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Posted at 11:59 PM ET, 07/14/2009

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Nigerian singer King Sunny Ade brings four decades of experience and more than 100 albums worth of material to the 9:30 club on Friday. (Robert Lyons)

Like the great outdoors? We have multiple rooftop happy hours this week, plus the grandfather of Afrobeat music, pioneering DJs from the Detroit techno and Chicago house scenes, '80s dance parties with happy hour, Belgian Independence Day parties with beer specials and an English band that David likens to "standing in front of a cannon right before it releases its payload." And yes, that's a good thing.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Monday | Tuesday

Wednesday, July 15
Outdoor areas along U Street generally fall into two categories: small patio-level seats or large rooftop decks. Local 16's second-story rooftop is one of the better ones: screened from the street by rows of greenery, its wooden bar and furniture lean toward comfortable rather than ostentatious. (Of course, on busy weekends, it can be anything but comfortable.) Let's hope that the new Local Wednesdays party can strike a happy medium: DJs Chris Burns (Disco City), Jerome Baker (Good Times) and Nacey and Steve Starks (Nouveau Riche) spin electronic music and dance tunes, drink prices are reduced from 6 to 9, and Peroni -- one of the sponsors of the event -- will be handing out free beers until 10. There's no cover and no need to RSVP. Just show up.

When Gen-Yers take the best of R&B's past, reject the dreck of its popular present and redefine it on their own terms, you get artists like Jesse Boykins III (listen). Boykins puts a grown-man voice on grown-up records that sound up-to-the minute in style but are based on classic values. Most of his work is in the vein of slow jams for the new millennium, and in those songs, he's resurrecting a lost art for a new generation. You'll have two chances to catch this exciting rising talent in D.C. this week. Tonight he shares the stage of the Rhythm & Soul Series with Fatso, Wes Felton and LB down in the Caverns.

Jerome Baker III (listen) is trying to take every DJ job in the city right now. You can catch him at Policy, Napoleon, Local 16 -- he pretty much has more gigs per week than there are days in the week. He fuels this popularity with a mastery of the popular clubby electro sounds combined with depth that the microwave DJs who just started downloading mashups off of blogs can't touch. We figured we'd steer you to his Let's Go! party at Sticky Rice with DJ Tom Lim to get you out of the NW quadrant and hear some jams in a different environment.

Thursday, July 16
Cycling fans who want to watch the Tour de France know the frustrations of trying to find it in a bar:
"Do you have the Tour de France?"
"Maybe. What channel is it on?"
"Okay." (Bartender fiddles with remote control.) "Do you know what channel that is?"
Sigh. But luckily, Lance Armstrong fans, the folks of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association feel your pain. The WABA happy hour and Tour de France viewing party at Rhodeside Grill on Thursday night features the sprinter-friendly stage 12 of the race on a dozen large flat-screens between 5 and 7. There will be drink specials, including $10 pitchers of Miller Lite and $12 pitchers of Sierra Nevada. And you can win WABA merchandise, bottles of wine and other prizes by answering trivia questions during commercials. There's a $5 cover charge at the door, which benefits the WABA, but if you become a member on the spot, you get a free drink.

For all the hype about rooftop happy hours and pool parties this summer, we still wish there were more events at the Hilton on Embassy Row, which offers great views of Dupont Circle, Rock Creek Park and Northwest D.C. from its poolside patio. Tonight, you can join the International Club of D.C. for its monthly happy hour. (The club has members from many different countries, but anyone can join for embassy tours, dance lessons and other outings.) Tonight's party, which runs from 6:30 to 9:30, includes sunset views and drink specials like $7 frozen margaritas, plus a chance to mix and mingle after work. Founder Sanjaya Hettihewa describes the soundtrack as "from the Gypsy Kings to European dance hits," which fits the vibe we've encountered at previous events. Admission is $5 if you RSVP to or $7 at the door.

A multitude of '80s events has popped up this summer, and there's yet another one to tell you about: Jason Royce, formerly of the '70s/'80s retro nights at Cobalt, now spins on Halo's second floor every Thursday night from 9 p.m. on. (This almost dovetails with one of our favorite happy hours: Halo's two-for-one drinks between 5 and 8.) Stick around to groove to remixes of your DayGlo favorites, and sip $5 Skyy vodka drinks until close. Admission is free.

Do the promoters and bookers of Muse's Electric Cabaret get kickbacks from Kwame Kilpatrick every time they book a Detroit techno superstar? Sure looks that way, and if so, let's hope they never get busted. (LOL!) Tonight it's a sterling guest spot by Stacey Pullen (listen), one of the strongest producers and DJs to come out of the 1990s "second wave" of Detroit's house scene. Mentored by Derrick May and Juan Atkins, he adopted the funky, thumping sound of the motor city, splicing techno and house instrumental samples to four-on-the-floor bass. Pullen is stopping off in D.C. between a string of European festivals in club gigs -- he's still very much in demand -- and anyone 18 and over can see him for free tonight by RSVPing on the Eighty-Eight D.C. site. Otherwise, it's $10 at the door.

Frank Black aka Black Francis aka Charles Thompson is a man of many aliases and albums. The dude keeps busy. Very busy. While he'll forever and always be known as the driving force behind alt-rock giants the Pixies -- a fate he seems fine embracing, based on the latest reunion tour that will hit D.C. in the fall -- his post-Pixies output has been massive, most of it even pretty good. His latest project is Grand Duchy, and this time he's joined by his wife, Violet Clark. It's a rare instance of collaboration for Black, but it's hard to argue with the results. You've never heard so much keyboard on an album that he's done, and you might be surprised with how good it sounds. And you'll be reminded how well his vocals work with a female foil. So yeah, you'll get your chance for the Pixies in the fall, but that doesn't mean you should pass on Grand Duchy at the Black Cat tonight.

Friday, July 17
Before there was afrobeat, jùjú music was Nigeria's main musical export and King Sunny Adé (listen) its most well-known ambassador. Adé expanded on a form of indigenous party music by introducing Western elements like pedal steel guitar and synthesizers, and as a pioneer of world music, he widened the passageway for other emissaries of African sounds like Salif Keita, Youssou N'Dour and Oliver Mtukudzi. . Through his four decades of recording, he has been wildly prolific; his output passed the triple-digit mark around the turn of the 21st century. The swooping tones of the talking drum lead his rhythm section, and when it gets cooking, the party rocks on for hours. King Sunny Adé brings his African Beats to the 9:30 club tonight.

Northern Virginia's bar culture seems geared more towards cover bands than cutting edge DJs. If you look hard enough, you can find events like Transit, the forward-thinking house/techno weekly at Bridges in Fairfax, but those are few and far between. So we're happy to give a shoutout to tonight's Sunset Sessions in Reston, even if it's at one of the most unlikely venues: The TV-laden Champps Americana sports bar. Yeah, we know, it's not a dance club. But you have a solid crew of DJs spinning house and other good tunes -- including Dan Amatai, Colin C. and Cruxial -- plus free beer from the Miller Lite girls and other surprises, all on a covered patio. Oh, and it's free. The music runs from 8 to 2.

Lovvers don't linger. On the U.K. band's debut EP, "Think," the quartet bashes its way through seven songs in under 13 minutes. It's a punk pace with the attitude to match. Don't look to Lovvers for any sort of lyrical catharsis. Song titles such as "No Romantics," "Wasted Youth" and "Teenage Shutdown" tell you exactly what to expect -- snarling, confrontational, loud and fast music. The only exception is "No Fun" -- it completely betrays its title and makes you want to bounce into whomever or whatever is next to you. Small Doses and Cigarbox Planetarium open at Comet Ping Pong.

Jesse Boykins III makes his second appearance in D.C. this week, sitting in with Tamika Jones at her weekly Friday night residency at Indulj. This one will let you skate in free before 11 p.m.

Saturday, July 18
Though some people claim they get tired of "the scene" at Eighteenth Street Lounge, it remains one of the most vital nightspots in Washington, thanks to lineups like tonight's. In the main room, the headliner is DJ Sun (listen), a Houston downtempo DJ whose smooth blending of rare grooves and vintage jazz and funk samples begs comparison to the chilled-out sounds of DJ Shadow. He has opened for artists like Massive Attack and Thievery Corporation -- which is probably how he got the gig. Opening is Nickodemus (listen) of New York's Turntables on the Hudson, a frequent visitor to the Lounge. His new album "Sun People" is just what you'd expect from his live sets: a multi-ethnic collage of joyous dancing rhythms. And then out on the patio, it's Quantic (nee Will Holland), one of the finest purveyors and remixers of vintage funk and soul to pass through Fritz's headphones (listen). His thrilling CD anthologies, with no-lie titles like "Quantic Presents: The World's Rarest Funk 45s" (listen), are essential listening for anyone who loves fat basslines and kickin' horn sections. All this in one night, plus live Blue Note-style jazz from Dovonte McCoy and his quintet upstairs? Get there early to beat the crowds.

After beating a crater into the Trinidad & Tobago club house with a string of huge underground dance parties -- literally, dancers have broken the tiles on the floor -- Chris Burns is wrapping it up for the summer. Tonight he brings yet another guest of world renown that will likely have you greeting the Georgia Avenue sun on Sunday morning drenched in sweat. Ron Trent (listen) knows what many of the heralded vets know -- that D.C. dancers give great vibe and energy -- so he keeps coming back. Whether it's deep afro-house, soulful techno or Chicago style disco classics, Trent works records in ways that make you hear them again for the first time.

Sunday, July 19
The usual ways to describe a band must be thrown out the window when discussing Future of the Left. So here are some new ones that apply for the Welsh trio. 1) Like standing in front of a cannon right before it releases its payload. 2) Like getting kicked in the face, enjoying every second of it and begging for more. 3) If Satan wer more wickedly funny than actually wicked and fronted a rock band that wrote songs as catchy as they are pummeling. Needless to say, tonight's show at DC9 is a can't-miss.

The lands of Scandinavia continually crank out quirky, innovative new acts that are surprisingly steeped in soul, if that surprise is based on how cold it is up there. Little Dragon (listen) emerged from a fertile Swedish scene and combined post-Dilla electro soul and nu jazz with some indie rock into an album of funky dance floor fillers, haunting ballads and everything in between. The new single "Blinking Pigs" seems to foretell some electro pop touches on the upcoming sophomore release, but it's always hard to predict this band's sound. Ethereal Japanese vocalist Yoko K. opens up the show at Liv tonight, sharing a few of the vocal traits that make Little Dragon's front woman Yukimi Nagano so irresistible.

Monday, July 20
Next week David will be down in Chapel Hill doing the indie rock nostalgia thing at the Merge Records 20th anniversary festival. Lots of bands will be making a special trip to play during the festivities in North Carolina, so that means the D.C. area will be getting some nice, Merge-y shows as the bands try to fit in some extra gigs. Next week finds Ladybug Transistor and Destroyer stopping at the Black Cat, but tonight Radar Bros. will be playing at Galaxy Hut. The slowcore veterans have been playing gorgeous dirges for more than a decade. You know they're good because G-Hut owner Lary Hoffman added his own band, Aerialist, to the bill.

Tuesday, July 21
The celebrations marking Belgium's 178 years of independence won't be as widespread as those for Bastille Day, but for beer lovers, they're still worth having on your calendar. The big party is at Brasserie Beck. Last year, the Belgian beer bar offered half off all its beers, which resulted in long, long lines and a mob scene at the bar. This year, it's a much different affair: a $100 ticket (!!!) gets guests all-you-can-eat food from chef Robert Wiedmaier and unlimited draft beers from 7 to 11. Beck has also chosen this occasion to unveil "Antigoon," an ale custom-brewed for the restaurant by the Belgian craft brewery Brouwerij de Musketiers, best known for its Troubadour line of beers. Musketiers owner/brewer Stefaan Soutman will be on hand to chat with the crowds. If you regularly drink at Beck, where drafts hover in the $10 range and bowls of mussels are $17 to $20, you know that $100 for unlimited food and beer is a steal, but for some people, it's going to be a little steep.

The Independence Day celebration at Belga Cafe, which begins at 10 p.m., should be even more crowded, though far more friendly on the wallet: Make a $10 donation to the Make-A-Wish foundation, and you'll be able to get some of Belga's 135 Belgian beers for free. (The selection hasn't been narrowed down yet, but you'll get unlimited beers for the rest of the night.) A DJ spins from 10:30 on. But the event's not just for night owls: selected beers, including Stella Artois, are half-price from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

-- Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson

By Fritz Hahn  | July 14, 2009; 11:59 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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