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Posted at 11:35 PM ET, 05/12/2009

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Blazing-hot local DJ duo Nadastrom (Dave Nada, left, and Matt Nordstrom) takes over the second floor of Muse Lounge on Thursday night. (Courtesy of Nadastrom)

Get free food and cheap drinks courtesy of the Going Out Gurus, dance to beats spun by hip-hop uber-producer Just Blaze, party with "Newsbabes" to raise money to fight breast cancer, hear D.C.'s hottest hip-hop act of 2009, rock out to indie-punk anthems, hit a new soul night or a green-friendly masquerade ball, and ride your bike to prom at the Black Cat.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Tuesday

Wednesday, May 13
Yes, Game 7 is Wednesday night. Nothing beats a Game 7, especially when it's a heated rivalry like Caps-Penguins, so you'll be forgiven if you decide to bail on any activities that don't involve watching hockey. But as a lapsed Caps fan who had his heart broken countless times by the black and gold, I think I know how this story ends. And if I'm wrong, well, great, there will be another series. But the plan for Thursday is an indie-rock tripleheader, if the set-time gods cooperate. First stop is the Rock and Roll Hotel. Get there early to catch former locals Donny Hue and the Colors (listen), who have pretty much perfected their brand of charming, slightly ramshackle indie-psych-folk. If the sound were more lo-fi, they could be the hip new band on Woodsist. The middle band, Philadelphia's the War on Drugs (listen), is the main attraction. The group's 2008 album, "Wagonwheel Blues," is one of the great road trip albums of recent years, featuring spacey-troubadour tales about traveling highways, coasts and backroads. Much of the album's appeal comes from the staticky, home-recording sounds that complement the rugged folk and give the songs a layer of soothing fuzz, so hopefully they'll be able to recreate those atmospherics in a live setting. Or perhaps they'll just rock out. Either way, the songs are good. The evening's headliner is Rodriguez, a 66-year-old political, psych-rock relic who is enjoying a resurgence in popularity because, well, that's what the Internet does these days. There's no problem with sticking around to check out a minor underground icon whose songs recall the fellow late-'60s outsiders Love. You probably won't get too many more chances. But if you want to catch something a little more current, then hustle over to...

...The Black Cat for The Thermals (listen), who have emerged as one of the most consistent bands on the indie circuit. With the recent "Now We Can See" the trio is a perfect four-for-four when it comes to producing quality records, a rare feat in today's it's-all-about-that-one-MP3 world. The reason is for the band's success is simple -- it has a foolproof formula that it keeps tweaking just a bit. That formula is the hard-charging indie-punk anthem. The songs used to be coated in fuzz and distortion, but the band has emerged from the static to make some clearer recordings, and that just makes the big hooks stand out more. The songs used to be "fast, faster, fastest," but the band has now incorporated some slower, dirgier numbers into the repertoire, and that makes those two-minute blasts all the more furious. After the Thermals there may still be time to catch...

...Azita (listen) over at DC9. Things will have to be running on time at the Black Cat and late at DC9 for the third part of this plan to work, but that's not the most out-of-the-question scenario. Azita should serve as the perfect nightcap for this evening of running around. You know how on MySpace people think they're all clever when they chose "Melodramatic popular song" as their genre? Well, it actually works for Azita, whose bouncy piano pop songs are never as straightforward as they seem on first listen. Her history in Chicago's experimental music scene comes through in the structures of her songs, which take unexpected turns, but her voice keeps things nice and grounded.

In some places, we're guessing, referring to female TV newscasters as "newsbabes" would be considered pejorative. (But hey, if you want to refer to us as "nightlife hunks," please do.) But at Lotus Lounge tonight, a large contingent of D.C. on-air personalities are joining forces to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation as part of the Newsbabes Bash for Breast Cancer. Lindsay Czarniak and Eun Yang of NBC 4, Alison Starling, Cynne Simpson and Pamela Brown of ABC 7, Laura Evans and Sue Palka of Fox 5 and Angie Goff, Andrea Roane and Anita Brikman of WUSA 9 are among those mixing and mingling to benefit the Race for the Cure. There will be free passed hors d'oeuvres and $5 Absolut drinks from 7:30 to midnight; suggested attire is "pink cocktail." Want to join the party? You can pony up $35 at the door to register for the Race for the Cure, or make "any donation" to the charity.

Thursday, May 14
It's the second Thursday of the month, which means we -- the Going Out Gurus -- are inviting you to join us for happy hour. This time, we're throwing the party at the golf-themed Caddies on Cordell bar and restaurant in Bethesda, and we're offering free Golden Tee in addition to the usual drink specials and free food. What's the occasion? Tiger Woods and the AT&T National golf tournament will be returning to Congressional Country Club next month, and we'll be giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky attendee. (We're giving away two pairs of tickets to see Coldplay, too.) Happy hour runs from 6 to 8, and deals include free sliders, wings, quesadillas and other snacks, plus $2 Yuengling and Miller Lite drafts and $12 buckets of beer.

Drop some big names in hip-hop and R&B, like Jay-Z, Kanye West or Mariah Carey, and it's a pretty safe bet that Just Blaze produced a couple of beats for them. As one of the house producers at Roc-A-Fella Records, Just Blaze (a k a Justin Smith) was the man behind irresistible bangers like Jay-Z's "Show Me What You Got" and Kanye's "Touch the Sky," plus lesser-known (but no less incredible) tracks like Freeway's "Flipside" and Joe Budden's "Pump It Up." Blaze is DJing at Pandora at the Park at 14th tonight, and while we can't guarantee you the orgasmic experience promised in Pandora's overwrought press release -- "to push you closer to a nearly emotional experience. Closer to that moment when the Ciroc and the music meet" -- we can tell you that there's an open bar from 5 to 6, happy hour from 6 to 10, and dancing until 2. As usual, shoot your full name in an e-mail to membership@pandorathursday.com by 5 p.m. Thursday to get on the list.

Another Thursday, another DJ night at Muse that makes us sit back and say "Damn!" The weekly Electric Cabaret party is again pairing interesting European up-and-comers with local heroes, this time the lineup will be Berlin-based DJ Cassy (listen) on the main floor and the all-conquering Nadastrom (listen) on the upper level. Cassy is a young woman whose tastes run from deep, bass-heavy minimal techno to dance floor-friendly American house, as heard on the mix CDs she's done for the hot Berlin nightclub Panoramabar (where she's a resident DJ) and the Cocoon label. Nadastrom, meanwhile, keep hopping from club to club across the U.S. (and writing Facebook updates about drinking with Three 6 Mafia) while cranking out amazing house and club remixes -- download their reworkings of Lenka's "Trouble Is a Friend" and Designer Drugs's "Back Up In This" to see exactly what we're talking about. Now imagine those pumping beats and tidal wave-like buildups in a club where everyone is jumping up and down while DJs Dave Nada and Matt Nordstrom are throwing their hands in the air and taking everything to the next level. Yep, Nadastrom live is pretty much like that. This party is so dope that we're running out of room to tell you that the All Good Funk Alliance DJs, whom we've championed on here a number of times, are opening for Nadastrom. Just RSVP on Facebook for free admission and get down there. Seriously.

Sunday's Style & Arts section featured brief write-ups of a bunch of musical acts coming to town over the next month that should probably be on your radar. Patrick Foster wrote about Irish indie-pop act So Cow (listen) and he did such a fine job that it's impossible not to quote at least one of his lines: "... a mess of songs that recall the spindly, propulsive electric-guitar pop of the Television Personalities, Wreckless Eric and Billy Bragg (if Bragg wasn't all serious)." Doesn't that sound appealing? The band is the brainchild of Brian Kelly, and his recent self-titled compilation crams a healthy helping of clever/self-deprecating lyrics and irresistible hooks into 90-second nuggets. Listen to So Cow's recent in-studio performance at WFMU for a preview of tonight's show at the Velvet Lounge.

Friday, May 15
After many years of false starts and dashed hopes, the murmurs are growing to a shout that this is the year for D.C. hip-hop. Long-invested observers like us aren't getting our hopes up too high, but even the most pessimistic heads can see that the flood of new school talent is reaching beyond our borders in significant ways. (And it's not just Wale, although he's killing it.) You can quote us on one thing: The best hip-hop album that has come out in 2009 to this date is Diamond District's debut (listen), which is one of the strongest end-to-end records in the DMV's rapidly expanding oeuvre. Forming like a posse of hip-hop vigilantes, Oddisee, yU and X.O. have a sound that reminds you of the first time you heard M.O.P. over a Premo beat. Except instead of being moved to commit a felony, you'll blown by the taut rhyme styles. Actually, with its anvil-heavy drum loop, horn blasts and Northeast Groovers sample, you might start a brawl on the Metro if "Streets Won't Let Me Chill" pops up on your iPod. The trio headlines tonight's Beatdown producer showcase at Almaz which also features Soulful and Surock behind the boards and WPGC's DJ Heat on the decks.

When Tortured Soul (listen) first emerged at the turn of this century, they delighted a tight community of dance music lovers who felt like they discovered the most exciting secret to touch a turntable. The cats who dropped the smoldering house anthem "I Might Do Something Wrong" rocked live as a three-piece trio. They've got the driving pulse and energy of the slickest machine-based house tune, but the elastic and organic textures of live musicians. And this is why they've circumnavigated the planet repeatedly over the past eight years. With drummer Christian Ulrich crooning in falsetto while laying down stomping four-to-the-floor beats, J. Kriv slapping the bass and Ethan White's candy-coated keys, Tortured Soul shows are rapturous booty-shaking jams that consistently convert new fanatics. They'll be joined by Naked Music's sexy house diva Lisa Shaw at the Black Cat tonight.

We've talked a lot about Moneytown, DJ Nitekrawler's monthly exploration of old soul, funk and rare grooves, but we sometimes forgot to mention Heat, his somewhat-regular funk and soul party at Cafe Saint-Ex with DJs Lunch Money and Almighty Dollah, a night that has been long on tailfeather-shaking songs but short on room to dance. That problem's solved tonight when those three DJs debut a similar event called Escapism on the Black Cat's backstage. The trio says their new collaboration is "in the spirit of James Brown." And it's free, so you can't lose.

Partyhouse at Eyebar is exactly what it promises: DJ Chris Burns spins house, disco and uptempo grooves that will have patrons at the downtown lounge fighting for a chance to dance on the leather couches, while Jesse Bishop of local band Exactly plays MC, adding vocoder, synths and other "embellishments" over the beats. Fritz went to the last one, and it was pretty nuts. Check it out for yourself tonight for free -- just RSVP.

The piano is giving the guitar a run for its money lately. It used to be that rock band = guitar at the forefront. But that's not the case anymore, as the hundreds of fans who pack every local Jukebox the Ghost show will gladly tell you. Those piano-popsters will do their thing next weekend at the Rock and Roll Hotel, but if you're looking to get your fill this weekend, then it's all about Parachute Musical (listen). Keys are definitely the centerpiece of the bright and bouncy songs by the Nashville trio. These are songs sung with a smile, and that infectious energy sometimes masks their complexity, so instead of thinking about the unconventional time changes you just focus on the unbridled enthusiasm. Durham;s Hammer No More the Fingers (listen), which plays here so often you'd think D.C. was this trio's second home, will do its DeSoto/Lovitt Records thing as an opener.

Saturday, May 16
The House of Sweden's current two-floor exhibition focuses on "living green" -- fun, well-designed and incredibly useful ways that encourage a responsible, environmentally friendly way of life. (In "Visual Voltage," the power cords that pulse brighter or dimmer depending on the flow of juice are a particular favorite, especially when you get to test them out by gunning a power drill.) To help drill home the green-friendly theme, the House of Sweden hosts a Living Green Masquerade tonight from 8 to 1. DJs Gavin Holland, Cale and Rehee & Shred provide the music, there will be exhibitions of future green technology and works by graffiti artist Kelly Towles, drinks on the rooftop (with amazing views of Rosslyn and the Potomac), a photo booth and much, much more. Beers and "top-shelf mixed drinks" are $5 each all night. And finally, the "masquerade" bit is not a joke: a green mask or costume is "mandatory;" there'll be prizes for the best ones. Tickets are $20 in advance from Ticketweb -- none will be sold at the door -- and they include one drink of your choice.

The roster of OM Records should be prominent in the collection of anyone with a taste for modern beat-based music. Lucky D.C. fans have had a number of chances to see artists like Colette, DJ Heather and Andy Caldwell taking a turn on area stages. J Boogie (listen) is the Swiss army knife of OM, because he's one guy who can cover so many categories. In his prolific remixes and edits and his original material with J Boogie's Dubtronic Science, the common element is funk, especially varieties that didn't originate on these shores. Latin percussion, reggae dub bass and retro synths all come into play behind vocals that range from rap to pop. Coming out of the fertile San Francisco DJ scene, J Boogie's palette is soulful sunny day party music. Catch him on the decks at Eighteenth Street Lounge tonight.

Do you know why we love the Washington Area Bicyclist Association's Bike Prom? Because it gives us a chance to post the above bike-dancing clip from "Rad," that's why. Okay, maybe that's not the only reason. This party, co-sponsored by WABA and the City Paper, features DJs Gavin Holland , Jennder, Mary Mack, Bent and Busca, prom photographs, the crowning of a king and queen and a raffle with prizes including a rad Swobo Folsom bike. Dressing up in vintage costumes is encouraged. And, as last year, the Black Cat will have additional bike parking out front if you want to show off your ride. Admission is $10.

Monday through Friday, the Laughing Man Tavern is packed with happy hour revelers. On weekends, though, crowds are a little more sparse, which makes room for big events like tonight's Paint the Town Pink Party, a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The $50 ticket includes appetizers, dancing to DJ Tanner, a silent auction and an open bar on domestic drafts, rail drinks and wine from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. "Festive pink and white cocktail attire" is requested. Tickets are available from paintthetownpinkdc.eventbrite.com.

Tuesday, May 19
Tonight's your last chance to hit Fritz's favorite cocktail-focused event in D.C., the weekly Cocktail Sessions at Bar Pilar. Inventive mixologist Adam Bernbach is leaving the 14th Street gastropub for new, uncharted waters. Before Bernbach sets sail, though, he's hosting a throwdown called the Black Sessions with a special menu of favorite drinks from over the years. There's no cover charge, and cocktails will be $11 all night.

One reason we don't always get to shows early to see every band is that lots of shows are booked with too much of the same thing. In theory, it makes sense. You have a headlining band with a certain sound, so you get opening bands that also sound like that because hey, if people like that one band, they'll like the others! But, like communism and staying friends after you break up, it's a theory with some major flaws. Do you really want three similar twee bands on the same bill? Don't all those metal bands blend together after a while? So tonight's backstage show at the Black Cat gets the thumbs up because it's three bands that sound similar enough without much duplication. Headlining is Edie Sedgwick (listen), our favorite co-worker who moonlights as a cross-dressing, celeb-obsssed frontperson of a sinewy punk-funk band. Opening is Olivia Mancini & the Mates (listen), who do jaunty, toe-tapping pop as good as any in town. And in the middle are the Poison Arrows (listen), visitors from Chicago who play long and winding songs that sneak up behind you and then pummel you in the back of the head with an evil-sounding rhythm section and some sinister-sounding keyboard and guitars. That's a good thing, by the way. Because it's figurative. And not real.

--Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | May 12, 2009; 11:35 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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Embedding a Rad video into 'Nightlife Agenda' = coolest thing in the history of the Washington Post web site.

Which one of the three of you guys thought of this? I owe you a drink.

Posted by: Kev29 | May 13, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

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