Formerly a member of offbeat rap collective ‘Odd Future’, Thebe Kgositsile, also known as Earl Sweatshirt, has grown in front of hip-hop audiences over the past decade. On his latest album “Sick!” he goes beyond the shock rap with which he sometimes played and trades provocation for contemplation. He works through his grandfather’s illness and eventual demise on “God Laughs,” the most moody and haunting song on the project. He raps, “Through his brain that gets chipped daily/His body on a road where his mind was restless, weightless funeral.” Sweatshirt references the collective struggle of the past two and a half years, perhaps more directly on “Vision” when he raps, “Singular current event, whatever we’re in the middle of / How long you’re giving up rent.” “Sick!” finds the rapper where a lot of people have found themselves after a long time thinking only of themselves: taking stock and wondering what it all means. Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. at Anthem, 901 Wharf St. SW. theanthemdc.com $35 to $55.
Clairo has the kind of voice that when a beautiful flute comes on midway through the opener of her 2021 album “Sling,” for a split second you’d think it might be her cooing. As she harmonizes towards the end of “Bambi,” with light percussion and a trumpet driving her, you have to close your eyes and swing. And it’s pretty much like that for the rest of the album, even if the subject becomes darker. On the album’s first single “Blouse”, Clairo talks about being objectified. Listeners might jump when she sings, “Why do I have to tell you how I feel / When you’re too busy staring at my blouse?” as angelic, mournful strings follow her out of the choir. You may remember Clairo, real name Claire Cottrill, went viral after downloading it chamber music video to her first published song, “Pretty Girl”. One tour with Tame Impala and two albums later, she was committed to developing what made “Pretty Girl” special: vulnerable, relatable yet always specific storytelling. Feb. 19-20 at 8 p.m. at Fillmore Silver Spring, 8656 Colesville Rd. fillmoresilverspring.com. $43.50.
Illuminati Hotties, a project by Sarah Tudzin, makes self-proclaimed “soft-punk” music: not dark enough to be emo, but not hardcore enough to be punk. On Tudzin’s latest album, “Let Me Do One More,” listeners can feel a boost as they weave their way through songs that range from headbanging to beautifully dark. Her vocals are almost a whisper on “Threatening Each Other re:Capitalism,” a catchy title for a slower song lamenting constantly marketed. With sentimental guitar riffs in the background, she sings, “I Can’t Believe I’m Accepting.” “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA” is just as amusing as its title, as we hear Tudzin doing some vocal gymnastics: at one point her voice sounds almost comically high, then seconds later her voice drops as she imitates a man. Her lyrics are just as chaotic as singing, “The DNC is playing dirty!” to “I’m so sad that I can’t do the laundry.” But goofy vocals and funny lyrics work well because a lively guitar brings them together nicely. Much like the album as a whole, chaos is fun. Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. blackcat.com. $15 to $18.
Note: Proof of coronavirus vaccination is required for admission to these shows. See site websites for details.