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Posted at 10:30 PM ET, 11/ 3/2009

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Newly minted Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer DMC brings the old-school hip-hop on Saturday to raise money for charity. (Tobin Grimshaw - AP)

An old-school soul revue, a show by hip-hop pioneer DMC, a new album from local rockers Le Loup, a night of mini-golf for charity and a "Mad Men"-themed party are just a few of the items on our agenda this week.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Tuesday

Tuesday, Nov. 10
Do you often watch the Five Heartbeats and wish you could experience the heyday of the classic soul revue? That was when school gyms and meeting halls brought together screaming youth and the heroes they adored on 7 seven-inch singles and transistor radios. The chitlin circuit hustle of three hot acts and one house band traveling from town to town will be re-created during the Eccentric Soul Revue at the 9:30 club with Syl Johnson, the Notations and Renaldo Domino, backed by JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound. Washington's own waxologist DJ Nitecrawler joins in the fun, spinning only classic soul and funk by local artists.

We don't condone talking at shows, but there are some times when it's halfway acceptable. Loud band, big room, you're at the back, speaking directly into someone's ear -- we can let that slide. Tonight's show at DC9 is one at which you'll want to keep your trap shut the entire time. It's a small room, and there's a bar conveniently located right downstairs if you find the urge to chat it up. Tonight's performers, young singer-songwriters Marissa Nadler (listen) and Alela Diane (listen) will be best appreciated without an accompanying soundtrack. Both play simple, mostly unadorned folk songs that succeed because of the natural beauty of their voices. Nadler's is the quirkier of the two; it's slightly pinched here and there, and she regularly makes use of her floating falsetto. Diane is the more forceful singer, but the fact that she only occasionally embraces her full lung power makes those moments more special. Most of the time her crystal clear delivery and rustic imagery is more than enough.

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 current picks at the top.

Wednesday, Nov. 4
You'd be forgiven for ignoring [Expletive] Buttons (listen) based solely on name -- how many more [Expletive] bands do we need? -- but the British duo has earned its expletive with the new album "Tarot Sport." It's an odyssey of layered beats, spooky sounds and odd shards of noise which eventually congeal into 7 mini-epics, more than half of which reach the nine-minute mark. Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power bury the pop sensibilities just deep enough that you have to dig through a bit of harshness to find them. That makes it all the more rewarding when they reveal themselves halfway through songs such as "Olympians" and "Surf Solar." Growing (listen) opens at DC9.

The opposite of [Expletive] Buttons' wordless, electro-symphonies may be the hopelessly romantic pop of L.A. crooner Jeremy Jay (listen). His latest LP is called "Slow Dance," and the name pretty much says it all. It's not exactly "Earth Angel"/Enchantment Under the Sea fare, but Jay is working in that same double-post-ironic-maybe-not-ironic-at-all space that Jens Lekman lives in. To pull off this feat, a performer must possess: 1) good songs and 2) a confident persona. Jay has both; his songs have a bit more kick and stomp than many of his most twee K Records label mates, but that heart-on-sleeve emotion is ever present without becoming too cloying. Heaven (listen), Black Umbrella (listen) and DJ Names Names are also on the late-night bill at Comet Ping Pong.

It's kind of hard to imagine a world without the bloody mary -- the quintessential hair of the dog that has gotten us through more than one Sunday morning. There are a couple of stories about its origin, but most point to bartender Fernand Petiot, who worked at the legendary Harry's New York Bar in Paris before moving to New York's Saint Regis hotel in 1934. It was there that he added salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and lemon to a mixture of vodka and tomato juice to create the drink we know today. To mark the 75th birthday of the bloody mary, the D.C. location of the St. Regis has enlisted a number of D.C. restaurateurs (and leading cocktail authority Dale DeGroff) to create their own takes on the bloody mary, which will be sold at the hotel bar through the end of the year. (Todd Gray of Equinox offers a Skip-Jack-Mary, with heirloom tomato water, Old Bay and cucumber ice cubes; Charlie Palmer's contains Dijon mustard and spicy Sriracha sauce; and DeGroff's Bloody Bull includes beef broth, Tabasco and black pepper.) Each drink is $15, and 25 percent of that goes to Share Our Strength, which raises money to fight childhood hunger. There's a fancy VIP party tonight until 8, but after that, anyone is free to stop in and sample away.

Thursday, Nov. 5
Kurt Vile's (listen) "Childish Prodigy" is one of the year's most rewarding albums, a slice of retro-futurist Americana with layers of detail that reveal new wrinkles with each listen. Sometimes it's a guitar line that pokes out from the gauzy soundscapes, other times it's a weird turn-of-phrase by the Philadelphia native. Vile is as adept at nimble finger-picked folk songs as at sludgy psych-rock epics, but you can expect more of the latter at his Black Cat show with his backing band the Violators in tow. It's hard to re-create some of the album's more subtle moments in a live setting, but the sheer sonic force more than makes up for it. Benjy Ferree (listen) and The New Flesh (listen) open.

Chopteeth brings its funky Afrobeat ruckus to the staid halls of the Phillips Collection for Phillips After 5 tonight as a companion to the Man Ray, African Art and the Modernist Lens exhibit. DJ Todd Threats will also be spinning. You pay one price to tour the exhibit and check out the music.

We've never heard of a regatta on U Street before, but we suppose there's a first time for everything. Nellie's Sports Bar and the D.C. Strokes Rowing Club are teaming up to host Nellie's Regatta tonight at the corner of Ninth and U. Challenge your friends to sprint races on ERG rowing machines; there will be prizes for the fastest times of the night. Members of the Strokes, the gold-medal-winning gay and lesbian rowing club, will offer tips on technique. (We should point out that although the Strokes were founded as a gay team, they welcome members of all orientations.) The event runs from 6 to 11, and if you get there early enough, you can take advantage of Nellie's beat-the-clock happy hour, which starts with $1 beers at 5.

Friday, Nov. 6
For fans of drum 'n' bass music, it doesn't get bigger than the annual Planet of the Drums tour, where some of the biggest names in American d'n'b team up for an ear-pounding night of breaks and mayhem. Pioneering DJs Dieselboy (listen), AK1200 (listen) and Dara remain the headliners -- with Philly's Messinian (listen) on the mike! -- but that's not the end of the fun: Hipster Overkill's "Temple of Boom" room features the rolling dubstep and electro of the Bassbin Twins (listen), Tittsworth (listen), DJs Tru and Dimitris George (of Hipster Overkill's monthly Fringe parties) and trailblazing female breaks DJ Reid Speed (listen). Toss in appearances by the Headhunterz (listen) and Smash Gordon, among others, and we'll be lucky if Club 24 is even standing at the end of the night. Did we mention that it's an 18-and-over party? Good times.

When our current crop of hopefuls was still in elementary school, Asheru and Sub-Z were bringing D.C. hip-hop to those who didn't know it existed. After dropping solid releases in the '90s indie hip-hop canon as one half of Unspoken Heard, Asheru took his lyrical skills to the classroom; he used hip-hop in the curriculum by day while still spitting darts at night. Meanwhile, Sub-Z toured internationally with Opus Akoben and Steve Coleman and helped found Freestyle Union. It's been a while since Sub-Z spit rhymes around these parts, since when he's not crafting beat soundscapes or developing his electronica/rock hybrid ThayloBleu, he's exhibiting his paintings and sculpture. The two take it back to classic U Street hip-hop days tonight at BloomBars.

The U.S. Department of Bhangra is the kind of government expansion we love - a night of thumping, percussive Indian music spun by DJs Miss Modular and Beta-G. Now a monthly throw down, this first-Friday party at Bossa will probably have an extra hepped-up crowd because it's doubling as an album release party for the Fort Knox Five's "The New Gold Standard 2." album. But its regulars always love to lip-sync to favorite Bollywood hits and show off their moves in the middle of dance circles.

It's a busy weekend on Connecticut Avenue as Midtown Lounge marks its first anniversary and upstairs neighbor Midtown Loft celebrates its official grand opening. (Yes, it first opened its doors over the summer.) There's no cover all night, whether you're checking out cover band Road Soda in the laidback Loft or dancing to DJ Spaz's mix of top 40, hip-hop, rock and mashups on the club-like second floor. (You can move back and forth all you want, but beware: Midtown has a dress code and the Loft doesn't. Jeans and a button-down shirt should be fine for guys.) There are drink specials befitting the theme: find $20 buckets of Miller Lite bottles in the Loft; bottle-service patrons downstairs can grab a liter of Grey Goose, a bottle of champagne and a table for six for $250.

FotoweekDC officially starts Saturday with a flurry of events, from an all-night photo safari to an exhibit of E.U. photographers at the House of Sweden, but if you want to get a jump on the fun, check out "Lens Caps and Shoulder Straps," a locals-only show at the Rock and Roll Hotel. Included among the work from a half-dozen artists are rad skate shots by Steve Espejo, concert/DJ party photos from Boney Starks and graffiti and street images by Dafna Steinberg. The opening runs from 6 to 11 and features a photo booth where attendees can make their own art, drink specials like $5 vodka Red Bulls, and a lineup of DJs rocking drum 'n' bass and electro tunes. There's no cover charge, and the music goes all night.

Frequent soul scene sideman Alexei and longtime poetry circuit staple Komplex formed a duo last year after they crossed paths frequently. Now as Fly Gypsy (listen), they've quickly made up for lost time with a couple videos, some buzzworthy singles and a solid show steeped in nu-soul and a nimble balance between spoken word and emceeing. Kom handles the rhymes while Alexei juggles decks, bass, guitar and keys at Liv tonight.

Saturday, Nov. 7
Run-DMC's legacy lies in the group's groundbreaking beats and rhymes, but in recent years, the newest members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have been making more noise in the worlds of philanthropy and true-life TV. Joseph "Run" Simmons became a minister and has his own MTV reality show, "Run's House," while partner Darryl "DMC" McDaniels created a summer camp for foster children and starred in a VH1 documentary about searching for his birth family after learning that he was adopted. He's coming to Washington to perform at Old Schoolin', a concert and art show that benefits WHALER's Creation, a local arts program for foster and adopted youth. The exhibit, organized by the local Art Whino gallery, includes '80s-themed works by more than 100 artists, but it's the live music -- including DMC and DJ Lil'E -- who should bring down the house.

Saturday marks the end of a very long haul for Le Loup (listen). The local group ends a national tour behind its invigorating sophomore album "Family" with a homecoming show at the Black Cat. Le Loup has zigged and zagged its way across the country -- as we write this on Tuesday, they are somewhere in the middle of Texas -- so there's little doubt they'll be happy to get back on home soil and see friends and, er, family at the Cat. On "Family" Le Loup hones its sounds and gets a little more tribal; there are rumbling drums and group vocals on many of the tracks. There's still plenty of frontman Sam Simkoff's trademark banjo and those moments when the cacophony dies down to reveal the fragile folk songs at the heart of the band. Pree, featuring former Le Loup member May Tabol, opens the show.

We completely forgot about Panache, which is tucked away from the Golden Triangle's weekend madness. And forgotten spots are often ripe for a makeover, or barring that, a takeover. The '95 Live squad known for classic hip-hop jams at Steve's Bar Room launches a new party at Panache tonight. Bangers probably won't have any songs with auto-tune or gratuitous references to Patron and being "up in the club," and that's because frequent True School co-pilot DJ Face is in the mix for this inaugural outing. The party will pick up weekly in December.

The monthly Kids night at DC9 has always been an interesting preposition: a bunch of DJs better known for playing electro at parties like Nouveau Riche or venues like Wonderland join forces to spin '90s hip-hop. Oh, and the night starts with free Olde English Malt Liquor. (Classy!) But you know what? The Kids are doing alright -- this is its one-year anniversary party, and it's usually full with a crowd that dances all night long. Get there by 10 for free malt liquor and, more important, free admission.

Sunday, Nov. 8
With the end of daylight saving time, even a matinee show can qualify as nightlife. Either way, it would be wrong not to bring to your attention to the awesomeness that will be this afternoon's Gentleman Jesse and His Men (listen) show at Quarry House Tavern. It's a win on every level imaginable. You've got the 3 p.m. start time, which means you have a built-in excuse to not subject yourself to the end of what promises to be another Redskins nightmare. You've got the Quarry House, one of the area's best bars and most chill places. And you've got Gentleman Jesse and His Men, an Atlanta band that plays power-pop gem after power-pop gem, cribbing parts from all the best Nick Lowe, Wreckless Eric and other Stiff Records greats. How often does Sunday night roll around and there's something you want to do, but the specter of work the next morning keeps you in? Get your social event out of the way on the early side with this show, and you'll be all set.

Sink a hole-in-one at the H Street Country Club's indoor mini-golf course and you probably won't stop smiling all evening. You won't be the only one -- 10 percent of all food and drink sales and $4 for every round of golf played between 5 and 8 p.m. will be donated to Operation Smile, a charity that offers free surgery for children around the world with cleft palates and other facial deformities. The inspiration for the event came from Drew Saelens' own experience with a severe facial injury and the realization that he was lucky to live in a country where insurance could cover such things. All you have to do to help is play nine holes of golf and order a margarita or beer. Doesn't sound so hard, does it?

This office contains a few die-hard "Man Men" fans, so we can't let tonight's season finale pass without mentioning that Georgetown seafood restaurant Hook is hosting Hooked on 'Mad Men', a viewing party with period cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and the episode playing on a pair of large flat-screen TVs. Doors open at 8 and "Mad Men" begins at 10, so you'll have plenty of time to have a drink or three before the party starts -- just like Don Draper would. "Fedoras, briefcases and thin ties are welcome and encouraged," according to the invitation.

-- Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson

By Fritz Hahn  | November 3, 2009; 10:30 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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