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Posted at 5:08 PM ET, 03/31/2009

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

French DJ Sebastian Tellier brings synth-heavy retro lounge grooves to the 9:30 club on Friday night. (Eduardo Hernandez)

DJs, art and drink specials combine on Local 16's roofdeck, Godard Space Flight Center invites you to party like a cosmonaut, UK soul man Omar hits U Street, karaoke and kegs come to Glover Park, hits of the '90s and '00s collide at the Black Cat, a Clarendon Happy Hour helps the homeless and the Brian Jonestown Massacre crashes into the 9:30 Club.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Monday | Tuesday

Wednesday, April 1
Is keg service the new bottle service? During March Madness, we've been noticing more and more bars offering 5-liter mini-kegs of Heineken and other beers tableside. You buy the keg, you pour your own beers and don't worry about trying to flag down a waitress -- until the keg is done. Tonight is the debut of Keg Karaoke Night at Gin and Tonic, which pairs the bar's first foray into participatory singing (expect plenty of '80s) with $30 mini-kegs -- reminder: that's 169 ounces, or roughly 14 bottles worth -- and $4 Absolut drinks. The party gets underway at 8.

Today's freshman and sophomore classes of MCs employ a wide range of tools to draw attention to themselves, from Charles Hamilton's petulant emo shenanigans to the Cool Kids' retro styles and party rhymes. Blu has been swinging the focus back to the West Coast with straight-up real raw rap. He can flip concepts, but he can also go for the jugular. When compared to his left coast forebears, there's a little bit of Del before he got too intergalactic and some of Planet Asia's street swagger. Combined with DJ Exile's classic beat-craft, there's a lot to like in the duo's releases. Get familiar with Blu & Exile (listen) at Liv tonight.

We thought the whole poker-in-bars phenomenon had crested a few years ago, but we still get the occasional e-mail about new nights starting up. Tonight is the debut of Poker Night at McFadden's, sponsored by Show up (and win) often enough at this multi-week tournament and you could win a trip to Las Vegas or a seat at a qualifier for the World Series of Poker. And even if you're not a card shark, there are drink specials to be had, like $3 Miller Lites, Coronas and Blue Moon beers from 7 p.m. on. (To get chips, you have to buy food and drinks.) There's more info on

Thursday, April 2
If you get out weekly Going Out Guide newsletter, the Civilian Art Projects Spring Fling shouldn't be news to you -- Fritz picked it as his event to watch for the week. (If you don't get our newsletter, take a moment to sign up and you'll get us in your inbox every Thursday.) Here's why we're so gung-ho on the event: Take six of the city's top DJs, including Neville C. of Brazilian Rhythms, Nitecrawler of Moneytown and KC of Fatback, and let them set up on Local 16's rooftop deck. Add art by local talents Robin Bell, Luke Wyatt and Kate MacDonnell, serve free hors d'oeuvres and offer happy hour drink prices all night. Raffle off works by local artists, and have the whole shebang benefit the Civilian Production Fund, which gives grants to artists inside and outside of D.C. Sounds like more fun that that same-old happy hour, doesn't it? The $10 cover goes to Civilian, and the event runs from 6:30 to 11.

Before neo-soul started to emerge from R&B and when acid jazz was just coming to these shores, if you were up on Omar (listen) your taste was automatically vetted as refined and hip. Omar's songwriting and vocal timbre remained consistent even as the musical textures of soul shifted, so whenever you discovered Omar, it was a defining experience. While Maxwell and D'Angelo can rightly be identified as birthing modern soul, Omar's catalog matches their work in quality and influencek. The UK soul icon will be rocking with Asheru & the Els as the centerpiece of tonight's Soul Britannia party at the Loft. DJ Jahsonic and DJ Adrian Loving will set the vibe with selections from Omar's peers like Soul II Soul and Loose Ends.

Give Impossible Hair (listen) credit for ambition. The local indie-rock quartet celebrates the release of its highly recommended album "What Is the Secret of Impossible Hair?" with a show at the Black Cat, and then the next week it's off to Europe for a month of touring. For a band with a comfy label deal this might not be such a big deal, but Impossible Hair is doing it all on its own. Hey, there are worse ways to spend a month than driving around Portugal, Spain and Slovenia playing rock-n-roll for the locals. The band's sound hearkens back to those indie rock glory days of the '90s, but with more precision than disheveledness; think hi-fi Guided By Voices production with lo-fi Guided By Voices quality songs. It's a good trade, too, because the songs are simply too catchy to play in a sloppy manner that wouldn't do them justice. The Caribbean (listen) and Olivia Mancini and the Mates (listen) open on the backstage.

When Muse Lounge took over the old RNR/Coyote Ugly/Rock space, we worried that the Curse of Sixth Street was going to take down yet another victim. Crowds and sound have been hit-or-miss on our visits, and yet promoters are still bringing in heavy-hitting house and techno DJs like Matthew Dear, John Tejada and Damian Lazarus. The lounge is going through yet another programming shuffle starting tonight, with hotshot promoters Everybody Loves Music taking over the second floor and bringing in the funky house of Q Burns Abstract Message (listen) and Baltimore's own Lovegrove (listen), while the downstairs throbs to techno and darkly minimal beats spun by Jeremy Caulfield (listen), the Berlin-by-the-way-of-Toronto DJ who has a residency at Berlin's forward-thinking Watergate nightclub. Will this be the format that breaks the curse? Let's hope so. Admission is $10; it's free until midnight if you RSVP on Facebook.

Friday, April 3
A couple of things to tell you briefly about Sebastian Tellier (listen) and his new album, "Sexuality": It was produced by Daft Punk's Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and released on Air's Record Makers label. The CD was available in American Apparel stores for three months before it hit music stores. The track "Devine" was France's entry in the annual over-the-top Eurovision song contest. Oh, and "Sexuality" is a really, really solid summer album, full of warm-sounding synths, old-school drum machine rhythms and breathy French and English vocals about sex and love. Sometimes, like Serge Gainsbourg, he gets a little carried away with his libido -- his song "Pomme" is a second cousin to Gainsbourg's famously explicit "Je T'aime ... Moi Non Plus" -- but the sharply crafted lounge tunes almost always manage to find a hook. Lounge-tempo burners like "Une Heure" should sound incredible tonight at the 9:30 club, but it will be interesting to see if they get the crowd dancing.

People seem to love the "blank vs. blank" DJ format -- you know, Smiths songs alternating with the Cure, Prince being played back-to-back against Madonna, Biggie mixed into Tupac -- even if hit-after-hit-after-hit format can seem at times to be a little too simplistic. At least Brian Billion and Will Eastman, the DJs behind the Black Cat's packed-to-capacity all-'90s No Scrubs and all-2000s Oops... I Did It Again theme nights are trying to break the formula: For tonight's No Scrubs vs. Oops ... I Did It Again, they're alternating between songs of the '90s and songs of the last decade in a pop-centric showdown. Expect to hear more chart-toppers than underground smashes, all mixed into one big retro ball of cheese. (The crowd loves it, too, with screams for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" almost as fevered as those for "Baby Got Back" or "Sabotage.") Get to the Cat early tonight, or be prepared to wait in the inevitable long line.

Saturday, April 4
Hip-hop and basketball have gone together since there was hip-hop, from the b-boy love affair with sneakers to the Fantastic 5 vs. Cold Crush showdown. Satisfy your March Madness and hip-hop joneses simultaneously at the Head ResiNators (listen) release party tonight at The Red & The Black which also features Educated Consumers, MindsOne, and K-Beta. The tvs will be tuned to the Final Four games.

On April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin boarded a spacecraft called Vostok 1 on a launching pad in the steppes of Kazakhstan. Minutes later, Gagarin became the first man to orbit the Earth, and his mission lasted less than two hours. Decades later, the anniversary of Gagarin's flight is remembered with worldwide celebrations of space exploration called "Yuri's Night." While most events will be held on the 12th, which is Easter Sunday this year, the Goddard Space Flight Center is getting ahead of the game tonight. The World Space Party has presentations by NASA scientists, a quiz called "Are You Smarter Than a Rocket Scientist?," live music from local indie rockers Middle Distance Runner (listen) and dance music spun by DJ Scientific. Snack on a Hubble Telescope-shaped cake created by "Ace of Cakes" star Duff Goodman and his team, sip beer and wine, and watch out for the Star Wars reenactors (and their droids) roaming around the party. Tickets are $10 in advance, or $20 at the door.

Monday, April 7
Going to a show hoping to see a trainwreck isn't always the best rationale. But that's what makes Brian Jonestown Massacre (listen) unique. Anyone who has seen the documentary "Dig!" knows the kinda of bizarre antics Anton Newcombe is capable of -- endless, impenetrable monologues, firing band members mid-set, picking fights with audience members -- but even if he's on his best behavior at least you know you'll get some high-quality psych rock. Newcombe seems to have mellowed over the years as he realized his band's music wouldn't be taken seriously if it was just the Newcombe Sideshow, and he's also slowed down. The formerly prolific band has stopped saturating the market lately; last year's "My Bloody Underground" is its first effort in five years. Compare that to 1996, when Newcombe and his rotating cast of characters churned out three full-lengths. To be honest, the new one is kind of terrible, so we hope that the band sticks to its trippy, Stones-influenced oldies when it comes to the 9:30 club tonight. Considering the band's last area appearance was at DC9 (admittedly sold out) and it's been off everyone's radars for a while and this show is on a Monday night, you might be in for a very private performance. Which might lead Newcombe to act out a bit. Not that you should go in looking for a trainwreck.

Tuesday, April 8
John Davis is just one of those dudes who will just always be making music. He's been doing it forever -- Corm, anyone? -- and when one band or project ends, you can be assured that it won't be long until another one starts up. Title Tracks (listen) is his latest, and it's not too surprising that it doesn't find him straying too from the throwback pop sound he favored with Georgie James. That band's star shined brightly -- a national tour with Camera Obscura and a well-received album on Saddle Creek -- but, alas, burned out quickly when the quartet called it quits after that one album. Based on "Every Little Bit Hurts," the A-side of the band's debut single (on Dischord, of course), Title Tracks will easily fill whatever void GJ's breakup left. It's a sunny, toe-tapping earworm that has us greatly anticipating the full-length. Pash (listen) and Authorization (listen) open at the Black Cat's backstage.

On the first Tuesday of the month, La Tasca picks a local charity and donates a percentage of the day's proceeds -- anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the take, depending on total sales -- to the that group. From 11:30 on today, the Clarendon La Tasca will be passing on donations to the Arlington Community Foundation, which provides emergency food, shelter and rent money to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. If you have a standing happy hour date, we'd encourage you to shift it to La Tasca today: from 4 to 7, glasses of sangria, draft beers and house wines are $3 each, selected tapas are $2.50, bottles of wine are $12 and carafes of the house sangria are $13.

--Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | March 31, 2009; 5:08 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Music  
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