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Posted at 8:26 PM ET, 10/ 6/2009

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Fort Knox Five's new album isn't out until next month, but we're betting you'll hear some tunes from it when they play on Tuesday night. And even if you've never heard them before, we bet it will make you dance. (John Falls)

Our week kicks off with happy hours and a date auction, and winds through multiple Oktoberfest parties (including one hosted by the Gurus), swaggering New Orleans jazz, a pre-CD release party with the Fort Knox Five, the return of Dinosaur Jr., the last-ever Taint, a new DJ night on H Street NE and Nadastrom's final D.C. appearance of 2009.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Tuesday

Wednesday, Oct 7
We love a good charity fundraiser, especially when it combines free drinks and a date auction. Put Your Best Foot Forward, an organization that provides job training and business attire for homeless and low-income residents of D.C., is taking over Midtown Loft tonight, and in addition to the bar's usual "free beer from 5 to 6" promotion, you'll get buy-one, get-one-free drinks until 10 p.m. And then there's the date auction -- scope out the potential Mister and Miss Rights on the Put Your Best Foot Forward Web site, and bid knowing that your money goes to a good cause. (We should also add that there's a suggested $10 donation at the door, and five percent of the bar's total take goes to the charity.)

The atmospheric wine bar at Bistrot Lepic has long been a Guru favorite, especially on Tuesdays, when two selected wines or champagnes are free for customers to taste. (This week: a 2007 Bouchard Ainé & Fils pinot noir and a 2008 La Garenne sancerre.) But now the Burleith wine bar is trying to lure us in the rest of the week with a new after-work happy hour that features of all the wines on the all-French list for half-price. This means half-glasses for $2.50 to $3.50 and full pours for $3.50 to $7.50, plus a menu of small plates for $5 each. Deals run from 5:30 to 7 every day except Tuesday, so don't miss out.

Thursday, Oct. 8
Munich's Oktoberfest ended on Sunday, but on this side of the Atlantic, the parties will continue for a few more weeks. For example: The monthly Going Out Guide happy hour -- hosted by yours truly -- is taking over the Capitol City Brewing Company on Capitol Hill. We'll have Cap City's excellent Oktoberfest beer (and several others) for $3.50 from 6 to 8, and there'll be free food (crab bites, spring rolls, wings) while it lasts. You can also enter our raffle to win a $100 gift certificate to Cap City or tickets to next month's Capital Food Fight.

When proto-grunge heroes Dinosaur Jr. (listen) reconvened its original lineup in 2005, it seemed like just another one of those quick cash-in band reunions. But then something funny happened. After a successful tour of ear-bleeding slacker anthems and guitar heroics from J Masics, the once volatile trio decided to stick together and give it another go as a full-time band. The results have been overwhelmingly successful; there's two albums of new material that sound right at home with the band's mid-'80s classics. That means the band's current shows succeed both as nostalgia (hearing "Freak Scene" will make you a bit misty) but also as something new and exciting. As a bonus, Dinosaur bassist Lou Barlow opens this 9:30 club show in support of his excellent new solo album.

Woe to Meshell Ndegeocello (listen) fans who get stuck at one point in her discography and can't move on, because once the diminutive funkateer with the husky voice and thumping basslines is on to something else, you probably won't get the same old hits in her show. For those of us that have grown with her, this constant evolution is what makes her so compelling. She came out the box with dance floor funk and then touched hip-hop, rock, fusion jazz, downtempo electronica. Lately, she's returned to the sensual and wrenching ballads from her 1993 debut. Touring in support of her album "Devil's Halo," she hits the Black Cat tonight with Kokayi, an artist equally eclectic in style and presentation.

Cold weather has finally arrived, but before you pack your summer clothes away for the season, give your shorts one last workout at Shorts, the only DJ night that requires everyone to be wearing jorts, Daisy Dukes, cutoffs or Umbros to get past the bouncers. (Seriously, we've seen people get denied at Asylum's front door for rolling up their jeans.) Once inside, dance to a mix of electro, jock rock and cheesy hits, and post up at the bar and sip on $20 bottles of California "champagne."

Tanya Morgan (listen) knows how to tap into the "swagger" that today's young hip-hop listeners obsess over but can barely define. The trio of three guys (none of whom are named Tanya or Morgan) can also back it with golden-era qualities like wit, knocking beats and serious wordplay; they're among the best of the crop of underground rappers. Like their contemporaries Little Brother, Tanya Morgan can be considered direct descendants of the Native Tongues posse. So it's fitting that tonight's show at Liv pairs them with Black Sheep, the slightly raunchier cousins on the Native Tongue family tree, best known for their "Wolf In Sheep's Clothing" album from the early '90s.

Friday, Oct. 9
Nadastrom's productions (listen) and live sets are like the dance-music equivalent of the mythical Spinal Tap amplifier that goes to 11. Their style pushes club, house and electro sounds to a hyper-concentrated energy level. For the popular duo, peak time isn't just 1 a.m., it's the whole five or more hours of their set. Their "Saved" EP is poised to shoot up the charts like their previous work and put them on a lot of planes and stages, so tonight's party at the Loft will be your last time to catch them in D.C. until well into 2010.

This weekend's Equality Across America march is expected to bring a large gay and lesbian crowd to the Mall, so bars are gearing up to welcome visitors. Town is hosting a special 18-and-over Friday night party for the college student organizations coming into town, with DJ Wess spinning dance-floor-friendly remixes upstairs and Back2bAck doing video remixes on the first level. The Black Cat's Right Round Up! switches DJ Lil E's popular '80s-'90s-'00s dance night from the backstage to the much larger mainstage, with guest DJ Joshua sitting in. And over at Phase One, the nation's oldest lesbian bar offers DJs from 9 p.m. on and $3 Sol and Dos Equis beers all night. The $10 cover goes to the National Equality March.

Sova is one of H Street's little gems. The homey, sofa-filled wine bar is just enough off the beaten track -- hidden on the other side of the Rock and Roll Hotel -- that it's rarely too crowded to enjoy a drink, even on weekends. That could be changing with the introduction of Sova Sessions, which tonight features DJ Sean Gone (of Mechanix) spinning "lounge, lo-fi, and chill house" from 9 to 1. There's no cover.

Saturday, Oct. 10
These days, we can't go a weekend without a beer-centric Oktoberfest party, and this time it's Rustico's turn. The excellent Alexandria beer bar (and restaurant) hosts a family-friendly celebration in its parking lot every year. We're always jealous of the kids who get to go on the moon bounce, but if those whippersnappers had any idea how good the two dozen beers on tap are, they'd be jealous of the adults, too (and not just because the party goes past their bedtimes). Beer director Greg Engert is offering a seasonal mix, with multiple pumpkin brews (Will Stevens' Organic Pumpkin Ale from Wolaver's, Southern Tier's Pumking Ale and a cask of Clipper City's Imperial Pumpkin Ale) as well as German (and German-style) beers like Avery's the Kaiser and Schlenkerla's smoky, almost bacony Urbock. Local bands, including Emmett Swimming (listen) and New Rock Church of Fire (listen), provide the entertainment. Admission is free; beers will cost between $5 and $10 per serving.

Synth-pop is a genre that goes in many directions. It could mean glossy, mindless dance-pop that's just a step away from the disposable trash played in most nightclubs. It could mean blatant, faceless regurgitation of '80s favorites like Depeche Mode or OMD. But then a band like Former Ghosts (listen) gets it right. It keeps the retro feel while adding a sinister and minimalist edge to its synth-driven songs. Instead of using four-on-the-floor beats, the trio opts for a foreboding drone that manages to still sound inviting. Opener the Laughing Man is one of the best and most diverse local bands; listen for its regular show-stopping closing tune called "Treat Me Like I Matter."

"Back in the Day" is the perfect name for the lineup of DJs at the Trinidad and Tobago clubhouse tonight, as the list of performers is a guaranteed blast-from-the-past for anyone who went clubbing around D.C. in the '90s and the early part of this decade: Scott Henry, the founder of Buzz, whose mixes were essential listening for anyone who loved house and rave music; Slant, one of the foremost progenitors of drum'n'bass nights with the 2Tuff collective; and Ray Casil of the house-heavy Drive Safe Crew; Buster, who threw (and spun at) underground parties with the Snowball Collective. Even if you weren't around when these guys were ruling the scene, this looks to be one heck of a party. The cover is $10 before 1 a.m., which is your clue how late the beats will be working.

Sunday, Oct. 11
Taint, the five-year-old dance party that was founded to give D.C.'s gay indie-loving crowd an alternative to the Madonna/Cher/remix-fueled club scene, is wrapping up Sunday after one last party. And what a party it should be. Expect DJs spanning Taint's lifespan, including Ca$$idy (Garutachi), K La Rock (First Ladies DJ Collective), Bill Spieler (Liberation Dance Party) and Gavin Holland (Nouveau Riche) providing rock, electro and hip-hop beats for a room of dressed-down, ready-to-dance revelers. On a normal holiday weekend, the line outside DC9 can stretch down to the corner of U Street. Since this is Equality march weekend and the final Taint ever, we suggest getting there extra early.

With its slide in the right hands, the trombone can scream, moan and laugh in ways that make the instrument one of the closest cousins to the human voice in its expressiveness. The Rebirth Brass Band (listen) puts two of them up front along with trumpets, sousaphone, a sax and of course drums. The effect is like a gospel choir singing in a language that you can feel but not translate. Since 1982, this outfit has brought the second-line sound to the world with funky explosive shows that get rags waving in the air. The group even infuses hip-hop and R&B covers with rootsy, Crescent City-style brass band jazz. (And if you listen to that MySpace link above, do not miss the killer version of Chuck Brown's "Bustin' Loose.")

Tuesday, Oct. 13
The Fort Knox Five (listen) is a D.C. supergroup of sorts: Steve Raskin and Sid Barcelona of Thunderball, a duo that created electronica influenced by '60s spy soundtracks; Thievery Corporation guitarist/sitarist Rob Myers; and party-rocking DJ JonH. The music they produce is among the richest funk and breakbeats coming out of this city. Check the deep basslines, cracking drums and rhythms that draw from underground hip-hop, salsa, old-school Jamaican reggae and vintage Stax Records cuts, and it's easy to see why they've recorded with Afrika Bambaataa and toured with Gwen Stefani. Though FK5's next album, "The New Gold Standard 2," won't be released until Nov. 3, this late-night 9:30 club concert, with the acclaimed Dutch DJ trio Kraak and Smaak (listen), serves as an early album-release party of sorts.

-- Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson

By Fritz Hahn  | October 6, 2009; 8:26 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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