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Posted at 10:48 AM ET, 09/ 2/2009

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

There ain't no party like a Fatback party, because a Fatback party don't stop. This month, go-go legends Trouble Funk and Chico Mann join the fun at the 9:30 club. (KC Higgins)

There's a long weekend on the horizon, and we have a huge stack of options in this week's column. The return of Buzz, with a reunion of the cult Dubtribe Soundsystem. An outdoor "Ferris Bueller" screening followed by an '80s dance party. A super-sized Fatback with live go-go and electro-funk bands. A DJ from the Happy Mondays. (No, seriously.) An alt-country doubleheader with two of the genre's biggest names. A roast for basketball star (and Takoma Park native) Steve Francis with former teammates. A flip cup tournament with cheap beer.

Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Thursday, Sept. 3
Benjy Ferree will bring his brand of weird to the Kennedy Center this afternoon for a free show at Millennium Stage. Ferree's oddities are mostly kept to his taste in wigs and his bizarre between-song banter about -- well, it's hard to tell most of the time. The songs themselves have some quirks, but the glam-rock shuffle and chirpy vocal delivery of tunes such as "Big Business" and "I Get No Love" are easy to enjoy, and help make "Come Back to the Five and Dime Bobby Dee Bobby Dee" one the year's best local rock releases.

If, like some of us, you're planning to sneak out of work for a long weekend, you should get the party started right with a trip to Cafe Saint-Ex for Party Lights, a night of classic girl group tunes, '60s soul and other vintage sounds, courtesy of Mad Squirrel, who spins at a popular soul night at the Black Cat, and Rob J. Honestly, there's no better party music out there, especially with the lights turned low, and who turns down a free party?

Many of us first generation hip-hop heads recall our tastes being shaped as children by our parents' record collections. We returned to the source after ingesting the sounds filtered through sampled hip-hop beats. Jose James wears the same influences in his work. His deep baritone embraces a Flying Lotus or Jazzanova beat as naturally as it can sit in an acoustic jazz ensemble. His balladry evokes Jon Lucien or Michael Franks, and then he turns around and covers a classic by the L.A. experimental rap outfit Freestyle Fellowship. Since Gilles Peterson picked him up and released his album, James has become mandatory listening for current jazz and nu groove heads in only two years. Washington welcomes Jose James for two shows at Bohemian Caverns.

Friday, Sept. 4
The Happy Mondays (listen) were responsible for some of the most enduring anthems of the loved-up Manchester dance scene of the '80s and early '90s -- a time when the city was better known as Madchester. Tracks like "Wrote for Luck," "Step On" and "Kinky Afro," helped create "baggy" -- a trippy funk genre that mixed guitar rock with the influence of the burgeoning rave and acid house scenes. Dance-floor-friendly remixes by Paul Oakenfold and Andrew Weatherall solidified one part of the band's reputation -- and much-publicized years of drug abuse sealed the rest. Vocalist Shaun Ryder grabbed much of the spotlight, but some credit should also go to his younger brother Paul, who provided the loose, loping basslines on the Mondays' biggest hits. In one of the most unusual musician-turned-celebrity-DJ appearances of the year, Paul Ryder is spinning records at the monthly Sorted dance party at the Black Cat. If he brings along just a bit of the music that was blasted at the Hacienda nightclub back in the day, this should be memorable. Fans of the Stone Roses, Paris Angels or, God help us, Flowered Up should be right down in front.

Oh man. Yet another sign that summer's winding up: Rosslyn's "I Love the '80s" outdoor film festival is coming to an end. At least it's going out in style: The week's movie is "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," which ranks as one of the decade's finest. After the credits roll -- and you stick around for the very last scene -- head over to Continental for an '80s dance party with music spun by the folks behind the long-running '80s Dance Party in Adams Morgan. Really can't beat that for a feel-good end-of-summer vibe.

In light of the latest (and perhaps final) blowup between the Gallagher brothers of Oasis, it's nice to see some musical siblings that get along. The brothers Taylor, Damien and Matt, don't play in a band together, choosing instead to spread the noise between two bands. Damien's band, (The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope may be the record holders for Nightlife Agenda mentions, probably neck and neck with DJ Dredd. His younger brother doesn't stray too far from that sound; he goes bigger with the Tennis System. The band's main goal is to overwhelm the listener with a full-blast sonic assault and maybe even some trippy lights to go along. Some shoegaze-y melodies are lurking somewhere in the fuzz and squealing, but the band's performances are mostly sensory sensations. Aerialist also plays upstairs at the Bees Knees Labor Day party at the Velvet Lounge. The venue's Web site advertises DJs spinning downstairs starting at 6 p.m. and there's also word of free BBQ. Color us skeptical on both fronts. Here's our best-case scenario -- the bar is open by 7:30 and you can bring some Ben's in with you.

The monthly Moneytown funk-and-soul party goes international tonight with an appearance by George Mahood, the man behind Manchester's Concourse Records. Concourse is the kind of vinyl treasureland where collectors go to peruse the list of soul 45s, listen to MP3 clips of a good-condition copy of George McGregor & the Bronzettes's "Temptation Is Hard To Fight" and wonder what it would be like to spend almost $300 on one little piece of vinyl. Suffice to say that Mahood -- who ran Big Daddy magazine before getting into the record biz -- knows his stuff, and he has most likely squirreled away a few choice singles over the years. He'll be joining the fiercely local DJ Nitekrawler at Dahlak for a night of no-cover dancing.

Saturday, Sept. 5
It seems like it's been forever since Buzz, the weekly electronic music party that introduced the world's top DJs to D.C., closed its run at Fur, even though it's only been a year. That's why it's such a relief to see that veteran DJs Scott Henry, Charles Feelgood and John Tab are killing it old-school at Ibiza this weekend for the Buzz Reunion 101. It's the kind of show that should attract longtime Buzz fans as well as newbies: Headlining -- and also reuniting -- is Dubtribe Soundsystem, the San Francisco acid jazz duo known for the killer "Do It Now," (watch/listen). Also performing are D.C. electro-funk group Fort Knox Five (listen) and a large posse of local DJs, who will spin everything from house to drum 'n' bass on Ibiza's large rooftop terrace. Is this a preview for a Buzz comeback? Watch this space.

Fans of raucous alt-country will want to make a full day of it in Clarendon because Iota has a day-to-night doubleheader with two of the genres' biggest names. In a rare matinee, the club hosts the Waco Brothers, alt-country rabble rousers led by the always entertaining and plenty opinionated Jon Langford, best known as singer/guitarist for British punk veterans the Mekons. The Wacos are one of the most reliably rambunctious bands around, charging through one politically charged cowpunk stomper after another. Liquor often plays a big role in the band's shows, so it will be interesting to see how they adapt to playing while the sun is shining, but even if the intoxication isn't there, the energy should be. The nightcap features roots rock veterans the Bottle Rockets, who have mellowed a bit after nearly two decades, but should still have no problem getting the crowd into things on a Saturday night. And if you're looking for a place to eat dinner in between shows, well, just ask us Thursday in Got Plans?

Every month, the Fatback DJs do their best to turn Liv into a sweaty, funky house party with hundreds of folks shaking their sneakers to some of the finest soul, boogaloo and R&B music under the sun. They're movin' on up to the 9:30 club this time -- hope the beans don't burn on the grill -- and rather than just bringing their impressive record collections to the larger space, the Fatback boys are putting on a really big show. They've got 1980s go-go legends Trouble Funk (listen) droppin' bombs. They've got Chico Mann (listen), the electro-Afrobeat side project of Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra guitarist Marcos García, to tear it up with vintage Casio keyboards. And then they've got barbecue chicken sandwiches -- seriously -- because what's Factback without BBQ? The cover is $10 for six hours of non-stop dancing, which we don't think you can match.

Steve Francis -- native of Takoma Park, savior of the 1998-99 Maryland Terrapins, 2000 NBA Rookie of the Year, three-time All-Star, frequently injured Houston Rocket -- never really hit the heights that his early career promised. (Francis was released by the Memphis Grizzlies in January without ever playing a game for the team.) But he's being honored in his old stomping grounds tonight at the Steve Francis Roast at Takoma Station. Former Def Comedy Jam host Joe Torry is the MC, and roasters include Terrapin legend Walt Williams and Francis' former teammates Sam Cassell and Cuttino Mobley. Tickets are $30 for reserved seats and $20 for general admission from Taz Events, and they include a buffet and drink specials. Proceeds will be donated to the Steve Francis Foundation, which organizes scholarships, an amateur basketball team and other programs for underprivileged boys and girls.

After the roast, the party moves to the Historical Society of Washington for an after party with performances by Slim Thug (listen), Devin the Dude (listen), Rare Essence (listen) and DJ Trini of WKYS. The party runs from 10 to 2; admission is $30 from Taz Events and $75 for VIP access.

The gentlemen behind DCDubstep.com -- aka the Dubstep Legion of Doom -- are hosting a special Labor Day Dubstep Party at Jimmy Valentine's Lonely Hearts Club, where they'll be blasting their favorite music -- rumbling bass, window-rattling low-end rhythms, weird electronic samples -- all night long. Grab some free tunes from dcdubstep.com before heading out to see Hubsmoke! vs. Mr.WIX (of DubFWD Baltimore) and Mob Barley vs. The Terrible Toyman. There's no cover. Music starts at 10.

Sunday, Sept. 6
For many urban tribes, brunch is a way of life. You can your extend your weekend of socializing and continue to imbibe in low-impact fashion. Maybe your brunch isn't rocking enough, though. Maybe you've wished to accompany your eggs and OJ with a funk/rock/go-go hybrid band. Breakfast Club at Indulj is that next level of brunch. The breakfast menu with the bottomless mimosa option starts at 3 p.m. and the Black Alley Band (listen) hits at 6. Get in early before showtime, avoid the cover charge and allow the brunch to settle before the cranking begins. Spike Lee, DJ Spinna and Q-Tip took over Prospect Park and Nokia Theater in New York to do their birthday tributes to Michael Jackson. Here in D.C., we've got DJ Dredd, whose parties packed in the dance-happy hordes even before the King of Pop's passing meant fans needed to appreciate Jackson's music communally. If you haven't blamed it on the boogie over the past couple of weeks, get it in tonight at the Black Cat for Dredd's last "versus" party of the year, Prince vs. Michael Jackson.

Mate is more of a restro-lounge than a lounge-lounge, so it doesn't show up too frequently in this column, unlike siblings Chi-Cha, Gazuza or Gua-Rapo. Tonight, though, is No Work or School Monday Eve, so Mate's having what sounds like a pretty cool party. As DJ Kimozaki (of Josephine/Loda) spins deep house, electro and Afrobeat (listen), he'll be accompanied by trumpeter Joe Brotherton and conga player Hermon Farahi. The bar is promising some summer-fruit cocktails (mojitos muddled with fresh strawberries and watermelon) for sipping from the seasonal menu. And hey, if you order any sushi with healthy brown rice, you get a free beer. There's no cover charge, and the music kicks off at 9.

Holiday weekends -- aka No Work No School Mondays -- have their own slate of regular events. At DC9, for example, Taint returns for another night of electro and indie dance music with DJs Austin, Fabiana and Verbal Kent. Doors open at 9, and there's a long line of gay men waiting to get in by 10. Arrive early or be prepared to wait.

Daylight, the afternoon/evening dance party of retro disco, rare grooves, house and garage, runs for the whole night at Bohemian Caverns when the next day's a holiday. Doors open at 7, and there are two-for-one cosmos, Heinekens and Coronas until 9. Get there by 9 to feast on the homemade soul food buffet, which is (honestly) almost as much of an attraction as DJs Source and Divine.

What would Labor Day be without drinking games? Gin and Tonic is hosting the third annual Late Night Shots Flip Cup Tournament in Glover Park. To understand what these parties are like, think of the most chaotic frat party you ever crashed. Now imagine it was full of 20-somethings with day jobs who needed to get it all out of their systems. In Glover Park. If you want to play, e-mail support@latenightshots.com with a team name and list of four players. Play begins at 8 p.m. Even if you're not playing, you can enjoy $8 pitchers of Bud Light, half-price Red Bull and vodka cocktails and other specials. A DJ spins hip-hop, rock and other dance music late into the night.

-- Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson

By Fritz Hahn  | September 2, 2009; 10:48 AM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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Man... check out the white man overbites in the pic!

Posted by: asdfasdfasdf123 | September 2, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

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