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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 09/23/2009

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Cover band extraordinaire Gonzo's Nose returns to its Clarendon stomping grounds this week, bringing $1 beers and over 30 percent off on New Year's Eve party tickets. (Joseph Allen)

A tribute to Patsy Cline, a celebration of Mystikal and the No Limit soliders, a happy hour with $1 beers and a band cranking out cover hits, outsider electronic music, charity happy hours and the tasty musical gumbo of the Cornel West Theory are high on our agendas this week. Don't miss two chances to see Eighteenth Street Lounge Records' newest artists: A German hip-hop duo named Ancient Astronauts.

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

Tuesday, Sept. 29
We don't really see much entertainment value -- beyond humor -- in a No Limit vs. Cash Money party. Well, actually, perhaps in a time long ago, there may have been a few incidents when a Guru or two got loose to "I'm 'Bout It, 'Bout It," "Back That Azz Up" or more entries in Mystikal's catalog than we'd readily acknowledge. At the turn of the century, these two New Orleans record labels made truckloads of money, dominated the clubs and the charts and through their patronage of the Pen & Pixel design firm, established a standard for album covers so absurd that the world will probably never see such Photoshop depravity again. Cash Money artists were actually responsible for creating and infecting the world with the term "bling." You can relive it all at Expo tonight as Nick The 1da and DJ Forge rock the party with nothing but No Limit and Cash Money hits and rarities.

Update: We moved the events we wrote about earlier in the week to the bottom of the post. This way, it's easier for you to find our nightlife picks for today at the top.

Wednesday, Sept. 23
It's a good week for interesting shows at venues off the beaten path. The Big Bear Cafe is turning into a nice DIY spot, especially for people who like their music wrapped up early in the evening. Music must be done by 10 p.m., but the Eckington coffee house is packing three worthy acts in before curfew hits. A friend from New York once called the Beets "the band that plays every show," so it's probably time this group got out of the boroughs and brought its fuzzy, woozy, two-minute pop songs to another town. There's not much to the songs, but the multi-part vocals are a definite calling card. Air Waves also hails from New York and plays hazy tunes, but the folky kick in Nicole Schneit's songs differentiates the band from much of the lo-fi crowd. Roanoke's Eternal Summers plays dreamy indie-pop that never gets too sleepy. In New York, this show would be at some fire hazard of a loft with one bathroom and no toilet paper. So enjoy our accommodations.

We can't not mention the show at the Black Cat's backstage tonight, with Chain and the Gang and Soft Power -- the new projects from D.C. rock favorites Ian Svenonious and Mary Timony, respectively -- especially after David spent an entire day this week listening to Helium, Timony's powerhouse band from the '90s. These two have been making great music for so long that they should have earned your trust long ago. But even the skeptics will be won over by Svenonious's unrivaled showmanship and Timony's sharp guitar playing and songwriting.

There's something amusing about getting an event invitation with a picture of Dolly Parton on it, but tonight's Working Women Happy Hour -- which quotes "9 to 5" on the flyer -- is a serious event; it raises money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Specials at Current include $3 edamame, $4 sushi rolls and $5 beers and cocktails from 5 to 8, and guests are invited to make a voluntary donation to the cause.

Thursday, Sept. 24
Before Patsy Cline shot to national stardom with "Walkin' After Midnight" and "I Fall to Pieces," she spent years performing at honky-tonks around the area -- rough-around-the-edges, Prince George's County nightspots like the Surf Club and Strick's. That's why it's appropriate that tonight's Tribute to Patsy Cline is taking place at JV's, the authentically retro roadhouse in Falls Church. Local alt-country stars Honky Tonk Confidential (listen) serve as the house band, while a rotating cast of Patsys, including Dagmar of the rockabilly band Dagmar and the Seductones and jazz singer Danielle Westphal, show off different sides of the country songbird.

Some of us are still trying to cope with the end of summer, but the early birds are already scoping out New Year's Eve. Really. Organizers of Downtown Countdown, the enormous black-tie party that packs thousands into the Grand Hyatt every Dec. 31, announced earlier this week that Third Eye Blind is headlining the event -- and really, who doesn't want to welcome 2010 by singing the biggest hits of 1997? Also playing at the black-tie open-bar party will be Gonzo's Nose, one of the area's finest '80s-and-'90s cover bands. Never heard them? Get a taste at Clarendon Grill during the Downtown Countdown Happy Hour, which features $1 draft beers from 5 to 9 and a show by the band from 5:30 to 7:30. It's also a chance to pick up New Year's Eve tickets for $101; they'll be at least $169 in December.

Washington is blessed with many great live music venues but there's a certain thrill to seeing a show in a completely bizarre setting. Haydee's is a small Mexican restaurant in Mount Pleasant that sometimes hosts jazz and go-go -- and rarely dips into outsider rock. But that's what's on the menu tonight as local band Buildings -- a dashiki-wearing, psychedelic instrumental quartet -- and Philadelphia's Make a Rising visit the tiny neighborhood spot. Make a Rising tackles any and all genres out there -- classical, jazz, prog, folk -- and always manages to make something exciting and listenable. And if the music isn't doing it for you, well, the wings should hit the spot.

Friday, Sept. 25
The Cornel West Theory (listen) carries an endorsement, philosophical similarities and even spoken-word contributions from its scholarly namesake, but it's much harder to actually describe the music the band creates. Built from components of D.C. hip-hop, jazz, soul and rock outfits going back to the late '90s, the Cornel West Theory can be compared to Immortal Technique and The Last Poets in the way its free-form verse and sample collages are welded to a booming drum chassis. Although punk isn't prominent in the group's stylistic mix, there's definitely some Bad Brains present in spirit. Tonight at Liv, Dr. West himself joins the band's release show for its first full-length album, "Second Rome."

It's time to bid farewell to the Modernist Society, Bourbon's on-again, off-again night of celebrity Q&A, intellectual stimulation and booze. Over the past few years, attendees have been able to ask questions of Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, U.S. Marine-turned-Al Jazeera correspondent Josh Rushing, "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" director Jeff Krulik, Jawbreaker/Jets to Brazil singer Blake Schwarzenbach, USA Today Pop Candy blogger Whitney Matheson and Thievery Corporation/Eighteenth Street Lounge magnate Eric Hilton. (And at the same time, they could enjoy cheap drinks and music spun by some of D.C.'s best DJs.) But now host Jason Mojica is moving to London and taking the concept with him. Before he takes off, he's holding one last event: A screening of the trailer for a new documentary about the 15,000 people who "disappeared" in Peru betweeen 1980 and 2000, when the country's government fought two revolutionary groups. Mojica is one of the filmmakers, and he'll be joined at this happy hour gathering by Jose Pablo Baraybar, the executive director of the Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team, which works to find, recover and identify bodies found in mass graves across the country. They're asking for a $5 donation to help support production of "Among the Living," and in return, you'll get discounted pisco cocktails, made with Peru's national drink.

The D.C. branch of Blackfinn just opened at the beginning of the month, but the upscale saloon and sports bar is already packing in happy hour crowds and leaving plenty of space on the calendar for charitable events. Tonight is a fundraiser for Pink Jams, a team participating in next year's Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. The recommended $20 donation -- not a cover -- includes two drinks and house appetizers. The event runs from 6 to 8.

Saturday, Sept. 26
There's an embarrassment of riches with this year's Sonic Circuits festival. The six-day celebration of the avant-garde is holding showcases everywhere from the Clarice Smith Center to the Black Cat. That's some serious venue diversity. The most bang for your buck (well, besides the multiple free shows, of course) is today's 12-hour extravaganza at the Velvet Lounge. Now you may say to yourself: "I can think of many activities I'd rather take part in than spend 12 hours at the Velvet Lounge." Fear not, you can come and go as you like. Of all of the insane, noisy and befuddling sounds, here are a pair of acts you shouldn't miss. The first is Jandek. If five years ago somebody said, "Jandek will play at the Velvet Lounge" the response would have been like this: 99 people saying, "What's a Jandek?" and one person laughing hysterically. But the long sequestered singer-songwriter has finally emerged after three decades of seclusion. There was a documentary made about him a few years ago and he wasn't even in it. But now he's embracing live performance in his own unique way. In each town he will perform with a different band consisting of people he has never played with. It means his wispy, idiosyncratic songs could take on any form. The other highlight is Tim Hecker, one of the most sought-after electronic music producers around, who also excels at creating dense, trippy, ambient soundscapes on his own.

You've probably never heard German hip-hop. That's cool. You're probably laughing at the idea and getting ready to skip to the next blurb. But seriously, before you do, you need to open this MySpace link and lend an ear to the Ancient Astronauts, a duo out of Cologne who've worked with the Pharcyde and Fort Knox Five and are the newest signings to Eighteenth Street Lounge Records. (Oh, now you're interested.) Kabanjak and Dogu cut up rare grooves and funk with updated hip-hop beats in the style of DJ Spooky or Quantic -- raw, dance-floor-filling music that occasionally bears a close resemblance to something off "Ill Communication." Ancient Astronauts lands in D.C. for two gigs this weekend: On Saturday, they'll be at the opening of Life Essentials, an art show with 100 local and international artists raising money for humanitarian projects in sub-Saharan Africa. (All the art is for sale, and it heads for the huge Art Basel show in Miami next, so if you see something you like, snap it up.) A $25 donation is required for entry at the Portals Theater; doors open at 6 and the party goes until midnight.

Speaking of Germans -- have you celebrated Oktoberfest yet? There are a couple of chances this weekend. Das Best Oktoberfest, an outdoor festival at National Harbor, is closer to "Beerfest" than beer heaven -- alongside more than 100 brews for sampling, you'll find a "Best Beer Belly" Contest, a "Miss Oktoberfest" competition and live rock bands. Meanwhile, the not-really-so-German Bartoberfest bar crawl has moved to Penn Quarter this year, with beer specials -- think $2 Coors Light -- at seven venues, including Rocket Bar, R.F.D. and Bar Louie.

Little Miss Whiskey's Golden Dollar has been rotating the best jocks through its elevated, retro-vinyl-covered DJ booth since opening a few weeks ago. The goal is not to create theme nights but to always have a variety of quality dance music rocking on weekends. You never know who'll be on the decks, but you can expect that they'll be top notch. Tonight Sharkey teams up with Ronnie Darko of Fully Fitted, Spank Rock and Amanda Blank fame. Admission is always free.

The Congressional Black Caucus is taking over D.C. this week, and we mean taking over -- a number of venues will be completely closed to the public on certain nights, including Love (Friday) and the Park at 14th (Saturday), for private affairs with celebrity guests. If you're hitting some of the CBC events, it's nice to get away from all the "special invited guests" and "announced celebrities" to just chill and network and enjoy the scene. That's where the Day Party at Skye Lounge comes in. It's an extended Saturday afternoon and evening happy hour with free hors d'oeuvres, music from DJ Jahsonic of Marvin's Main Ingredient, drink specials that start at 2 p.m. (including $4 mojitos) and no dress code. We have the feeling this is going to be a popular destination, so get there early.

Sunday, Sept. 27
More Ancient Astronauts goodness tonight (see Saturday for more on the German hip-hop artists): The duo will be DJing on Eighteenth Street Lounge's patio while deep house master Sam "The Man" Burns holds it down in the Gold Room. There's no cover, look for drink specials before 11:30.

Monday, Sept. 28
Atlanta female foursome the Coathangers is one of those bands you can't help but fall in love with. They play short, ragged, catchy, punky/new wavey songs with lots of screaming and cursing. Just because a band is having fun on stage doesn't automatically make it a good show, but when the band in question plays infectious songs and you feel like you're sitting in on a practice or a party, it sure helps. Also, the Coathangers were totally on "L.A. Ink." Thee Lexington Arrowsand Foul Swoops open at the Black Cat's backstage.

-- Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson

By Fritz Hahn  | September 23, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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FYI, Big Bear is in bloomingdale (barely) not eckington. Respect the hood...

Posted by: thadude33 | September 23, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

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