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Posted at 5:00 PM ET, 03/25/2008

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Check out chart-topping Rick Ross and local hip-hop veterans the Package, meet Thievery Corporation DJ and restaurateur Eric Hilton, get an introduction to experimental music at the Velvet Lounge, attend an '80s prom and sample California beers or traditional rum punch.

Wednesday |Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Wednesday, March 26
Ask local heads to rank the area hip-hop groups of the last decade and Infinite Loop should come out at or near the top of every list. The enormous collective, which once included 18 members, has been whittled down over the years, but MCs Dimensions, Theory and Noyeek the Grizzly Bear have regrouped as the Package (listen) and released the taut "New Golden Era" mixtape, which you can download for free from their Web site. The trio is hitting the stage at the Velvet Lounge tonight with fellow rhyme-spitter Head-Roc (another Infinite Loop alumni) and DJ Eurok to perform "a live mixtape." Flex Matthews, Mr. Free and "more" are also on the bill.

Even sponsors Brightest Young Things admit that tonight's '80s prom at the Rock and Roll Hotel is just "a clever marketing ploy to get you excited about the new 'Prom Night' teen horror flick," but hey, people love, love, love them some prom-themed dance parties. DJs Cale and William Alberque spin the hits from 7 to midnight. Admission is $5 before 9 and $10 after.

Thursday, March 27
Eric Hilton is a D.C. music legend, though his influence is much deeper than the tastemaking electronica he creates with Thievery Corporation. Hilton is the founder of Eighteenth Street Lounge, which has been one of the city's coolest and most influential nightspots for more than a dozen years, and of the associated Eighteenth Street Lounge Music label, whose artists' grooves are played in clubs and high-end lounges from Paris to Hong Kong. Hilton's been expanding his offerings lately, including the Belgian gastropub Marvin and a soon-to-come Jamaican reggae-and-beef-patties joint on U Street. Ask him about ESL's dress codes, Thievery's tours of Australia, Grammy nominations or upcoming remix projects tonight at the monthly Modernist Society, where Hilton will participate in a Q&A with host Jason Mojica before taking questions from the crowd. Afterwards, DJs D-Mac and Neville C. spin dance music until close.

California's North Coast Brewing Company is one of the oldest microbrewers in the game, producing artisanal ales and lagers since 1988. The flagship Red Seal Ale is becoming easy to find in this area, and the rich Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout has been a fixture on taps in top local beer bars, like the Brickskeller and Rustico. Still, the company's biggest hits recently have been harder-to-find Belgian-style ales, like golden Pranqster and the ruby-colored Brother Theolonius, an abbey ale adorned with a painting of Theolonius Monk. A bit of Fort Bragg comes to Purcellville tonight, as Magnolias at the Mill hosts a multi-course dinner, pairing North Coast's beers with chef Mark Marrocco's American menu. All-inclusive tickets are $75.

Back in January David simply couldn't get enough of "We Brave Bee Stings and All," the second album by Falls Church native Thao Nguyen (listen). Sometimes an infatuation like that will be shortlived, but even after a few months of near-constant listening the album retains all of its charms. If you've been waiting 20 years for the next Edie Brickell (what's that, crickets?) then you simply must check out Nguyen. Her indie-folk offerings are bouncy, brief and full of life, catchy enough to get stuck in your head but quirky enough that they don't sound run-of-the-mill. She makes a slightly odd choice as opener for sometimes twee, sometimes jagged, always weird Xiu Xiu (listen) at the Black Cat's backstage.

Friday, March 28
Rick Ross's "Trilla" vaulted into the #1 position on Billboard's Top 200 Album, Digital Album and Top R&B/Hip Hop Album charts this week, even though his single "The Boss" -- the latest in Ross' seemingly endless catalog of "Look how much jewelry can fit on my Buddha Belly" boasts-as-songs -- is hovering outside the Top 40 in its fifth week of release. Not even T-Pain's tired vocoded vocals on the chorus can save it. Still, somebody will probably yell for it at Love tonight, where the Trilla a k a the Boss a k a Boss Major a k a Rick Ro$$ is taking the stage to promote "Trilla," because, as the song says, every day he's hustlin'. (BTW, having seen the "Boss" video, we have to ask if any of our readers can recall seeing anyone else wearing a giant gold medallion of their own face. Even Mr. T never did that, as far as we can remember.)

Stephen Malkmus (listen) could be taking the easy way out. Reunions remain all the rage, and if the former frontman for indie rock gods Pavement decided to get the gang back together, he could get plum spots at Coachella, Lollapalooza, all the European summer festivals and then embark on a Pixies-level headlining tour. The revenue would be in the millions and his two toddlers would have their college funds all set. But nearly 10 years after Pavement called it quits, Malkmus continues to forge ahead with his solo career, indulging in more jam-rock excess and non-sequitur wordplay on his fourth album, "Real Emotional Trash." It's an album that has more great moments than great songs -- the otherworldly keyboard surges of the title track, the powerful middle section of "Baltimore," the playful singalong verses in "Wicked Wanda" -- but it should sizzle live, especially with the new addition of former Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss. John Vanderslice (listen) opens at the 9:30 club.

The Tiffany Gallery of the Arlington Arts Center is getting wrecked today. Nothing to be alarmed about, though: Wreckfest @ Tiffany's is a celebration of graffiti art and hip-hop music. Local graffiti artists Tim Conlon, CON, REI21, the SOVIET and RAMS will be painting the walls of the historic 1930s building between 3 and 8, and an open panel discussion at 6:30 examines hip-hop's influence on art and culture. Participants include National Portrait Gallery curator Jobyl A. Boone, local artist Adrian Loving and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts' Tia Powell Harris. After the talking is over, it's time to party, as DJs and fashionistas rule the gallery from 8 to 11. It's all free, and refreshments will be served.

We've written about a number of Rock en Espanol groups in this space, but the local band Nayas (listen) never seems to fall squarely into that category. Mixing Sublime-style ska-punk grooves and a deep affection for reggae music, Nayas' dance-floor-friendly songs should get the get the crowd moving at a promising two-band bill at the Black Cat tonight. Headlining is Si*Se (listen), a New York-based group whose head-nodding mix of funk and soulful trip-hop flirts liberally with bossa nova and other Latin beats. Thievery Corporation fans will find plenty to like here -- and not just because Si*Se's "Amiga" got a dubbed out remix by the D.C. duo.

If you've checked out the Velvet Lounge's spiffy new Web site, which was seemingly under construction since Bill Clinton was still president, then you've probably run across a bunch of names that don't mean a whole lot to you. The Lounge has firmly established itself as the local outpost for experimental music, and this weekend's Spontaneous Infinity festival serves as a good chance for the uninitiated to dive headfirst into the scene. The two-day throwdown will host all types of out-there acts, from experimental guitarist Elliott Sharp, UB313 (featuring longtime Sun Ra Arkestra leader Marshall Allen) and more free jazz than you can shake a trumpet at.

Saturday, March 29
There may be better swing orchestras than Peaches O'Dell's (listen), but it's hard to think of bandleaders who are more entertaining and engaging than O'Dell herself. Her performances feature multiple costume changes -- including one with a Carmen Miranda-style pile of fruit atop her head -- and more 1930s movies hits than a Fred Astaire clip show, and she's famous for ending sets with a conga line that snakes through the entire venue. Tonight's appearance at the historic Glen Echo Spanish Ballroom will feature plenty of swingin' hits like "Sing Sing Sing" and "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," but it's plenty of fun for non-Lindy Hoppers, too. (An hour-long dance lesson is included in the $13 cover charge.) The music goes from 9 to midnight.

Another weekend, another bar tour. First it was Mardi Gras, then St. Patrick's Day, then Easter, all offering cheap beer at a variety of locations. Today's bar crawl is different, though: Lindy Promotions' Bethesda Spring Bar Tour is the first one in ages that's taking place outside of the D.C. city limits. The formula is familiar enough: Check in at Tommy Joe's between 1 and 6, then hit seven other bars for specials that include $2 Miller Lites and half-priced appetizers. Participants include BlackFinn, Union Jack's, Caddies, Hard Times Cafe and the Barking Dog. Admission is $10, but if you bring two cans of food to donate to the Manna Food Center, it's $7.

If Laura Bush ever gets around to writing or compiling a cookbook, we're pretty sure it won't contain a recipe for spicy rum punch. Martha Washington, on the other hand, was a big fan of rum drinks, and even kept her own punch recipe in her private journal. (Take a look at it on the Cocktail Times Web site.) While not super strong, it's a tasty concoction. Tonight at Alexandria's historic Gadsby's Tavern, local restaurants and distillers will offer their own versions of the traditional colonial drink during the Great Rum Punch Challenge, and patrons can vote for their favorite. Admission is $50 and includes food and drink all night. If, like us, you generally give colonial reenactors a wide berth, this is the one night a year when it's acceptable to visit Gadsby's.

The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash (listen) boast one of the most bad-ass names in American music, even if their sound is closer to gentle Bakersfield-style country and Americana than the edgy rockabilly and country performed by their namesake. Still, the band's 2005 album "Mile Markers" has a number of outlaw-style highlights -- we can picture Merle Haggard turning the chugging "No Easy Road" into a truckers' anthem. Catch singer/guitarist Mark Stewart and his band at Iota tonight.

Sunday, March 30
Speaking of Johnny Cash -- and lord knows we can't stop -- there's a tribute to the Man in Black at JV's tonight featuring Johnny Cash tribute artist Jed Duvall and the Tennessee Quartet. No, we didn't know there was a Johnny Cash tribute act in the area, but we're darn curious. The show is a Sunday matinee, so be there by 5 to get a seat. There's no cover, and the music goes until 8.

Think that the freak-folk genre went extinct when Devendra Banhart started doing fashion spreads? Not so fast. The Dodos (listen) have brought it back to life (ha!) with the excellent new album, "Visiter." The duo of Logan Kroebler and Meric Long put more into their songs than some fingerpicked acoustic guitar and off-key caterwauling. Not that those elements are absent, of course. But there's more substance and structure on the Dodos' songs, such as "Jodi," which is built on an insistent drumbeat, doubletracked vocals and dynamic shifts that take it from psych to folk to drone and back. Silje Nes (listen) opens at DC9.

-- Fritz Hahn and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | March 25, 2008; 5:00 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Music  
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What time will Eric Hilton be speaking? Is it doors at 9 and the talk with him will beging at 10? I've never been but want to make sure I don't show up too late and miss him. How early should one show up?

Posted by: Wiki | March 26, 2008 6:22 AM | Report abuse

Modernist Society is usually doors at 8, Q&A at 9.

Posted by: Fritz | March 26, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

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