It’s here. 2017 is here. Like it or not, D.C. is going to be very busy this month. And by the end of the 31 days, feel very different. Rather than focus on the negative or what we can’t control, we’re highlighting good things. And some not so good things that we can’t ignore. It is possible to make this your best month ever. At least make it your best January possible (starting with this amazing BYT + Hirshhorn event).
Two of the smartest, most politically significant (without being preachy whatsoever), powerfully beautiful exhibitions of 2016 that tackle identity, hope and everything that can sometimes be in the way of it are closing two weeks before inauguration. If the president elect had a chance to see them, we would feel a little more hopeful about the months to come. Still, if you have not seen it – RUN TO IT, and if you have – REVISIT. They may not save your life, but they will make a strong case for saving your soul.- Svetlana
As predicted, the new POTUS WILL BE good for the arts. A project between two of the more dynamic young members of the DC community and a direct reaction to the political climate, Perversion Therapy, opening a week before the inauguration, points to the anti-LGBTQ history of the president elect and members of his chosen cabinet through a celebration of queer bliss and domestic deviance, through paintings, performance objects, and multimedia installations. It will also include a live performance at the opening reception on Friday the Thirteenth, and a second performance the following week on Wednesday, January 18. Rumor has it the performances will be outrageous – not to be missed. – Svetlana Legetic
Open since mid-November, the shine is off this exhibit (literally, color block stickers on the stairs to the G Street entrance of the American Art Museum have started to peel.) But given I once spent a month internally and then a week externally debating Ellsworth Kelly vs. Frank Stella (surprise winner: Sol LeWitt,) I can’t really miss a chance to ogle a local minimalist hero’s collection. -Jeb Gavin
If you’re headed to the beach to avoid D.C. over Inauguration weekend, you should probably not take Difficult Women, the new short story collection by Roxanne Gay. This is decidedly not a light, fizzy beach read. But if you’re doing just about anything else – prepping for the Women’s March on Washington, for example – Gay’s highly anticipated book might be a good investment of time and bookshelf space. What better way to prepare for Trump’s America than reading an unusual, searing collection of short stories about women by one of the country’s most renowned feminists? -Trisha Brown
New book about David Bowie from the only surviving member of the Spiders from Mars, Woody Woodmansey? Hell yeah dude! Spider from Mars: My Life with Bowie will most assuredly be filled with ridiculous stories of rock and roll excess and drug-addled partying. Tony Visconti provides the intro, too! -Matt Byrne
I first heard about microdosing on an episode of Reply All and found it to be an interesting (if a little goofy) idea. Taking *very* small amounts of LSD each day as a mood boost? Sure, hippie. Anyways this new book A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life from novelist Ayelet Waldman charts her real life experiences with depression and a last-ditch attempt at curbing it with LSD. Thing is, at least according to the title, it worked? Hmm! Let’s read this and decide for ourselves, I guess. -Matt Byrne
Did you resolve to read more in 2017? To think more critically? Just to get out to more cool DC events? Assuming you haven’t failed or given up by January 10, this Folger event with writers Roxanne Gay (Bad Feminist, An Untamed State) and Hilton Als (White Girls) might be for you. Gay and Als are coming together to discuss race, gender, culture, and probably whatever else comes up. Neither tends toward easy conversations, but both are smart and interesting as hell. Go learn something. -Trisha Brown
January is a terrific time to dive into Scandinavian crime of any kind, and Anne Holt’s ouvre is ready made for it and just waiting to be discovered. From her Agatha Christie inspired locked room mystery “1222” (SO MUCH BETTER than “Women in Cabin 10”) to some truly gruesome crimes against women, children and bishops in her other novels (there is a total of 9 available in English) it is just what the doctor ordered. Add to that that Holt was a policewoman, a lawyer and Norway’s Minister of Justice in her past life and you have some serious street cred to your latest crime obsession. Now, if only we could get snowed in ASAP. – Svetlana Legetic
The ACLU benefit comedy festival is happening in cities across America. The D.C. edition was curated by Linsay Deming and Katherine Jessup, two women we’ve recommended on multiple occasions. 8 shows over 3 nights will features locals and national comics, gathering together to try to eek out funny in a very unfunny time. -Brandon Wetherbee
This January, ChurchKey’s tap takeover game runs the gamut between old and new, conservative and adventurous. On the tried and true side, St. Louis stalwart Schlafly celebrates its 25th anniversary in Logan Circle on January 11. Co-founder Tom Schlafly and ambassador brewer Stephen Hale will make the trip to D.C. for the occasion and make us all feel special. Meanwhile, on the more, um, wild side, Arizona Wilderness visits the bar for their D.C. debut on January 18. These guys are best known for their use of native yeast and unusual local ingredients, like prickly pear, juniper berries, and butternut squash. (I’ve only tried their collaboration with Stillwater, the imperial milk stout Big Bunny, but that beer is *flames emoji*.)
Our pick of the month lies somewhere in between. On Friday, January 13, ChurchKey hosts Great Raft Brewing, a three-year-old Louisiana brewery co-founded by DCBeer.com OG Andy Nation and his wife Lindsay. My only experience with their beers was at this year’s Savor, where they brought a Brett IPA and a farmhouse saison brewed with rye and Mosaic hops. (These, too, were *flames emoji*.) This time around, they’ll be bringing a slew of offerings that look very tasty on paper, including a Baltic Porter aged in Jamaican rum barrels, an oak-aged Saison conditioned on peaches, and a mixed-fermentation saison dry-hopped with (my favorite hop) Nelson Sauvin. Yum. -Phil Runco
Burgers. Brews. They go together. It’s not rocket science. But here’s some proof if you need it: On January 18, Port City and the Pentagon City Shake Shack are teaming up for a night of burgers and brews. And a hot dog. And a vanilla frozen custard beer float made with Port City Porter. For those doing the math at home, that’s a four-course meal… for $35. So, if your New Year’s resolution was to go to cheaper events and drink better beer, you’re luck. If your New Year’s resolution was to cut back on calories, well, that’s lame.
As usual, the rest of the month is stacked with other Port City events, too. On January 6, they’ll be tapping some out-of-print greatest hits. Back on election night, they let patrons vote on a special one-off brew. Patrons chose the Electioneering ESB. (Sorry, Deft Dubbel!) On January 20 (aka Inauguration Day), they’ll unleash that ESB. And if there was one takeaway from the Beer in Review, it’s that people want more ESB. And, lastly, not to get ahead of ourselves, but save February 3 for the release of their anniversary beer, Colossal VI. We’ll have a Freshly Tapped profile of the beer to commemorate the occasion. -Phil Runco
Like more than a few San Diego breweries, Green Flash is best known for its West Coast IPAs. (Or, in this case, a beer literally called West Coast IPA.) But the California brewery has a separate facility called Cellar 3 that’s “dedicated to the art of craft beer innovation through barrel-aging and wild yeast experimentation with over 2,500 of the space.” You can taste what’s coming out of Cellar 3 on January 26, when Green Flash sends at least six of those beers to Old Town’s Pizzeria Paradiso. These barrel-aged beauties will include Oculus Sauvage (a Belgian-style Imperial IPA fermented with Brett in French oak red wine barrels); Divine Belgique (a bottle-conditioned Trippel); and Blanc Tart (a sour blonde ale brewed with spices and aged in white and red wine barrels). -Phil Runco
Underworld: Blood Wars in theaters January 6
Somehow Kate Beckinsale managed to become an actual vampire. How else can one explain (don’t say Hollywood magic) the fact that she has been able to play Selene for 14 years. YES, THE FIRST UNDERWORLD FILM WAS RELEASED IN 2003. I’m going to go because I can’t resist a film that dresses its characters like every Los Angeles industrial party I attended in the early 2000’s. Pleather. A shit ton of pleather. -Jenn Tisdale
The Book of Love in theaters January 13
I have to admit, I’m pretty skeptical about Arya Stark’s southern accent capabilities after having watched the trailer for this movie, but I feel like it could be surprisingly good and heartwarming, namely due to the presence of Jason Sudeikis. (That’s a valid reason, right?) -Megan Burns
Mike Mills’ Beginners is probably one of my favorite movies of all time, and definitely one of my favorite father-son movies (alongside Life Aquatic and Finding Nemo) and now, Mills goes and makes a movie about the woman that raised him, that promises to be just as smart and funny and heartbreaking. Annette Benning gives the performance of the a lifetime as Dorothea and Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning, Billy Crudup and newcomer Lucas Jade Zuman round out the luminous cast. We’d spend 2 hours in a room just with the movie’s poster, let along the actual story. A must see. -Svetlana Legetic
Julieta opens in D.C. January 20
A different kind of Mother’s story, by the master of Mother stories, Julieta is Pedro Almodovar’s latest, based off of a series of short stories by Alice Munro, this story of reconnection and (maybe) redemption marks a return to Almodovar’s true melodrama form, after a few years spent on fun-but-not-essential-Pedro genre outings (I’m So Excited and The Skin I Live In). Fingers crossed this is this year’s Volver.
Split in theaters January 20
Split, the latest from M. Night Shyamalan, is the followup to the wild found footage fun of The Visit, which was hailed by many as a return to form (or at least a return to making enjoyable horror movies). The film follows a group of ladies who are kidnapped by a crazy dude with the classic movies-only version of split personality disorder, a fairly tame premise that ratchets up the ridiculousness by giving the dude ***24*** distinct personas. Damn! Dude’s a one man Altman film! -Matt Byrne
Toni Erdmann opens in D.C. January 20
The “funniest, almost three hour German comedy you’ll ever see” (according to A.O. Scott) is also one of the most unlikely best reviewed films of they year, and yet it is. Finally, we get to see this Father-Daughter-Practical-Joking fable on the big screen and in the typical wasteland that is the January movie going experience, we should all embrace it as something to ACTUALLY look forward to inauguration week. -Svetlana Legetic
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (+ John Cleese IN PERSON) @ Strathmore January 28
John Cleese, Strathmore and I go back like spinal cords and car seats. Haven’t been in months, though, but for this I’ll head back up to North Bethesda. They’ll be showing Monty Python and the Holy Grail, followed by “conversation and audience Q&A (absurd and/or ridiculous questions only, please.)” Here’s hoping they throw out whomever asks, “What is the air speed of an unladen swallow?” -Jeb Gavin
D.C. needs more diners. Ari’s is the newest and, as of this week, is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Ivy City restaurant is a welcome addition to a very healthy dining scene. Serving diner classics in addition to avocado toast, the new space should please those that want a real diner and the one person in your group that won’t go anywhere without avocado toast. -Brandon Wetherbee
When it comes to speaking truth to power and directly addressing societal concerns, Run the Jewels are the proverbial top of the hip-hop mountain. The duo of Killer Mike and El-P, who didn’t even form RTJ until they were both well into their careers at age 39, have made their name recording music that speaks to a young audience, addressing such issues as income inequality, race relations and civil rights, and national politics, all laid over El-P’s booming back beats. Their live shows are just flat-out fun: the audience is engaged, shouting the lyrics along with the pair; Killer Mike and El-P really enjoy rapping with one another, each playing off the other with an obvious sense of joy from being on stage. 2014’s show at the 9:30 Club was one of the best concerts I’ve seen, full stop. And now, in our own little Christmas miracle, it turns out the January 13 release date of their newest album was just a bit too long to wait – the pair tweeted out late Christmas Eve the entirety of Run the Jewels 3, a full three weeks early. (Just listen to “Thursday in the Danger Room” and tell me these guys aren’t brilliant – it’s not possible.) It’s time to start discussing this pairing as one of the greatest rap groups ever. -Logan Hollers
The xx I See You available January 13
Very much looking forward to The xx’s new album, I See You. Based on the handful of advance tracks released so far, it looks to be an expansion of their tightly controlled, restrained sound, incorporating samples and a bit of tonal variety into their sonic palette, a move that was at least partially inspired by the band’s collaboration on Jamie XX’s solo debut in 2015. Fingers crossed they’ll go three for three here! -Matt Byrne
The San Fermin vocalist already gave us a teaser performance of his debut solo album Sleepwalker in early December at DC9, but he’s back in town again for a bigger performance at Sixth & I. Tate’s warm and booming baritone voice can fill up a room on its own, and we’re excited to see how the historic synagogue’s acoustics amplify and enrich the sound. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez
Based on the depth of their sound and the relative maturity of their songwriting, it’s hard to believe that The Lemon Twigs are only in their late teenage years. Brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario – aged 19 and 17, respectively – got their start as stage actors but have made a seamless transition to music, with their debut album, Do Hollywood, earning critical acclaim with its early Fleet Foxes meets Sgt. Pepper sound. Now on their first headlining tour, these guys have a really bright future. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez
Long-running indie rock experimentalists Joan of Arc are back with He’s Got The Whole This Land is Your Land in His Hands, their first full length in five years. Based on initial press/the album’s first single, “This Must Be The Placenta” (nice), it’s a showcase of the group’s more collaborative, full band side, eschewing the abstract studio experimentation that marks their more difficult work. Either way these guys have beguiled critics and developed a small die-hard cult of fans over the last twenty years and this new one is absolutely worth your time. -Matt Byrne
Organized in the midst of Pizzagate, this excellent 3 band bill is part post-Million Woman March gathering, part reason to support Comet Ping Pong. We recommend nearly every Loud Boyz show, Foxhall Stacks features members of Bad Religion and We Were Black Clouds play the type of heavy, doom metal that’s appropriate for the new administration. -Brandon Wetherbee
D.C. Punk is not dead and Priests are here to prove it again and again, with a debut record five years into their tenure. First single is below, and you can learn more at the apt URL http://666priests666.tumblr.com/ -Svetlana Legetic
If you’ve visited our website at all in the last couple of weeks you might have noticed we’re throwing another party. Ragnar Kjartansson’s critically acclaimed exhibition at the Hirshhorn is coming to a close, and we’re giving it a true viking-esque sendoff, with all the bands, booze, and snacks you could ever want. We’ll have Chain and the Gang and Cinema Hearts doing some weird (and also cool) interactive live performances. We’ll have How To Dress Well DJing. And we’ll have specialty cocktails from all your favorites, including Bar Deco, Espita, Maketto, and more. If you miss this, we can promise you’re going to spend all of 2017 regretting it. -Kaylee Dugan
Before the inauguration madness officially beings, spend your night celebrating the good things that have happened the last few years in D.C.’s newest Smithsonian. Busboys & Poets is throwing a party to remind us of our accomplishments, despite how bleak it feels right now, and it’s one of the few things that is actually making us feel more optimistic. Speakers include Angela Davis, Danny Glover, Cheryl Strayed, José Andrés, and so many others. Not to mention, it’s a guaranteed way to get access to a museum most people haven’t been able to get close to yet. -Kaylee Dugan
The Apocalypse begins January 20
Hopefully absolutely nobody of note will be performing because Trump is an awful hatemonger and bigot, and if you’re reading this site, you probably have no interest in attending anyways. But what is important is that you make sure that Donald Trump and his billionaire administration doesn’t undo all of the progress we’ve made in the United States over the last few years. Here are a few things you can do in your daily life to fight back:
Be an ally to minorities: if you’re fortunate enough to have been born white and straight (and male), take some time to listen to your friends who are worried about the incoming administration. If you see people being harassed in public, say something and do something. Show the world that America is actually a great, inclusive country, and that our generation won’t stand for sexism, racism, xenophobia, or homophobia.
Give to organizations advocating for progressive issues and causes: it can be time, money, or both, but it’s time to walk the talk. It looks like Trump’s Cabinet picks are looking to systematically dismantle the very agencies they’re going to be leading, so it’s more important than ever to support organizations doing crucial work to protect the rights of black people, Latinos, Muslims, immigrants, refugees, the LGBTQ community, the environment, wildlife, etc. Think about what issues matter to you personally and find ways to get involved.
Call up your state and local representatives to express your displeasure: a Republican controlled Congress will be pushing for an extremely conservative agenda and the only thing stopping them is the fear that they might lose it all in 2018 if they push too hard. Let them know you’re not going to accept their bullshit.
Boycott Trump business interests: don’t give a single dollar to any business that lines the pockets of this cheeto-crusted Russian sock puppet. Here’s a handy list to help you live an ethical life. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez
We don’t need to explain why this is important. If you care even the slightest bit, we’ll see you out there. -Kaylee Dugan
The rivalry between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg is heating up as both men enter this year’s Royal Rumble. The two have been feuding for about 13 years, and have had exactly two matches in that time. One of which lasted just over two minutes–wrestling is great! If WrestleMania is the Super Bowl of wrestling, then the Royal Rumble is like, the Chik-Fil-A Bowl or something. I dunno, is that even a thing? The Royal Rumble pay-per-view is the name of the event at which the Royal Rumble match takes place, and it’s the favorite yearly event of many wrestling fans. ‘Mania gets all the attention, but many of the biggest HOLY SHIT moments actually occur at the Rumble. During last year’s Royal Rumble match, indy veteran AJ Styles made his long-awaited WWE debut. He now holds the WWE Championship–the most coveted prize in wrestling. So yeah, 2016 was a good year for someone. -Norm Quarrinton
Sherlock returned January 1
After the veddy British trainwreck that was 2016’s “Abominable Bride,” Sherlock is in deep trouble. Stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman clearly have better things they could be doing with their time. The average U.K. series would have ended years ago. Worst of all, the show appears to have jettisoned its strongest asset: Andrew Scott’s electric performance as Moriarity. Still, the chemistry between Dr. Strange and Bilbo Baggins is impossible to deny. And for 2017, the Watsons have a new wee bairn to add another wrinkle to the proceedings. So it’s back to Baker Street once more! Ya gotta admit: Cumberbatch might be the best actor around at creating compelling drama while the audience does nothing more than watch him think. -Tristan Lejeune
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia returns January 4 on FXX
It’s really weird the scripted shows that make it past a decade these days. Supernatural has been renewed for season 13. Bones begins its 12th and final season in January. And Grey’s Anatomy is on year 13? Ugh. Six or even five years ago, I never would have guessed It’s Always Sunny would make it to a dozen seasons, but I’m glad it did. Highlights of last year included “The Gang Hits the Slopes,” a pitch-perfect parody of ’80s sports movies, and “Mac & Dennis Move to the Suburbs,” with Glenn Howerton acting his ass off as Dennis’s daily commute and useless homemaker partner drive him insane.
Is it still in its prime? No. What show is, this deep into its run? But if you’ve given up on Paddy’s Pub, you might be surprised how funny the Gang can still be. -Tristan Lejeunehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVmAjkmZpJY
Taboo premiers January 10 on FX
TOM. HARDY. -Megan Burns
Lemony Snicket’s movie adaptation from years back was funny and scary and weird and perfect and one of the only kids’ movies ever we wish became a franchise. Now, it gets to live on forever, thanks to Netflix who somehow does it again and manages to read the depths of our heart’s desires and fill in that Stranger Things shaped hole we currently have with this. PLUS: NEIL PATRICK HARRIS ON TAP. ON TAP. – Svetlana Legetic
Adventure Time-Islands miniseries available January 24, airs January 30
The bad news: Adventure Time, quite likely the best animated “children’s” series of all time, is ending in 2018. The good news: Its Cartoon Network showrunners plan to back the remaining time with scores of hours of new programing, starting with this miniseries event, which is available for purchase on January 24 and airs across four nights staring January 30. Scuttlebutt is this 8-episode arc will finally tell us what happened to the other humans. Following the success of 2016’s deep-dive, “Stakes,” any fans of Ooo would be fo-Oools to miss it. -Tristan Lejeune
Planet Earth II premieres January 28
If you have to be sold on this six-episode sequel to BBC Earth’s world-capturing 2006 nature documentary, you clearly missed the first go-around.
As someone who grew up watching Nova and National Geographic, I thought I was well-acquainted with outdoorsy nonfiction film making until I saw Planet Earth. Its thrilling exploration of life in oceans, desserts, caves and more wasn’t just an instant classic — it was an instant gold standard. The sequel, which begins with “Islands” and closes with “Cities,” aims to boast the same breathtaking cinematography, the same heart-pounding chases (have you seen the iguana and the snakes?!), and the same richly illuminating narration — read by the same David Attenborough. Put it into my eyes right now! -Tristan Lejeune
What do you get when you breakdance to Bach? You get bachdancing (trademarking this sorry!). The lovely, and always awake, folks at Red Bull have taken the fine art of Bach and mashed it up with the fun art of breakdancing. It’s like Breakin’ 2: Classical Boogaloo. -Jenn Tisdale
Yup. Roe is about exactly what you think it’s about – the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion. More specifically, though, it focuses on two characters: the attorney arguing for abortion rights and the plantiff seeking the right to end her pregnancy. The highly political tone of the story isn’t surprising, given that Arena Stage recently committed to an increased focus on shows highlighting power and politics. Get in on the ground floor, because there’s a good chance the shows at Arena are more informative and accurate than whatever’s airing on cable news. -Trisha Brown
You could go see Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? because it’s one of the best known plays of the 20th century. You could go because it’s a fascinating analysis of disillusionment, relationships, and the American dream. You could go because Ford’s Theatre is cool. Or, you could go for the same reason I’m going: because this is pretty much the best play ever if you want to congratulate yourself on staying single and unmarried. -Trisha Brown
Resident Evil 7 January 24
Resident Evil 6 was hot garbage. I know it, you know it, and Capcom certainly knows it, which is why they’ve decided to take one of their flagship franchises in a new, yet slightly familiar direction. They’ve completely overhauled the gameplay, shifting from the over-the-shoulder third-person perspective that the last few games in the series had used, to a more intimate and intriguing first-person perspective. They’ve also made a noble effort to take the franchise back to its survival horror roots. The lackluster critical reception that Resi 6 received was largely down to the fact that it didn’t feel like a Resi game. It wasn’t stylish, it wasn’t engaging, and it wasn’t scary. Most fans of the series have fond memories of playing the early games alone, in the dark and shitting their pants at every jump scare. The trailer makes Resident Evil 7 look genuinely terrifying, and I can’t wait to shit my pants. -Norm Quarrinton