Arts Desk

To Do This Weekend: Angel Haze, Loose Ends, and David Wax Museum

cl-friday-47Detroit-born rapper and singer Angel Haze has experienced a lot of trauma in 23 years of life. Beginning at age 7, Haze (who identifies as agender and uses plural pronouns) was repeatedly raped, an experience chronicled in their breakout 2012 single “Cleaning Out My Closet,” which borrows beats from the Eminem song of the same name. In the two years since the release of their debut album Dirty Gold, Haze continued to struggle, breaking off a high-profile relationship with model Ireland Baldwin and twice being committed to psychiatric wards, but the pain has provided inspiration for a new album, the self-released Back to the Woods. What could have been uncomfortable, Haze turns into something empowering. Read more >>> Angel Haze performs at 9 p.m. at Rock & Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE. $15. (202) 388-7625. (Steve Kiviat)


The owners of Ben's Chili Bowl are celebrating the opening of Ten 01, a new restaurant and bar above their H Street NE location, on Saturday. There will be a ribbon cutting led by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton at 2 p.m. The restaurant will also have happy hour specials all day, including $2 off cocktails and draft beers as well as $5 glasses of wine. Read more about the menu on Young & Hungry. Ten 01, 1001 H St. NE. (202) 733-2405. (Jessica Sidman)


Friday: Actor Jesse Eisenberg, who received an Oscar nomination for his work in The Social Network and also contributes to the New Yorker, reads from his first collection of short fiction, Bream Gives Me Hiccups, at Politics & Prose. 7 p.m. at 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free.

Friday: Britain-based '80s dance pop trio Loose Ends comes stateside for a performance at the Howard Theatre with original member Jane Eugene. 7:30 p.m. at 620 T St. NW. $30–$65. Read more To Do This Weekend: Angel Haze, Loose Ends, and David Wax Museum

Igor Levit and Jiří Bělohlávek with the National Symphony Orchestra, Reviewed

levitIgor Levit has been enticing—and frustrating—U.S. audiences for some time. The twenty-something Russian-German pianist has been generating considerable buzz in Europe, where he mostly performs, but so far hasn't spent much time in the U.S. His stateside recital debut was just last year, and this May, he was scheduled to come to town for a Washington Performing Arts solo show. But alas, he canceled due to some kind of illness, and the wunderkind remained an elusive figure for the D.C. classical crowd.

On Thursday, he finally made it over here, for a program with the National Symphony Orchestra that showed off his technical expertise but didn’t do much else. Not that it had to. Levit stuck to what he’s best known for, Beethoven, with the piano concerto he’s best known for, the Emperor. Levit’s debut album was of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, and his most recent one is of Beethoven’s variations on Bach’s Goldberg. So audiences got pretty much what they came to hear.

Levit isn’t a particularly demonstrative pianist, which is no mark against him. The overall impression his playing style leaves you with is one of intense concentration: He crouches myopically over the keyboard to the point that he’s almost playing with his nose. Occasionally it seems he forgets to breathe for long passages, as in the allegro, when his face got redder than Jean Sibelius’ at an open bar. Otherwise, he’s careful, precise, and not too showy.

He was best when playing lightly, and weaved his instrument in and out of the orchestra rather than drown it out, making him sound like an organic part of it. He got to demonstrate nimble fingerwork in the cadenza (control-freak Beethoven wrote it to sound improvised, but it's not) but mostly eschewed rubato. The only real personal touch he threw in was a slight emphasis on alternating quarter notes to give the adagio’s theme a kind of jaunty beat. Read more Igor Levit and Jiří Bělohlávek with the National Symphony Orchestra, Reviewed

At Hillyer Art Space, All Photographs Are a Stage

Hillyer 2The three photographers currently on view at Hillyer Art Space are notable for their deliberate images, which doesn't leave a lot of room for spontaneity.

Marisa S. White’s surrealistic, manipulated images are sometimes refreshing, such as one in which a woman in a white dress lunges forward as a blood-red scarf over her head blows freely backward, as if she was standing on the prow of a ship (top). More often, though, they’re tedious—pretentious-looking figures haunting forest settings, sometimesFred Ramos hovering in the air, sometimes wrapped up in a hollow tree as if it were a cloak. Read more At Hillyer Art Space, All Photographs Are a Stage

Arts Roundup: Avenue LGBTQ Edition


How the D.C. Queer Theatre Festival is trying to change the local theater scene. [Arts Desk]

Introducing Flashband, a social media site for local musicians. [DCist]

How Virginia R&B singer-songwriter Reece found an audience online. [Bandwidth] Read more Arts Roundup: Avenue LGBTQ Edition

The Ultimate Max Levine Ensemble Mixtape

Cover_Max_Levine-4 copy

For my cover story on D.C. DIY pop-punk mainstays The Max Levine Ensemble, I traced the history of the band from their goofy teenage years to where they are now, 15 years later. While the band—David Combs, Ben Epstein, and Nick Popovici—has evolved musically over the years, it's in many ways still the same snotty pop-punk group it was in high school. They're just all grown up now. To a lot of the group's longtime fans, the music it was making 15 years ago is just as important as the music it's making today (the new album, Backlash, Baby, officially drops tomorrow, by the way), so I asked Shira Pilarski from the band Maneuvers—who's been a good friend and fan of the band since nearly the beginning—to create an ultimate Max Levine Ensemble mixtape, to help those unfamiliar with its music get a good sense of where to start.

Below is Shira's mixtape, as well as a brief explanation of every song chosen: Read more The Ultimate Max Levine Ensemble Mixtape

At Organization of the American States, Images of Rolls of Money and Calculator Paper Become Art

Rolled money 2Mexican photographer Jesús Jiménez is obsessed with money. But not in the typical way.

His images don’t exactly dwell on what money can buy, but rather on what money is. Using an approach that’s at once playful and brainy, Jiménez photographs paper money—both dollars and pesos—in unusual arrangements.

Some of his photographs show large, abstracted stacks of bills that suggest a tall pile of hand-woven rugs. Bringing his art into the realm of social policy, these stacks are described as being $100,000 worth of pesos sent by Mexican workers in the United States back home to Michoacán. Read more At Organization of the American States, Images of Rolls of Money and Calculator Paper Become Art

Jazz Setlist, Nov. 19-25: Closed for Thanksgiving

Actually that's not quite true. Nothing is closed, per se, but there is a bit of a slump this week as the usual set of touring artists and local staples get ready for the holiday, meaning out-of-town trips or passing up gigs to go grocery shopping. There are also a number of musicians coming around that this writer hasn't seen, and therefore can't write on with any authority. Here, though, are two important recommendations for this coming weekend. Read more Jazz Setlist, Nov. 19-25: Closed for Thanksgiving

Avenue LGBTQ: The Mission Behind the DC Queer Theatre Festival


When Samy Hayder first began auditioning for roles in D.C. three years ago, he noticed a trend: Most character descriptions were for straight, white people. Even when the occasional character deviated from this model, LGBTQ roles were usually targeted toward white, gay men.

It didn’t bode well for Hayder, a 28-year old actor who is Lebanese, Hispanic, and transgender.

Though he sometimes auditions for “male” roles, Hayder says he’s often turned down when he discloses his gender identity, especially when the play involves nudity. And when the play does include a trans character, Hayder says he feels forced to audition. Read more Avenue LGBTQ: The Mission Behind the DC Queer Theatre Festival

To Do Today: ETHEL, Timbaland, and Brian Posehn

ethelIt’s hard to believe that nearly 20 years have elapsed since ETHEL first became the weird new classical music ensemble on the block. It was 1998 when violinist Ralph Farris and cellist Dorothy Lawson co-founded a string quartet, named it after someone’s grandma, and started plugging in their instruments. It wasn’t quite Dylan at Newport, but it was close. The program ETHEL has planned for the Strathmore mansion seems almost quaint compared to some of the group’s other projects, but it should also stir listeners’ spirits. The lineup features ETHEL’s arrangement of Ennio Morricone’s Oscar-nominated score for The Mission, as well as songs from Jeff Buckley’s seminal album, Grace. Read more >>> ETHEL performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda. $30. (301) 581-5199. (Rebecca J. Ritzel)


Washington City Paper hosts its annual Bacon & Bourbon event tonight at Eastern Market’s North Hall. Guests can try unlimited samples of more than 30 whiskies plus bacon dishes from local restaurants like Room 11, Graffiato, Jack Rose Dining Saloon, and more. The event, from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m., will also include live bluegrass music and beer. General admission tickets, $80, are available here. VIP tickets, $120, get you in an hour early at 6 p.m. plus access to a VIP lounge with rare whiskeys including Pappy Van Winkle. Promo code WHISKEY10 gets you $10 off. Bacon & Bourbon at Eastern Market, 225 7th St. SE.


Rapper and producer Timbaland, now an executive producer of Empire, discusses his career and his new book, The Emperor of Sound, with fans at MLK Library. Guests who buy tickets in advance receive an Empire gift bag and a signed copy of the book. 6:30 p.m. at 901 G St. NW. $25. Read more To Do Today: ETHEL, Timbaland, and Brian Posehn

Listen: Brutalism, No Rave


Don't be fooled by it's title, No Rave, the five-song cassette EP by local synth-wave trio Brutalism is a party. With its vintage analog-sound that feels like a throwback to a mix of mid-'90s college radio hits, '80s Krautrock, and indie pop sing-a-longs, Gavin Holland, Zach Carter, and Benjamin Bruno touch on a plethora of emotional vibes. In filtering those vibes through synth-laden melodies, it creates a unique connection between listener and material that grows on you like an infectious beat.

"Friday Night" is perhaps the EP's most triumphant track, with surging power chords, a three-part harmonic chant, and an ever-so-slight funk that gives the track both an ear-worming pop appeal and an inherent dance floor energy. Read more Listen: Brutalism, No Rave