Wednesday, July 8
Surely the organizers of NoMa Summer Screen knew what they were doing when they scheduled the Wilco documentary "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" on the same night that Jeff Tweedy and Co. are playing at Wolf Trap. Right? Perhaps they knew that the Wilco show would be a sellout and that disappointed, ticketless fans would have a ready-made alternative. Wednesday's forecast couldn't be any better for an outdoor movie, although cloudy and overcast might be more fitting for the film, which follows the band during the making of its 2001 breakthrough album. It was during this time that tensions between Tweedy and Jay Bennett came to a head, leading to Bennett's departure before the album was released. Bennett's recent overdose death might make the film more depressing, but it should add another interesting layer, even if it is a morbid one.
It's been three years since James Dewitt Yancey, aka J Dilla (listen), passed away at the age of 32, breaking the hearts of scores of hip-hop fans. By quietly producing classics for artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes and Janet Jackson, he still gets non-liner-note-reading music listeners saying, "Wow, he did that one too?" A band of hardcore Dilla fans -- noteworthy performers in their own right -- have been doing a yearly live Dilla tribute to raise money for lupus research, which was one of the conditions that he suffered from. Tonight at Liv, a who's who of D.C. singers and DJs, including Wayna, Kev Brown and Roddy Rod, will be joined by Phife of A Tribe Called Quest and two members of Dilla's family: his mother Maureen "Ma Dukes" Yancey and younger brother Illa J.
We're a long way from Luckenbach, Texas, and country still isn't (really) cool among D.C.'s 20- and 30-something barhoppers, except for the ones who feel like they have to cue up some George Jones, Merle Haggard or Garth Brooks when they're out drinking longnecks. But lovers of alt-country, bluegrass, gospel and folk can get their fix at Backroads, a monthly "Y'allternative" party at the Rock and Roll Hotel that features rootsy American music that's not getting play on radio stations like WMZQ. There's not much room to line-dance (you'll have to go to Nick's or Remingtons for that), but the music should be great. DJ Scott Seymour guests at the free event, which begins at 8.
Thursday, July 9
The rooftop deck at BLT Steak has fantastic views of the White House, monuments and downtown D.C., but unless you're attending a private party, you never get to see it. Consider this your invitation: Tonight's Going Out Guide happy hour offers free food from the steakhouse -- think peppered beef filet, black bass ceviche and mini grilled cheese -- plus drink specials and a chance to soak up the sun and views. We'll also have the editors of Date Lab along if you're interested in signing up, and a professional matchmaker on hand to offer quick dating consultations. No RSVPs are necessary -- just show up. We'll see you there.
We've got to hand it to the guys from U.S. Royalty (listen) -- while the rocking indie-Americana band plays the usual Black Cat/Rock and Roll Hotel circuit, they're also open to using different venues to build crowds, including monthly jams at Solly's and a weekly DJ/movie night at Chi-Cha Lounge. Tonight, the band is throwing a house party at the the lavishly appointed Toutorsky Mansion at 16th and Riggs -- once home to a Supreme Court justice and the Persian Legation. New York's Young Lords (listen), a group best known for that "Gotta Get Home Tonight" song from a Guinness "Get Home Safely" commercial, opens, and DJs Stereofaith, Soul Call Paul and Scott Bauer entertain between bands. There's a $10 cover, and space is limited to a few hundred patrons. RSVP to email@example.com, then arrive on the early side; the show begins at 8:30.
As much as Pandora consistently elicits chuckles around these parts for the loony language in the promo blasts -- this week: "The energy will hit you right in that special place. When you leave, we want you to feel as if you've done something illegal." -- but if you're looking for that popular combo of pretty people, exclusivity, pomp and mainstream dance hits, you can do worse than the Park at 14th's weekly party. Tonight's guest is Ryan Leslie (listen), the production talent behind some of the biggest records in popular R&B right now, from "Diamond Girl" to "Addiction." He's been stepping out from behind the boards to cultivate a solo career, and he's assembled a debut album with some funk behind the pop gloss. Leslie will be hosting, which, you should know, can mean anything from greeting patrons from a VIP perch to hamming it up with the DJ and kicking a few impromptu songs. If you don't want to get caught in the bottle service trick bag, stop in for the 6 p.m. happy hour; it's preceded by an open bar that begins at 5 p.m.
Summer in D.C. can be kind of slow on the live music front. Not as many bands are touring clubs because they are all playing festivals. The town itself is emptier than usual because everyone's on vacation. So that gives live music venues a chance to switch things up and offer something ... different. Tonight's B.A.R.F. night at the Black Cat is not an invitation to see how many PBRs you can down before you deposit them right back on the floor. That will simply get you on bartender Chad America's bad side and get you kicked out of the club for a while. No, B.A.R.F. is an acronym for Be A Real Friend. The idea behind the night is to meet up with people you only know through some sort of social networking site. Now if you ask us, that sounds positively terrifying. Take it from us -- our Internet personas are much cooler than our actual personas. But you don't want to get to the point where all of your friends start with @, do you? So set your status update to B.A.R.F., play some Ramones on the jukebox and see if anyone is as cool as they try to pass themselves off to be. They probably won't be, but hey, neither are you! So it all works out.
Have you ever seen cable TV commercials for ExtenZe? You know, the pill "for that certain part of the male anatomy"? Well, there's a new product on the market called ExtenZe Liquid Shot that's supposed to be a "fast-acting" version of the pill. (No, we have no idea if it works, and neither does the FDA.) Anyway, the men of Shorts, Asylum's no-long-pants-allowed DJ night, have decided that they want to serve the stuff in cocktails with vodka. If you go out to dance to the jock rock and frat-tastic jams tonight, watch out for the placebo effect, and remember: If you're not wearing shorts, you will be turned away at the door. We've seen it happen.
Friday, July 10
Breakdancing didn't become a cash cow like rap music did, but this element of hip-hop did enjoy a whirlwind romance with popular culture before it was deemed passé in the mid-'80s. A new generation picked it back up in the early '90s, and today b-boying is a flourishing worldwide phenomenon. As part of the Hip-Hop Theater Festival, arts organization Words Beats & Life presents a family-friendly b-boy/b-girl battle that in the past has drawn hundreds of spectators and this year sports a $1,000 grand prize. The dancers go at it at 8 p.m. this Friday at St. Stephen's Church or you can come early for a 6 p.m. showing of the 1984 classic hip-hop film "Beat Street."
There's a large live music component to this year's Fringe Festival, and the best show is tonight at the Shop. The three-band lineup is very Fringe Festival-worthy; there's something slightly off-kilter or off-balance about each band, but that only serves to make them more interesting. Baltimore's Lo Moda (listen) headlines the very late-night show (music won't start until 11), but you'll want to stick it out to hear the quirky and catchy songs, which draw on everything from chamber pop to droning folk. BLDGS (listen) is one of the more promising recent additions to the local scene. The band is adept at creating dreamy soundscapes, but it's at its best when the guitars go into overdrive and obliterate those soundscapes with rolling rhythms. Plums (listen) make whatever noise they feel like making, but there's always a purpose and a direction to it. Take a nap after you get home on Friday; this one is worth staying up late.
Bastille Day isn't until Tuesday, but the Alliance Francaise is getting the party started tonight -- a welcome state of affairs for anyone who has to work on Wednesday. Petanque classes are offered in the afternoon, and there'll also be a show of vintage Citroën cars outside, free champagne, crepes and cheese, live music by the funk-rock band Dimestore (listen) and a mix of French dance music from DJ Herve. Admission is $45 ($30 for members) and it includes the chance to win round-trip tickets from Washington to Paris on Air France. Important note: Reservations are required, and you must call 202-234-7911 to RSVP, or buy tickets in advance from francedc.org.
You can reclaim the phrase "grown & sexy" from the clutches of party promoters who've cheapened it. Just grab a seat in the summer air at Carter Barron for The Washington Post's Neo Soul showcase tonight. If you love Chaka Khan, Minnie Riperton and Jill Scott, then you should already be familiar with our heirs to those traditions: Fertile Ground, Wayna, Deborah Bond and Tamika Jones.
If you have a taste for bhangra beats, we hope you've joined the U.S. Department of Bhangra at Bossa, where DJs Beta-G and Miss Modular spin the funkiest Indian beats. If you haven't, here are two excellent reasons to stop by: The Dept. of Bhanga is on a weekend for the first time, and it's now a benefit for the D.C. chapter of Architecture for Humanity, a group of architects and designers who donate their time and energy to helping nonprofits as far-flung as Rwanda and India. The music begins at 9, and a $5 donation is requested.
Saturday, July 11
Feedback, the monthly mélange of rock bands and electronic dance beats hosted by DJ Stereofaith (listen), marks one year at DC9 tonight, and he's got a killer lineup to celebrate the anniversary. Let's start with local superstar DJ Dave Nada (listen), whose birthday party at the 9:30 club last Friday nearly tore the roof off the packed building. Nada and his cohort Matt Nordstrom are on their way to big things with their uptempo house and electro. This Nada solo set should be just as exciting. Veteran mixer Trevor Martin (listen) throws everything from '80s sing-alongs to pounding Baltimore Club beats into his frantic mixes, as heard at events like Wonderland's Sneakers in the Club. And with noted Baltimore Club producer Johnny Blaze, house-and-techno loving Andrew Jaye and a live performance by New York hip-hop duo Hardy Boyz, who record for Turntable Lab's Money Studies imprint, it's going to be insane from start to finish. Get there by 10 for free admission and free vodka-Red Bull drinks.
Rich Medina takes time out from his aggressive touring schedule to party with the Hip-Hop Theater Festival participants. From his pioneering afrobeat events to spoken word poetry recordings, Rich Medina is an ambassador for the best in underground funky music and culture. As a DJ, he's a classic party rocker. Washington's own DJ Dredd will be joining him at the Loft tonight for this free event.
Enjoy all this good hip-hop this week, because it's generally feast or famine around these parts. While Rich & Dredd rock on New York Avenue, Chali 2na (listen) heads up an evening of beats and rhymes at Rock & Roll Hotel. Known for years as the baritone of L.A.s Jurassic 5, he's got a new solo record of material to perform. Joining him are Whosane from Brooklyn and Educated Consumers, mainstays of the D.C. rap underground for the better part of a decade.
The Planet Chic events crew is marking Bastille Day weekend with Soiree Bastille Chic, a celebration of a few of the things that make France great: fashion, art, film and dance music. Mix a runway of eco-friendly clothes by designer Christine Marchuska; an exhibition of drawings by Algerian-born, D.C. resident Lamine Hamdad; a screening of "Home," a documentary by French filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand about the damage humans inflict on ecological systems; and dance to French tunes spun DJ Sebastien C. There's a lot to fit in, so arrive at Darlington House close to the 9 p.m. opening. Admission is $10 when you RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're kind of burned out on tribute bands -- every one from "Michael Jackson" to a female "AC/DC" to "Journey" has been through town recently. But we need to tell you about Jed Duvall, whose act honors The Man in Black. He's not quite Johnny Cash -- who is? -- but check out these videos of him performing "I Still Miss Someone" or "Cry, Cry, Cry" and you'll probably be making plans to head over to JV's tonight, where Duvall is performing with his Tennessee Quartette between 5 and 8.
Monday, July 13
The first time Fritz went to the monthly Hipster Overkill party at Steve's Bar Room, it was after a Monday night of barhopping downtown, so he figured it would just be a chance to wind up the night with a DJ and a drink or two. Not quite. The place was slammed, DJs Dimitris George and Tru were cranking electro and '80s remixes, and the liquor was flowing at the bar. This was after Monday had already flipped into Tuesday -- and there were still people rolling in at 1 a.m., ready to party. No one was leaving, and it wasn't hard to figure out why. See for yourself tonight, beginning at 9 p.m. There's no cover, and DJ Harry Dixon of the Coolout is the special guest.
Tuesday, July 14
There's a very nice West Coast bill at DC9 tonight. Abe Vigoda (listen) is part of the L.A.'s underground punk scene that originated from the Smell, a DIY space that's sort of the L.A. equivalent of D.C.'s Fight Club and that's spawned lots of "hot" bands like No Age and Mika Miko. Abe Vigoda isn't nearly as loud and thrashy as those bands -- in fact, there's a tropical vibe that permeates most of the quartet's songs. This isn't tiki bar music, but there's more than just "1-2-3-4!," rinse, repeat. Openers Talbot Tagora (listen) from Seattle have a sharp, arty punk sound that, like Abe Vigoda, offers something more interesting than a straightforward take on the genre.
-- Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson
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