Wednesday, June 24
It seems like D.C. is besieged by '80s revivalists this summer, from the retro movie nights in Rosslyn and Southeast already to the not pined-for pairing of Cutting Crew and Wang Chung at Rams Head Live tonight. Somewhere in the middle is the weekly Polyester party at Tattoo, which features VJs spinning '80s videos -- not just the hits -- and an open bar for women from 10 to 11. Tonight's theme is "Top Gun" (anyone who tells you that the Tom Cruise/Kelly McGillis vehicle wasn't one of the decade's better action movies is just wrong). The soundtrack is one of the best to come from the '80s, thanks to Kenny Loggins ("Danger Zone") and Berlin ("Take My Breath Away"). You'll probably hear those tonight, and you may even get to meet your own Maverick or Charlie; anyone with a military ID receives free drink tickets. (Civilians, drink specials include $5 beers and $6 Absolut cocktails.) RSVP to dc80s.com for free admission.
Thursday, June 25
The announcement that the Buzzlife crew is hosting DJ Bad Boy Bill at Baltimore's Paradox nightclub has been making some people wistful for Buzz. The famous electronic music night brought many big names to Nation and Fur, but since its partnership with Fur ended last summer, it's only hosted events sporadically. We miss Scott Henry's impressive DJ lineups, but the pain has been lessened a bit by some of the bookings at Muse Lounge. This year, Muse's Thursday night Electric Cabaret has featured John Tejada, Matthew Dear, Nadastrom, Q Burns Abstract Message and Spirit Catcher, any of whom could have played a Buzz party in a much larger venue. And after tonight, you can add Richie Hawtin (listen) to the list. The English-born Hawtin rose to fame in the early '90s after creating some Detroit-style techno under the name Plastikman, and he's spent the ensuing years firming up his voice as one of the world's foremost techno DJs. The sounds now are denser, the rhythms more varied, so he truly is a must-see, especially at such an intimate space. Tonight's showcase also includes Minus labelmates Ambivalent (a k a D.C. native Kevin McHugh) (listen) and Argentinean minimalist Mauricio Barembuem (listen). Tickets are $25 in advance from the promoters or $35 at the door.
Imagine a multi-culti Brooklyn block party with drummers and dancers in the streets, shaved ice and maybe a popped fireplug. The band at the helm will probably be Pimps of Joytime (listen), a New York Afro-Latin-soul-funk outfit that can be described as the heirs of War. They share the stage with Washington's Funk Ark at Eighteenth Street Lounge tonight.
Rappers who sing are generally in two camps. There's the off-key, humorous thug croon of a Ghostface Killah or Erick Sermon. Then there are cats like Mos Def who can carry a tune, don't try to over-achieve and lace some memorable melodies. Black Spade (listen) might be at the top of a third group: rappers whose sung vocals match their prodigious lyrical talent. Black Spade, who comes from a hungry St. Louis scene, is also a wiz behind the boards; he produced every note himself on his debut full-length "To Serve With Love." Joining Black Spade tonight for his debut D.C. performance at Liv is New York's soultronica vocalist Peter Hadar and Washington's own Wes Felton.
CD sales may be way, way down, but the market for rock-and-roll collectibles is very strong. Vinyl sales continue to rise, thanks in no small part to the big cover art and the simple fact that it's just more fun flip through a stack of records than a stack of CDs. Similarly, there's been a resurgence in concert posters. Back in the '60s and '70s, the golden era of concert posters, they served not just as nifty art but also advertising. But now we've got the Internet, and if Sunny Day Real Estate announces a reunion tour, your entire Twitter feed will be filled with that news mere seconds after it's announced. So the concert poster is less utilitarian but no less cool. I mean, check out this Wovenhand poster by El Jefe Design. Like many of the best posters, it's something you'd consider buying even if you didn't go to the show. Through Saturday, you can see posters from a few dozen East Coast artists at Civilian Art Projects' Paper Jam. Catch a Q&A with some of the artists tonight at 7 p.m.
Friday, June 26
This weekend, you can hear some of the Caribbean's hottest current musical stars -- in town just for the Caribbean Carnival -- and also ska, rocksteady, reggae and dub from the glory days of Jamaican music in the '60s, '70s and '80s. For seven years, the gentlemen of the D.C. Soundclash have been providing a monthly musical fix for fans of acts like Alton Ellis, King Tubby, Derrick Morgan, the Upsetters, the Ethiopians, the Pioneers and Mikey Dredd. Your hosts -- the Kaiser, Sammy Gong, Rice and Peas and Bobby Babylon -- spin the classics from the original vinyl singles and 12-inches to make crowds dance while Red Stripes flow at the Marx Cafe's bar. You're guaranteed to hear at least one song you love and one song that you'll have to ask the DJ about. (Get a preview mix from dcsoundclash.com and click on "Soundclash.") Tonight's seventh anniversary party features commemorative pins and mix CDs, beer specials and several guest DJs. As always, there's no cover, and doors open at 10.
We love the two-day D.C. Caribbean Carnival for the pageantry of the parade down Georgia Avenue, the live music by big stars from the islands and the smell of jerk chicken that wafts over the crowd. But we also know that not everyone can take off during the day on Saturday and Sunday to catch the live entertainment, and since some of these singers only visit the D.C. area once or twice a year, it's a big deal. So check this out: The Crossroads is making itself the best alternative and hosting the Carnival's headliners the night before they play at the festival. Have to work on Saturday, when the infectious Caribbean Traffik Jam and energetic Trinidadian soca king Iwer George are taking the stage? Hear them live Friday at the Crossroads, where the Carnival Jump Off starts with a happy hour (two-for-one drinks, free Caribbean buffet) from 4 to 8 and also includes the Oasis Band, Bobby's Music Machine and DJ Sprang International. Tickets are free until 8 (they're $30 after that). Then on Saturday, soca queen Alison Hinds brings her band to Bladensburg. (She'll also play live on Sunday afternoon at the Carnival.) DJ Richie Feelings of Jamaica's Bembe Squad provides the reggae beats. All-white attire is requested. Tickets for that show are $30, but unlike Friday's party, there's no happy hour or free admission for early arrivals.
For no-frills, packed in, serious dance party throwdowns, Selam is still one of the most fun rooms in town. The room basically feels like someone's basement, and we all have fond memories of basement house parties. In the space tonight is DJ Underdog's Black Light Special, a mixture of afrobeat and related styles all rocked from original vinyl. Door damage is a recession-proof $1.
If there's an emergency situation in some far-off country, it's a safe bet that Doctors Without Borders will be there. Pakistan, Somalia and Bangladesh are among the places where free medical care has been made available to refugees and civilians in recent months. Doctors Without Borders -- also known by its French name, Médecins Sans Frontières -- may have won the Nobel prize for its work, but praise doesn't pay to keep vital services flowing. That's where you come in. Cocktails Without Borders at Josephine is a fundraiser for the organization; a $20 cover charge ($10 in advance) and a percentage of the bar sales will go straight into the coffers. In return, attendees receive drink specials from 6 to 11, including $4 shooters, $5 bottled beers, $6 mango mojitos and house cocktails, and $7 Glenfiddich drinks. (The first 200 folks through the door also get a free glass of champagne.) DJ M provides dance music.
Close To the Edge is back at the Black Cat tonight for everyone who secretly wishes multiple eyebrow slashes might come into vogue again along with high-top fades and fat gold ropes. DJ Dredd's classic hip-hop party celebrates the golden age of hip-hop, from the 5 Percent doctrine that we all memorized in Brand Nubian and Rakim lyrics to Raiders-cap clad, 40-ounce guzzling West Coast icons like King Tee and NWA.
Only in Washington would people be excited about a party and date auction where the big prizes of the silent auction include -- wait for it, boys -- "personal meetings" with former ambassador to Iraq L. Paul Bremer, former defense secretary Harold Brown and former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. Of such lunch dates are the dreams of young foreign policy stars made. The Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, to be exact. The group's second-annual Affairs of State gala at the City Tavern Club includes an hour-long open bar, a live performance by local cover band Sick Feed, a date auction and that silent auction. It should be a wonky good time. Tickets are $40 in advance from the YPFP Web site, wher eyou can also read profiles of the men and ladies up for bids, and $50 at the door.
Saturday, June 27
Enon (listen) has been soldiering on since the beginning of the decade, playing its kitchen-sink brand of indie rock that encompasses all variety of rhythmic, vocal and electronic quirks. That's made it a tough band to pigeonhole and has kept its fanbase from exploding when different genres of indie rock became popular. The band doesn't fit in with the Strokes imitators, the Arcade Fire imitators or the Vampire Weekend imitators. The members of Enon aren't imitators; they just follow their own weird muse with consistently engaging results. The band plays with SPRCSS at Comet Ping Pong, the start of a crosstown show that continues...
...at Civilian Art Projects, where the New York Night Train will be rolling into town. What does that mean? Hard to say, exactly. It's the brainchild of New Yorker Jonathan Toubin and best we can tell it's a sort of Warhol-esque bash featuring DJs, bands, go-go dancers, video projections and, uh, hula hoops. The hula hooping will be done by "Hula-Hoop Harlot" Melissa-Anne, whose job title is way cooler than yours. There will be music from Edie Sedgwick, Kid Congo Powers and Exactly in addition to DJing by Nitekrawler and Toubin himself. Doors don't open until 11, so this is going to be one of those late-night parties. Be prepared.
The most intriguing night of Caribbean music this weekend isn't at the official Carnival events, but at the D.C. Star nightclub (formerly the D.C. Tunnel), where Bunji Garlin (listen) and Fay-Ann Lyons (listen) share the stage for Soca in Motion. The married couple is the biggest thing in soca: she came in first at the International Soca Monarch in Trinidad and Tobago back in March, while he was the runner-up. Last year, Garlin took the top prize, and his wife finished third. (Her back-to-back wins at Trinidad's Carnival Roah March competition must make for interesting dinner conversation.) Their relentlessly catchy soca beats were featured on the Carnival stage in 2008, but this year, they're sticking to this event, which also boasts singers Trini Jacobs, Patch and Hunter. It's Garlin's birthday, so expect a festive atmosphere. Tickets are $25 in advance.
Any dancer will tell you that the key to a great swing band is the rhythm section, and the driving force behind the orchestra is the drummer. That's why any band that includes the words "Brooks Tegler" should be on a Lindy Hopper's to-do list. Tegler is an old-school skin-beater in the Gene Krupa mold, with a knack for hard-hitting beats, timely flourishes and steady hands on the bass and cymbals. And during flag-waving uptempo numbers, like the inevitable "Sing, Sing, Sing," Tegler hits the snare so hard you can feel it on the dance floor. (Once you've seen Tegler, you'll understand why he's regularly asked to perform Krupa's roll when bandleaders want to "reconstruct" Benny Goodman's legendary 1938 Carnegie Hall concert.) Tonight, Brooks Tegler's Big Band (listen) plays in the historic Glen Echo Spanish Ballroom. If the full orchestra isn't enough, Tegler's small group will show off a more intimate side of classic jazz. The $15 admission fee includes a beginner dance lesson with instructors from the Jam Cellar from 8 to 9, followed by dancing until midnight.
You usually have to stay up pretty late to catch some of our favorite DJs, like Nitekrawler of the vinyl-centric soul and funk night Moneytown, and Meistro and Deep Sang from Wonderland's bangin' Dirty Bombs disco-to-hip-hop party. No excuses today, when all three of those cats, plus disco-loving house DJ Ed Dudes, are featured at the Brightest Young Things' Summer Camp pool party at the Capitol Skyline hotel. A $10 cover gets you eight hours of music, swimming, food and drink specials, beginning at noon. When the music gets hot, you go swimming. Then you go talk to a hottie who catches your eye poolside. Then you go dance some more. If everything works out, the party ends early enough that you can go grab dinner. If not, well, you've got the whole night ahead of you.
Sunday, June 28
It takes a certain kind of band to get you out of the house on a Sunday night. You've just spent the weekend having fun, hanging out until 5:30 a.m. with some Hula-Hoop Harlot and now "True Blood" is on and you should really get a good night's sleep so you can be productive at work for once in your sorry life. So if you're going out on Sunday, it better be one of those shows that will rock your face off, right? Well, Tiny Vipers (listen) is the exact opposite of that kind of band. It's not a band at all, just one woman, Jesy Fortino. And she plays long-form, solo acoustic ruminations that drift along to nowhere in particular, her voice floating above her soothing guitar accompaniment. What, you're not convinced yet? Did I mention that there are two openers and the show is at the Red & the Black? Still, it should be a good one. It might be better if she simply played under the stars in a big field, because you just know that someone is going to be blasting "Rebel Rebel" in the bar downstairs and while we're usually all for blasting "Rebel Rebel" any time, anywhere, Fortino deserves some silence.
Tuesday, June 30
The dude-with-acoustic-guitar thing is just so overdone at this point that it's hard to tell what's good and what's not so good. There are only so many chords and so many emotions and so many steely gazes. What makes one troubadour better than another? We've almost been too desensitized to even know the difference at this point. Take Joe Schmo from the local open mic night and give him a little hair product and some stubble and throw him on "Conan" and he'd probably sound just as good as Pete Yorn. But then you hear "I Am Become Joy," the new album from Philly's Adam Arcuragi (listen) and the light bulb goes on. Sometimes the songs are better and the voice hits you in the gut and makes you want to be one of the people singing backing vocals. If you want to see troubadouring done right, it's your duty to catch Arcuragi at the Black Cat, opening for Timothy Bracken Complex (listen).
-- Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson
Posted by: hostdc202 | June 24, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse
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