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Posted at 10:59 PM ET, 08/18/2009

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Will Eastman's Bliss dance party -- shown here back in the heady pre-laptop/iPod days of 2001 -- celebrates its ninth anniversary on Saturday night. (Mark Finkenstaedt - For The Washington Post)

Chuck Brown gets a street named after him, Asylum turns 18 with beers for 18 cents, three local bands are celebrating new releases, Rich Medina does Afropop right, Current and Tattoo give away free drinks, Flashpoint hosts a Twister tournament and author Jessica Hopper shows why girls rock.

Before we get underway with the big list, though, a quick reminder that we're in the midst of D.C. Beer Week with some really cool events coming up: On Wednesday, for example, District Chophouse brewer Barrett Lauer offers tours and half-price brews, and the Coney Island Lager founders offer a sideshow-themed party at the Palace of Wonders. The whole thing wraps up with a Friday happy hour at R.F.D. See the blog post for full details.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Monday | Tuesday

Wednesday, August 19
If you were at the Going Out Gurus happy hour at Current in April, you were among the first to experience the lounge's new (and, at the time, unfinished) back deck. Drop by tonight to check out the progress -- paint! furniture! -- and Current's new Wednesday happy hour, which features an open bar from 6 to 7, a selection of drink specials from 7 to 8, and sushi discounts all night.

Crystal City's Tortoise and Hare is spending this week celebrating its second anniversary. Tonight, the neighborhood bar hosts a blowout Rock Band competition at 9 (and half-price burger night), with prizes for the top bands as well as the best costumes. Tomorrow, karaoke runs from 8 p.m. until close. Then things kick into gear with live music from Rome in a Day (listen) on Friday and cover band KleptoRadio (listen) on Saturday.

The Wednesday night Polyester '80s party at Tattoo continues to breathe new life into the K street lounge, thanks to rotating themes and top drink specials. Tonight's inspiration is "Miami Vice," which means pastels, shades, Hugo Boss jackets and no socks. RSVP at dc80s.com for free admission before midnight. Ladies should arrive early to partake of an Absolut open bar between 10 and 11.

Thursday, August 20
A pair of local acts who have studied the finer points of songcraft celebrate the release of new albums tonight at the Black Cat. Vandaveer is the alias for Mark Charles Heidinger, an old-school voice-and-acoustic-guitar troubadour who always seems to be on the road. (Month long tours of the U.S. and Europe follow this gig.) "Divide & Conquer" is filled with tasteful, mostly unadorned tunes with warm vocals and melodies. Openers Roofwalkers work with a similarly mellow sound, albeit one with a bit more bite. Songs such as "Chin Music" and "Northern Spy," from the band's self-titled album, recall indie rock classicists Yo La Tengo.

Though St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital is located in Memphis, it has a large group of supporters here in D.C. That's not surprising, as its reputation for treating childhood cancer means young people from all over the country are sent there for treatment. Help raise money for sick kids and hang out with other do-gooders tonight at a charity happy hour at Eighteenth Street Lounge. From 6 to 9, there's an $8 cover charge ($5 for members of the group), but it's waived for new members who sign up on the Friends of St. Jude Web site before the happy hour. Once you're there, there's a DJ spinning appropriately loungey music and a slew of drink specials, including $4 rail drinks and beers, $5 wines by the glass, $6 call drinks and $7 margaritas, cosmos and appletinis.

Friday, August 21
It's been a long, strange 18 years for local biker/metal bar Asylum, from its early days on Ninth Street NW (in what's now the DC9 space) to a few years "in Exile" near 11th and U. The last decade has been spent in the heart of Adams Morgan, where it has grown from a tiny basement-level dive to a two-story restaurant and bar with live music and a vegan menu. Through it all, Asylum has stayed popular and relevant by sticking to its guns. The rock music is loud. The beer is cheap (especially at Saturday's happy hour). There's plenty of motorcycle parking out front. Friday's anniversary party features live music by local reggae band Lucky Dub (listen), DJ Joshua spinning punk and heavy metal classics, and 18-cent beers -- that's not a misprint -- from 8 to 10, then $1.80 beers until close.

It's time or another Close To The Edge at the Black Cat. DJ Dredd creates a space where you can wop, prep and East Coast Stomp with joyous abandon. You can remember when Flavor Flav tempered Chuck D's intensity and hadn't yet sacrificed his dignity to the false gods of reality television. It's a party for those that learned dance routines by watching Scoob and Scrap Lover backing Big Daddy Kane on "Yo! MTV Raps."

Saturday, Aug. 22
How many cities do you know that have a septuagenarian funk machine who serves as a grandfather to multiple generations of residents and rocks parties several nights a week? D.C. is naming a street after our dear Chuck Brown on Saturday and celebrating with a block party at Seventh and T streets NW. We endorse this. You can keep the good times rolling at the 9:30 Club for the Godfather's official birthday celebration.

What is it with all the August birthdays and anniversaries? Last week it was Rock & Roll Hotel and the Mousetrap. This week it's Asylum (see above), Tortoise and Hare (ditto), Chuck Brown and Bliss. The latter got its start as a indie-rock dance night at the Metro Cafe in 2000 before moving to the Black Cat a year later. In recent years, as DJ Will Eastman has become a better DJ and remixer, he's been steadily shifting the playlists to electro and house remixes of Calvin Harris or Tiga instead of guitar-based tunes. (Probably a good idea, if the sweaty, crazy kids dancing on the stage are anything to go by.) For Bliss's ninth birthday, Eastman's celebrating on the Black Cat's mainstage with live performances by disco-funk outfit Codebreaker (listen), Boston synth-pop trio Yes, Giantess (listen) -- whose single "Tuff 'N Stuff" is absolutely killer -- and local DJ duo Dmerit (listen).

Before modern bands revisited the multilayered, driving polyrhythmic sounds of Afrobeat, Rich Medina was the chief catalyst behind the revival of Fela Kut'a worki. A studious record collector and seasoned party rocker, Medina has used his traveling Jump N Funk party to immerse party people in Kuti's mélange of American funk and Nigerian juju music. A weaver and connector, Medina turns his party into a narrative that links West African beats with b-boy soul classics and even house. His parties are joyous, sweaty affairs, so they're fitting tributes to Kuti, who mixed the spiritual and the sensual at performances that lasted from sundown to sun-up. Rich Medina celebrates 8 years of Jump N Funk this Saturday at Liv.

The Points are just showing off now. First the local punk band established itself as the city's most explosive live act, bringing a taste of danger and chaos to an increasingly staid scene. Then the group somehow captured its vitality on last year's self-titled album, a collection of brash, buzz-saw anthems that proved there were great songs to go with the moshing and beer-spitting. Tonight's show at DC9 celebrates the release of the band's new 7" featuring the song "Shout," which marks a new pinnacle for the Points. It stretches to almost six minutes, shifting from a hyperspeed blitz to a slab of pummeling drone rock. It slays.

Once upon a time, the empty building next to Velvet Lounge held an awesome little neighborhood dive called Kingpin. Cool tunes, laid-back vibe, Atari 2600 console at one end of the bar. Then it burned down. The guys who used to spin hip-hop, go-go, reggae and soul at Kingpin have kept busy though, spinning around town as the Kingpin Soundsystem. They're back on the block tonight in the Velvet Lounge's bar, where they'll be creating a funky vibe from 9 to 2. There's no cover.

Monday, August 24
We're officially in the Encourage Young Girls to Rock Out portion of summer. Last week we had the annual Girls Rock! DC camp and showcase at the 9:30 club. This week music journalist Jessica Hopper, author of new book "The Girls' Guide to Rocking," comes to Comet Ping Pong with the same message -- start a band, learn an instrument, write a song, book a show, take over the world! In her book, Hopper offers advice on all of those basics, plus other helpful tidbits -- explaining effects pedals, how to make stickers and flyers, etc. Here's the secret about the book, thought -- while it's great for young girls, it's not a bad for any band just getting started to read it. Do you know how to set up drum mics for when you want to record your basement demo? See! Tonight's event will feature Hopper reading passages from her book, but there will also be plenty of performances. Toronto new waver Katie Stelmanis, Lucia Lucia and May Tabol of Pree will play. It promises to be enlightening and entertaining.

Tuesday, August 25
Best idea of the whole darn week: the Flashpoint Twister Tournament. Just reading the name should make you smile. Two-person teams go head-to-head -- make that right-foot-red to left-hand-green -- for bragging rights and a PBR bocce set, which sounds perfect for your upcoming Labor Day trip to the beach. Connect Four will be provided for non-Twisterers. Everyone can partake of cold cans of Pabst and hot pigs in a blanket. Tickets are $15, or $10 for Flashpoint members and volunteers. It's fine to show up solo -- the organizers will pair you with someone to form a team. (Hopefully a yoga instructor.) Need a refresher on the rules? Flashpoint posted a link to them on its Web site -- along with a link for purchasing advance tickets.

The Entrance Band plays apocalyptic psych-rock that is so good it will make you welcome the end days with open arms. Guy Blakeslee fronts the band and sings with the proper amount of wailing and howling on songs such as "Grim Reaper Blues," "Valium Blues" and "Lost in the Dark" as the guitars menacingly swirl in the background and the drums echo the sound of the four horsemen. The band's upcoming album on Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label (perhaps you caught them opening for Sonic Youth at 9:30 club last month) promises to be one of the year's scariest. In a good way, of course. The Entrance Band opens for the even heavier Nebula at the Black Cat.

-- Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson

By Fritz Hahn  | August 18, 2009; 10:59 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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Next: Double Talk: Vandaveer and Roofwalkers

 
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