Arts Desk

The Foo Fighters Will Be David Letterman’s Last Musical Guests Ever


David Letterman tapes his last Late Show today, and his last musical guest is his favorite band: the Foo Fighters.

The show doesn't air until tonight, so its guests were supposed to remain a secret (oh yeah—spoiler alert!), but Rolling Stone reports that the band, which has appeared on the show several times, will make one last showing before Letterman goes off the air.

The Foos and the late-night legend go way back: They were the first band he wanted on his show after heart surgery, and they spent a week on The Late Show last year to promote their HBO miniseries, Sonic Highways. The host has said his favorite song is "Everlong," and ever since the band played it for Letterman on his show, frontman Dave Grohl said in an October interview, "We've been in love." Watch the lovefest tonight on CBS.

To Do Today: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Banda Magda, and Etana

cl-wednesday-20Before he used his plays to explain how rock ’n’ roll impacted the Prague Spring or how marital relationships evolve over time, Tom Stoppard turned his attention to two of drama’s forgotten characters: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two childhood friends of the Prince of Denmark who make a brief appearance in Hamlet. In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Stoppard amplifies the foolish qualities of the courtiers as they try to figure out what’s happening with the main characters. Anyone who’s read or seen Hamlet knows how it all ends, but this comic twist on the dark tale adds a necessary lightness. Read more >>> The play runs May 12 to June 21 at Folger Elizabethan Theatre, 210 East Capitol St. SE. $30–$75. (202) 544-7077. (Caroline Jones)


Yet another faux-speakeasy opens in D.C. tonight. The Speak—from former One Lounge owner Seth McClelland—doesn’t have rules like other bars harkening back to the Prohibition era, but it does have a secret entrance down a set of stairs and behind a mirrored door. Once inside, you’ll find familiar cocktails like a margarita or Moscow mule plus some lesser-known drinks using the bar’s housemade infusions. Snacking is limited to Lay’s potato chips, but the owner may bring in other food vendors down the line. Read more on Young & Hungry. The Speak, 1413 K St. NW (downstairs). (Jessica Sidman)​


Banda Magda, a musical group with roots in Greece but influences as varied as Colombian cumbia and Afro-Peruvian folk music, performs tonight at Adams Morgan's Bossa Bistro. Find more details on Facebook. 9 p.m. at 2463 18th St. NW. $10. Read more To Do Today: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Banda Magda, and Etana

Here Are the Films Showing at AFI DOCS This Year


Washington City Paper's 2015 critic's pick for D.C.'s best film festival, AFI DOCS, announced this year's slate this morning. The documentary festival formerly known as Silverdocs will run from June 17-21 and feature 81 films from 25 countries.

Continuing its tradition of opening and closing the festival with person-centered biographies and histories, AFI DOCS will be bookended by Best of EnemiesRobert Gordon and Morgan Neville's look at the 1968 debates between William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal, and Mavis!, a profile of R&B and gospel superstar Mavis Staples directed by Jessica Edwards. The latter, which will screen at the National Portrait Gallery, is an especially welcome choice, as last year's opening and closing films—Holbrook/Twain and Life Itself—celebrated two (or three, depending on how you're counting) old white men. (They were worthy celebrations, but still.)

The festival also includes world premieres of Rise: The Promise of My Brother's Keeper, a Discovery Channel film about Barack Obama's new support program for young men of color, and Salam Neighbor, a gonzo film by two American dudes (one a self-dubbed “disruptive storyteller,” which pinged the cynic in me) who lived in a refugee camp in Jordan for a month.

Other premieres at the festival: First and 17, about Da'Shawn Hand, 2013's most-desired high school football recruit, and The Three Hikers, an account of the trio of Americans who were held in an Iranian prison on charges of espionage after accidentally hiking across the border in 2009. Screenings will take place in both Silver Spring and downtown D.C.

Read the full slate of films after the jump.

Read more Here Are the Films Showing at AFI DOCS This Year

Arts Roundup: Fat and Greasy Edition

This Friday, come to our show at the American Art Museum! Pleasure Curses and Young Rapids will make music, and Hellbender Brewery will give free beer tastings. [Arts Desk]

Watch Feedel Band, a local Ethiopian jazz outfit, play live at WAMU. [Bandwidth]

The Fat and Greasy Citizens Brigade will stage a free, outdoor production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in Georgetown. [DCist]

A preview of Zombie: The American at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, a world premiere play that imagines a grim future for the U.S. [Washingtonian]

Musings on the absurdity of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, now showing at the Folger Theatre [DC Metro Theater Arts]

Come to the American Art Museum This Friday to See Young Rapids and Pleasure Curses!

young rapids

Summer vacation! If you're in school, it's almost here, and if you're not, it's almost time to pretend it still exists. This Friday, May 22, you should kick off your real or imaginary summer of love at Washington City Paper's seasonal music showcase at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

At 6 p.m., beautiful and fascinating people will gather in the Luce Foundation Center, a three-floor gallery space with skylights and a diverse collection of artworks, to hear two D.C. bands Arts Desk is digging these days.

First up will be Pleasure Curses (below), a tight electro-pop duo that goes heavy on disco beats and synth riffs that'll throb in your ribcage all day. I dare you not to dance to the three tracks from the group's most recent release, Pure/Lust.

pleasure curses
Next up, we'll have Young Rapids (top), a fourpiece of highly skilled musicians and songwriters who released a gorgeous, ambitious new album, Pretty Ugly, in March. Their new stuff encompasses both groove-driven art-pop jams and woozy landscapes of reverb and meandering instrumentals, which will sound extra-epic in the Luce Foundation's space, what with the high ceilings and marble floors and general glamour.

Meet us at 6 p.m. sharp on the third floor of the American Art Museum for the tunes and free beer tastings from D.C.'s Hellbender Brewing Company. And don't forget—we're also hosting a concert featuring Kokayi and the El Mansouris (which counts Young Rapids' Alex Braden among its members) on June 24 at AMP, Strathmore's new food-and-music venue.

Stream tracks from Pleasure Curses and Young Rapids after the jump.

Read more Come to the American Art Museum This Friday to See Young Rapids and Pleasure Curses!

To Do Today: SLUT: The Play, TV on the Radio, and Larry Cook


Slut-shaming is rampant in contemporary culture, be it in casual conversation or political discourse. The creators of SLUT: The Play, which first played off-Broadway and makes its D.C. debut at the Warner Theatre, aim to end that by sharing their empowering work with audiences around the nation. Originally conceived by teenagers participating in the Arts Effect All-Girl Theater Company, the play tells the story of Joey, a 16-year-old girl who is assaulted by high school classmates at a party. When the men are arrested, rumors start flying and more young women question their actions moving forward. House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, whose show has its own brand of interesting sexual politics, sponsors this presentation with New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Read more >>> The play begins at 7 p.m. at the Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW. $20. (202) 783-4000.


First there were pop-tart ice cream sandwich and doughnut ice cream sandwich. As of today, Shaw's Uprising Muffin Company debuts the muffin ice cream sandwich. The so-called "upwich" is made a la Seinfeld with two muffin tops—no "stumps." The $4.99 dessert comes in two flavors: chocolate chip muffin with vanilla ice cream and double chocolate muffin with vanilla ice cream. Uprising Muffin Company, 1817 7th St. NW. (202) 290-1196. (Jessica Sidman)


Brooklyn-based art-rock band TV on the Radio performs at Echostage with Japanese punk act Bo Ningen. Read more in our Summer Arts Guide. 7 p.m. at 2135 Queens Chapel Road NE. $40. Read more To Do Today: SLUT: The Play, TV on the Radio, and Larry Cook

Photos: Downtown Boys at the Black Cat

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Downtown Boys at the Black Cat, May 18th.  © 2015 Matt Dunn

Read more Photos: Downtown Boys at the Black Cat

Arts Roundup: Pitch Imperfect Edition

How accurate is Pitch Perfect 2? We asked D.C.-area a cappella singers. [Arts Desk]

Photos of Drop Electric and Laughing Man at Artisphere [D.C. Music Download]

D.C. will give out $1.2 million in incentives for production studios to film movies and TV shows here. [Washingtonian]

A review of Shark Week's record release show [DCist]

Photos of the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington at the Lincoln Theatre [BYT]

How Accurate Is Pitch Perfect? We Asked D.C.-Area A Cappella Singers.


Pitch Perfect 2, one of the most anticipated non-superhero films of the summer, follows the trials and tribulations of a group of collegiate singers after they win the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. The characters might be fictional, but the competition is real: Last year's winner, Pitch Slapped (above), a 15-member coed group from Boston’s Berklee College of Music, practiced nine hours a week in the months leading up to the ICCA finals.

Several Pitch Slapped members hail from the D.C. area. In conjunction with the film's launch last Friday, Arts Desk asked senior alto Erin Cafferky of Springfield, Va., junior bass Matt Sallee of La Plata, Md., and 2014 graduate and baritone Jared Jenkins of Bowie, Md., what it takes to be an a cappella champ.

Arts Desk: Is it exhausting to live and breathe music in school and sing as an extracurricular activity, too?

Jared: [D]uring the audition season and as time goes on, we try to build a family of our own, so when we’re working three-hour rehearsals after school, [group members] take the stress of our day away because we’re with families.

Matt: Singing [that’s assigned for] homework is a lot of technical singing. It’s a lot of learning theory and the ins and outs of music. Everyone in the group is a vocal principal where we do that technical singing, but [a cappella] is a lot more fun. It’s like a bonus.

In the beginning of Pitch Perfect, a cappella is seen as a kind of dorky thing to do. Before you joined a prestigious all-music college, how nerdy was singing at your high school?

Jared: My school was a little different in that respect. We had choir and a cappella options. And there were a lot of people in the choirs, but a cappella wasn’t that popular.

Matt: I went to a very music-heavy public school where music was supported and I’ve also been singing at the church where my dad was the pastor.

In the film, a cappella groups have trouble getting prospective new members to audition. How does it work when singing is an extracurricular activity at a school tailored for vocalists?


Matt Sallee

Jared: The contemporary a cappella world has gained a lot of popularity, and just in general...the word was out. Whenever Pitch Slapped was having auditions, it was a big thing. And it would take days and days and hours to get through everybody.

Erin: Being in a music school, everyone’s interested in music, but that varies so much. Everyone likes music, but not everyone likes a cappella; that’s still a niche. Everyone has different tastes and interests.

What character would you compare yourself to in the movie?

Erin: I’m trying to think, who would be Fat Amy?

Jared: You can be Fat Amy.

Erin: Thank you. I was hoping. She’s the queen.

Jared: I’ll go with the Anna Kendrick character—I love a cappella more than I thought I would. I was reluctant to join.

Do people improvise onstage at the championship like Becca does in the film?

Jared: It’s 90 percent rehearsed and 10 percent winging it on the choreography. On the singing side, that’s something that we nailed down to the T—the only part that was improvised was the soloists, where they had an idea what we wanted to do. The dancing’s very much rehearsed, but there are also sections where we just groove and want [the singers] to have a good time interacting with each other on stage.

Read more How Accurate Is Pitch Perfect? We Asked D.C.-Area A Cappella Singers.

To Do Today: “Through the African-American Lens,” “Facing History,” and Downtown Boys

Eliot Elifoson

Eliot Elifoson

The National Museum of African American History and Culture won’t open until 2016, but bits of its growing collection are now available to the public at the museum’s temporary home within the National Museum of American History. This exhibit, “Through the African-American Lens,” is confined to one small gallery; while representing everything from the Harlem Renaissance to the civil rights era to religious movements proved tricky, curators succeeded in getting 140 items into the space. Familiar faces, like track star Carl Lewis and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, appear, but the more compelling stories are the lesser known ones. Read more >>> The exhibition is on view daily 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 633-1000. Jones)


RAMMY award finalists for Cocktail Program of the Year are showcasing their drinks with special promotions today through Friday, May 22. 2 Birds 1 Stone will serve a special punch all week with blanco tequila, ginger, lemongrass, basil, citrus, and bitters for $10. Meanwhile, Iron Gate will offer a $30 tasting of gin and gin cocktails from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Call (202) 425-5202 to reserve a spot. Post a photo from these bars or fellow finalists Barmini, Bourbon Steak, and Trummer’s on Main on Instagram with the hashtag #RAMMYSCocktails and tagging @ramwdc for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the RAMMY Awards Gala on June 7. (Jessica Sidman)


The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden opens its latest exhibition, "Facing History," a collection of photographs by Iranian artist Shirin Neshat. Read more in our Summer Entertainment Guide. 10 a.m. at 7th Street and Independence Avenue SW. Free. Read more To Do Today: “Through the African-American Lens,” “Facing History,” and Downtown Boys