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Posted at 5:55 PM ET, 09/30/2008

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Swedish rockers Division of Laura Lee are just one of the attractions at the House of Sweden of Friday -- there's also a fashion show and roofop DJs. (Joshua Kessler/Courtesy of Burning Heart Records)

A diverse Nightlife Agenda column includes a French happy hour at Hillwood, a Swedish concert and fashion show at the House of Sweden, the debuts of a new lounge and new hip-hop DJ night, some Sonic Circuits Festival shows to catch, a rare appearance by Northern Soul legend Lou Pride and a dance party with roof-raising Canadian electrofunk duo Chromeo.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Wednesday, Oct. 1
We got word this morning from DJ Geometrix that Eyebar's grand opening has been delayed. Apparently some elements of the bar aren't ready for the public yet. Stay tuned and we'll let you know when they're in business.
As more and more high-priced lounges proliferate in Washington, the old guard is trying not to be left behind. Dragonfly closed and became Current, and Play is undergoing an extreme makeover that will add an extra floor and more amenities for VIPs. Tonight, you can get your first look at the reborn Eyebar, as the four-year-old I Street lounge unveils a new "contemporary" look and a heated rooftop deck. DJ Geometrix spins hip-hop and reggae on one floor, while DJ Chris plays Latin hits on the other. There's no cover or guest list all night. Doors open at 10, with a premium open bar until 11, so arrive early or get stuck. The dress code is the usual "no athletic wear, work boots or caps," but you probably guessed that already.

In a blog post about debate-watching parties last week, Fritz mentioned Capitol City Brewing Company's new Election Ale, a pale, hoppy beer that hit the brewpub chain's tap handles on Sept. 27. Today, it's being joined by the annual Oktoberfest lager. While the real celebration comes Saturday at the annual Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest in Shirlington, you might want to slip into one of the bars in Shirlington, Capitol Hill or New York Avenue tonight, because Saturday can be a little chaotic.

Thursday, Oct. 2
When Underdog the DJ isn't slinging hot kicks to footwear fiends at Major, he's polishing the considerable selector skills that have had him at the forefront of the local underground hip-hop scene for years. His occasional Just Bcus parties have been his chosen outlet to experiment with crossing genre streams, and he'll be rocking with DJ Cam Jus in that vein tonight for the first monthly Other Side party at Napoleon.

Friday, Oct. 3
The Alliance Francaise is taking its popular Soiree Carte Blanche happy hour on the road again this month, bringing its lively mix of DJs, short films, art, food and drinks to the Hillwood Estate in Van Ness. The museum will be open late for tours, and DJ Herve hosts the now-traditional iPod battle -- bring a playlist of three songs, and if the crowd like it, you could walk away with French lessons and other prizes. You don't have to be a Francophone to sip red wine and snack on crepes at one of the Alliance's events, but it certainly helps. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door, and since the Soiree seems to hit capacity every time, we suggest making reservations at Shuttle buses leave the Alliance's Kalorama headquarters at 6 and 6:30 and drop attendees at the Van Ness Metro Station after the event.

It's been too long since the House of Sweden hosted one of its House of Sweden After Dark events, achingly hip affairs which mix music, fashion, art and a healthy dose of Swedish rock in a gorgeous embassy on the Georgetown waterfront. Tonight's "After Dark in Denim" event features a fashion show with Swedish brand Nudie Jeans, then a performance by the aggressively fuzzed-out Division of Laura Lee (listen), whose love of Sonic Youth-style guitar dynamics doesn't completely hide a pop edge. (See the band's Web site for video previews of songs from its soon-to-be-released album "Violence Is Timeless," including two directed by locals Joe Lally of Fugazi and Shelby Cinca of the Cassettes.) Meanwhile, the DJs from Hej Hej, the all-Scandinavian music monthly at Cafe Saint-Ex, will be spinning pop and indie songs on the rooftop deck. Tickets are $25 and must be purchased in advance; see for more info. (This should help alleviate the around-the-block lines that have materialized at recent House of Sweden events.)

The two music festivals in town this week couldn't be much more different. While the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival will be bringing some class to our town, Sonic Circuits brings plenty of weirdness. Tonight's show at the Velvet Lounge definitely qualifies. Dead Science (listen) may actually be one of the more traditional acts at Sonic Circuits, since the Seattle trio's songs have distinguishable verses and choruses, but those songs will still certainly freak out the squares with plenty of falsetto and fractured, art-rock sensibilities. Food For Animals (listen) do demented hip-hop as well as it can be done, dropping in aggressive noise collages in bewteen the hot beats and rapid-fire lyrics. OK|OK (listen) and Mind Over Matter Music Over Mind (listen), a pair of jazz acts with absolutely zero chance ever of playing Blues Alley are also on the eclectic bill.

When your vinyl addiction crosses over into pathological territory, you can end up hunting down increasingly rarer finds and treating them solely as trophies. That's the difference between a digger gone overboard and a real DJ. In the days before digital DJing, the latter wouldn't lose sight of the fact that a $200 record should still be heard by others. We weren't all brave enough to carry those rare pieces out of the house (that's what compilations were for) but the ones who did were the most principled among us. Moneytown at Dahlak is a party in that spirit. What good is discovering a holy grail record if you only keep it to yourself? Tonight's guest Jason Perlmutter is an expert on regional Carolina soul, doing for those states the same work that Moneytown resident DJ Nitecrawler does for D.C.. The result is a chance to hear and dance to furiously funky records that would otherwise be lost to time and obscurity.

If you're having a bad day, listening to certain music can help change that. For some people anger begets angry music, so maybe that means some Minor Threat or Slayer or the Geto Boys like the dudes in "Office Space." But maybe you want something light and breezy to change your mindset. If that's the case, then the Bird and the Bee (listen) is the band for you. Wow, that should maybe that should be their official slogan. It's pretty fun to say. The band is a collaboration between Greg Kurstin and Inara George, who are backed by a full band on the road, the better to flesh out their sunny delights. So if you've somehow got a case of the Mondays on a Friday, a trip out to Jammin' Java in the 'burbs should cure you.

If you were curious about the multimedia trio from the Fall Arts Preview, then you should check out the closing party for Dissident Display's first show of the season. DJ Adrian Loving will wrap up the run of Space Invaders after a piece and discussion from performance artist Holly Bass and a live set from electronica artist Yoko K (listen).

There's no more appropriate word for Glasvegas (listen) than "anthemic" -- unless you're a hater -- and the Scottish quartet's moody, spacey dirge feels like it should be performed in a venue more cavernous and slightly gothic than the Rock and Roll Hotel (the National Cathedral, maybe?). Fans of the Twilight Sad and early Jesus and Mary Chain should check these guys out, especially the haunting "It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry" and "Daddy's Gone." Hear why the BBC, among others, tipped Glasvegas as a breakout artist of 2008 tonight on H Street, where it's teaming up with D.C.'s own kings of athmospheric, reverby synth-pop, Soft Complex (listen).

Saturday, Oct. 4
Kudos to Comet Ping Pong for finally getting itself a proper Web site. Now comes the very important next step -- making sure events happening there are actually listed on said Web site. Tonight Lou Pride, a Chicago blues-soul dynamo, will be playing at the Chevy Chase restaurant/concert venue, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the Web site. Baby steps, we suppose. It's also nice to see Comet switching things up and booking a non-indie-rock show. If Pride was from D.C. he'd probably be one of those guys who headlines lots of blues festivals and always leaves people saying, "Man, that guy was good, we need to go see more music like that!"

Chromeo is a party band, plain and simple. We're guilty of overanalyzing the Canadian duo's late '70s electro-funk sound, which features reverb-drenched guitars, bouncing basslines that strutted out of a roller disco movie, liberal use of the Frampton-esque Talkbox and the sort of pop hooks you'd find on a Hall and Oates greatest hits album. It's a fashionable style, but the band clearly loves what they do -- check out the video of them jamming (and goofing around) with Daryl Hall. Forget that the 9:30 club will be full of music-blog-reading hipsters tonight and just cut loose, because that's what the music tells us to do.

WRYR-FM is the type of radio station that's near and dear to our hearts: A 100-watt low-power noncommercial broadcaster in Sherwood, Md., on the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay, WRYR's all-volunteer staff fills the airwaves with local music, discussions with local politicians and personalities, call-in shows for parents and much more. (Since 100 watts doesn't carry the signal very far, you can also listen on One of WRYR's flagship programs is Local Lowdown, which spotlights musicians from Maryland, D.C. and Virginia. Doesn't matter if they're bluegrass, hip-hop, metal or reggae. As long as the band is from around these parts and has a bit of talent, host Andy Och will give them a spin. Local Lowdown moves from the airwaves to the streets tonight for the station's annual fundraiser, which finds 10 bands performing an epic 10-hour concert at DC9. We've mentioned a few of the bands before, including the Good Deale Bluegrass Band (listen), featuring Mike Auldridge of the Seldom Scene, among others, and alt-country band Leaving, TX (listen). There's a $10 cover, which helps WRYR pay for streaming Internet audio.

Sunday, Oct. 5
We don't write about sold-out shows because, well, what good does it do you? But we're going to make a special exception for the pair of sold out Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (listen) shows at the 9:30 club on Sunday and Monday. All we'll say is this -- do whatever you can to see one of these shows. There is no more electric performer than Cave, the modern day Marquis de Sade, who happens to be writing the best songs of his career while other musicians his age are relying on playing their "classic" albums to get paid. The Bad Seeds are a musical powerhouse in and of themselves; it's high-class rock-and-roll made by musicians who relish getting dirty. So make a deal on Craigslist, stand outside the club and beg for an extra, just make sure you experience one of these shows. It's been six years since Cave has played in D.C., so who knows when the next opportunity will be.

-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | September 30, 2008; 5:55 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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