How do we begin to list the awesomeness that is this week? A certifiably insane night of rock at the Black Cat, a full day of Caribbean flavor at the Crossroads, two days of microbrews and music at the NoVa Beerfest, the Godfathers of Afro-Latin music, Britain best female soul singer, 45 bands in one night at the French Embassy, a masquerade night for charity at Josephine and the first concert of the Fort Reno season.
Oh, and then there's the Hirshhorn After Hours. Read on for more details . . .
Wednesday, June 18
Tonight's show at the Black Cat is technically on the mainstage, but will that stage even be used? The F Yeah Tour promises to be one of the summer's more insane nights of music, and much of that music will be emanating from the floor right in front of the stage. We've talked about the insanity that is Monotonix (listen) before; here's a live review David wrote a few months back, for a refresher. Cliffs Notes version: fire, beer poured down pants, garbage dumped on drummer's head, sweaty, hairy, riffy, middle of the floor, awesome. The Death Set (listen) usually plays its iPod-party-punk-hip-hop hybrid thing right in front of the stage and it always gets people jumping around. Dan Deacon (listen) headlines the whole affair, and his hyperspeed electro-indie jams have been proven to get the masses plenty sweaty. Matt and Kim (listen) might actually use the stage, and the semi-spastic keyboard/drums routine reminds us of a more hyper (there's that word again) version of locals the Aquarium. There's a lot going on, so things start very early -- 7 p.m.
What would you do for an hour of free cocktails? Would you -- shudder -- do a shot of Jagermeister? It's among the foulest stuff on earth, even when chilled, but for free drinks at the Rock and Roll Hotel, even we might consider doing the shot. Might. This is the entry fee to the Hotel's newest happy hour, Not Dead Yet: Down a few ounces of Jager at 8 p.m., then get free rail drinks until 9, $3 Miller High Lifes and mini-glasses of champagne from 9 to 10, and then $2 shots -- bartender's choice, so hope it's not more Jager -- until close. Meanwhile, DJs PM and the KO Kid spin soul, rock and funk. The only cover charge is $6 for that first shot of Jager.
We live in an era of instant nostalgia, so reminiscing for something from as far back as 2001 really doesn't seem too bad. That's when the Strokes' debut album, "Is This It?" shook up the music world, launched indie into the mainstream and kickstarted the current Hype Machine culture. But besides all of that, it was a really great album, all rockin' and brash and full of youthful exuberance. That's the way to describe the self-titled debut by the Muslims (listen). You've got to have a serious amount of swagger to call your band the Muslims (they are four very non-Muslims from San Diego) and the band does a great job of taking standard indie/garage rock and making those songs crackle with vibrancy. This is one of those Band to Watch situations. The Browns (listen), purveyors of some charming, lo-fi goodness, open at DC9.
Thursday, June 19
Salsa is a fusion of Western music with the rhythms African slaves brought with them to Cuba, and it morphed more solidly into its modern format once the Puerto Ricans in New York got a hold of it. Senegal's Orchestra Baobab (listen) is rooted in this blended sound: since 1970, it's thrown intriguing twists and turns into the cross-Atlantic story of Afro-Latin music's evolution. This pioneering group took the Cuban music that was dominant in Dakar in those early days and adapted it to their native languages, infusing it with elements such as Ghanaian high life and Congolese rumba. The Orchestra Baobab experience of today is a masterful trip through the rhythms of the continent where Spanish, Portuguese Creole, Wolof and Mandinka seamlessly interact. And the group can still generate sizzle for rumberos y salseras. You can experience these legends of African music at the Birchmere tonight.
Posh fills a rare and much needed dinner and dancing niche, so it's great to see the Groove XM Live Funk Fest Dinner Dance Party going down tonight. XM's B.K. Kirkland -- formerly of WHUR, with over 30 years of radio funkology on his resume -- hosts an evening of Cameo, Bohannon, War, Brothers Johnson and anything you can think of that might inspire freaking, bumping or a Soul Train line. Vintage outfits are requested but not required, otherwise make it chic.
We've not been shy about our praise of classically trained Irish party band Scythian (listen) in these pages -- seriously, very few bands generate the kind of excitement that this foursome does when they reel off jigs, Pogues covers or even klezmer tunes -- but they've recently given up their weekly Fado gig to spend the summer touring across the U.S. (Next month, the fellas are heading for Australia to perform for the Pope on World Youth Day.) Tonight, though, you have one last chance to see them on Seventh Street before they set out. So if you need your fix of drinking games, Irish rebel songs and the best fiddle playing in D.C., head to Fado. The music starts at 9:30.
Friday, June 20
When Buzz disassociated itself from Fur Nightclub earlier this month, it punched a couple of holes in the popular electronic night's calendar, leaving dance music fans to wonder what was going to happen to some of the shows that had already been announced. Thankfully, most of the already-scheduled events have found a home at alternative venues. One of the most interesting will be tonight at the I street lounge Eyebar, which is more associated with lounging Euro-hipsters than hard-rocking party DJs, but that's what they'll get when England's Freestylers (listen) join a half-dozen locals, including Ken Lazee, Proxxy and Daniella Downs. The Freestylers have been at the forefront of the English hip-hop-meets-breakbeat scene for a decade, mixing up a kaleidoscope of sounds to create groove-heavy beats that are perfect for the dance floor -- think a heavier Fatboy Slim clued into old-school b-boy culture. The group's latest single, which blends its own "Push Up" with Cameo's classic "Word Up" is as irresistible a slice of funk as you'll hear this year. (Check it on Freestylers' MySpace page.) Tickets are $10 if you e-mail email@example.com and arrive before 11; it's $15 otherwise.
Every June, France welcomes the summer solstice with a nationwide festival of music. The Fete de la Musique, held on June 21, finds amateur and professional musicians alike filling city squares, town halls, parks and nightclubs with music all day and night -- most of it free. It's a little pricey to fly to Paris in mid-summer, so D.C.'s French cultural institutions try to bring the spirit of the event to Washington this weekend.
First up is tonight's Fete de la Musique soiree, which the Alliance Francaise hosts at its Kalorama headquarters. The afternoon begins with activities for children and parents from 5:30 to 6:30 -- the kids can make their own instruments, then play them with professional musicians. Between 6:30 and 8:30, local bands perform indoors and out -- the Hot Club of DC plays its own brand of Django Reinhardt-inspired "gypsy jazz" in the Alliance's living room area while the rock group Laissez Passer performs in the parking lot of the neighboring Embassy of Barbados. Soulful singer-songwriter Ne'a Posey (listen) performs at 8:30, followed by a set of hip-hop and funky grooves from WPFW DJ (and Marvin resident) JahSonic (listen). Admission is free before 8:30 and $10 after. Food and drink will be available for sale.
Making it as a band in the hip-hop music business is a pretty rough row to hoe -- well for any group that isn't the Roots. Musicianship, lyrical depth and humor are not what's hot in the rap game. Despite all of that, Mello-D and the Rados (listen) haven't done too badly for themselves. Their tour schedule stays full, with international jaunts that have included a trek to Brazil. They accomplished the amazing feat of landing a video on BET that featured nary a nude butt cheek. And they've got KRS-One on their new album. They'll be rocking with Jali D. and Bomani "D'mite" Arah to celebrate the record's release party at Velvet Lounge tonight.
The latest installment of the Hirshhorn's ever-popular After Hours series marks the introduction of the second part of the museum's "The Cinema Effect: Illusion, Reality, and the Moving Image" exhibition. "Part II: Realisms" uses works by international artists to "investigate how cinema communicates, amuses and critiques by complicating the relationship between fiction and reality." Okay. Well. Anyway. The party, which runs from 8 to midnight, provides a chance to check out the museum's latest acquisitions, view Amy Sillman's "Third Person Singular" exhibit, and enjoy some of the best arty-hipster people-watching of the year. The music comes from the very catchy Maxi Geil! & Playcolt (listen), a new-wave-style band from (where else?) Brooklyn, and D.C.'s own DJ People's Champion (listen), the founder of the regular Transatlantic and See You Next Tuesday dance parties, who's getting ready to pack up his electro-house records and move back to Berlin. Admission to After Hours is $10, and if you're smart, you'll get tickets in advance. Long lines and sold-out signs are no fun at all.
Saturday, June 21
There's only one more week left until the costumed dancers of the D.C. Caribbean Carnival rule the streets of Northwest D.C., but you can start getting in the spirit today and tonight at the Crossroads. From 2 until 8, the annual Pan Jam Festival takes over the club's large parking lot, featuring music by a number of steel pan orchestras from D.C., Maryland, Virginia and New York. There's food, drink and plenty of island rhythms.
Then, after dark, it's time for De Fireman to light up the club. Few of Jamaica's musical stars blend roots reggae and dancehall as stunningly as Capleton (listen) or spit fire the way he does on hits like "Jah Jah City," "Dis the Trinity" or "Sunshine Girl." His tunes have gotten a little more predictable over the last three albums, but live, he's still a forced to be reckoned with.
Today is the day for the Fete de la Musique in France, and at the Fete de la Musique in D.C., 45 different bands and performers -- jazz, rock, folk, classical, pop and world -- take to multiple stages in the French Embassy's gardens between 5 and 10; The evening's schedule also includes DJs, musical activities for children, and salsa and merengue dance lessons. Champagne, wine, beer and coffee are available from bars around the outdoor courtyard, while chefs prepare barbecue and other dinner and snack items. Tickets are $5 in advance from the Maison Francaise Web site, or $10 at the gate if any remain.
Almost four dozen American breweries are bringing their beers to Leesburg this weekend for the first Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest. You'll find microbrews and craft beers from all over the country, as well as Budweiser and Coors -- since, you know, you've probably never tried those, or their offshoot beers like Blue Moon or Shocktop. Skip the big guys (Yuengling? Seriously?) and enjoy tasting products from Lancaster Brewing Company, Lexington Brewing Company, Weeping Radish or Mendocino Brewing Company. A good number of Virginia breweries are represented, including Starr Hill, Blue and Grey, St. George and Williamsburg Ale Works. Admission is $20 in advance or $25 at the gate, which includes a tasting glass and four 6.75-ounce tastes. Additional beer tasting tickets are $1 each. Besides beer, the festival includes live music by the zydeco-loving Crawdaddies (listen) and a number of pop-rock bands from the NoVa circuit, including Everyone But Pete and Road Soda. We shouldn't have to tell you not to drink and drive -- y'all are adults -- but if you can't find a designated driver, check out a bus trip organized by Party DC, which offers transportation from the Front Page in Ballston.
Sunday, June 22
Forget about Joss Stone. Or maybe you've forgotten already. That's cool. Natasha Bedingfield is nice. We're not mad at her, but she's no Alice Russell (listen). Amy Wino, well, just pray for her. Leona Lewis is no Alice Russell either. Basically, if you're following these British soul singing exports and you don't own an Alice Russell record, then you're on the remedial plan. Maybe it's because she doesn't have all the media hype that her compatriots have, but her bluesy ballad "Hurry On Now" did get some Starbucks love. The diminuitive belter has released three solo albums on the boutique label Tru Thoughts; recommending a favorite is too Solomonic a task, so just seek them all out. You'll be rewarded with addictive nuggets of electronica, jazz and blues delivered by a voice that can alternately raise rafters, soothe babies or bond lovers. Bonus fan points alotted for copping her releases with bossa nova and acid jazz outfit Bah Samba or her many collaborations with beat scientists like Re:Jazz or Quantic. Russell will be making her second Washington appearance at Bohemian Caverns tonight. The last time around she was overwhelmed that all these strangers knew all of her music and showered her with love. Her shyness didn't prevent her from bringing down the house, and this time it'll be like home.
Tonight's your chance to get a little decadent at Josephine for a good cause. Le Bal Masque is a black-tie-optional, masks-required masquerade to raise money for M.E.D.I.C.O., an organization that provides emergency medical services in Honduras. (Dr. Frank Duggan, who works in the E.R. at Inova Fairfax, says the goal of tonight's fundraiser is to adopt a village that doesn't have access to medical care and to build a health center or mini-hospital there.) DJ Teresa, who spins at the club on weekends, provides a mix of house and electronic music. Individual tickets are $20 each, while table reservations are available for a minimum of $1,000 (tax-deductible) for a party of 10. (Order both in advance on the event's Web site.) If you don't have a mask, Duggan says there will be a supply of hand-painted paper mache masks at the door for $10 each.
Monday, June 23
Fort Reno! What else do we even need to say? Don't worry about the arsenic, just worry about what kind of ice cream you'll buy from that dude in the truck. The free series highlighting the city's underground rock scene kicks off tonight with Olivia Mancini & the Housemates (listen), New Rock Church of Fire (listen) and Evolution. Even if you've never heard of the bands -- and there are more of those than usual this year -- there are few better D.C. traditions than lounging on the grass and taking in some tunes.
-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
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