Yes, “After Hours” was the Weeknd’s emblematic departure from his grittier pop plays to sleek stadium anthems intended for Grammy nods (which didn’t quite pan out as planned). But it wasn’t a sudden shift. Slowly but astutely, he has prodded his ascension into international fame with each record. “Starboy,” while still homing in on darker themes, produced lighter, more radio-friendly hits such as “I Feel It Coming,” which felt like a playful foreshadowing both in name and sonically of what was to come. “After Hours” took that small glimmer of ’80s synth-pop seen in 2016’s “Starboy” and ran the entire field with it. By the time “Dawn FM” was released earlier this year, the Weeknd had completed his pop metamorphosis. Did you ever think you’d see the day when Jim Carrey had a feature on a Weeknd album? I don’t think the “Starboy” Weeknd could have predicted that, either. July 30 at 6:30 p.m. (doors open) at FedEx Field, 1600 FedEx Way, Landover, Md. commanders.com/stadium. $196-$286.
The Weeknd’s decade of dystopia
As the world wiped the sleep from its eyes and began easing back into normal life earlier this year, Real Estate frontman Martin Courtney released his breezy sophomore solo effort, “Magic Sign.” The record is imbued with sunny psychedelic tones as Courtney harks back to simpler times, pre-covid, as a teenager growing up in New Jersey. “In the basement of my mind / I’m on a bike in 1999 / In the basement of my mind / We’re on the phone for the very first time,” he reminisces on “Merlin.” But, amid the moments of bliss, Courtney brings his trip down memory lane down to earth on songs such as “Time To Go”: “Every other house is empty / And the streets are full of sand / Why are we the last to know / When it’s time to go, time to go.” Aug. 3 at 7 p.m. at Songbyrd, 540 Penn St. NE. songbyrddc.com. $18-$20.
In a 2019 interview with The Washington Post, Scarface made a shocking announcement: “Scarface is dead,” the rapper (real name: Brad Jordan) proclaimed, vowing to become a politician instead. It was just a few months after that conversation that he almost died, contracting covid-19 at the start of the pandemic and suffering from kidney failure afterward. The life-altering series of events didn’t change Scarface’s mind about continuing his music career, though, and once shows ramped up again, the rapper set sail on his farewell tour in early July. The tour marks the end of a long, storied career in hip-hop that pioneered and paved the way for his Southern rap contemporaries. Aug. 3 at 8 p.m. at the Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. thehowardtheatre.com. $40.
Maren Morris further explores the boundaries of pop and country with her latest album, “Humble Quest.” Songs such as the catchy “Tall Guys” are poised for radio play with rollicking, toe-tapping melodies: “I can wear my heels real high / I’m a lover of all types / But there’s something ’bout tall guys, tall guys.” Morris enlisted the production prowess of sought-after pop producer Greg Kurstin, whose lengthy list of accolades includes a Grammy Award for Adele’s 2015 song “Hello” and a nomination for Kelly Clarkson’s 2011 song “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).” Still, even with its pop sensibilities, “Humble Quest” feels like a return to form for Morris. Sandwiched in between the lighter pop tracks are reflective country ballads such as “I Can’t Love You Anymore,” in which Morris muses on a Midwest lover: “Shoulda known what I was getting in / Fallin’ for a boy from Michigan.” Aug. 4 at 8 p.m. at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia, Md. merriweathermusic.com. $45-$125.
Maren Morris on being ‘kind’ and ‘ruthless’ as a country star