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Posted at 5:31 PM ET, 05/13/2008

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Will the Black Cat's stage be big enough for all seven Los Campesinos! on Friday? (Sarah Wilmner)

A busy week finds numerous events for beer lovers, a cultural cocktail party at the House of Sweden, an '80s-themed prom with the English Beat, perky Welsh indie band Los Campesinos!, a hip-hop tribute to Malcolm X and the return of Bethesda's own Tommy the Matchmaker.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Wednesday, May 14
This weekend is one to savor for beer lovers, as the Savor beer event brings beers from four dozen American craft breweries to the Mellon Auditorium downtown. The two-day event features tastings, food-pairing classes and seminars with notable brewers, including Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver and Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch. Of course, since so many industry heavyweights are going to be in town, our local beer bars are trying to lure crowds with their own events. At the Brickskeller, five of the country's top brewers -- Tomme Arthur of Pizza Port and Lost Abbey, Adam Avery of Avery Brewing Company, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River and Rob Tod of Allagash -- are joining forces for the Lupulin Reunion, a night of tasting and storytelling. They're all bringing specialty beers for the crowd to taste, and if previous sessions with this group are any indication, it's going to be a knockout. Tickets are $35; call the Brick for availability.

You know how it is when a new spot opens -- it loads up on cool DJs and conceptual one-time events to build a buzz, but eventually organizers reduce their ambitions to the lowest common denominator just to stack bar receipts. We're pleased that Science Club hasn't succumbed to that common trend. It's been over two years, and the planners are still sticking to their guns, promoting interesting, progressive sounds in a low-pressure but stylish environment. Tonight at the Formula, you can explore the electronic reaches of South Asia. Event organizer Vishal Kanwar assembles a rotating slate of guest DJs who mine dubstep, house, breaks and hip-hop for their selections. Desis looking for a creative space, general seekers of left-field sounds and those just looking for a nice space to have a drink with friends will be able to mix nicely along with downtempo beats and tabla.

Thursday, May 15
Tonight's sold-out Black Cat show is a battle of two very different buzz bands. Australia's Cut Copy (listen) makes the kind of slinky, sexy '80s-retro synth-disco that's so very popular right now, and it's having great success on both sides of the Pacific with its new album, "In Ghost Colours." Black Kids (listen), from Jacksonville, Fla., is a youthful quintet whose irresistible indie-pop single "I'm Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You" earned comparisons to the Arcade Fire and the Cure. It also landed the band on "Bands to Watch in 2008" lists from Rolling Stone and the BBC. While you'll have to get on Craigslist or bum a ticket off a friend if you want to see the show, you don't have to feel left out -- from 10 p.m. on, there's a free party down the street at Redeem with members of Cut Copy (and possibly Black Kids) DJing alongside DJs Will Eastman and Cale -- and there's an open bar! RSVP ASAP.)

Sierra Nevada has been a pioneer in the craft brewing field since the early '80s, and its signature hoppy Pale Ale is a fixture on taps across the country. However, outside of the seasonal Summerfest and wintery Porter or Stout, most people aren't familiar with Sierra's full line of brews, like the brand new Southern Hemisphere Harvest, a pale ale made with fresh hops from New Zealand. (It's fall down there, y'see.) Sierra Nevada's Steve Grossman -- brother of founder Ken -- leads a taste of at least half-a-dozen Sierra beers tonight at the Brickskeller. Tickets are $35, or $60 if you want to hit the Lupulin Slam (see Wednesday listing) as well.

Friday, May 16
The last House of Sweden evening event -- House of Sweden After Dark -- was, to put it nicely, a madhouse. Held at the waterfront cultural space and exhibition center, the February party mixed exhibits by Swedish artists with a DJ and several hours of open bar. For a $10 cover charge. This, of course, led to a packed house, lines that wrapped around the block and a long, long wait to get inside -- some would-be guests stood outside for two hours before giving up. Those of us who went early and made it in, though, had a great time -- the photographs were fascinating, DJ oo7's mix had the crowd dancing, and there's nothing wrong with unlimited vodka cocktails. House of Sweden After Dark is back for round two tonight, and attendees should hope the weather holds: The party's moving up to the rooftop deck, where the awesome views of the Potomac will be complemented by a (cash) bar and DJs spinning Swedish pop music. Inside, there are exhibits to explore, DJs spinning dance music and more bars. Tickets are $20 in advance from houseofswedenafterdark.com (no sales at the door) and attire is "cocktail party."

Fans of Bhangra dance music will have seen us link to a semi-regular party called Bollywood 2 Night in this space before. Full of remixes and classic tunes from the Bollywood and bhangra songbooks, Bollywood 2 Night is a great night of unstoppable dance music, whether you recognize the voice of the great Asha Bhosle or just love Punjabi MC's beats. To celebrate its second anniversary, the DJs are taking over Penang, offering free appetizers (from 10 to 11), drink specials and other surprises. Tickets are $15 in advance from Groovetickets; Ladies who e-mail RSVP@bollywood2night.com get in free before 11.

There are plenty of warning signs about Welsh indie-pop septet Los Campesinos! (listen). First off, they are a septet, which means that a couple of band members are pretty much superfluous. Then there's the exclamation point in the band's name, the fact that all band members adopted "Campesinos" as a last name and that some of their song titles make Panic at the Disco song titles seem brief. It could be the perfect recipe for something unbearably precious and annoying, but the band is armed with the one thing that outweighs everything else -- good songs. The band's indie pop confections are boisterously fun, full of shout-along choruses and bouncy melodies. The Aquarium (listen) and Pash (listen) open at the Black Cat.

Being the offspring of a rockstar can be hard: For every Wilson Phillips or Wallflowers (featuring Jakob Dylan), there's a Julian Lennon, Sean Lennon or Alexa Ray Joel. (The jury's still out on Wolfgang Van Halen, but you gotta figure he wouldn't be playing stadiums at 17 if his dad could stand original Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony.) Now out of Boston comes TAB (listen), a hard-rock power trio fronted by Tony and Adrian Perry -- the sons of Aerosmith guitar legend Joe. A quick visit to their MySpace page reveals a classic stripped-down sound that harkens back to the circa-1970 Rolling Stones, Cheap Trick or Deep Purple and very little that's reminiscent of "Love in an Elevator." The reason we're telling you about TAB is that they're playing at the Hard Rock Cafe tonight to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Admission is $10, and all proceeds go to charity. Arrive early for drink specials and a raffle for a new guitar, but most of all, because this event is going to be packed. Doors open at 9:30, and the band's on at 10:30.

Saturday, May 17
Dear event organizers and assorted local charities,
We're officially declaring an end to Prom Season. (Not you kids that are still in high school -- you're fine.) We figure someone wrote an article in Fundraising Quarterly magazine or on raisemoneyforcharity.com telling you that "The best way to get a lot of people to come out for your event is make it a prom-themed party! (Doesn't everyone wish they could relive those magical high school moments?) Hang balloons and streamers, hire a photographer to take 'prom photos,' crown a 'King' and 'Queen'! Remind attendees that they can drink legally this time! It's even better if you can get a DJ to play '80s music, so journalists will make lazy allusions to 'Pretty in Pink'!"
Oh, hang on -- that's us. Guilty as charged.
The latest '80 prom-themed party -- cue "If You Leave" in the background -- is That '80s Prom, held tonight at the National Press Club, and it's got everything we've come to expect from such gatherings: Five hours of open bar, hors d'oeuvres, a prom court election, photos and a best-dressed contest (hint: powder-blue tux and ruffled shirt or taffeta dress and white shoes, with teased hair mandatory.) Of course there's an '80s cover band -- local workhorses The Reagan Years -- to provide the entertainment, but That '80s Prom is going over the top by hiring the English Beat (listen) -- well, original vocalist Dave Wakeling and his band -- to perform hits like "Mirror in the Bathroom" and "Tears of a Clown" as well as songs from Wakeling's second band, General Public. Tickets are $101 from lindypromo.com. The $150 VIP tickets include an extra hour of open bar, better restrooms and better sightlines.

DJ I-Wah's Tabaq residency helps maintain a foothold of original U Street soul among the increasingly flossy facelifts happening in that quarter. Tonight, his Sacred Art Saturday adds a few extra dimensions in honor of the birthday of Malcolm X. Jali D of Busboys and Poets house band PS24 (listen) joins the socially minded hip-hop duo Hueman Prophets (listen) for a couple of live sets on the second floor, which will be turned into a gallery and performance space. I-Wah, Lance Reynolds, ESCO International, ReWinD and the Ankhitek will handle the sounds, while Adrian Loving of Dissident Display, Charles Jean-Pierre, Monk and Tim Slayton create visuals on site. Entry is free with RSVP to soulcialscience@gmail.com by 3 p.m. Saturday.

What have the area's over-40 singles done without Tommy the Matchmaker? Ever since the Yacht Club of Bethesda's merry king of introductions sailed off into the sunset, there's been a dearth in the market -- and when a matchmaker can claim to have introduced almost 200 couples who went on to marry, well, he's hard to replace. But attention, fans of late-night commercials: Tom Curtis is back, at least for one night, at the Doubletree Bethesda Hotel's ballroom. Tonight's Night of 1,000 Singles, as Tommy's calling it, is being filmed for "American Singles," a documentary on dating in America. While he can't promise you time on screen, at least you might have a shot at love. The night's agenda sounds like a Yacht Club best-of: DJs spinning "oldies but goodies," a group "Electric Slide," men required to wear jackets and ties and Tommy at the center of it all, doing what he does best: "Mixing and matching and connecting all these people." Tickets are $25, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad. Call 301-656-2545 for reservations.

You have to give Comet Ping Pong credit for hosting some interesting shows and with increasing regularity. For a while, everything was Gypsy Eyes-related and although the guys who run that label are still in charge of booking the shows, they've branched out from their roster to bring in some fresh acts. Last weekend it was Urban Verbs and Kid Congo, this weekend it's some weirdos from Baltimore. (As if that even needed saying.) Ecstatic Sunshine (listen) plays the kind of music that, if you don't like it, you might claim isn't really music at all. There are no verses or choruses, just long stretches of ambient noise that sometimes lead into stretches of loud noise. When it works, which is more often than not, it makes you say, "Man, this is niiiiiice." Cex, Tickley Feather and Koko are also on the bill and none of them are much more conventional.

Sunday, May 18
Here's one of our "Catch 'Em Before They Get Big" picks. The War on Drugs (listen) could probably fit into the indie microgenre that David is going to take credit for coining -- scraggle rock. What does that mean exactly? Well, it's kind of scruffy and troubadour-y and will quite likely be affiliated with Jagjaguwar or Secretly Canadian Records (i.e. Black Mountain, Catfish Haven). The War on Drugs comes from Philadelphia with a sound that's very indebted to Dylan, mostly thanks to Adam Granduciel's emphatic vocal style. When the band incorporates electronic elements, such as on "Pushing Corn" from its "Barrel of Batteries" EP, the result is a modern take on Springsteen's "Nebraska." The debut album, "Wagonwheel Blues," comes out next month and it will be all over the blogs. That's a guarantee. So if you want to say you saw them first, catch them opening for Bishop Allen (listen) at the Black Cat. Locals Deleted Scenes (listen) kick things off.

-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | May 13, 2008; 5:31 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Music  
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Posted by: Nadia | May 14, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

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