An extra-long weekend starts with DJs, cover bands and charity at night-before-Thanksgiving parties, then moves on to flashback '80s go-go, an event dedicated to hits of the '90s, the premiere of the D.C.'s first dueling piano bar and a chance to see some local bands you have have been neglecting.
Wednesday, Nov. 26
We've written about Scythian a number of times in this column -- there's just something about an Irish band filled with classically trained musicians who'll take Pogues requests, lead the crowd in drinking games, bust out some rebel songs and play a medley of klezmer songs -- all in the same set. But since the band split from a weekly gig at Fado earlier this year, it's been playing the festival circuit and even opening up for the pope in Australia, leaving poor D.C. barflies to wonder when they'd get to mosh along to "Tuesday Morning" again. Well, the band is back at Fado tonight for a special holiday show, and if it's anything like last year's, you won't want to miss it: The extended medley of holiday hits was hilarious and heartwarming. Tickets are $5. The show's at 9:30. Get there on the early side or get shut out.
DJ Chris Styles of Hot 99.5 is headlining the 18-and-over Butterball Bash at Fur, so expect plenty of hip-hop and top 40 dance music on the main floor. Admission is free for everyone 21 and over before midnight, and $4 drink specials will be offered all night. If you're under 21, get on the guest list for reduced admission.
The annual Thanksgiving Throwdown at Clarendon Ballroom features Dewey favorites Kristen and the Noise rocking covers back to the '80s, DJ Pat Premier spinning between sets and a casually dressed crowd that alternately dances and flirts at the bar. The party runs from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., but this is one of those "$5 early, more later" deals where the price goes up intermittently throughout the night. If your budget's tight, try to get there before 8. Even better: Bring two cans of food, which will be donated to the Arlington Assistance Center, and get $5 off your admission.
A party called "Funksgiving" may make you roll your eyes, but the music being played at Local 16 will make you roll your hips on the dance floor. The Deep Crate Collective spins all over the musical map, laying out old-school funk and R&B grooves at Marvin, Science Club and Saint-Ex. DJ Nitekrawler, meanwhile, played an extremely heavy set of D.C. soul and funk at the Stop Smiling album release party a few weeks ago that even managed to get some of the self-conscious hipsters to shake their tailfeathers. Put 'em together and you've got a sweaty night of dancing that should leave you good and hungry on Thursday.
Drum 'n' bass fans are thankful that Modern has picked up the slack since Five's (still unresolved) summer closing, bringing some big names but also giving local talent a place to shine. Tonight's Give Thanks is the excuse to give back. The 2Tuff Soundsystem are proven veterans in this town, and the lineup is littered with names worth checking out, including the headlining "battle" between DJs Slant and Bjoo, and the penultimate breaks matchup with Ray Casil and Dan Soda. For $5 -- and with no dress code -- you can't go wrong.
Your mom probably used to say that "a good deed is its own reward," or some variation on that theme. Here's a place where we can say, "Mom, you're more right than you know." At the Republic tonight, the staff is collecting canned goods for Food and Friends, who'll make sure someone less fortunate has a happy Thanksgiving. Bring some grub and you'll get an extra reward: you'll get into the club for free.
If you want some making out to go with your guitar shredding prog-indie, well, you have very specific desires. Might not want to pigeonhole yourself so much. But man are you in luck, because Marnie Stern (listen) is coming to DC9 tonight, and her kissing booth is open. Before we get to that second part, Stern is a real life guitar hero, someone whose shredding would make her Jaxx material. Except she's not on Roadrunner, she's on Kill Rock Stars, and her songs, while plenty anthemic, are also plenty weird. Just like her recent album title, which has given music writers with strict word-count limits more fits than any album since that Fiona Apple one. (For the record, the title is: "This Is It And I Am It And You Are It And So Is That And He Is It And She Is It And That Is That.") As for that kissing booth thing? Well, as Stern explains it to Express, it was done because charging $10 for admission just doesn't cut it these days. Especially when you get $300 speeding tickets. So for $1 you get a peck on the cheek. For $3 you get a kiss on the lips. And for $100 you get some tongue. Between this and Amanda Palmer of Dresden Dolls offering to go topless for a $500 donation to charity, it looks like we have a bizarre new trend on our hands. But one that plays out perfectly for dorky dudes who belong on "The Pickup Artist" and who have been saving up their allowance money.
Three local bands on the backstage of the Black Cat on a weeknight. OK, that's nothing new. What's most interesting about tonight's show is the cost -- $4. Usually a local two-band bill on the backstage is $5; when it's three bands it's usually $8. But the band's on tonight's bill -- kinda Replacements-sounding Petworth (listen), arty post-punkers Gist (listen) and shoulda-been-around-when-Simple-Machines-was-still-a-label rockers the Andalusians (listen) -- wanted the cheapest ticket price possible and the club agreed. Hence, $4. So it's cheaper to see three quality local bands than it is to buy a Red Stripe.
Thursday, Nov. 27
If you want to hang out with friends who are in town for the holidays, are a D.C. orphan on Thanksgiving or just need to get out of the house after spending the day eating turkey and listening to your uncle's overlong stories, make sure you read Fritz's blog post about bars that will be open tonight. A lot of big names, including Buffalo Billiards, Eighteenth Street Lounge, Lucky Bar and Bourbon will all be shut for the holiday.
Soul Baby is a tradition that stretches back to State of the Union days, and although we're in the middle of uncertain times, it's an institution that hasn't failed. The formula is old friends getting together to boogie to a house party mix of classic hip-hop, soul, dancehall and R&B, served up for this session at Eyebar by Qool DJ Uncle Q. The Groove Gangster has been on the move in New York, but he still touches down in D.C. to rock with family, who remember his fantastic Living Room parties.
Street performer, battle rap veteran and all-around fun-loving friendly guy Flex Mathews wants you to make some space at your table for extra servings of beats and rhymes tonight. The Handsome Grandson has assembled a second family of D.C. hip-hoppers for Turkey Day Hip-Hop at Chief Ike's. The Unknown, whose beat tapes are becoming hot commodities, will be rocking his newest creations and crowd favorites from a battery of sound modules. J. Laine splits his talents between drums and chopping up funk breaks for his rhythmic études. And joining Flex on the mike is guest-from-New-York Homeboy Sandman with DJ Vroc on the wheels.
Our 30-and-over native D.C. crew should be flooded with memories at the mention of the Black Hole or the Ibex. You might have owned a Run Joe shirt with Mickey Mouse on it. You probably did the Happy Feet dance and you can use the term "Be Bumpin' Fresh" without irony. Or you might have no idea what any of that means and you're one of those folks who lives in D.C. but still hasn't had a serious go-go experience. Either way, tonight's Thanksgiving Night Old School Reunion is for you. Mirrors will be crankin' with Publicity Band, a Sugar Bear-fronted E.U., James Funk and Lil' Benny joining forces with Proper Utensils and DJ Supa Dan on support. No athletic wear, please.
Friday, Nov. 28
At the last No Scrubs party on the Black Cat's backstage, a large percentage of the kids getting down to Bel Biv DeVoe, Nirvana, Boyz II Men and House of Pain in the middle of the dance floor had the big tell-tale Xes on their hands, meaning they were probably in elementary school when most of those songs were hits the first time around. (Raiding your older sibling's tape collection: Awesome.) DJs Brian Billion and Will Eastman keep the hits on lock all night at this semi-annual party, which is probably why the line is generally long enough to run right down the middle of the Red Room. They've moved up to the club's main stage this time, but we still expect it to packed with fans of all ages.
Good news for bachelorettes and the bridesmaids who have to plan their parties: The Washington area has its first dueling piano bar. Bobby McKey's, the new addition to National Harbor, works exactly like you've seen in the movies: Two guys on stage take requests from the crowd, make jokes and everyone sings along. (We haven't been yet, so we can only imagine.) To mark its grand opening weekend, the club is waiving its $10 cover charge tonight and Saturday, and there will be drink specials all weekend long. Pile your girlfriends into the car, head down to Oxon Hill and sing along to Billy Joel until you can't sing any more.
Touring acts usually take a break once it gets to holiday season, so this serves as the perfect time to check in on some locals that we may have taken for granted lately. Rhodes Tavern Troubadours (listen) have found plenty of success doing the kids music thing lately, so that means there have been fewer opportunities to see the scene veterans do their roots rock thing, which they happen to do better than pretty much anyone in town. So after you've had a full day to recover from gorging yourself on turkey, check out the RTTs at Iota. Make sure that tryptophan has worn off, because this won't be a low-key evening. The Troubadours will be joined by members of King Soul (listen) for a rootsy, soulful throwdown at Iota.
Saturday, Nov. 29
Appreciating the locals, redux: J.P. McDermott and Western Bop (listen) play hot and fun rockabilly tunes, and they play them so often that it doesn't really qualify as news when the band plays a gig. So while we've mentioned them in this column plenty of times, they can still get a bit overlooked. So if you're guilty of that, head over to the Quarry House Tavern to dance the night away to some Hank Williams, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly and Elvis songs done right. J.P. will play sans Western Bop on Sunday night at Wonderland if you just can't get enough.
Sunday, Nov. 30
Q-Tip's "The Renaissance" is the most pleasing rap record you can get your hands on in 2008. It seems like nothing can make Tip veer off of the path of his internal creative compass. Not the silly "swagger"-obsessed rap scene that has a Q-Tip contemporary like LL Cool J determined not to act his age. Not the retro chic that has new acts mimicking styles Q-Tip was already shedding by the time A Tribe Called Quest dropped its first album. Label woes and the legacy of a back catalog that some fans won't ever move beyond can confine ones's creativity, but in 2008 Tip has sharp raps, jazzy beats and a quiet confidence that is decidedly forward-looking. The Abstract Poet shares the 9:30 club stage tonight with rap progeny the Cool Kids and Pacific Division.
-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
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