(Nate Lankford for The Washington Post)
This week, a new burlesque night appears south of Dupont Circle; singles party outdoors in Reston; bands make a mysterious return to Comet Ping Pong; one of Jamaica's most popular radio DJs shows up in Bladensburg; and one of our favorite sorta-obscure '90s indie bands reunites at the Black Cat.
Wednesday, May 7
Let's get one thing out of the way: The Teenagers (listen), a French electro-synthpop trio playing at the Black Cat tonight, doesn't feature an actual teenager in its ranks. That said, the group has one thing in common with most guys between the ages of 13 and 19: They think about sex and girls. A lot. The group's debut single "Homecoming" set off a tsunami of blog buzz when it leaked in 2006. The story of a French guy visiting his aunt in California who is instantly attracted to her cheerleader stepdaughter, the narrative unfolds over a lush, catchy track that mixes chiming indie guitars, with gentle-but-insistent electronic keys and drums. Transatlantic wires get crossed: In solo spoken-word verses, he calls her "dirty" and graphically describes her body and what he wants to do to her; she calls him "her English romance," says the encounter was "just like a song by Blink-182" and asks him to send her a MySpace friend request. Just over a year and a few singles later, we've got "Reality Check," the band's debut album filled with wry, studied tales about disintegrating relationships ("Love No"), one-night stands ("Sunset Beach"), party kids ("**** Nicole") and crushes on celebrities ("Starlett Johansson"), all riding that same fashionable mix of sung/spoken lyrics, buzzy guitars and programmed rhythms. They'll probably never be more than the blog band of the moment, but the Teenagers offer more than a few rewards among the band's three-minute pop songs.
It's not the first name in comedy yet, but the Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse is really trying to give the Improv a run for its money. Emo Phillips, Rob Cantrell and Rob Benson have been on its stage in recent months, and Eugene Mirman is headlining at the end of the month. A tip to the locals comes with the Drafthouse Comedy Challenge, which features 24 D.C.-area stand-ups performing over the next four Wednesdays. Judges and audience members will select the two best comics each week, who then move on to June's semi-finals and a chance to win $1,500 and feature spots at the Drafthouse. The roster includes a number of comics we've seen and lauded before -- Chris White, Jared Stern, Larry Poon -- and for $7, it's not a big layout for what could be a lot of laughs.
Thursday, May 8
While the number of burlesque and cabaret events has been climbing around D.C., the only venue hosting fire-eaters, sword-swallowers and risque dancers on a regular basis has been the Palace of Wonders on H Street NE. However, that's set to change with tonight's premiere of the Golden Triangle Cabaret, a weekly expo of classic '30s and '40s burlesque. Held on Ozio's VIP level every Thursday, the four-hour revue features musicians, dancers and other entertainers who will rotate weekly. Longtime Nightlife Agenda favorite Kitty Victorian is the featured performer, alongside Philadelphia's Peek-a-Boo Revue. Tickets are $20 for general admission. Table reservations, which require groups of four, cost $40 plus a $25 drink minimum. Doors open at 7, and the performances run from 7:30 to 11, with a new act every 15 minutes or so. See dccabaret.com for more information and reservations.
The weather's holding up nicely and you need to change up your happy hour situation. You might want to get down to U Street tonight for Lady Pcoq and the Plumes at Duke's City. Lisa "Lady Pcoq" Pegram is a veteran of Washington's spoken word scene and her professional life is devoted to using those skills for the development of area youth. With her acoustic band, she strings together clever pieces that can be alternately sexy, campy and thought-provoking. The statuesque diva sidesteps a lot of the cliches that abound due to spoken word's popularity and projects warmth and immediate familiarity.
Some charity events sound almost too easy. Like this one at Fly tonight: Show up after 10 p.m. for the Viva Colombia party and the hosts will donate $1 to For Colombia, a non-profit organization working to find alternatives to violence in the war-torn South American country. Wear the Colombian colors (red, yellow and blue) or carry a flag and the hosts will double their donation. Meanwhile, you can dance to traditional Colombian party music like Cumbia and Vallenato as well as salsa, reggaeton and hip-hop. Drink specials come from Bacardi, Skyy and Corona. Get on the guest list at primop.com -- there's no cover charge -- and remember to dress fashionable to make it past Fly's bouncers.
Friday, May 9
Here's another one of the No Band Must Be Left Un-Reunited files. That Polvo (listen) never really made it past cult-favorite status during its heyday in the '90s isn't much of a surprise. The Chapel Hill quartet incorporated bits of all of indie's more "difficult" and nominally unappealing microgenres -- post-rock, math rock, noise rock, etc. What that means is lots of songs with unexpected shifts, sharp blasts of noise and bendy guitar notes. It's really not as difficult as its sometimes made out to be, and the band's three best recordings -- "Today's Active Lifestyles," "Exploded Drawing" and "Celebrate the New Dark Age" EP -- can sit nicely next to albums by Pavement, Sebadoh and Superchunk in the '90s indie canon. The band's first show in 10 years (minus original drummer Eddie Watkins, with replacement Brian Quast) is at the Black Cat tonight. Why the Black Cat? Honestly, we have no idea. Unless there's a large out-of-town contingent it's hard to envision the club being more than half full, with some serious competition from Drive-By Truckers, Flight of the Conchords and the Cure at other area venues. But we'll be there and will be excited, in our very '90s, arms-crossed kind of way.
There are plenty of good reggae DJs in the D.C. area, but we have to wonder how many of them could hold it down on Fame FM, one of Jamaica's biggest radio stations. Of course, the reverse holds true -- how's Kurt Riley, the "Party Animal" host of popular shows Rapid Fire Saturday and the weekly Friday Groove Theory going to do on the decks at the Crossroads tonight? Well, since his father Winston Riley is a renowned reggae and dub musician -- the creator of the ubiquitous Stalag Riddim -- and the two Rileys have collaborated on tracks for the likes of Buju Banton, we have a feeling that Jamaica's going to represent tonight. Riley will join the usual Friday night crew -- including DJ Superslice and the Oasis Band -- for an evening of reggae, soca and dancehall. Arrive before 8 to beat the cover charge.
Saturday, May 10
The first show David saw at Comet Ping Pong was pretty much a disaster (well, Shortstack was excellent) but the space itself works surprisingly well for a little rock show. Once the ping-pong tables are taken out and placed on the sidewalk -- be careful chasing the balls into the street, kids! -- the restaurant's back room can hold about 75-100 people and has a small, but slightly-raised stage that can comfortably hold a four- or five-piece band. Except for some lower-than-normal vocal levels the sound was as good as you'll hear at any other similarly-sized club (Red & the Black, Galaxy Hut). Shows always get off to a somewhat late start since Chevy Chase diners probably don't want loud rock-and-roll to go along with their pizza and there's not a whole lot else going on in the area at that hour, but those are minor complaints. The latest show at Comet has a bit of intrigue to it. Playing first is Kid Congo Powers (listen), who is plenty intriguing himself, a dynamic guitarist who founded psychobilly pioneers the Gun Club and also took turns in the Cramps and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. But the mystery lies in the other band, Brave Burns. It's hard to tell much from the band's simple adjective/noun name, but if they are playing in this city with Kid Congo, they must be good, right?
Hmmm: singles, patio, live music, food and drink specials. Nope, don't think the Singles in the Suburbs party tonight at Reston's Market Street Bar & Grill is missing any of the elements of a successful summer gathering. The Professionals in the City group has reserved the restaurant's outdoor area from 6:30 to 10:30 for Singles in the Suburbs; amenities include a private bar and half-price appetizers. Afterwards, head inside to hear the Mykle Lyons Acoustic Band perform atmospheric jazz until 1 a.m. Tickets are $15 from the ProsintheCity.com Web site, or -- psssst -- signup for goldstar.com (free registration required) and you can score admission for just $7.50.
Fritz was out at the Delaware beaches recently with some friends, and as they drove past Ruddertowne, jokes were made about the inevitability of regional cover band Kristen and the Noise headlining Admiral Dewey Day at the Rusty Rudder. One of his friends' boyfriends -- the singer of a popular local rock group -- was quick to defend Kristen and the Noise as being one of the better cover bands around. They've certainly got the chops, and they're playing both the Rusty Rudder and the Bottle and Cork over Memorial Day weekend -- and not just anyone gets to do that. Anyway, Kristen Qwolek is an energetic frontwoman who can handle Blink-182 and the All-American Rejects as well as Dave Matthews or whatever the '80s classic du jour is, and if you're looking to get an early jump on a long beach weekend, you can catch Kristen and the Noise at the Clarendon Ballroom tonight. There's a $5 cover after 8.
Sunday, May 11
You love your mama and you don't want to retread the same tired Mother's Day tokens of appreciation. If your mama has soul and you've got a taste for jazz, you might want to make a date for H20 tonight with your favorite lady. We continually cite supper clubs as a niche in this town that needs to be filled, so you can take advantage of the rare opportunity to get dinner and a show with Kindred and Marcus Johnson tonight. Marcus Johnson can get down equally between standards, "smooth" jazz and neo-soul while Kindred is the Gen-X heir to classic romantic duos of the past like Ashford & Simpson, Peaches & Herb and Rene & Angela. With new school sensibilities atop of old school tradition, the husband-and-wife duo's appeal spans generations. If grandma is spry enough, she might enjoy the set too.
It only takes a few minutes of listening to the Old Haunts (listen) to figure out that the trio is from the Pacific Northwest. There's a certain raggedness to their garage-punk that suggests something far, far removed from the taut uptightness of anything to do with the East Coast. You can hear the influences of fellow Northwesterners like the Wipers and Dead Moon but there's something warmer and more inviting about the Old Haunts, particularly Craig Extine's warbly voice. The hooks are more prominent, nothing feels rushed -- more signs that this isn't an East Coast band. "Poisonous Times" is the band's third album and if something can be described as stunningly solid, this would be it. Mr. Moccasin opens at the Red & the Black.
-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
Posted by: Brian | May 7, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse
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