Music Is in the Air Around Town This Autumn

Posted October 5, 2009 at 4:11pm

D.C. has never been known for its thriving music scene, aside from a short-lived jazz circuit that mostly migrated north to Harlem, a flourishing punk rock aesthetic that reigned during the 1980s and the hyper-local live hip-hop movement known as Go-Go that never caught on outside the District.

But lack of local celebrity certainly doesn’t translate to a lack of good shows and interesting musical events. Indeed, the fall weekend music lineup is crowded with old favorites and fresh talent.

Oct. 9-10

The 9:30 Club (815 V St. NW) plays host to the Yonder Mountain String Band on Friday. Combining a typical bluegrass lineup of instruments with a sharp pop sensibility (they perform a passable cover of the Talking Heads’ “Girlfriend Is Better—), the band has a loyal following among both fans of jam bands and bluegrass.

American Idol Kelly Clarkson comes to town with the Veronicas in tow at George Mason University’s Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va., on Friday night — if you dare to brave the concert traffic all the way to Virginia.

This weekend also sees the return of the monthly Mousetrap event to the Black Cat (1811 14th St. NW), with a Britpop dance party that’s been a fixture at the club since 2000.

On Saturday, DJ Mark Zimin will mix the Smiths with Blur and the Cure with the Buzzcocks in an eclectic pop mix from the British Isles.

Oct. 16-17

Montreal DJ and hip-hop super group Deltron 3030 member Kid Koala performs a turntable set on Oct. 16 at Gallery in Silver Spring (1115 East-West Highway).

The next evening, veteran indie rockers Built to Spill arrive for a one-night stand at the 9:30 Club. Influenced by bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Pavement, Built to Spill is known for its lo-fi guitar heroics and ’90s alt-rock album masterpieces “Perfect From Now On— and “There’s Nothing Wrong With Love.—

Oct. 23

Man Man — a band once described by a critic as “Viking Vaudeville— — is set to play at the 9:30 Club. On the same night, the Icelandic group múm is scheduled to perform at the Black Cat. In singles like “Green Grass of Tunnel,— the band abandons traditional rock instrumentation in favor of a delicate pop sound with complicated layers of electronics and haunting vocals.

Oct. 29-31

Two shows of note this weekend at the 9:30 Club include Boston-based Guster, playing sold-out shows on Oct. 29 and 30 and a special Halloween performance by ’90s rock-rap icons Cypress Hill (best known for the catchy refrain “Insane in the Membrane—).

Nov. 7-8

D.C. favorites Le Loup and Pree play the Black Cat on Nov. 7, and ’90s rock icons Train play on Nov. 8 at the 9:30 Club.