Friday, Oct. 16
French DJ Francois K (listen) has had an indelible touch on dance music since the 1970s, when he spun disco and house at the Paradise Garage and Studio 54 in New York. In the '80s and '90s, he was a producer and remixer for Depeche Mode, the Pet Shop Boys, the Smiths, the Cure, U2 and Kraftwerk. These days, he can fill clubs from London to Ibiza with a mix of house, Detroit techno and electro, and he still holds down a weekly dub-focused residency in New York called Deep Space. When he comes to D.C., he plays ... Muse. Go figure, but don't miss an opportunity to see Francois K in such an intimate setting. Tickets for the 18-and-over event are $10 in advance, $15 at the door before 11 and more afterward.
Established DJ archetypes range from the haughty superstar to the competitive battle nerd. Kid Koala's persona is different from everyone one else in the game: he's the joyous child at play. The stories he tells with records combine amazing skill, a goofy sense of humor and endearing showmanship; he's one of the few technicians who can enchant crowds who have no idea what happens when an expert puts needle to vinyl. His tours are full of circus tricks ranging from multiple-DJ-and-musician ensembles to multimedia/DJ/comedy interplay. For this stop at the Loda party at Gallery, the wax magician will be rocking on four turntables simultaneously.
N'Dambi's southern molasses drawl (listen) can take you to church, the bedroom or the juke joint. Her striking looks seem pulled from a '70s black velvet painting, and her warm contralto can immerse you in a world informed by southern hip-hop beats, classic funk and Nina Simone. Her new album, "Pink Elephant," is on the venerable Stax label, and it both honors its history and gives the label a new future. A frequent D.C. visitor, she'll be at Liv tonight for the first time since the new record dropped.
One of the coolest events to hit the area in a while is this weekend's New Kind of Kick Fest at Silver Spring's Quarry House Tavern. It's a simple concept -- get a whole bunch of steamrolling rock-and-roll bands together for three nights and two full days of flat-out rock. Garage rock is the name of the game: there will be plenty of "Nuggets"-inspired rock to last you a long while, but you can also expect to hear some straight-up punk, soul-rock and power pop. Friday's kickoff shows features everyone's favorite local rabblerousers the Points, who spit out great songs as often as they spit out beer. Thee Crucials -- breakneck punk with a bit of swing -- and the Saviours also play Friday. Saturday and Sunday are full-day affairs with more than a dozen total bands. The highlights are plentiful -- gritty duo Two Tears, local psychobilly vets the Ubangis, and Georgia's spiky the Humms bring the noise on Saturday, starting at 3 p.m. Sunday's show starts at 4 p.m. with more garage goodness from the likes of Electric Shadows, Pessimist Parade and Fishnet Stalkers. If you're expecting the usual, arms-folded, standing-still crowds that D.C. has a reputation for, you will think you've landed on another planet.
Saturday, Oct. 17
The nonprofit One Brick organizes volunteers to go and work for a variety of other nonprofit groups. Jobs might include cooking at D.C. Central Kitchen, sorting food at the Capital Area Food Bank, taking children with physical disabilities bowling or planting and pruning at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. (See a full calendar on One Brick's event page.) The clincher is that after volunteering, everyone goes out for a celebratory get-to-know-you happy hour. One Brick is kicking off its D.C. campaign with a fundraising party at the Hawk and Dove. The $30 donation includes an open bar from 7 to 9 and happy hour deals from 9 to 11, raffles and a DJ. See the One Brick page to purchase advance tickets.
Not everyone has finished up their Best of 2000s list. David's still got some work to do on his, but one album that's sitting pretty comfortably in the top 10 right now (well, No. 8 to be exact) is "Tender Buttons," the 2005 release from U.K. electronic duo Broadcast. On that record, the band dumped two members and traded in its swirling, neo-psychedelic space-age sounds for icy, minimalist keyboard-driven tunes. It was deconstruction at its finest. After disappearing off the map for a few years, the band just returned with a new EP that's more snippets of sonic wizardry than actual songs, so they don't take full advantage of singer Trish Kennan's deceptively seductive vocals. Those will be in full effect on Saturday at the Black Cat, though. Opening act Atlas Sound is the side project from Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox, although it's getting tougher to call it a side project after the release of "Logos," a slinky album of post-pop that very much follows in the footsteps of recent work by Animal Collective. (In fact, the album's best track, "Walkabout," features AC's Panda Bear.) To bring it all back home, the O'Brian System -- that'd be Geologist from Animal Collective -- will be DJing between sets.
Doug Martsch might want to think about suing Activision. As the frontman of Built to Spill, he's been doing the guitar hero thing for nearly two decades now. (OK, there were maybe a few folks before Martsch who could claim that title as well.) After the twin peaks of late-'90s cornerstones "Perfect From Now On" and "Keep It Like a Secret," the band went on a steady decline, although the live shows were still full of six-string wizardry. If new album "There Is No Enemy" isn't quite up to the level of those classics, the songs are certainly more than just filler between "Velvet Waltz" and "You Were Right." And you're almost certain to hear "Carry the Zero," which endures as one of the great indie guitar anthems of the past few decades. It's a late show at 9:30 club.
Curiosity? Performance art? Indulgence? A combination of all three? The musical landscape is littered with failed vanity projects from actors who thought they were musicians -- and that's just the Scarlett Johansson section of the used bin -- but there seems to be something different about Dead Man's Bones, the band featuring Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Gosling and fellow actor Zach Shields. There's certainly no pop ambition -- the songs on the band's debut album combine an odd dichotomy of pre-rock-and-roll pop sensibilities with themes of monsters, graveyards and zombies. Neither Gosling nor Shields serves as the star of the album; that would be the Silverlake Conservatory Childrens Choir, which provides choral backing vocals on most of the songs and adds to the spooky feel. The show at Sixth and I Synagogue will be the band's fourth ever, and they have admitted that they are still learning how to play their instruments. The opening act is still undetermined. The band is holding open auditions for "performers of all ages and any kind of talent" who submit a video. As of Tuesday afternoon, the pair was still searching for performers. This is truly a show that could go in any direction.
Sunday, Oct. 18 Art Brut (listen) is anything but a conventional rock-and-roll band. Start with the fact that frontman Eddie Argos talks (or sing-speaks) his way through all the band's jerky garagey art-rock songs. Then look at the way he can develop key hooks from phrases like "I don't know how I managed to do this, but I woke up this morning covered in bruises" and "How have I only just discovered the Replacements? Some of them are as old as my parents!" Argo's excitable personality is the band's singular identifying feature; the group's raucous live shows involve him twirling his microphone over his head a la Robert Pollard and stopping in the middle of songs to discuss his love life. When your "singer" can get a crowd chanting "I fought the floor and the floor won!" and "Formed a band! We formed a band! Look at us! We formed a band!" over and over, it's something to behold. If Art Brut's last visit to the Black Cat was any indication, tonight's show, which should feature new material from the strong "Art Brut vs. Satan" album, should be even better.
Update: We moved the events that have already occurred to the bottom of the post.
Wednesday, Oct 14
Good news for bargain lovers: Science Club's popular "every hour is happy hour" promotion, which extends happy hour from 5 to 8 p.m. to 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., will be running for the rest of October. Good news for music lovers: a new DJ night on Wednesdays called Ill Experiment finds DJ Lil' El (of the '90s hip-hop night Kids and the all-women Spinsters) inviting her friends to join her on the decks. Tonight's kickoff brings DJ Deep Sang, who spins hip-hop and funk at Wonderland's Dirty Bombs and Rock and Roll Hotel's the Affair. Combine the tunes with the deals ($3 Yuengling and PBR, $4 mixed drinks, $5 Chilean wines by the glass) and you may have a new favorite weekly event.
The Tom Collins is one of those cocktails on the verge of being forgotten -- if you've heard of it, that might be because your grandfather or great aunt still enjoys the gin/soda/lemon/sugar concoction, which was first popular in the 19th century. But like the gin rickey, the simple, delicious Tom Collins is getting a second look these days. Learn how to make a proper Tom Collins -- and, more important, try one -- at Room 11 tonight between 6 and 8. Owner/mixologist Dan Searing is the host, and since the event is sponsored by Bombay Sapphire gin, everything from the tastes to the lessons is free.
Thursday, Oct 15
We find it hard to shy away from the joyous sounds of a Brazilian samba, a smooth-and-sexy bossa nova or the uptempo electronic beats of baile funk. Apparently we're not alone -- witness the crowds who pack the dance floor at Saint-Ex's Brazilian Rhythms party. DJ Neville Chamberlain -- a.k.a. Som Records owner Neal Becton -- makes regular record-buying trips to Rio and saves the best ones to spin on the third Thursday of the month. The tropical beats are so infectious that you'll find yourself grooving along with the Brazilian embassy staffers before you know what hit you. (We have to admit the potent caipirinha cocktails, made with Brazilian sugar cane liqueur, might play a part in that, too.)
It's going to get tribal and spiritual inside DC9 Thursday night. San Francisco's Om plays heavy, slow, droning songs: the kind that inspire listeners to stand still, close their eyes, slowly lurch forward every few seconds and nod their heads. Is it sinister? Hypnotic? A little of both. Bassist Al Cisneros and drummer Emil Amos make plenty of noise for just a duo, but as expected from a rhythm-section-only lineup, a lot of it has a vibrating, low sound. There may come a time when you feel like you aren't at a hip U Street club, but instead at some millennium-ago Druid ritual.
Marie Daulne is the heiress to the Mothership, but instead of Clintonian funk sludge, her otherwordliness comes from a mastery of multiple tongues, mimicry of the sounds of the natural world and a sexy comedienne approach to delivering global soul that flirts with burlesque. Zap Mama (listen) consists of Daulne and her band of super sister musicians and vocalists. Get beamed up to their planet at the Black Cat tonight.
If you read a newspaper from a major metropolitan area about four hours north of here, you may have seen an article about the Ivy Plus Society, a series of networking/dating events for anyone -- especially singles -- who attended an Ivy League university or a similarly-ranked institution, like Stanford or M.I.T. We laughed. But now the Ivy Plus parties are coming to D.C., beginning tonight at Lux Lounge. (Really? The monied and pedigreed couldn't find a better venue than Lux? And they refer to "snafoos" on their Web site?) Okay, before anyone writes us off as Ivy League haters, here's what you need to know: RSVP at ivyplussociety.org. Admission is $15. There's a cash bar. Doors open at 6.
When a DJ party urges you to "Wear your best pair of overalls, lots of CK-One, and Doc Martens," then it's pretty hard to resist -- especially if you went to high school in the 1990s. The Peach Pit -- named after the "90210" hangout -- comes from the minds of DJs Robert Bozick and Matt Bailer, who spins at the popular and nomadic Mixtape dance party. They'll be spinning '90s dance music at Dahlak all night with no cover charge.
Happy anniversary to the Red Derby, which celebrates its second year tonight with drink specials and fun for regulars and regulars-to-be. Drop by and order something from the extensive list of canned beers (Schlitz and a shot for $5!), play Trivial Pursuit at the bar and meet some new people .
-- Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson
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