Editor’s note: Some communities are hosting Independence Day celebrations over the weekend instead of on July Fourth proper. We have a separate post about Fourth of July parades, fireworks and events. To avoid repetition, we suggest checking that post as well as this one.
As a reminder, some music and performing arts venues continue to require masks or proof of vaccination. Please check websites before buying tickets or heading to the concert.
Thursday, June 30
We the Peoples Before festival at the Kennedy Center: This three-day festival encompasses a wide variety of Indigenous cultures from across North America. Musicians, chefs, filmmakers and storytellers showcase their craft and discuss inspirations and how they incorporate traditional arts. Panels take on topics including disappearing languages and tribal sovereignty. While events are free, many are listed as sold out. A Kennedy Center spokesperson emailed that “walk-ups are welcome for any program included in the celebration,” so you can take your chances and show up early. Two pieces of the program that definitely have seats available: Thursday’s outdoor screening at 8:30 p.m. of “Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting” should have a particular relevance for fans of the Washington Commanders. On Saturday, the Native Hip-Hop showcase on the Millennium Stage features Talon Bazille, Lyla June and Tanaya Winder at 6 p.m. Free walk-up tickets are available 30 minutes before showtime on a first-come, first-served basis. Through Saturday. Free.
Movies on the Pitch at Audi Field: The second outdoor movie night at D.C. United’s stadium features a free screening of “Sing 2” on the jumbotron. Reservations are required, and seating is general admission, with gates opening at 5:30 p.m. While the name suggests everyone will be spreading picnic blankets on the field, organizers say seating on the grass is limited and offered “on a first-come, first-served basis,” so early arrival is suggested. No outside food is allowed, but concession stands will be open. 7 p.m. Free.
Black Girls Rock! Fest: For more than two decades, India.Arie has lent her warm, soulful voice to songs about affirmation, self-empowerment and spirituality. Her headlining spot at the third Black Girls Rock! Fest at the Kennedy Center finds the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, who has embraced a variety of styles over her career, teamed with the National Symphony Orchestra Pops, conducted by Henry Panion. The performance in the Concert Hall is only part of the festival, which also includes the Black Girls Rock! Film Fest, which screens shorts, features and documentaries by Black women filmmakers at the Kennedy Center, Eaton Cinema and Angelika Pop-Up on Saturday and Sunday; a tech summit and professional development forum at the Eaton hotel; and Black Men Rock!, a showcase of male artists, including singer Raheem DeVaughn and M-1 of the hip-hop duo Dead Prez, at 9:30 Club on Friday night. Check the Black Girls Rock! Fest website for complete details. Indie.Arie Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. $49-$139. Other event times and prices vary.
National Gallery of Art East Building reopens: After four months of renovations, the National Gallery of Art’s East Building has reopened to the public. Highlights include a new skylight, which should add more light to the airy atrium; a more accessible entrance; and additional restrooms. While Alexander Calder’s familiar mobile won’t be reinstalled until the fall, visitors can once again explore the galleries — home to the museum’s modern and contemporary collections — and the rooftop terrace. Opening Sunday: “The Woman in White: Joanna Hiffernan and James McNeill Whistler,” which examines the professional and personal relationship between the painter and his frequent model through dozens of works, including all three of the “Symphony in White” paintings. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.
Sip, Swig and Sample: Rammys Beverage Programs: Later this month, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington will recognize local dining spots and employees at the 40th Rammy Awards. Get a taste of the nominees in the beverage categories — the area’s best beer, wine and cocktail programs — this week as they offer special deals. Through Friday, Service Bar offers $7 daiquiris, punch and seasonal vodka sodas; Northside Social has $25 rosé flights and a dinner with LGBTQ winemakers on Thursday night; and Caboose Brewing offers nightly brewery tours followed by a guided tasting with a brewer. See the full list of participating bars on the Restaurant Association’s website.
Purity Ring at 9:30 Club: When Purity Ring notched buzz band status a decade ago, the duo of singer Megan James and producer Corin Roddick sidestepped questions about genre by branding themselves with the intentionally vague and ambiguous tag “future pop.” The future is what you make it, and for James and Roddick, that means dreamy, twitchy electronic pop full of scintillating synthesizers, orchestral swells, dubstep-inspired drum clatter and James’s vocals, which juxtapose baby-doll tones with lyrics that focus on the corporeal and the macabre. Finally hitting the road for a twice-rescheduled tour in support of 2020’s “Womb,” the pair has been covering Deftones’ violent nu-metal anthem “Knife Prty” and Alice Deejay’s trance classic “Better Off Alone” — bringing together two points in the past to spawn a darker, weirder future. 7 p.m. $36.
District of Pride at the Lincoln Theatre: D.C.’s Pride Month festivities wrap up with a free variety show on U Street, featuring burlesque star GiGi Holliday and singer Candiace of “The Real Housewives of Potomac,” as well as drag performers, poets and D.C.’s Different Drummers. 7 to 9:30 p.m. Free; registration required.
The Ultimate Finback Extravaganza at ChurchKey: Didn’t get enough craft beer events during last week’s Savor festival? Head to ChurchKey for a night with Queens-based Finback Brewery. Founders Basil Lee and Kevin Stafford will be at the bar to talk about their cult-favorite imperial stouts and New England IPAs. Look for 10 beers on tap, with to-go cans available while they last. (Hint: They probably won’t.) 4 p.m. Free admission; beer prices vary.
Friday, July 1
Kick Off to the Fourth at the Wharf: There’s a lot going on at the Wharf this long weekend, from outdoor yoga to fireworks viewing parties, but you might want to start with this free outdoor concert presented by Pearl Street Warehouse. Headliner Maggie Rose hails from Potomac, but she’s played the Grand Ole Opry more than 80 times, and her most recent album, 2021’s “Have a Seat,” finds her immersed in the soulful funk and R&B sounds of Muscle Shoals. Rose takes the stage at 8:30 p.m., after opening sets by the District and Erin and the Wildfire. 6 p.m. Free.
Fourth of July celebrations: While most communities shoot off their fireworks on July Fourth proper, some communities get an early start on the long holiday weekend. On Friday, Vienna’s Independence Day Celebration in George C. Yeonas Park features music from Anansegro of Ghana and the U.S. Navy Concert Band beginning at 7:30 p.m., before fireworks at 9:30. 7:30 to 10 p.m. Free.
‘Sign o’ the Times’ at Suns Cinema: When a movie theater advertises a Prince film, it’s likely to be yet another screening of “Purple Rain,” or maybe a midnight show with “Under the Cherry Moon.” Not this weekend at Suns Cinema, where Friday’s late feature is “Sign o’ the Times,” the 1987 concert film documenting Prince at his frenetic, sexy best. 9:30 p.m. $12.
JulyPA at Pizzeria Paradiso: July means one thing at Pizzeria Paradiso: hops. Lots of hops. The local pizza chain’s 15th annual JulyPA celebration brings extra India Pale Ales and double IPAs to the taps at all four locations. Each will have its own featured selections — try Interboro’s Mad Fat Pride in Georgetown, Triple Crossing’s Nectar and Knife in Dupont or Peabody Heights’ Mango Astrodon in Hyattsville — and there’s also a special JulyPA pizza topped with apricots, peaches and ricotta cheese. To encourage experimentation, the bar is launching a promotion called “More Heads are Better Than One”: Try nine IPAs and get your tenth IPA free. Through July 14.
Pretty Bitter at Comet Ping Pong: The story of how D.C. pop-rockers Pretty Bitter recorded their new album is an increasingly familiar one to any band that hoped to hit the studio during the last two-plus pandemic-squeezed years. The high-gloss, lushly orchestrated “Hinges” began as socially distanced demos written when the future of live music (and the future in general) was in flux, before being recorded for real in a basement, in a closet and in a Guitar Center, guerilla-style, on a $3,000 vintage ax. (Perhaps that last one isn’t as universal). The band looks outward to create and contextualize its music. Press materials compare the band to a “queer Richard Linklater movie” and the album to art-house fare from studio A24, like Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” and “Midsommar.” Aster “renders these films in these, like, extremely beautiful visual palettes, but he’s showing horrible things, and there’s something about that where you just want to keep digging deeper and looking more and more at it,” explains Zack Be, who wrote the bulk of the album’s music. “That definitely plays into the production side: How far can I take this and people will still listen to it as a pop song?” 10 p.m. $15. The band also performs Sunday at Pie Shop at 8 p.m. $12-$15.
Folkways at Folklife: Sunny Jain’s Wild Wild East and Rebolu at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival: By day, the Folklife Festival is full of tourists watching falconry demonstrations and learning about Bedouin cooking. In the evening, it becomes one of the city’s more eclectic concert venues. This Friday night show features Sunny Jain’s Wild Wild East, which incorporates dhol drums on spaghetti western-inspired tunes, bringing Bollywood and hip-hop sounds. Rebolu was founded in New York City by Colombian musicians Ronald Polo and Johanna Castañeda. “Mi Herencia (My Heritage),” the group’s first album for Smithsonian Folkways, is filled with infectious, rolling music that the label says draws on “the diverse Afrocentric rhythms of Colombia’s Caribbean coast.” 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. Free.
Saturday, July 2
‘Sam Gilliam: Full Circle’: Abstract artist Sam Gilliam, who died at his Washington home June 25 at age 88, exploded into international consciousness with a 1969 show at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, but he never stopped creating or experimenting. Gilliam’s recent work, a series of abstract, heavily textured circular paintings from 2021, is on display at the Hirshhorn through Sept. 11 alongside “Rail,” a monumental work from 1977. The Hirshhorn plans to hold a symposium dedicated to Gilliam later this year. Open daily through Sept. 11. Free.
Everything at the Bullpen: The band Everything will always be associated with its trippy, bouncy, 1998 hit “Hooch.” (More than two decades later, the band’s website still hawks “Hooch baseball T-shirts.”) But these James Madison alumni have a more prominent role in D.C. music trivia: They were the last band to headline the legendary Bayou nightclub in 1998. Why do we bring this up? Everything is performing free at the Bullpen as part of the Navy Yard beer garden’s Summer Concert Series. Gates open at 1 p.m., and the performance begins at 7. Free.
Fourth of July celebrations: Saturday brings Laurel’s 43-year-old celebration, which begins at 2 p.m. with a parade and classic car show, followed by live music at 5:15 p.m. and fireworks at Laurel Lake at 9:15 p.m. SummerFest returns to Gaithersburg with music, a beer garden filled with local craft breweries and food trucks, and family activities. Gates at Bohrer Park open at 6 p.m., and the fireworks begin around 9:25 p.m. The SummerGlo After Party, with glow-in-the-dark performers, follows.
Red, White and Brew Bash at Hook Hall: It’s tough to figure out which contest to be more excited for at Hook Hall’s Independence Day weekend party: a flip cup tournament, which lets anyone relieve their college glory days as an individual or as part of a team, or the Dog Eat Dog Competition, in which adoptable rescue dogs try to be the first to eat an entire sliced-up hot dog. If that’s not enough, the afternoon includes beer and wine specials, including $7 glasses of house red and white. 2 to 11 p.m. Free admission for spectators; donation to local animal rescues requested.
‘The Music Man’ at Olney Theatre Center: James Caverly was working as a carpenter in Olney Theatre Center’s scene shop some seven years ago when he laid the foundation for an unconventional undertaking: a production of “The Music Man” featuring a blend of deaf and hearing actors. At the time, the Gallaudet University alumnus was finding roles for deaf actors hard to come by. Having recently seen Deaf West’s 2015 production of “Spring Awakening” — performed on Broadway in American Sign Language and spoken English — Caverly thought the time was right for a D.C. theater to follow suit. So when Olney Artistic Director Jason Loewith encouraged staff to approach him with ideas for shows, Caverly spoke up. The sales pitch worked: Loewith greenlighted a workshop to explore Caverly’s concept, then set the musical for the summer of 2021 before the coronavirus pandemic intervened. Caverly stars in the production as con man Harold Hill. “What [Caverly] possesses is a presence and a charm and a charisma and a drive and a passion that is, in some way, Harold Hill,” Loewith says. “I mean, think about how he got this production to happen: He totally Harold Hilled me. But he’s a con man that I like.” Through July 24. $42-$85.
Interview: Olney Theatre reimagines ‘The Music Man’ with a deaf Harold Hill
Sunday, July 3
‘A Capitol Fourth’ Dress Rehearsal at the U.S. Capitol: Country singer Mickey Guyton hosts this year’s A Capitol Fourth concert on Independence Day at the Capitol, taking place with an audience for the first time since 2019. Another tradition that’s returning: the night-before dress rehearsal, which is also open to the public. Bring a picnic and bottled water to the Capitol’s west front for a laid-back run-through that lacks fireworks but has far fewer hassles and smaller crowds. 8 p.m. Free.
Daylight Anniversary at Takoma Station: The long-running Daylight party has become nomadic since the closure of Liv nightclub, resurfacing for events at venues as diverse as Gypsy Sally’s, City Winery and now Takoma Station. As Daylight marks 16 years of bringing crowds a matchless mix of soulful house, disco, vintage hip-hop and rare R&B grooves, let’s hope DJ Divine and gregarious host Big Tone find a place where they can pop up more regularly in the future. 6 to 11 p.m. $10-$15.
Monday, July 4
Fireworks viewing: Many people have a favorite place to watch the National Mall fireworks — Cardozo High School, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, Gravelly Point, Long Bridge Park, a friend’s rooftop deck — so these tips focus on rooftop bars and public spaces that offer alcoholic beverages for sale. Reminder: The fireworks begin at 9:09 p.m., and you’ll want to be in place well before then.
Ticketed rooftop events: Lady Bird, the bar atop the Banneker Hotel near Scott Circle, has a prime view down 16th Street NW. General admission tickets are $25, which includes a wine tasting and music by DJ Blakberri. The Hotel Washington’s Vue, formerly known as the W Hotel’s P.O.V., has the best view of the Mall in the city. You’ll pay a premium for that on July Fourth: Standing room tickets are currently $75, while a table for eight costs $600 to reserve, not counting the minimum spend of $750. Tiki TNT’s rooftop is sold out, but tables are available on its second level patio. The $100 tickets include a cocktail, dinner with side and dessert, and a choice of wine or beer during the meal.
A two-hour open bar, passed heavy hors d’oeuvres and a live band are included at Ciel Social Club, which is above the AC Hotel in Mount Vernon Square. Tickets are $150, and the party lasts from 7 to 10 p.m. Officina’s rooftop party at the Wharf doesn’t include food or drink: Reservations around a six-person firepit require a $60-per-person deposit, which will be deducted from food and drink purchases.
Free rooftop events: These parties don’t require purchasing tickets in advance, but without a guaranteed reservation, you have to show up early or run the risk of being shut out. The Hawthorne’s Red, White and Rooftop is happening on both July 3 and 4 from 4 p.m. until “late.” The U Street bar has a glass roof, which can slide open or closed depending on the weather. Beyond the DJ, look for $6.50 rail drinks, $5.50 Bud Light pints and other drink specials. Buena Vida, which replaced Clarendon’s TTT earlier this year, has a view of D.C. from its rooftop. The party, which runs from 4 to 10 p.m., features music from DJ Pandu. Hi-Lawn is promising views of “neighborhood fireworks” rather than those on the Mall, but its Lawn Chair Fest, where you can bring your own seat and spread out on the artificial grass above Union Market, sounds like a decent trade-off. The bar is open from 1 to 10 p.m. for grilled food lawn games, with live music from Rock Creek Revival between 5 and 7.
Outdoor spaces: Victura Park, the wine garden in the Kennedy Center’s grassy Reach expansion, became a popular destination last year. It’s open with no cover charge from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., so no lingering after the fireworks. The menu includes grilled hot dogs and sandwiches, plus wine and local craft beer. No chairs, coolers or outside food and drinks allowed. The Wharf has two options: Anyone can enjoy the views of the fireworks from the District Pier, which projects out into the Washington Channel, with music and a bar selling seltzer and beer. The $60 “VIP Experience,” benefiting the USO, adds access to the Dockmaster Building with food, two drink tickets, games and a DJ. Either way, the party runs from 7 to 10 p.m. It’s hard to imagine a better view of the fireworks than from the Potomac River. Boomerang Boat Tours, which runs popular pirate-themed yachts and party cruises out of Georgetown, has a cruise from 7:45 to 10:30 p.m. on a boat with an open rooftop and an open bar. Tickets are $125.
Tuesday, July 5
Summer of Sangria at Jaleo: A pitcher of sangria is ideal for sharing during a sweltering summer. Jaleo’s sangria festival includes four types of sangria available by the glass, pitcher or half-pitcher, such as Sangria de Mora (cava, gin, vermouth and a blackberry reduction) and Sangria de Sandia (vodka, white wine, watermelon and citrus). The menu also includes a rotating trio of tapas to pair with sangrias. Through July 31. Sangria by the glass $11-$14; pitchers $48-$60; daily tapas $21.
Wednesday, July 6
Live From the Lawn at Strathmore: Strathmore’s free outdoor summer concert series kicks off in the beginning of July, bringing in artists to perform on its gazebo stage as audiences relax on the campus’s lawn. First up is DuPont Brass, a nine-piece ensemble that began when founding members met at Howard University. Live from the Lawn performances take place on Wednesdays through Aug. 24 and include everything from a ukulele fest to go-go, bluegrass and children’s music. 7 p.m. Free; online RSVP is suggested.
Where to find free outdoor concerts in the D.C. area
Futures Forward: Closing Celebration at the Arts and Industries Building: For the last seven months, the Smithsonian’s historic Arts and Industries Building has been home to “Futures,” an exhibit exploring and ruminating on what life and technology might look like in the future. That World of Tomorrow comes to an end this week, but not before one last multistage party. Bring the kids between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. for crafts, reading and special tours. A happy hour runs from 5 to 7 p.m. with live music from Crush Funk Brass, close-up illusionist Alain Nu, poets and other performers. Finally, a DJ-fueled party — complete with dancing robots — closes out the event indoors and outdoors until 11 p.m. The dress code: your “most vibrant neon-best outfit.” 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Free; registration requested.