees that audiences are in for a wild ride. At least as recent-history political plays go. -Trisha Brown