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Posted at 10:15 PM ET, 10/27/2009

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Cardiff, Wales, trio Future of the Left rose from the ashes of the great (but mostly unheard) Mclusky. (Mei Lewis)

It's Halloween Week -- like Shark Week, but with more vampires -- and there are plenty of chances for freaks to go out the next couple of nights. Think your costume can win a $5,000 cash prize or a stay at a four-star hotel in Paris? Want to dress like a "Twilight" extra? Just want to enjoy a really good cocktail or some funky tunes? We have got plenty of options. But then there's also plenty of live music this week, including Future of the Left, Saul Williams and Living Colour, the Vivian Girls and a local hair metal cover band.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Monday

Wednesday, Oct 28
For us, cold weather means saying farewell to light summer beers and dishes and hello to heartier fare at local watering holes. For some people, it also means pumpkin-carving. You can welcome the nip in the air at Granville Moore's All-American Harvest Celebration, which features all of the above. Sample four beers, including Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale, rich with seasonal spices, and the strong, dark Brooklyn Local 2, a Belgian ale from the Brooklyn Brewing Co. Grab something to eat at a mac-and-cheese bar, taste a beer, cheese and sausage soup, or build your own veggie or bison sliders. (There are plenty of other options, including funnel cakes and authentic buffalo wings.) The Belgian gastro-pub will also be handing out pumpkins and carving tools - the winner, as judged by the audience, takes home a $100 gift certificate. Make reservations in advance by calling the restaurant.

Halloween may be Saturday, but that won't stop promoters whose weekly events are a few days early. Ohhhh no. Tattoo Bar's weekly '80s night is hosting a "Revenge of the Nerds"-themed throwdown, though you're free to wear a costume of any era or a character from a similarly iconic '80s film. (We'd vote for someone dressed up as the "Caddyshack" gopher.) There are a number of prizes -- a table and tab on an upcoming Friday night for the best outfit and bottles of champagne for the 10 runners up. The night kicks off with an open bar from 10 to 11, and it includes a photo booth and VJs spinning a mix of pop, hip-hop and metal until 2. There's no cover if you RSVP on the event's Facebook page.

And now for a different kind of '80s night: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is an every-other-week party focused on new wave and underground hits from the late '70s and early '80s: think Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Killing Joke, Cabaret Voltaire and Depeche Mode, with some more familiar Pet Shop Boys, New Order and Cure thrown in. It's free, and it runs from 8 to 1 at Little Miss Whiskey's Golden Dollar. No dress code, so you can wear whatever.

You'll usually find plenty of folks dressed up at Kostume Karaoke, whether borrowing hats, wigs and accessories from the selection provided by the organizers, or wearing their own sparkly dresses as they hit the stage to sing. But throw in a Halloween costume contest with cash prizes ... that should make Solly's U Street Tavern more interesting. (Hint: a pregnant nun won last year, so get creative.)

Midtown Loft continues to be a reliable venue for those who want to have drinks for a good cause. Tonight's happy hour specials benefit the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk: For a suggested donation of $5 to $10, you get free beer from 5 to 6, $5 cocktails until 8 p.m. and entry into a number of raffles.

Thursday, Oct 29
Halloween: It's not just for little kids (or adults) anymore. Or at least not at the Hotel Monaco's annual Doggie Happy Hour Howloween, which finds the area's biggest canine-friendly happy hour full of costume-wearing patrons of both the two- and four-legged variety. There's a good reason for this, besides how much fun it is to dress poor Fido like a Jedi, a 1920s gangster or, in the case of last year, Sarah Palin. (Pictures) The costume contests have some pretty sweet prizes, including a deluxe stay at the dog-friendly 70 Park Avenue Hotel in New York for the top, er, dog. (Other categories include "best dressed" and "most glamorous." To compete, get your pooch to the hotel between 4:30 and 5:30. All dogs enjoy free water and treats until 8 p.m., while their humans get drink specials from the adjoining Jackson 20 lounge.

Thursday's one of those critical mass days for rock fans in the D.C. area. The most interesting show, when you consider all elements, would be Vivian Girls (listen) at Corpse Fortress in Silver Spring. Corpse Fortress (906 Philadelphia Ave., Silver Spring) isn't a club, just a house. Why is one of the most hyped and blogged-about bands playing a house show? Well, there's a lot going on in town -- by the time the band was finding a place to play, everything was likely booked. But it also speaks to the Vivian Girls' sensibilities that they wouldn't just skip D.C. or try to find a show in Baltimore; they would be down for playing a house show in Silver Spring. And it's actually a fitting locale. Vivian Girls' ramshackle indie-pop is basically party music. It doesn't need a fancy sound system or monitors or other accoutrements regularly found at rock clubs. You can't understand any of the vocals in the first place, anyway: the distorted, fuzzy guitars rule. The short songs mean a short set, so it's perfect for a house show.

Over at Comet Ping Pong the Heiz (listen) are likely to put on a lesson in over-the-top rock-and-roll showmanship. And they'll do it in a way that only a Japanese band that sounds like it should be on Sun Records and play at CBGB should. Japanese bands are often much better at taking classic American sounds and making them sound relevant than American bands, and the Heiz is no exception. There'll be chugging old-school rock-and-roll and riffs right out of the Chuck Berry songbook, delivered with the no-nonsense punk attitude of the Ramones. Expect fancy outfits, plenty of stage presence and just a general good time.

Now, "just a general good time" is not something you'll hear when talking about Black Heart Procession (listen). For more than a decade the San Diego group has mined the dark corners of despair and angst, playing bleak, gut-wrenching ballads that still manage to be musically invigorating. Get gloomy at the Black Cat. Over at the Velvet Lounge, Montreal psych-pop group the High Dials (listen) will show how its repertoire's expanded to include some dreamier and spacier materials, as well as swirling hooks.

But as appealing as all of those options are, when Future of the Left (listen) is in town, there really aren't any other options. The most annoying trend in reading concert reviews on the Internet is how every night, every band "killed it!" How is this possible? Isn't the word "killed" being used a little too freely? Not the case with Welsh trio Future of the Left, which does, in fact, kill it every night. There's absolutely a violent edge to the band's songs, from the gut-punching rhythms to the piercing guitar to Andy Falkous's maniacal shouting on songs such as "You Need Satan More Than He Needs You." It's not all frightening, though -- hooks are packed into the short bursts of fury, and the band has perfected call-and-response vocals. This band will kill it, and you'll leave the club feeling indisputably alive.

The vagabond '80s Dance Party is on the move again. The 14-year-old retro party has left 18th and Red, and its annual "Thriller" Halloween party will be at Asylum. (Something tells us there will be more Michael Jackson costumes than in years past.) Get $4 rail drinks and Yuengling drafts until 11. Make sure you're dressed up or you might feel left out.

A few years ago, Alchemy was the biggest dance party for D.C.'s goth/industrial dance scene. It's making a timely return tonight -- three years since the last event -- with the appropriately titled "Spooky" at Town Danceboutique. The old DJs -- including RasDNA, 2501 and Solaries (now of Midnight) -- are getting back together Voltron-style for a night that will include a performance by the DDP Drill Team dancers, a costume contest and even a section for clothing vendors. (You can even get "chain mail accessories!") Doors for the 18-and-over party open at 2, and there's a $10 cover.

Friday, Oct. 30
Got a good costume? A really good costume? Then you should be at Clarendon Ballroom tonight, where DC101's annual Elliott in the Morning Halloween Bash is giving away $3,000 for the best outfit. Sure, you'll get DJs, live music, drink specials, etc. But man -- $3,000 for a costume. The cover is $10 before 10 and $15 after.

Halloween and charity -- what could be better? Halloween Eve II at Mate is a costume party to raise money for TaYa, an organization for Ethiopian youth that's current working with the Willard Hotel to provide sanitary water for a primary school. Your $20 contribution at the door is worth an open bar from 7 to 9, free snacks and a magic show, plus there will be a costume contest with prizes from the Willard and Mate's sister lounges (Chi-Cha, Gazuza, Gua-Rapo, etc.) The party runs until 11. To RSVP or for more information, e-mail

With a creative take on the party-rocking that every DJ in the city is going to try to maximize this weekend, DJ Smudge and Harry Dixon offer their Night of the Living Dead at Little Miss Whiskey's Golden Dollar. Their crates and playlists this evening consist only of artists who have passed from the realm of the living to the great tour bus beyond. Admission is free, and costumes are advisable.

Saturday, Oct. 31
It's Halloween. We're not going to list every party we have -- click here to see all the Halloween events -- but we'll call our our favorites below. First, though, we have a couple of warnings for you. Don't be stupid. Please designate a driver or use Metro. SoberRide is in effect this weekend, with free taxi rides home between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. for anyone in the D.C. region. Call 1-800-200-TAXI (8294) and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program will get you a cab and put $50 towards your fare. It can take a while for the cab to get to you -- we recommend calling at least half an hour before you think you'll need it.

Also, be aware that bars are going to be crowded, especially in places like Adams Morgan and Dupont. You may want to head out earlier than usual if you don't like waiting in line.

Now, some Halloween events that sound cool:

Internationally respected trance DJ Cedric Gervais (listen), who regularly headlines clubs on multiple continents, headlines the Hot 99.5 Freek-O-Ween party at Fur, but we're guessing the $5,000 costume contest will be a bigger drawn for some people. Get there early, because Hot 99.5 personalities will be prowling the club looking for the best outfits. They'll winnow it down to a group of semifinals, who will strut their stuff on stage. The winner will be chosen by audience applause. Besides Gervais, Hot 99.5 DJs will be spinning hip-hop and dance music in multiple rooms for this 18-and-over party.

The annual Monster Bash at Clarendon Ballroom has gotten so big this year that's it's splitting into two parties: One runs from 4 to 8 (the Halloween Monster Jam) and one from 8 to 1 (the Halloween Monster Bash). Both feature live music by cover band Burnt Sienna and rockers Mr. Greengenes, plus DJ Lil' Fos and respective costume contests. It all comes down to convenience: Hit the early party and move elsewhere, or hang out at the Ballroom all night. (It's $10 if you arrive before 8 and $20 afterward, no matter how long you stay.)

Town is hosting two separate Halloween costume contests during its Ghostown party: One for the best drag costume, which will be held right after the weekly drag show, and one for the best get-up, which will be on stage around 12:30. (There's a $1,000 cash prize.) DJ Ed Bailey -- the man behind Town and the creator of the long-running Velvet Nation parties -- spins dance music on the main floor all night long.

Helix Lounge is hosting a Vampire Ball tonight, and we're down with the cover charge -- free -- and a special menu of $8 cocktails like the Vampire's Kiss (vodka and Black Raz liqueur, topped with champagne), dancing and a vampire costume contest. Prizes include two-night stays at Helix for the best vampire and best couple, one-night stays for the scariest and best non-vampire costumes, and $50 gift certificates for the sexiest vampire and, in a nice touch, "best vampire victim."

At $75 a ticket, the Gibson's Corpse Revival -- named after the famous Corpse Reviver cocktail -- is pricier than most things we'll recommend, but the all-inclusive ticket covers drinks from 8:30 to 2:30, food from the bar's new menu, a pumpkin-carving contest (BYO) and a chance to be among the first to check out the new second-level bar and lounge. The back patio will also be tented and heated. Call the bar for reservations.

Things to Do D.C.'s annual Graveyard Jam at the Hard Rock Cafe doesn't alter the formula much from year to year, but they still get a thousand young professionals through the doors every year for dancing to retro and Top 40 favorites, a costume contest (grand prize: a trip to Aruba), apple bobbing, drink specials and hors d'oeuvres. One new thing this year: live music by cover band Suspicious Package.

The top prize at the Alliance Francaise's Halloween in Paris costume party at Napoleon: Two nights at a four-star hotel in Paris, right in the heart of the Latin Quarter. All you have to do have the best costume of famous French character. The most French costume wins free French lessons, while the scariest costume wins a champagne dinner for two. RSVPs are required: call 202-234-7911.

The leggy and lascivious Cucu Diamantes (watch) has long been the frontwoman of New York's Latin party machine Yerba Buena, and she's now stepping out with her own solo endeavors. Liv becomes a live version of her "CuCuland" album tonight for the Halloween Debauchery Cabaret. Orquestra Ashe and DJ Rockactivo serve as naughty behavior co-conspirators. If there's any night not to play yourself by having at least a mask, it would be for this show.

There are lots of cover bands around who make a living playing the hits of the '80s, songs from Madonna, Duran Duran, Pat Benatar, U2 and the like. But some groups often overlook another side of '80s rock, and that's where Toxic Mouse (listen) comes in. With moussed hair, ripped jeans and a songbook full of Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Judas Priest, Whitesnake, Poison and the Scorpions, the foursome's live show looks like a clip from an old episode of "Headbanger's Ball." The guitarist and bassist swivel and bang their heads in unison, perform scissor kicks and grimace while playing solos on "Panama" or "Living on a Prayer." (As you might guess, the sing-along factor in the audience is high, even when it's something by Warrant or the BulletBoys.) While there's no official costume contest at the band's Halloween show at Clarendon Grill, expect many in the crowd to don their favorite "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" get-ups.

Sunday, Nov. 1

Most male, urban spoken-word poets have consciously or inadvertently bitten Saul Williams's style. While others are still rehashing his cadences from the 1998 movie, "Slam," Williams has evolved into a post-MC, free-verse rock-star political activist. His work with Rick Rubin and Trent Reznor set him up to be the frontman that he is today, a fitting anchor for the Afro-punk tour. Joining him for this stop at the Black Cat are iconic funk rockers Living Colour and emerging artists CX KiDTRONiK and Tchaka Diallo.

After Williams and CJ CX KiDTRONiK wrap up at the Black Cat, they'll kick off the afterparty at Liv with the Just Bcus Crew. DJ Munch, DJ 2-Tone Jones and DJ Underdog throw everything in the mix. If there's a record that you've never heard at a jam, they'll probably play it.

Monday, Nov. 2
The Very Best (listen) is a band that's easy to like. The trio is a collaboration between Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya and a British production duo named something we can't print in these virtual pages. The international collaboration sounds about as you'd expect -- smart electro beats with distinctly African rhythms and Mwamwaya's sometimes sing-songy, sometimes chanted vocals. It's bright and sunny, but because the music is mostly programmed, the Very Best leaves one foot in club culture and another in land of world music. David was all excited to report back on the band's performance at CMJ, but travel problems prevented Mwamwaya from making it to New York. Two subsequent shows have been canceled, but tonight's show at DC9 is still on as of now. Brooklyn-based Javelin (listen) doesn't boast the same international feel as the Very Best, but it offers similarly bouncy rhythms.

-- Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson

By Fritz Hahn  | October 27, 2009; 10:15 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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You forgot about the best Halloween show of all:

DETHKLOK and MASTODON are playing the GMU Patriot Center Halloween night! What better match for 10/31 than death metal?

Posted by: djjd | October 28, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

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