Flash back to the '90s at the Black Cat, hear some of the area's best blues artists at an old-fashioned fish fry, rock out at Malitz Fest '08, sail away on the seas of Yacht Rock, catch one of the best Fort Reno lineups of the season, be blown away by funk and drum 'n' bass DJs, and taste Italian microbrews.
Wednesday, July 16
Fritz is maybe/slightly/kinda obsessed with the Yacht Rock web series (watch), a low-budget mockumentary that follows the absurdly comedic musical adventures of Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Steely Dan, Toto and other stars from the late-'70s/early '80s soft rock scene. If you've ever wondered about the story behind "What a Fool Believes," where Christopher Cross came from or how Warren G found his own voice (seriously), you need to watch. But beyond giving us plenty of quotable lines, the series reintroduced the Doobie Brothers, Loggins and Messina, Hall and Oates and Steely Dan to a younger, hipper generation, making it okay to listen to Toto with only a hint of irony. Why else would Cafe Saint-Ex be hosting a night of "Yacht Rock: Sailing in a Sea of Smooth" music tonight? Just watch a few episodes first, though, so when the guy with a Malibu drink at the bar starts oblique references to how "that's what a fool believes," you can tell Fritz to shut up. DJ Rock Chasty -- best known for his role at the Taint night at DC9 -- gets underway at 10.
Although the tools are making it much easier, with technology opening up possibilities that DJs could never have imagined before, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist prefer doing things the hard way. Their battle against complacency is currently manifested in the Hard Sell tour, a precisely choreographed ballet of two DJs dancing among eight turntables, four mixers, a few samplers and effects boxes and a painstakingly assembled arsenal of 45 RPM 7-inch records. It's a display of skill that's compounded in its awesomeness by the collection of vinyl they have amassed. Keeping it in the Quannum family of artists of which Shadow is a member, the Mighty Underdogs (Lateef, Gift of Gab and Headnodic) will open the set at the 9:30 club tonight.
Italian beer has had something of a bad rap for a while. Moretti was just something you got at Italian restaurants to be "authentic" -- much like how no one we know drinks Tsingtao unless they're having Chinese. Then Peroni started popping up on draft towers around town, generally taking the place of the better-known Stella Artois, and comments on the golden lager have been generally favorable. But if that's as far as your knowledge of Italian beer goes, well, that's like tasting Budweiser and Sam Adams and claiming to be familiar with American brews. Get schooled tonight at Rustico, where beer director Greg Engert is pulling out four kegs from the traditionalist Birrificio BEBA brewery, located just south of Turin. Beginning at 6, try two doppelbocks, a German-style Maerzen lager or a pilsner, with Rustico's beer folks on hand to offer guidance and suggestions. There's no cover charge or formal tasting -- this is just a chance to sample a quartet of brews you've probably never tasted before.
Thursday, July 17
David's an easy man to please. Sit him in front of a TV showing a Wizards game with some hot bagel bites and a cold High Life and he's all set. It's pretty much the same when it comes to music. He doesn't need some huge festival with big-name reunions and dozens of bands and multiple stages. A two-band bill on the Black Cat's backstage featuring a pair of indie rock's most overlooked bands is just fine, thanks. That's exactly what's on tap tonight with Love as Laughter (listen) and the Oranges Band (listen) teaming up for what we'll call Malitz Fest '08. Both bands suffer from something unfortunate called Friends of the Famous syndrome, in which their longtime buddies go on to big things while they stay stagnant in terms of popularity. Sam Jayne, the mainstay of delightfully ragged rockers Love as Laughter, played on Beck's 1994 album "One Foot in the Grave," helped get the Shins signed to Sub Pop and has been a sometimes member of Modest Mouse. Baltimore's precise pop kings the Oranges Band have done major tours with the Hold Steady and Ted Leo, and frontman Roman Kuebler played bass with Spoon for a short spell. But the lack of success hasn't hampered either band; maybe it's even served as inspiration. Love as Laughter's recent "Holy" may be a new peak on the band's sixth album. Some of the post-grunge fuzziness has been traded in for more reflective and sometimes even funky -- or at least more percussive -- tunes. The Oranges Band hasn't been heard from on record since 2005's summery sensation, "The World and Everything In It," but if some new tunes played at DC9 a few weeks ago are any indication, the album scheduled for release this fall should be a less breezy, harder rocking affair. The addition of former Guided By Voices guitarist Doug Gillard to provide some scorching lead guitar lines can only be a good thing.
Thursday's is the kind of lineup that makes the Fort Reno Summer Concert Series such a great reliably great summer staple. Forget about trying to find a bunch of bands that fit well together. Where's the fun in that? Just throw some bands together and let the high school kids sort 'em out. First up is We Were Pirates (listen), purveyors of seriously wimpy but admittedly catchy guitar/keyboard indie-pop. It's the kind of stuff that makes Death Cab for Cutie sound like ... well, the next band on the bill, hardcore throwbacks Police and Thieves (listen). If you want a fix of early '80s D.C. pummeling, these guys will provide that. Last up is (the) Apes (listen). Can someone please give us an official ruling on whether there's a "the"? We'd really appreciate it, thanks. The band that still won't use a guitar is still heavier than the vast majority of bands that do, and this year's "Ghost Games" is another sludgy success. Bring a picnic and do your anti-rain dance.
The members of Sound of the City (listen) are the foundation on which a significant chunk of the local soul scene's artists have built their live shows. Keeping a band together often requires highly developed logistical and even psychotherapy skills, but Sound of the City's tight rapport as a unit has helped many an artist avoid those struggles. The three-man core group often steps in for touring artists that can't travel with their own personnel. They've played for Raheem DeVaughn, Frank McComb, Rahsaan Patterson and many more. Having set up shop at Bohemian Caverns on Thursday nights, the band is providing a regular spot for folks to work out in an improv setting, leading a weekly jam session that gives mike time to anyone who can keep up. To keep it even more interesting, the members regularly switch instruments while DJ 2-Tone Jones links it together on the turntables.
Friday, July 18
Scenes from Guru HQ:
David: What are you writing about in the column this week?
Fritz: I think I'm gonna do Andy C at the 9:30 club.
David: Andy C and DJ Dara? I think I saw that lineup at Buzz back in 1998!
David's right, and it's pretty impressive that Andy C is still relevant 15 years after releasing the groundbreaking drum 'n' bass single "Valley of the Shadows" as one half of Origin Unknown. His "Nightlife" mix CD series -- now on volume four -- blends hot performers like Chase & Status with choice cuts from up-and-comers like Sub Focus (who's on Andy C's Ram Records label) and burns up online charts. DJ Magazine's top-ranked d'n'b DJ sold out Five on a Wednesday night on his last D.C. visit, so we bet it'll be mayhem at the 9:30, especially with MC GQ on the mike, and buzz-worthy producer-to-watch Lynx and L.A.'s own Infiltrata on the decks.
As the rescheduling scramble from Five's closure continues, certain events are landing in some interesting places. Tonight Ned Devine's will play host to Clipse, Pharrell's Virginia Beach colleagues in rhyme who cornered the market on cocaine raps in the way that Cypress Hill once dominated the pot-rap scene. The duo will be preceded by a packed lineup of local stars, including DJ Oso Fresh and Flex Matthews.
Rock your Cross Colors and flannels at the Black Cat tonight and be reminded of the days when MTV still played videos. Where some era-specific theme nights might focus on a specific strain, i.e. disco in the '70s, the No Scrubs Dance Party applies today's mash-up aesthetic to the '90s experience, which means you're liable to get anything from Soundgarden to Kriss Kross to Ace of Base. This could possibly give birth to some sort of mosh/running-man hybrid dance. DJs Will Eastman, Brian Billion and special guest Cobra Krames will be piloting the not-so-wayback machine for the evening.
The newest DJ night at the Black Cat is heavy on the usual Britpop, '80s and indie, and ... wait, you've heard this before. Why are we telling you about yet another backstage dance party? This is the debut of Homo/Sonic, an "alternative co-ed dance party for queer folks and their friends." Anything that shakes up the Black Cat's racial/gender/sex balance is cool with us. Homo/Sonic starts at 9:30 and costs you $5.
Finally, a weekend with no rain in the forecast. That's good news for the promoters throwing a rooftop soiree in Rockville tonight, where the Sky Lounge Stoplight Party is taking over the deck above the Arts and Innovation Center for an evening of drinks, music and dancing, sponsored by Skyy Vodka. (Fashion note: This is one of those freshman-mixer-style "red light, green light" parties where you wear red if you're taken, green if you're single and yellow if you're not sure, so dress accordingly.) Tickets are $20 from EveningSocialLife.com if you purchase in advance, and doors open at 7:30.
Saturday, July 19
You could hit the latest lounge tonight, or you could take your entertainment more old-school with the D.C. Blues Society's annual fish fry and concert. A half-dozen bands, including D.C. Blues Festival participants Country Bunker Funky Blues Band and the Stacy Brooks Band, perform from 4 to a time to be determined at Greenbelt's American Legion post, and your $12 ticket includes a fish sandwich as well as the music. Arrive early to cast your vote in the Best Motorcycle contest.
Kissey Asplund (listen) is pretty unique in name, background (Swedish and Grenadian) and sound, which has helped her blast off from MySpace into a league of world tours and constant collaborations with the hottest underground producers of today. She's got jazz experience, but her current buzz is fueled by her spaced-out downtempo electronica cuts. Gilles Peterson co-signed on her, as have Garth Trinidad and Philadelphia's DJ Junior, who dropped a limited edition Kissey Asplund 7-inch that's being snatched up by collectors. For her first D.C. appearance, she's teaming up with Shantell Martin, a visual artist who riffs on VJ techniques by using digital tablets and projectors to create live illustrations in response to the musicians and audience. They'll be taking over Columbia Heights' new communal art space BloomBars tonight.
-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
Posted by: 20 Pearls | July 16, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse
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