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Posted at 4:54 PM ET, 08/ 5/2008

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

We'd suggest not wearing an "EZ Duz It" shirt to Avenue on Saturday, unless you're looking for trouble with O'Shea Jackson. (Columbia Pictures)

Ice Cube comes to town, comedy and trivia meet at the Improv, live music returns to Comet Ping Pong and DJ Nick Catchdubs proves he's more than Wale's producer.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday

Wednesday, Aug. 6
Neil Hamburger is the best at being the worst. He's the nation's premier anti-comic, succeeding by delivering one groan-worthy punchline after another. He's been doing pretty much the same act for about a decade -- sweating through his old, beat up tuxedo, clearing his throat to block out would-be hecklers and telling jokes like the following: "How many Red Hot Chili Peppers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Well, it depends on how recently they've shot up." It's always entertaining, but it has been a bit old lately. So that's why it's nice to see Hamburger do something new, especially when that something new is a country album. It's as utterly ridiculous as it sounds, as this video for the song "Jug Town" proves. Hamburger doesn't treat the music as a joke. He's actually rounded up an impressive collection of musicians for the album and accompanying tour, so expect good country rockin' with some bizarre lyrics. And don't worry, you'll still get your fill of great/awful jokes, as the show at the Black Cat's backstage will be presented "revue style."

Get yourself in the mood for dccomedyfest with a few laughs at the Improv. It's time for the monthly trivia night, which means you get to test your smarts for an hour before the main event. The game, hosted by local funnyman Chris White, includes video rounds, picture rounds, name-that-song rounds -- a real mélange of styles. White's helpfully put sample questions on his Web site,, for you to practice with, including a patriotic D.C. trivia tour from the July 4-themed game. (That would also be the round where Fritz got a perfect score, but who's bragging?) The $10 admission includes trivia in the club's lounge from 7 to 8, followed by improv comedy on the main stage.

Thursday, Aug. 7
All those anti-Bush concerts back in 2004 didn't achieve their goal of getting W out of office. Which just goes to show that no matter if you get Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and R.E.M. to join forces, it still doesn't outweigh the fact that people don't like to vote for John Kerry. By now most of the rock world has gone on to Obama-supporting ventures (hello, Wilco, Arcade Fire and Decemberists!) but there are still some people hung up on the guy still in office. Thus, the No More Bush tour, which stops by the Velvet Lounge tonight. "Rather than offering balm and apologies to the psychically wounded, we would like to celebrate the pre-dawn of a new day," say the tour organizers. It's going to be a typically out there Velvet affair, headlined by master fingerpicker Jack Rose (listen) full of noise, thanks to members of Charalambides, Double Leopards and Axolotl on the stage. Byron Coley, fresh off his appearance with Thurston Moore at the Corcoran to talk about No Wave, will also be at the club to do ... well, something.

You aren't alone if you thought the Fort Reno series started off a bit slow, but it's picking up steam as it nears its conclusion. Tonight's show features two of our favorite local acts, the kaleidoscopic organ-drum pop duo the Aquarium (listen) along with Julie Ocean (listen) who are making some of the most perfect power pop in this town or any other. Bring a picnic dinner and hope for good weather to go with the good tunes.

Some young hip-hop-reared poets fall into their vocation by default because they have the content but not the rhythmic sense to hack it as an MC. Then there are the rappers whose verbosity can't be constrained by the boundaries of tight meter and who should eschew beats altogether. Baltimore's The 5th L hurdles over both of those pitfalls and stereotypes to craft a live spoken word experience with the energy of hip-hop that could also hold up well in writing workshop critiques. The duo takes the feature slot tonight at Station 9 as part of The Attic series.

Friday, Aug. 8
After a protracted and often ridiculous legal battle, Comet Ping Pong has been granted the authority to present live music. It's a happy development, as the back room of the Chevy Chase, D.C., pizza joint is a nice space for a show, with a decent little stage and enough room to comfortably fit 75 or so people. The sound can be a bit sketchy -- it all depends on the PA brought along that night -- but it's no worse than other PA-less venues around town. Tonight's "comeback show" is a doozy, too, as it features one of David's very favorite bands, Baltimore trio Double Dagger (listen). Oh, the ink, er, Web space David has filled praising that band. But Double Dagger's vicious low-end rumble, using only bass, drums and howling vocals, is one of the most exciting sounds in the underground rock realm. Of the nearly dozen times David has seen the band, there has never been an off show, whether it's been at an outdoor parking lot, the Rock and Roll Hotel or even in someone's basement. Just be prepared to be wrapped up in some mic cords. You've been warned. Local favorites Apes (listen) and Fiasco (listen) also perform.

For a 13-year-old metalhead, the discovery of New York thrash band S.O.D. -- Stormtroopers of Death -- was a revelation. Not only do the songs crunch and roar at amazing speeds, thanks to guitarist Scott Ian, drummer Charlie Benante of Anthrax and Nuclear Assault bassist Dan Lilker, but Billy Milano's lyrics are designed to be as offensive and "shocking" as possible, which means teenagers think they're the most awesome things ever, perfect for repeating to friends over and over. Seriously, 1985's "Speak English or Die" featured the xenophobic title track, the pro-suicide "Kill Yourself," several songs whose titles can't be printed on this Web site, and "The Ballad of Jimi Hendrix," which consists of the first riff of "Purple Haze" followed by the refrain "You're dead!" Once Ian, Benante and Lilker went back to their primary bands, former Anthrax roadie Milano formed a new group called M.O.D. -- Method of Destruction -- that featured similarly blazing music and juvenile lyrics. (Download "Spandex Enormity," "Bubble Butt" or "Imported Society" from the band's 1989 debut, "U.S.A. for M.O.D." for a taste, but they're NSFW if you don't have headphones. Sadly, no old songs are on the group's MySpace page.) M.O.D. and a reformed S.O.D. have toured on and off for years, but M.O.D. has a new album out, the over-the-top and pretty serious "Red, White and Screwed," and the band is promising a mix of new cuts, older favorites and vintage S.O.D. classics at the Velvet Lounge.

Saturday, Aug. 9
Let's be frank: we know it's hard to convince some people to go to go-go shows, because making the effort to see Familiar Faces or Junkyard Band can mean leaving a certain comfort zone. But we also know that the easiest way to get new converts to the music is to meet them halfway. So if you're curious about the new wave of go-go bands, make your way to Jammin' Java tonight, where Mambo Sauce (listen) is going to show Vienna how they do inside the Beltway. One of the finest young go-go bands on the scene, Mambo Sauce mixes percussive grooves, deft rhymes, snarling guitars, a tight pocket and crooning female vocals. One visit to Mambo Sauce's MySpace page and it's easy to see why they were crowned "Band of the Year" at WKYS's 2007 Go-Go Awards.

New York party-rocking DJ Nick Catchdubs (listen) puts out sick, sick mixtapes that find room for Busta Rhymes remixes, thick breakbeats by the Bassbin Twins, wobbly, woozy dubstep from Loefah, Spank Rock hypeman Pase Rock, and even 50 Cent amid the nonstop electro grooves. He's remixed MIA, Clipse and Tittsworth. And in D.C., he's best known for putting his stamp on Wale's "100 Miles and Running" and the new "Mixtape About Nothing" that's such a favorite at Nightlife Agenda HQ. That's why we feel comfortable enough to guarantee excellence when Catchdubs takes over the turntables at DC9 tonight. If you go to one DJ gig this weekend, make it this one.

A lot of us O.G. hip-hop fans haven't listened to a full Ice Cube album since 1993's "Lethal Injection," but we know the real Cube and his trademark scowl have to be lurking around somewhere underneath that successful businessman exterior. We understand that family life and a cushy career can take the edge off of the anger that fueled "Death Certificate" and "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted." O'Shea "Ice Cube" Jackson has said in multiple interviews that despite his multiple income streams, music remains his favored creative outlet. The tricky part is, what half of Ice Cube can still work in the 21st century: the crude yet lyrically adept gangster or the anti-establishment hood rebel? For his upcoming release "Raw Footage," Cube seems to be sticking to the first path. The kids might take to the modern sounding club beats, but let's hope that he rocks the important records like "Jackin' For Beats," "Wicked" and "Check Yo' Self" at Avenue tonight.

We always tell people who are on the fence about live comedy to just take the plunge and go. This week it's easy, as dccomedyfest is all over the city. So pick something that looks interesting and give it a shot. If you're still on the fence, let us recommend the Ruckus showcase tonight at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue. It's headlined by J.B. Smoove, who was almost singlehandedly responsible for the Season 6 resurrection of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" after a couple of down years. As Leon, the brother of a displaced hurricane victim living with Larry David, he stole just about every scene in which he appeared. We have no idea what this show will consist of, but we bet it's a riot.

-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | August 5, 2008; 4:54 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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