Friday: Ben Kweller at the 9:30 Club
Ben Kweller’s booking people probably weren’t aware of the solid gold they were striking in booking the singer-songwriter in D.C. on Parents’ Weekend. Kweller stopped by AU last spring to open for the Student Union Board-sponsored We the Kings concert, upstaging the group’s sophomoric pop-punk with his easy-listening piano rock.
In his albums following his quirky Weezer-soundalike 2002 debut “Sha Sha,” Kweller traded his idiosyncratic style, singing about teen angst and living life, for pop hooks and generic songwriting tropes. It’s ideal for a perfectly inoffensive night out with the folks. If the weekend’s Kennedy Political Union political speakers sound too “partisan” for a evening with the parents and you’re just unsure whether they’d have as much fun as you always do at your favorite frat, a night of Kweller’s wide-eyed piano-driven sap may be your best bet for entertaining Mom and Dad.
Tickets: $22 | When: Doors open at 7 p.m. | Location: 815 V St., NW | Metro: Green/Yellow Line, U St/African American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo (take the 10th St exit)
Saturday: Father John Misty at the Black Cat
If you shudder at the thought of exposing your Neil Young-worshipping folks to Kweller’s mop-headed earnestness, up your dude-with-an-acoustic-guitar game a notch by taking them to see Father John Misty’s experimental folk live at the Black Cat.
The name J. Tillman may ring a bell to Fleet Foxes fans. Before branching off to record under the Father John moniker, Tillman briefly served as the Seattle group’s drummer.
Tillman has plenty of pre-Foxes material to flesh out his set, but expect to mostly hear songs from his excellent recent LP “Fear Fun,” released in May. His psych-tinged folk is dark and layered with creeping instrumentals, anchored by his sometimes-twisted, sometimes-morbidly humorous lyrics and his Roy Orbison-referencing vocals. His larger-than-life stage persona banishes any fears of an underwhelming night of sleepy acoustic rock (though be warned: his hokey jazz hands will be out in full force).
Show up early to catch the opening set from Vivian Girls front-girl La Sera and pogo around with Mom and Dad to Kickball Katy’s punchy garage rock.
The Cat’s prime location at 14th and U gives you plenty of options for dinner before or after the show. Try Black & Orange’s award winning burgers (order the Asian-inspired “Now and Zen”), authentic Mexican food at El Centro (ask for their spicy tableside-prepared guacamole) or post-show coffee and treats at Busboys and Poets, complete with an attached alternative bookstore to ruffle the ‘rent’s feathers.
Tickets: $15 | When: Doors open at 9 p.m. | Location: 1811 14th St. NW | Metro: Green/Yellow Line, U St/African American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo (take the 13th St exit)
Sunday: Langhorne Slim & The Law at Rock N Roll Hotel
For a more rootsy take on the singer-songwriter tradition, Langhorne Slim brings his bluesy alt-country to the Rock and Roll Hotel. Named after the Philadelphia suburb of Langhorn where he grew up, Sean Scolnick writes music that riffs on the same set of time-tested folk standards — hard-worn lyrics telling stories of doomed relationships and hard livin’, set to ramshackle banjo-bolstered melodies. Have you heard this music before in iteration after genetic iteration from bands with “brothers” in their title? Most likely. But it’s unfair to sell Langhorne Slim short as another Dylan-wannabe dilettante, as his soul-infused indie folk is just as nuanced and uplifting as any contemporary Americana artist today. Langhorne Slim is probably a car commercial away from hitting it big, so drag your folks down to H Street and catch him in the intimate Rock N Roll Hotel space while you still can.
Tickets: $16 | When: Doors open at 7 p.m. | Location: 1353 H St. NE | Metro: Red Line, Union Station