Of Note: Trans Am, Fu Manchu, And Other D.C. Shows To Hit

By Catherine P. Lewis

Trans Am plays Black Cat tonight.
Trans Am plays Black Cat tonight.

Every Thursday, Bandwidth contributors tell you what D.C. shows are worth your time over the next week.

Trans Am and Heavy Breathing
Thursday, May 22 at the Black Cat Backstage, $10

Trans Am isn’t based in D.C. anymore, but it will always be a D.C. band: the Bethesda-born post-rock trio has been steadily releasing albums on Thrill Jockey since 1996 despite its members now being scattered across the country (guitarist Phil Manley is a recording engineer in San Francisco, and drummer Sebastian Thomson joined the progressive metal band Baroness last year). The group’s latest (and 10th overall), Volume X, continues the group’s heavy electro-rock tradition with a dash of thrash (!) and some bizarre vocoded vocals. Opening band Heavy Breathing will set the energy bar high, so come ready to move.

Ayman Fanous and Jason Kao Hwang, Jaimie Branch, Nine Strings
Thursday, May 22 at Back Alley Theater, $10

Get your experimental/improvisational fix here: This is the CD-release show for Egyptian guitarist/bouzouki player Ayman Fanous and violinist/violist Jason Kao Hwan, who have just released their first album together, Zilzal (the Arabic word for “earthquake”). Also performing is trumpeter Jaimie Branch and a double bass/cello duo called Nine Strings.

Fu Manchu, Electric Citizen, Borracho
Friday, May 23 at Rock & Roll Hotel, $15

Most of the area’s metalheads will be in Baltimore this weekend for Maryland Deathfest, but those who stay in town will find their way out to this heavy show, featuring SoCal stoner-rock band Fu Manchu. On its last two trips through D.C., the band played two of its older albums in their entirety, but since they’ve just released a new album (Gigantoid), this show will likely (finally!) feature some new Fu tunes. Opening the show will be Ohio’s Electric Citizen and local stoner band Borracho.

TEEN and The Sea Life (Update: This show has been canceled.)
Saturday, May 24 at the U Street Music Hall, $15

When Kristina Lieberson (aka “Teeny”) left the Brooklyn indie-rock band Here We Go Magic, she teamed up with her sisters Katherine (drums) and Lizzy (keys) and unrelated bass player Boshra AlSaadi to form the R&B-laced alterna-rock band TEEN. Not to be confused with that other four-letter band featuring sisters (the one with the bass face), TEEN’s new album The Way and Color is synth-driven and saturated with vocals from all four of the group’s members. Local indie-rock band The Sea Life will open.

Estonia in Concert: The Music of Arvo Pärt
Tuesday, May 27 at the Kennedy Center, free

This show is a rare opportunity to see legendary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt in person and hear some of his best works performed—for free. His intimate show at the Phillips Collection on May 29 has been sold out for months, but the Kennedy Center is hosting this Estonia In Concert event, featuring the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, with a repertoire hand-selected by Pärt scholars at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. The President of the Republic of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik, will also be in attendance. The performance is free, and tickets will be distributed at the Kennedy Center beginning at 4:30 p.m., so queue up early. If you’re interested in learning even more, there’s an Arvo Pärt panel discussion at George Washington University on Wednesday.

Wild Luck, ShowPony, Penguin Gentry
Wednesday, May 28 at DC9, $8

Wild Luck is a new D.C. post-rock instrumental band, very much in the vein of Explosions in the Sky or Drop Electric’s instrumental work. This will be their first live performance, following an EP that they released last December. They’ll be joined by math-rock group ShowPony and funk/rock/jam/fusion band Penguin Gentry.

 Also recommended this week:

The Sun Ra 100th Birthday Celebration at Bohemian Caverns (Thursday); Deleted Scenes, Celestial Shore, and Laughing Man at Rock & Roll Hotel (Thursday); Mobb Deep at Howard Theatre (Friday); The Great Noise Ensemble at Atlas Performing Arts Center (Friday); Oumar Konate at Tropicalia (Friday); The Caribbean, Nice Breeze, Marriage Blanc at Velvet Lounge (Saturday); The Flatmates, Foul Swoops, Expert Alterations, and DJ Archie Moore at Comet Ping Pong (Tuesday); Teen Mom, Minka at Black Cat Backstage (Wednesday).

These and other show listings can be found on ShowListDC.