Bar and club schedules this week are dominated by Halloween parties and Election-watching gatherings. We're not going to list all the All Hallows Eve options here -- click here for a long list, or here for Fritz's rundown of the costume contests handing out the largest prizes -- but we've included a few for the boys and ghouls reading.
Wednesday, Oct. 29
With his manic presence and constantly changing Crayola dye jobs, Elephant Man (listen) doesn't need a Halloween costume. And if the goal is truly wilding out in the club, he's the man for the job. Since his days with Scare Dem Crew, Elephant Man's been focused on sidestepping rude bwoy and slackness lyrics and owning the party niche in dancehall. A heavy squad of D.C. party motivators, including WPGC's DJ Rico and Flexx and DJ Super Slice, will warm up the room before the Energy God goes nuclear at Crossroads tonight.
Whatever happened to punk bands living fast and dying young? The Bouncing Souls (listen) have been making some of the catchiest pop-punk around for two decades now, and they've got plenty of competition in the longevity stakes -- Bad Religion, NOFX, Pennywise (also turning 20 this year) and those whippersnappers in Rancid. What's helped the Bouncing Souls become New Jersey's most popular punks is the perfect melding of mosh-pit-friendly hardcore guitar riffs and pop-tinged melodies, usually with goofy lyrics that everyone can sing along to. "These Are The Quotes From Our Favorite 80's Movies," "Joe Lies (When He Cries)," "Lamar Vanoy," "Kate is Great," "The Ballad of Johnny X," "Kid" -- all classics. Celebrate two decades of pogoing madness at the Black Cat tonight. Strike Anywhere, the Casting Out and Gimme Drugs open.
Full disclosure: The Washington Post Company partners with the Onion for distribution in the D.C. area. Fuller disclosure: We can't think of a better happy hour tonight than the Onion's Society for Beer Enjoyment Happy Hour at Woolly Mammoth, with free pizza and beer from 6 to 8. Local diamond Magnate Ronnie Mervis will be reading limericks -- something to do with that contest that's been running in his company's ads in the Onion -- but serious, free beer, free pizza, and all you have to do is e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Oct. Onion Beer Party" to get on the list.
Thursday, Oct. 30
Every year, we expect to get a call from the Helix Lounge saying, "Nope, sorry, no pumpkin carving happy hour this October -- someone had too many Pajama Party cocktails last year and sliced their finger off," but that call never comes. But we do hear from people who went down to the Logan Circle hotel, made a jack-o'-lantern and had a few beers and a great time. Here's how the annual event works: Thirty pre-scooped pumpkins will be ready and waiting on Helix's patio at 6 p.m. Show up and grab one -- first-come, first-served -- and some carving tools, then take until 8 to create your masterpiece. (You can partake of half-price beer and burgers until the final whistle.) There will be prizes and gift certificates for the winners, so start planning the work of art now, and sneak out of the office early on Thursday to make sure you're at Helix before 6.
If you've ever wondered what a modern day Japanese version of Devo would look and sound like, you best check out Polysics (listen) tonight at the Black Cat. The members of the quartet usually wear bright orange matching jumpsuits and glasses that look like the ones they gave you when you went into the theater to watch "Captain Eo," down at Epcot. Which make them look like, oh, futuristic garbagemen? Their spastic, synth-heavy sound is also a bit futuristic, but with obvious nods to New Wave forebears. Even if the songs tend to blend together, this will be a performance that you will surely remember. As DMBQ proved at the Velvet Lounge last week, the Japanese are very good at taking old American sounds, making them sound fresh and relevant, and then putting on a show. Jaguar Love (listen) opens on the backstage.
Is there anything spookier than a comic hypnotist at Halloween? (Seriously, think about the "tricks" you could be made to do for "treats.") Find out tonight at Solly's, where the Jason Linett Comedy Hypnosis Show brings out whole new sides of audience volunteers. Doors open at 8, and there's a $10 cover.
Friday, Oct. 31
Halloween's on a Friday this year, which means the parties should be even more insane than usual. Bring your costume to work and make an early arrival at the Nightmare on M Street, where you'll find 15 bars between downtown and Dupont Circle offering $2 beers and other food and drink discounts all night.
Savvy rock fans will be thinking twice as hard about their costumes this year, as the Pietasters (listen) are hosting a Halloween contest as part of their 9:30 club gig tonight. First prize: Tickets to every show in November and December, which, as we write this, have an Actual Retail Value of over $1,000. (That figure is for announced shows through December 8, and doesn't include service charges or the premiums levied by scalpers for tickets to sold-out Bad Brains and Vampire Weekend concerts.) Sign up at a table on the first floor, and the audience will decide who takes home the top prize. Aside from folks in terrifying outfits (Zombie Amy Winehouse, Cannibal Meatloaf, the Missing Jonas Brother), the real attraction is the music. Local ska heroes the Pietasters seem to be enjoying a renaissance with "All Day," a new album that's heavier on dub reggae grooves than the lickity-split ska of the days of old. Opening are the Toasters (listen), who recently celebrated 25 years in the business, and the Ambitions (listen), fronted by former Checkered Cabs singer Caz Gardiner, who continue to impress with their smooth, soulful ska sound.
Those of a certain age remember Dick Dyzel as Captain 20, the genial host of afternoon cartoons on Channel 20 (WDCA), and, when we got older, as Count Gore de Vol, the host of the schlocky late-night horrorfest "Creature Feature," which showed some of the worst vampire and zombie flicks ever made. Now tragically off the airwaves, Dyzel -- sorry, the Count -- has taken "Creature Feature" to the Internet, where he does a full show, including interviews, on countgore.com. Since there's no better time to rise from the dead, the Count is hosting "All Hallows Scream" tonight at Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse, where he'll screen films like "Night of the Hell Hamsters" and "Brain Dead" and host live music from Karlos Borloff and the Monsterminators. If you like your horror films b-grade, there is nowhere else in the world you should be tonight.
The Coolout was such a huge success this summer and fall that the Beacon is getting Adrian Loving to recreate the flavor of that rooftop series. The Coolout was notable for its truly mixed crowd -- a rarity for Washington nightlife -- and the unabashed intensity with which folks were getting down to soul and disco classics, Latin house bangers and booty jams. Loving is teaming up with DJ Neekola for tonight's Halloween Hustle, a free night of that same dance floor mix aided by costumed freakitude.
Other ideas that are more than "wear a costume to the club": Halloween burlesque at the Palace of Wonders, costumed salsa dancing with the International Club of D.C., '80s cover madness at Clarendon Grill and an amateur drag contest at Freddie's Bar and Grill. If you must wear that "Sexy [Fill-In-The-Blank]" outfit tonight, there's no better place than Absolute Addiction's Scandalous Halloween Party at the Shadow Room, which combines Mardi Gras and Halloween.
In the interest of fairness, we need to also include the Anti-Halloween night at Strike Bethesda: No Sexy Nurses, no decorations -- just bowling. (If you forget to buy a costume until Friday, then get to the mall and see all the cool outfits in your size are gone, this is the best "actually, I'm too cool for that dressing-up nonsense" alibi out there.)
Saturday, Nov. 1
The big deal event tonight is Hot 99.5's Freek-O-Ween, which is offering a fat $5,000 in cash for the best costume at Fur. (Oh, and the station's "Party Boy" DJ Chris Styles will be spinning hip-hop and top 40 all night.)
Now that he's signed to Warner Bros. and will be teaming up with the likes of Snoop Dogg and will.i.am, a new world of fans might be surprised to learn that Murs (listen) stands for Making Underground Raw (Stuff). Over a long and prolific career, the arboreal coiffed rhymer has been doing just that since his high school rap crew was dropping releases on cassettes and writing a significant chapter of the left coast underground. With what may be the biggest back catalog of his mid-'90s indie hip-hop freshman class, Murs is on the same backpacker-to-rockstar path trod by his Felt collaborator Slug. Murs joins Kidz in the Hall at Rock and Roll Hotel tonight.
Monday, Nov. 3
Galaxy Hut is still one of our very favorite places in the world, but we'd be lying if we said its days as a top music venue weren't long in the past. Live music is down to two nights a week, those nights being Sunday and Monday, not exactly the most showgoing-friendly nights. It's probably the right business decision -- don't scare people away with a cover on heavy drinkin' nights like Thursday through Saturday -- but we miss seeing good music at such a tiny, neighborhood bar. These days it's mostly decent local acts that take to Galaxy Hut's (non)stage, so that's why tonight's show has us excited. The Safes (listen) don't do anything earth-shattering, but they play mighty catchy and often rambunctious power pop, with the hooks and harmonies needed to make that kind of music go down easy. There's also just the right amount of nervous energy and wistful exuberance. It should sound great in the friendly confines of the Hut and to the passersby who shoot bewildered stares through the large window.
Tuesday, Nov. 4
With more and more people projecting it to be an early election night, you don't have to feel bad about wanting to catch a show, especially one as excellent as what the Black Cat is offering. By the time Times New Viking (listen) hits the stage around 9:30, the whole thing could be called. And if it's not, well, sign up for The Fix's Twitter feed or something. You'll be in downtown D.C.; it will be impossible to be out of the loop. And besides, TV coverage just won't be the same without Tim Russert and his dry-erase board. But this show promises to be one of the year's best double bills, a pair of heavily-hyped Pitchfork bands that are actually worth the fuss. Times New Viking plays snotty, squealing lo-fi indie-rock, the kind we used to listen to in the '90s, when people had to use 4-tracks instead of ProTools, when we read Option instead of blogs. But it must be said that aesthetic is just a neat trick without good songs, and among the ever-increasing number of lo-fi acts, Times New Viking still has the best. Headliners Deerhunter (listen) seemed on its way to mere curiousity status despite a solid debut album, mainly thanks to frontman Bradford Cox's bizarre blogging antics, which brought the band more attention than its music. But now he's focusing on the music, and the result is a new double album, "Microcastle"/"Weird Era Cont.," that finds the band moving away from hazy soundscapes with more fleshed-out songs that draw on shoegaze, drone rock and garage rock.
-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
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