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Posted at 6:10 PM ET, 03/24/2009

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Kraak and Smaak sounds like a duo, but there are actually three members of the top-notch Dutch DJ collective. See for yourself Saturday at the Eighteenth Street Lounge. (Michel Mees)

Get some culture with your cocktails, celebrate a new cassingle (seriously) from local band Deleted Scenes, welcome D.C. legend DJ Mohawk Adam back to town, catch live music in Foggy Bottom and party with the eclectic Dutch DJ trio Kraak and Smaak.

Pick a Day: Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Monday

Wednesday, March 25
Don't ever accuse of us of not having culture. Tonight, for example, we're all about the ballet. That's right, we said it -- the ballet. Okay, it's really Beer and Ballet, but that's not the point. So what if the fastest way to get us out to the Washington Ballet is to promise us that we can pair microbrews with watching dancers rehearse their upcoming performance of "Peter Pan"? It's a great event, a cool introduction for folks who may otherwise be intimidated by getting dressed up to go to the Kennedy Center to see Septime Webre's fairy tale come to life. Tickets are $25 ($15 for the Ballet's young members group, the Jete Society), and they include beers and snacks. The rehearsal begins at 6:30, and you should purchase tickets in advance.

Thursday, March 26
There's not much in the way of live music in Foggy Bottom -- especially not what you'd expect with George Washington University and all the nearby college drinking dens. That's changing with a new partnership between the GW Program Board the Link, a student-run culture organization at GW, and Tonic at Quigley's Pharmacy, which is offering the bar's third-floor lounge as a place where up-and-coming bands can show their stuff. Tonight at Tonic at Quigley's Pharmacy, hear Lucky Dub (listen), a nine-piece, bass-and-horns-driven reggae and ska band that's played at the Black Cat and the Rock and Roll Hotel, and counts five GW students among its members. The band starts at 9:30, following an opening set by the Miller Band. This show should appeal to the college demographic; it's free and open to anyone 18 or older.

A compelling argument can be made that in 2009, Jay-Z is the G.O.A.T. His catalog bursts at the seams with some of the biggest pop hits of the past decade. But back in 1996 he was jostling for position among a whole freshman class of underground New York rappers trying to break through. "Reasonable Doubt" was the debut full-length that blasted him ahead of the pack and is now considered a must-own record because of Jigga's solo talents and the all-star lineup of producers and guest rappers who contributed. As a gesture of homage, in a show of rising ambition from a local scene starting to get attention equal to its talent pool, a crew of DMV vocalists and producers have recreated the album with new verses and refashioned beats. The behind-the-boards personnel includes Grammy-nominated Kokayi and Wale's go-to duo of Judah and Best Kept Secret. Microphone duties are handled by a cast that includes Asheru, X.O. and Lyriciss. Get the full Reasonable Doubt Remix Experience live tonight at Expo.

While we generally take anything we read on bands' Facebook pages with a grain of salt, Aphex Twin and Autechere are a great reference point for local DJ Outputmessage (Bernard Farley), whose tracks are dense, driving, bass-heavy slabs of electro-house and techno that get crowds heading for the dance floor. (Take a listen on Outputmessage teams with Micah Vellian for a night of beats tonight at Current. To help fight inflation, there's no cover charge, and the all-night drink specials include $6 22-ounce Sapporo cans and $4 sake bombs.

Friday, March 27
What's the most annoying complaint about audiences at D.C. shows? That nobody dances, of course. It's a tired complaint, but a valid one most of the time. But it holds absolutely no truth at a Nomo (listen) show. When the eight-piece Michigan band last brought its Afrofunk-jazz-psych rock fusion to the Rock and Roll Hotel, the moving and shaking was out of control -- in a good way. There were some Elaine Benes-level moves being shown off on the dance floor, but nobody was judging. Nomo's funkiness was simply too supreme to ignore. There wasn't a hint of pretension in the room; the musicians on stage were lost in the music, delivering sweaty jam after sweaty jam while the people in the crowd did what came naturally, even if it made them look like total fools. And because of that, it was one of the best shows of the year. Ra Ra Rasputin (listen) and Funk Ark (listen) open at the Rock and Roll Hotel.

The productions and DJ sets of All Good Funk Alliance (listen) reflect the ecumenical implications of the group's name. Whether the tools are classic analog drum machine loops, samples of dusty breaks, slap bass or brass riffs, it's all good as long as people's hindparts are moving on the dance floor. The sound the group experimented with back in 1999 is now a template used by many who came after them. Everybody Loves Music brings the boys to Eyebar tonight along with Omar Faison and Joe L.

Saturday, March 28
Deleted Scenes (listen) is a band to admire. The local foursome has been at it for a few years and has always gone about things the right way -- constant flyering outside of clubs (not just MySpace and Facebook bulletins), self-booked tours that took them all over the country and a commitment to improving their songs. Even as the band's live shows got better over the past couple years, it was still surprising to hear how well the sound came together on the debut album "Birdseed Shirt." The band's songs are smart and slippery; they don't always reveal their intricate pleasures on first listen. And it's not like there are subtleties for subtleties' sake, a blip here or a layered guitar there just to clutter things up. All of the tricks contribute to making the songs better. There's also a real variety to the songs on the album -- "Another, Worse Cliche" has a jittery jump to it, "Fake IDs" is cathartic indie-rock that doesn't reach so high that it sounds ridiculous, and "Get Your [Expletive] Together for the Holidays" is rollicking fun. How has the band's hard work been rewarded? Why, with a well-deserved rave on Pitchfork and a Saturday-night headlining gig at the Black Cat with excellent national touring acts the Drones (listen) and Pretty and Nice (listen). Good job, guys.

This really is the week when culture and drinking collide. Besides Beer and Ballet (see Wednesday's events), we have the Corcoran's Artini, where 12 of the city's brightest mixologists, including Chantal Tseng of the Tabard Inn, Gina Chersevani of PS 7's and Owen Thompson of Bourbon, will be shaking up special cocktail creations inspired by student works' at the Corcoran's College of Art and Design. Wander around, sample the drinks, grab a snack from the buffet, dance to house and techno music spun by DJ Heather Femia, and take time to explore the new "Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes" exhibition. Tickets are $100 for non-members, which is steeper than many events we feature in this column, but we feel that the drinks, music and scene are worth the price. Dress "creative cocktail festive" for this event, though Fritz will probably just wimp out and wear his tux and claim that's "festive." Get tickets early; there won't be any sold at the door. UPDATE: Sorry -- no more tickets are available. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Kraak & Smaak (listen) is one of the hottest hybrid DJs-with-a-band live acts on the circuit right now, coming off of high profile sets at SXSW and a Jimmy Kimmel appearance. Defying categorization, these funky breakbeat-driven club tunes range from driving and deep to pop and peppy. Catch the duo going back to their origins in strictly turntable mode at Eighteenth Street Lounge tonight.

Tracks. Nation. Poseurs. The Roxy. Fifth Column. DJ Mohawk Adam has been a mainstay at some of D.C.'s big dance clubs over the past 25 years, all of which are long gone, and most of which we young'uns have only heard about second-hand. No matter where Adam's manned the turntables, he's kept to the forefront of the alternative/goth scene and its changing tastes. He was spinning new wave in the '80s, industrial in the '90s and everything from Irish (synthpop) to Slipknot (industrial metal) in this decade. While he's completely fallen off our radar in recent years -- moving to Portland, Ore., will do that -- Adam is back in town tonight, guesting at the weekly Spellbound goth night at Recessions. "Old School Mayhem" is promised, and we're guessing that it's also going to be an old-school reunion. Cover is $7, and there are all kinds of drink specials, including $2 beers and $3 vodka or gin drinks from 9 to 11, and $8 Vodka Red Bulls and "Gothmopolitans" (we kid you not) all night.

Speaking of nightlife mainstays, the monthly Bliss dance party celebrates its 100th event tonight at the Black Cat. The format has changed a bit since DJ Will Eastman launched the "international pop dance party" at Metro Cafe in September 2000, with a growing focus on club bangers and dancefloor-filling remixes instead of the original indie pop and new wave that was the night's original M.O., but Eastman should be commended for having a night that's only gotten bigger and better over the years; The crowds have been ridiculous when Fritz has dropped by in recent months. For tonight's big 1-0-0 -- a lofty status that few monthly dance events ever achieve -- Eastman is . . . hosting what seems like just another excellent Bliss, with guest DJ Jackie O of local nights $weat$hop and Kids opening. As always, doors open at 9:30, and admission to the all-ages party is $5.

Ponytail (listen) is a band that plenty of people will hate. The Baltimore quartet plays zippy, schizophrenic, spaz-metal (phew, got the word "spaz" in there within five words of "Baltimore") that can make your head hurt with its constant twists and turns, and that's not even accounting for vocalist Molly Siegel. For all the sharp and screechy sounds the guitars make, it can't compete with what comes out of Siegel's mouth. She might be saying actual words, she might just be doing some sort of syllable exercises, it's hard to tell. You can't exactly call it singing, that's for sure. But it's a good fit for the band's brand of angular rock, and when she performs she always has this gleeful grin on her face, almost as if she's thinking, "I'm up here screeching like a fingernails-on-a-chalkboard crazed person and it sounds awesome and Pitchfork and bloggers like it, yesssss!!!" Tonight's show at the Kay Spiritual Center on the campus of American University is a free one.

Monday, March 30
There are two of them, they both wear sunglasses, they play fuzzy, catchy songs bathed in distortion and feedback. Yes, it's the Jesus and Mary Chain formula. No, nobody has ever been able to improve on the original. Yes, hundreds upon hundreds of bands have tried. Yes, it kind of gets old after a while, but Crocodiles (listen) manages to make it feel pretty fresh. Songs such as "I Wanna Kill" and "Summer of Hate" help establish the band's antagonistic attitude, but things never get too scary. It may be bubblegum with razor blades, to borrow a phrase from Primal Scream, but it's nothing that will hurt too much. The band just signed with Fat Possum Records, also home to current buzz band Wavves, so tonight's show might be your best chance to catch them while that elevator's still on the first floor.

--Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | March 24, 2009; 6:10 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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Dirty Bombs DJs (Meistro & Deep Sang) are playing before, between, and after the bands at the Nomo, Funk Ark, and Ra Ra Rasputin show @ RnR on Friday. Afro/Latin/funk all night long..

Posted by: YourBoy | March 25, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

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