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Posted at 6:12 PM ET, 04/21/2009

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Screen Vinyl Image presents "an updated take on shoegaze" as part of the Velvet Lounge's two-night DNA Test Fest. (Eamon Aiken/Courtesy of Screen Vinyl Image)

Celebrate Duke Ellington's 110th birthday, bust out your Members Only jacket for the return of the '80s Dance Party and the debut of a new '80s VJ night with open bar, find your new favorite (underground) band at the Velvet Lounge's two-night festival, check out Poste's new patio (and drink menu) and preview hot new albums by electronica exhibitionist Peaches and teenage New York rappers Fly Girlz.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Monday | Tuesday

Wednesday, April 22
Poste's large, secluded courtyard has been an office happy hour favorite for years, even if the hotel never seemed sure what to do with the space other than set out some all-weather lounge furniture and dinner tables. This year, though, Poste is getting serious with its patio and setting up a full outdoor bar, a wood-burning grill and extra seating. The patio season begins tonight with the Earth Day Garden Party, a fundraiser for FreshFarm Market, which sponsors Penn Quarter's weekly farmers market. For a $5 donation, you get to try samples from Poste's outdoor small plates menu (mmm, truffle fries), a couple of new seasonal punches from head mixologist Rico Wisner, tastes of Virginia wines from the new all-Virginia wine list and a selection of French microbrews. The party runs from 5 to 7.

We've always dug Tattoo for its VJs, who mix and mash heavy metal and new wave videos on the lounge's large flatscreens. Starting tonight, though, Wednesdays are being given over to '80s rock, pop and hip-hop videos for Polyester, a new weekly retro dance party. Making it harder to say no: free admission (and an open bar on Absolut drinks for women) before 11. Spandex, jelly shoes, popped collars and other MTV-appropriate outfits are encouraged. RSVP on for free passes. Bonus challenge: if you solve one of the Rubik's Cubes lying on the bar, you get a free drink.

Swing dancers and D.C. bars have a love-hate relationship. Bar owners are happy that dance events (and beginner dance lessons) bring in curious patrons, but, for the most part, the serious jitterbugs don't drink much heavier than water, knowing that alcohol makes it harder to balance and spin. Bars don't make money, so the dance nights go elsewhere, back to dance studios and private parties where, with the exception of Glen Echo's Spanish Ballroom, it's hard to lure curious newbies. That's why when we hear about nightclubs opening their doors to Lindy Hoppers, we feel the need to be cautiously optimistic, at least for a while. Muse Lounge, which has heavy-hitter international DJs on Thursdays and Fridays, is the latest to offer its space for swing on Wednesday nights. Local DJ Jerry Almonte spins big band and jazz classics from 9 to 11 at tonight's big debut; the $5 cover includes beginner and intermediate swing lessons before the party gets underway.

Thursday, April 23
Last December, bachelorettes and retro music fans were left in the lurch when the '80s Dance Party at Adams Morgan club Heaven and Hell ended after 15 years. This week, it's back -- and just down the block from Heaven. The new '80s Dance Party, held at Saki, will have a focus on New Wave music, though we're willing to bet you'll hear favorite pop hits from Madonna, Culture Club and Duran Duran. Doors open at 8:30.

Is the bands-versus-DJs debate becoming a moot point in Washington rock clubs? Let's hope so: The addition of local bands performing on the Black Cat's backstage whenever the Mousetrap Britpop night takes over the main room is a good start, and events like Bee's Knees at the Velvet Lounge mean you can choose to go see live bands or DJs on different floors, depending on your mood. Tonight's edition of Bee's Knees includes live turns from And the Money Notes (listen), a mix of rockabilly, red-hot Appalachia, vintage country and surf rock, and the acoustic Americana of Person Parcel (listen). Meanwhile, DJs Will Eastman (of the long-running Bliss), Pac Man and Gold Man spin funk, soul, rock and disco in the main bar downstairs. Doors open at 7, and the cover is $8 if you want to hear the bands or $3 if you're just sticking to dance music.

Fly Girlz (listen) is a hip-hop group whose members are all 12-to-14-year-old girls. So, yes, there's some inherent gimmickry, as there is bound to be whenever you have adolescents performing just about anything. But man, the group's CD, which is being released by local experimental label Sockets, is pretty fresh. That's probably how the girls -- Tamera, Tyshana, Vernice, Sharmaine, Ameena and Ashli, all students at PS 284 in Brooklyn -- would describe it, at least. For kids who weren't alive during hip-hop's golden era, they sure are influenced by it. The beats are mostly simple, sometimes spacey, no doubt thanks to the production work of Nathan Corbin from Brooklyn improv-noise collective Excepter. Things just keep getting weirder, right? But it's the girls' rhymes that keep things grounded. They rap about the topics you'd expect -- boys, Brooklyn, low-rise pants -- and if the circumstances surrounding the recording make you skeptical, at least the girls are sincere with their rhymes. They probably don't think that it's "hip" and "neat" that their record producer's part of the Representing NYC project, which pairs native Brooklyn kids up with new-to-Brooklyn artists. They probably just think it's cool that they're in middle school and have a pretty awesome hip-hop album being released. The CD release party is tonight at Red.

Friday, April 24
There's basically an entire year's worth of noisy, weird, and really underground music this weekend at the Velvet Lounge for the second DNA Test Fest. It's hard to find one defining sound for the festival, but that's sort of the point. Sure, most of the bands are loud, a few of them ungodly so, but their unifying theme is simply "good, weird stuff." Friday's seven-band lineup is headlined by a pair of local bands making both figurative and literal noise. Screen Vinyl Image (listen) released the excellent "Interceptors" earlier this year, an updated take on shoegaze with plenty of screaming guitars and foreboding keyboards and vocals. The addition of a drummer has taken the live performances to the next level. It's taken less than a year for True Womanhood (listen) to rise to the top of the town's indie-rock circuit, opening for Times New Viking, Health, Crystal Antlers and more. The rest of Friday's lineup includes the 1930s-style torch songs of Armida and Her Imaginary Band (listen), old-fashioned power pop of the Lampshades (listen) and sludge-noise freakouts of Pygmy Shrews (listen). The main draw on Saturday is on-the-cusp singer-songwriter Kurt Vile (listen) who is about to become your favorite bloggers' No. 1 crush. Unless your favorite blogger is David, in which case he already is. His spacey, fingerpicked, acoustic songs are hypnotic. And it will be the lone break your ears get because the rest of Saturday's bands are skull-crushingly loud. Drunkdriver (listen) sounds like you'd expect a band with that name to sound; Baltimore's the New Flesh (listen) plays hardcore heavy on the distortion and fuzz and Twin Stumps (listen) is so brutal it can only occasionally be described as actual music. You will certainly hear something new over the course of the weekend, that's for sure. Check the GOG blog Thursday for more on DNA Test Fest.

It's Ladies Night tonight at So Addictive, an Internet cafe turned nightlife destination in Herndon, but instead of just offering drink specials, the promoters are turning the turntables over to women, too. DJ Jungle Jessi has spun drum 'n' bass and breaks at pretty much every d'n'b party in Washington over the years, from Buzz to Konkrete Jungle. Christine Moritz, who you might have caught at our most recent happy hour, can be found behind the decks at Eighteenth Street Lounge and at the 9:30 club. Inna K drops d'n'b at nights like Transit and Modern's I Love Bass. Rounding out the lineup is DJ Hunny, who has appeared at So Addictive a few times in recent months. There's no cover, the party runs from 8 to 2, and yes, ladies, you get drink specials all night.

Because of prevailing editorial standards, we're not allowed to write the name of electroclash singer Peaches's biggest single, which appeared on 2000's "The Teaches of Peaches," or its 2003 followup, which hit No. 5 on Billboard's electronic albums chart. Hmm. Peaches has long been known for her frank (and frankly over-the-top) approach to sex in her lyrics and prop-filled live show, and from what we've heard of her forthcoming CD "I Feel Cream," there's not much new here. At tonight's Liberation Dance Party at DC9, local blog is hosting an album release party with a twist: Listen to the full CD before its May 5 release, then participate in a Peach lip-synch or karaoke contest to win the album and tickets to see Peaches at the 9:30 club in June. The organizers will have "the entire Peaches catalog" available; you pick a song to sing, dance and, uh, act along to. (Props and costumes are definitely recommended; the most outrageous performance could win $100 cash.) The evening starts with an open bar on rail cocktails and PBR from 9 to 10:30; the contest begins at 11.

MCs wishing to spit over some challenging rhythms should prime their minds and hit Expo tonight for the Dubstep Cipher hosted by Rosetta Stoned. Never ones to limit themselves to the standard boom-klack on the the 2 and the 4, Rosetta Stoned and the larger Foodchain Collective crew will drop raps over everything from grime to grunge. For the Dubstep sessions, DJs Soohan and Hubsmoke will spin the most recent British underground club sound that slows down UK garage and keeps the thundering, squelching bass and cut time rhythms of drum 'n' bass. If you've got bars, you're welcome to hit the mike.

Saturday, April 25
The greatest musician ever to come out of D.C.? Marvin Gaye, Chuck Brown and Ian MacKaye would all have their defenders, but seriously, could it be anyone other than Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington? One of the towering figures in the history of jazz, Ellington's 110th birthday is on April 29, and to mark the anniversary, the Tom Cunningham Orchestra celebrates with a special night of Ellingtonia at the Glen Echo Spanish Ballroom. A lot of jazz groups cover Ellington, but we've yet to hear anyone who does Ellington the way the Cunningham Orchestra does, with all the drive and verve of the '40s originals. Yes, you'll hear "Take the A Train" as couples take to the floor at the 1930s ballroom tonight, but watch out for lesser-known gems like "Johnny Come Lately" or "Jumpin' Punkins" that will have folks dancing just as hard. The dance lasts from 9 to midnight, and the $15 tickets included a one-hour beginner swing lesson.

At the old Kaffa House dancehall jams, party goers would show their enthusiasm for the riddims by literally pounding holes in the walls. Hence the term "bashment." While Almaz occasionally hosts reggae parties, there's generally a dearth of the sound on U Street. If you're missing that flavor, DJ Fiyaman and DJ Underdog thrown down dancehall, dub and roots at Liv tonight for Basement Bashment.

The Jimmy Fallon gig hasn't slowed down the schedule of Roots drummer ?uestlove, nor has it diminished the affection he has for leaving the drum kit to hit the club with every style in his encyclopedic music collection. DJ ?uestlove gets the whole 9:30 club to himself tonight to rock the dance floor.

Monday, April 27
The latest show in the Sad Crocodile (listen) Solly's residency offers an opportunity for local music fans to hear members of a couple of the city's better bands in a stripped-down, setting. Joining the weepy reptile for his record release show will be Dan Schuermann, singer/guitarist for Deleted Scenes (listen), who David wrote about just last month. He doesn't do the solo thing too often, so if you're a fan, you'll want to check it out. Two members of Greenland (listen) will also take the stage and play some quiet, clever, moving tunes. It's free and starts around 9.

Tuesday, April 28
If you read David's stuff over at Post Rock -- if, ha, of course you do! -- then you're probably still laughing at that Psychedelic Horse[expletive] (listen) interview from a month ago. You know the one, where Matt Whitehurst, the very opinionated singer for the Columbus, Ohio, group spoke negatively of current "it" bands Wavves, Vivian Girls and No Age as if the members of those bands had killed his puppies. It's an entertaining read, even after the first dozen times, no matter whether or not you agree with his assessment that those bands are lo-fi imitators and talentless hacks, or if you even know what lo-fi is. If you don't know what lo-fi is, then seeing the band at the Velvet Lounge should give you a good idea. PH's songs are messy things. The hooks are there, but they are usually buried under some nasal vocals, harsh keyboards, blasts of guitar and, uh, the occasional bongo. There's certainly nothing stylized about PH's take on the most classic of indie rock sounds. It's warts and all, and that's a good thing. Catch them at the Velvet Lounge.

--Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | April 21, 2009; 6:12 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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that Psychedelic Horse interview was the best ever, laughed out loud at work

Posted by: gbethc | April 22, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

RE: Rhome's preview of Basement Bashment @ Liv

Almaz does more than occasionally host a reggae party. In fact, Dancehall Thursdays has been held at Almaz every Thursday (even Christmas & New Year) for the past year. The party starts @ 10pm (though folks don't start pouring in 'til midnight) and features the sounds of Spyda the dj, Nemesis, and Majestic (Blue Print Sound). Free admission all night!

The music is great and the crowd is laid back and casual. I hope Rhome and the rest of the crew checks it out one day soon. I think they'll enjoy.

Posted by: darknstormy | April 23, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

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