There's a little something for everyone in this week's column -- local DJs getting their mid-week groove on at Modern, Lounge 201 and Fly; the long-awaited Child Ballads album-release party; old-school house music in Fairfax; and a ?uestlove DJ set at Liv.
Wednesday, April 16
The Washington Psychotronic Film Society relocated to the Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse after Dr. Dremo's closed, and while the new, smaller space lacks the ambience -- and beer selection -- of the old venue, the lineup of offbeat, crazy and so-bad-they're-good B-movies continues unabated. Tonight, it's "Eraserhead," David Lynch's first film, a black-and-white horror film about a couple who give birth to a mutant baby that won't stop crying and shrieking. Meanwhile, there's a lady in the radiator crooning love songs. It's incredibly surreal and impossible to stop watching. As usual, it's free, but a $2 donation is welcomed.
Wednesday is turning into one of the best nights of the week for local DJ talent. The Ripoff, which makes its debut at Modern tonight, seems to be anything but. Blending electro, house, rave tunes, mashups -- download a 54-minute mix from theripoffdc.com for a taste -- this first installment features Gavin Holland of DC9's Nouveau Riche night and Matt Nordstrom from the Sleaze DJ team alongside residents Houston and Scotbot. Unlike Modern's weekend scene, there's no dress code, though there is a $7 cover charge.
Capitol Hill's not exactly a hotbed of electronic dance music, but focusing on the more chic side of downtempo, funky house and nu jazz should help Lounge 201's brand-new Scandal night find a niche. Tonight's guest is Deep Sang, whose deep, soulful touches have enlivened many Dirty Bombs nights at the Wonderland Ballroom. Doors open at 8.
If you haven't checked out DJ Geometrix's weekly spot at Fly, here's your chance: The popular party-rocking DJ is celebrating his birthday tonight, and the first 50 folks to wish him well get a present: a copy of his new mix CD. (Boy, we wish all birthdays worked like that.) We're hoping it's full of the same '80s mashups and hip-hop remixes Geometrix uses to crush the dance floors at Avenue and Ultrabar. Women get in free all night; guys can skip the $10 cover charge by sending their full names to firstname.lastname@example.org and arriving before midnight.
There's intense, and then there's Carla Bozulich. She's probably best known for her '90s outsider-country band the Geraldine Fibbers (which also featured current Wilco guitar hero Nels Cline), but Bozulich has a couple decades worth of interesting, slightly frightening work to her credit. Her latest project is Evangelista (listen), which showcases her haunting vocals in full force; when she lets loose with a ferocious howl like a more sinister Patti Smith, it will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention. Her backing band, featuring members of A Silver Mt. Zion, creates noisy soundscapes simmering with tension that threaten to overpower the vocals. The sound can be discomforting on record, but it might be positively entrancing live. Garland of Hours (listen) and Vampire Hands (listen) open at the Velvet Lounge.
Thursday, April 17
Laced is back at Cue Bar tonight, celebrating six months of melding art, fashion, videos and video games into one of the hippest nights on U Street. As usual, Laced features VJs spinning on a projection screen, art installations, Nintendo Wii games, clothes from local designers, ping-pong and much more. There's no cover charge.
Friday, April 18
When Nicolay (listen) was an unknown but driven multi-instrumentalist and producer grinding away in his studio in the Netherlands eight years ago, he couldn't have predicted where the journey would take him, but he was definitely prepared for it. His jazzy, layered hip-hop tracks reflected inspiration from the Soulquarian camp with synths and vintage keyboards laying harmonies over staccato drums. It was actually on Okayplayer, the online home of the head Soulquarian himself -- ?uestlove of the Roots -- that Nicolay would connect with the like-minded artists who brought him to American shores and stores. After his beat collections and some choice remixes started making the rounds, Nicolay launched the Foreign Exchange project with Phonte from Little Brother and then a solo album entitled "Here." Nicolay's most recent project continues in the nuanced hip-hop soul vein in the form of a collaboration with Texan rapper Kay. Their album "TIME:LINE" is a rich and thoughtful collection of future soul meets hip-hop tunes. The duo headlines the Black Cat tonight, and they'll be preceded by a pair of musically similar spirits, Washington's own Muhsinah and Panacea.
Jim Jones' "We Fly High" started getting airplay in late summer 2006, but it's as popular as ever - just watch all the guys in the club when the chorus drops: to a man, they're showing off their fade-away jumpers while yelling "Ballin'!" (People who are allowed to do this: P. Diddy and Gilbert Arenas, on stage at Agent Zero's birthday party.) Jones, who has an album called "Back 2 Back" coming out in a few weeks, is stopping by Love tonight to perform a few songs and work the crowd. Wonder if he'll make any Cam'ron jokes. Tickets are $20 in advance from Groovetickets.
Saturday, April 19
The last time Stewart Lupton was heard from on CD, he was in his early 20s and ready to take on the world as frontman of Jonathan Fire*Eater. The moody, organ-driven garage rock quintet with local roots was endlessly annointed as Next Big Thing, but the album flopped, the band broke up and Lupton seemingly fell off the face of the Earth. A few years ago he resurfaced with a new band, the Child Ballads (listen), and after a couple of false starts (a UK album release by a label that quickly folded), Lupton is once again an official recording artist. As great as JF*E's "Wolf Songs For Lambs" was (and its preceding "Tremble Under Boom Lights" EP was even better), "Cheekbone Hollows," just out on Gypsy Eyes Records, is his best release to date. Its six songs of ragged folk are packed with the kind of lyrics that will make you want to keep changing your Facebook quote. Labelmates Shortstack (listen) open at Comet Ping Pong.
It's been four years since Andrew Flint decided that instead of driving into D.C. to see his favorite DJs every week, he'd rather bring hot electronic music out to the Virginia suburbs. It's been a fairly successful run, and tonight's celebration at Bridges includes the man who helped kick off the Mass Transit DJ series back in 2004: Buzz founder Scott Henry. It's odd to see a man who's headlined dance clubs around the world working the turntables in a Fairfax pool hall, but Transit is home to some serious talent. Besides Henry's old-school Bit o' Honey set, the lineup includes banging tribal house from 2 Tribes (Ray Kang and Barrett) and house DJ duo Ethereal Imbalance (Ramiro and Lee Bridges). Get this: the 21-and-over show is only $5. Amazing deal.
Book readings can be drab affairs; literary magazine readings even more so. Barrelhouse Magazine, a knock-your-socks-off journal of fiction, poetry, arty essays and pop-culture-savy interviews with musicians like the Drive-By Truckers, is always trying to break the mold, and tonight its founders are launching issue #5 with a raucous party at Steve's Bar Room. Yes, there will be readings by authors Ryan Call and Donald Illich, who are featured in the new volume, but these are going on amid a backdrop of burlesque dancers (veterans of the Palace of Wonders and the DC Gurly Show) and DJ Will Eastman of Bliss. Doors open at 7; admission is $5, or $8 if you want a copy of Barrelhouse, too -- and you will.
Sunday, April 20
?uestlove might be a Grammy-winning producer and performer known worldwide for his work with his band the Roots, along with D'Angelo, Jay-Z and now even Al Green, but when he takes to the turntables he'd prefer to be able to cut out the wattage of his star power and just make you dance. The obsessive musicologist has long used spinning tunes as an additional creative outlet, so despite the gawking that often accompanies his massively afro-ed presence, there should be no parking on the dance floor during his DJ set at Liv tonight. Taking the first leg of the night, EZ Street is also someone who likes to shed the assumptions that go along with his day job to get lost in the music while DJing. As a beloved radio host on WKYS 93.9 FM, he traffics in all of the mainstream content of that station, but in the mix he gets to dig into his deeper and more varied tastes.
Monday, April 21
Some excerpts from David's review last September of Oakley Hall (listen): "An hour of blissful, organic psychedelia from a prolific group that is hitting its stride in a major way"; "the voices of singer-guitarists Rachel Cox and Pat Sullivan were perfectly matched for their frequent duets, and the rhythm section of Jesse Barnes and Pat Wood was always locked in"; "Each of the dozen songs was mesmerizing in its own way." Needless to say, I was floored. It was a great enough show to rank #3 on my year-end list. This return engagement at the Rock and Roll Hotel has me pretty psyched, as few bands play the sort of noisy country-rock the Brooklyn sextet churns out and nobody does it as well. Oakley Hall opens for Canadian rockers the Constantines (listen) so be sure to get there early.
Tuesday, April 22
It'll be sort of a throwback night at Iota. Back in its early days the Arlington club was pretty much all roots-rock all the time, featuring bands that played anything with a bit of twang. That kind of music is still regularly featured, of course, but the club has successfully incorporated many different types of genres into its lineup. Kansas City group the Wilders (listen), with its old-time acoustic sound and heavy dose of honky-tonk flavor, would have fit right in at Iota circa 1996. The band has been known to play convincing covers of Hank Williams and George Jones, but has been incorporating some new ideas into its traditional sound on recent work to keep things fresh.
-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
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