Random Nerds serves a national readership, but we live and pursue happiness in Washington, D.C.; a city that, in the past 20 years, has transformed from a sleepy quasi-southern town to a vibrant center of cosmopolitan musical entertainment. Award-winning venues like the 9:30 Club attract top-tier national talent, while our dynamic local music scene provides more intimate (and often more raucous) live experiences.

To be honest, there is now more going on in D.C. on any given week than we could ever hope to see. As such, I have volunteered to begin curating the best musical offerings each month; within a fiscally-responsible budget of $202 dollars.


If your New Year’s resolutions are to be frugal and go out less on weeknights, than the first two weeks of January will generously permit that fantasy.

Unfortunately, by the 13th, you will be forced to abandon those healthy delusions, as the latter half of this month is so packed with overlapping events there is simply not enough space for obviously worthwhile and/or intriguing events like Shy Glizzy at Echostage, Tennis at the 9:30 Club, or the Fugazi-inspired opera hosted at Rock and Roll Hotel…

On the other hand, if your resolution for 2018 is to see more live music or get involved in DC’s eclectic local art scene, here are the 10 admirably unique shows that will actualize your newfound resolve for artistic exposure.


Starting budget = $202


Saturday, January 13th: Super Art Fight
Location: Union Stage
Cost: $15

Super Art Fight may not technically be a concert, but it is a live performance unlike anything you’ve seen.

To quote Random Nerds editor-in-chief Bryce Rudow:

Two (or more!) artists will collide on a giant 6×12 foot canvas, armed with starting topics (e.g. ‘robots’ and ‘monsters’), and they’ll have 25 minutes to draw all over the canvas and win over the audience. Then, every 5 minutes, each artist will receive new topics from the WHEEL OF DEATH, a random topic generator featuring suggestions sent by us, the adoring public, to their website.

This is also one of the first show’s at DC’s newest venue, Union Stage — a 450-person capacity room located at The Wharf (where else), and run by the Jammin Java Team — whose strong early bookings are already dominating our monthly recommendation lists.

Remaining budget = $187


Sunday, January 14th: Dorothy, Park Snakes
Location: 9:30 Club
Cost: $17.50

I live in a backward world where opening bands more often expose me to national headliners than the other way around.

In this case, local cult favorite noir-rockers Park Snakes (featured on our year-end podcast of music from DC) are opening for L.A. blues-rockers Dorothy# — whom I admit I had to do some quick Spotify research on (and am still warming up to) — when their national tour swings by 9:30 Club:

I’m sure Dorothy’s radio-ready, raucous-yet-commercial sound will please any concert-hesitant friends or first dates. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if Park Snakes, who have been cutting their teeth and busting their asses in divey venues and DIY shows for the past year, end up hijacking the show after finally getting an opportunity to play on a more professional stage.

Remaining budget = $169.50


Tuesday, January 16th: Stranger-er Things: Live Scoring in DC
Location: Union Stage
Cost: $20

This show — a performance of classic science fiction soundtracks, recreated by a handful of local DC bands — may be the most aggressively on-brand show Random Nerds has ever recommended. DC pop rocker Zack Be will be performing the recently-revitalized Twin Peaks score, while members of funk groups Tomato Dodgers and Humbalaya will cover the classic Twilight Zone soundtrack.

Especially intriguing will be a performance by members of the heavily-artful, experimental groups Nag Champa and Raygunomics, who will interpret the buoyant and campy music of Doctor Who (Tom Baker-era).

Heads up: this is a multi-sensory, seated show; with two ticket tiers: $20 for premiere seats next to the stage and $12 for seats further back. You can save yourself $8 if you must, though I have to recommend you invest in the good seats.

Remaining budget = $149.50


Friday, January 19th: Blanka, Technophobia, Den-Mate, Gingerlys
Location: American University
Cost: $5-$10 donantion

New wave (and its conjoined twin, post punk) first emerged in the early 1980s, when bands like Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears, and New Order # captured the hearts of gothy music heads on both sides of the pond with their fusion of moody rock and minimal electronics. Then, in the early aughts, the genre saw a resurgence, with acts like Interpol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs harkening back to new wave’s more rock-oriented origins.

Now, as this evanescent decade comes to a close, it appears we are experiencing a third wave of the genre known as new wave.

Or, as I like to call it, “dat new new wave.”

If you’d like a peak at this old genre’s new garb firsthand, Montreal’s Blanka and DC’s Technophobia will be playing at American University.

Join me in observing whether 2018’s introverted college music snobs are as hip and gloomy as the ones in 1982.

Remaining budget = $139.50


Saturday, January 20th: DC Punk Rock Benefit for Peaceful Protesters Arrested on J20
Location: St. Stephens Episcopal Church
Cost: $10 donation, but why not fork over $20 in the name of democracy?

If you thought you were going to make it through January without a political call-to-action from DC’s music community, then you haven’t been paying attention…

The city’s de-facto activist-punk headquarters, St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church, is hosting a jumble of newer and veteran musicians to raise money for the legal fund of the peaceful protesters arrested on Inauguration Day 2017.

The show will feature the otherworldly instrumental rock of The Messthetics — a trio composed of DC legends Brendan Canty and Joe Lally (of Fugazi) and guitar master Anthony Pirog — flanked by the new guard of DC post-punk: the punchy, brash Gauche, and the charming-yet-audacious quartet Bacchae.

Get there early. If I know DC’s politically-active music community, this gig will fill up quick.

Remaining budget = $119.50


Sunday, January 21st: Laser Background, Cigarette, Kid Claws, Ultrabeauty
Location: The Bathtub Republic
Cost: $5-10 donation

January’s “House Show of the Month” goes to the cozy, unrelentingly creative Bathtub Republic in Northeast DC. #

Philadelphia artist Laser Background’s gently psychedelic grooves and subtle humor are the perfect fit for a Sunday night hang with the Bathtub’s regular crowd of uncommonly friendly artists, housemates, and neighbors. Especially when aided by local shoegaze perfectionists Cigarette and lovable fuzz-rock trio Kid Claws.

This is the perfect show to erase your (or your friend’s) apprehensions about seeing a show in someone else’s living room.

Remaining budget = $109.50


Thursday, January 25th: Dan Deacon, Drop Electric
Location: MilkBoy ArtHouse
Cost: $18

Dan Deacon didn’t just get his starting playing to small, sweaty crowds in Baltimore basements; he began his legendary career by playing within them, cultivating a dedicated fan base and a notoriety for cathartic, physical, and absurd electronic shows along the way.

Since then, he has done a commendable job extrapolating that participatory ethos into larger venues and festival stages (Landmark, Verizon Center, Capital One Area), but later this month Mr. Deacon is returning to a 500-capacity venue in the in the purgatorial suburb of College Park, Maryland (Metro accessible).

I don’t know if he’ll be playing from the center of the floor, but either way, I will be. #

Remaining budget = $91.50


Friday, January 26th:
Location: Howard Theater
Cost: $40

Allow me to hijack the encyclopedic brain and enlightening prose of The Ringer’s Shea Serrano, who mere months ago had to defend Earl “DMX” Simmons from belittling comparisons to would-be Good Charlotte member and recently deceased hip-hop “artist” Lil Peep…

Surely you’re not about to compare Lil Peep, whose name is Lil Peep and who has a ‘Crybaby’ tattoo on his face, to DMX, who one time after he’d had his jaw wired shut because it got broken when some guys jumped him, rapped with so much ferocity for Lyor Cohen in hopes of securing a record contract that he literally broke some of the wires open. Surely you’re not about to do that.
Surely you’re not about to compare Lil Peep, who rhymes words like sad and mad together, with DMX, who wrote ‘Crime Story’#, a grade-A, 100 percent classic, expert master class in rapping. Surely you’re not about to do that.
Surely you’re not about to compare Lil Peep, whose new album is mostly him just droning on aimlessly, to DMX, who was legit the honest-to-goodness best rapper on planet Earth in 1998. Surely you’re not about to do that.”

In short, the best rapper on planet Earth circa 1998 is coming to your hometown for a theater show…

Bring your whole crew.

— Bryce (@brycetrudow)

Remaining budget =$51.50


Saturday, January 27th: DCMD Anniversary Showcase featuring Shaed, Nag Champa, Fielder, OG Lullabies
Location: Union Stage
Cost: $16

A big congratulations to DC Music Download and founder Stephanie Williams for 6 years of reliable, entrenched, local music coverage and support. Their “Top 5 Shows of the Week” column, artist profiles, and news updates have been a crucial resource for both fans and artists in the 202.

That being said, this night belongs as much to local promoter and curator James Scott and his Otherfeels brand, as the lineup consists almost entirely of acts he’s cultivated in some way or another.

For those of you wondering what DC’s music scene will look like in the coming years, consider this our XXL Magazine’s freshman class showcase (I mean, if you’re not counting XXL Magazine’s 2015 DMV-dominant freshman class…)

Remaining budget = $35.50


Wednesday, January 31st: Typhoon, Bad Bad Hats, Sunbathe
Location: 9:30 Club
Cost: $25

There are some bands you just go see whenever they can scrape together the funds to transport all 8 members across the country, especially when they are restricted by continental distance and esoteric health issues.

For example, Typhoon…

The orchestral indie rock band is touring behind a 4-song, densely-named EP (Floodplains: Wake / Rorschach / Empiricist / Algernon # ), their first release since 2013’s equal-parts-breathtaking-and-heartbreaking release, White Lighter.

That should be all you need to know to buy a ticket and see these kids at the 9:30 Club.

Remaining budget = $10.50


All remaining cash in the budget should go towards checking your coat and tipping the bored, cold, and grumpy coat checker.

See you at the show.