Metro Weekly

9 Must-See Shows at the 9:30 Club, Anthem and Lincoln

Betty Who, Bernie Sanders, and the Boulet Brothers are just a few of the selections IMP has on hand at its many D.C. venues.

Betty Who
Betty Who

As a dull summer started giving way to an active fall in 2021, the concert industry was still trying to find its footing, to say nothing of its groove. Another few months would come and go before things started to fall somewhat back into place, albeit just askew enough that nothing felt the same.

One of the most memorable concerts in D.C. during this period came in early September, when the combined forces of Kesha and Betty Who brought many overlapping gaggles of gays out to the Anthem for most guests’ first concert since the pandemic.

Despite the heightened anxiety of that mask-wearing era, there was something almost magical about the vibe in the room, reflecting a sense of sheer enthusiasm of being back together, as a community.

In his 2022 review of Big, Who’s fourth album, Metro Weekly music critic Sean Maunier captured a key aspect of what made that concert, and most Who shows for that matter, more rewarding than the average: “The Australian singer, dancer, and most recently, reality show host is a sought-after staple of Pride events, not just for her advocacy or her own queerness but because whether you are hearing her live or through speakers, she just has a way of making you feel good about yourself.”

That’s as true as ever with Big. “Described in interviews as an album about self-acceptance, it shows us a Betty Who as outspoken and confident as we have ever seen her,” Maunier adds. It all serves as a compelling argument not to miss her on tour in support of the album, including her proper headlining debut at the Anthem. (3/10)

March actually launches at the Anthem with a discussion from Senator Bernie Sanders focused on his new book, It’s Okay to Be Angry about Capitalism, characterized as “a progressive takedown of the uber-capitalist status quo that has enriched millionaires and billionaires at the expense of the working class.” Politics and Prose co-presents this event and will be on hand with copies of the book. (3/1)

The month of March also brings highlights worth noting coming to the other I.M.P. venues. The 9:30 Club, for instance, offers two different DJ Dance Parties, both sure to attract their fair share of the LGBTQ community. First up is The Dolly Party, DJ Rodeo Starr’s ode to Parton and other country divas, from Loretta Lynn to The Chicks to Carrie Underwood. Some have more obvious or established gay appeal than others — people like Kacey and Reba. Others have only a tenuous connection to Parton or country-western — and yet Whitney, Donna, Tina, even Shania, all are welcome in Starr’s “Rainbowland.” (3/3)

Two weeks later offers another popular DJ-driven party, this one an ode to four sensational Swedes, Gimme Gimme Disco: A Dance Party Inspired by ABBA. (3/18)

The second weekend of the month brings to the Lincoln Theatre the spring show from the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, Whitney. A tribute to a certain pop icon, part of the organization’s season theme of “Phenomenal,” with renditions arranged for the chorus of hits including “How Will I Know,” “The Greatest Love of All,” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody. (3/11-12)

Toward the end of the month, the 9:30 Club offers a couple of highlights that are officially sold-out, but it could be worth checking the Official Lyte Exchange, especially in the days leading up to the shows, to see if anyone is trying to sell their tickets. That’s the situation with Kelela, the queer-identifying D.C.-native born to Ethiopian immigrants, appearing March 23.

The same goes for Elderbrook, the emotive, electronic-tipped British multi-instrumentalist especially known for sensitive and introspective bangers, appearing on March 25. The next day brings the return of the French-Cuban twin sister act Ibeyi, known for their stunning parallel harmonies and integral minimalist Latin percussion fueling messages of power and possibility. (3/26)

Our last highlight is actually an April event at the Lincoln. Yet if you hope to see The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Titans, best to grab tickets before they’re all snatched up. (4/13)

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