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Posted at 8:17 PM ET, 02/23/2010

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Before heading to Austin for the South by Southwest music festival, local rockers Middle Distance Runner perform in Alexandria. (Helayne Seidman for The Washington Post)

Hit a party for psychedelic sounds, hear two of Washington's bright musical hopes share a stage, flash back to the '90s with Brand Nubian, dance to a groundbreaking DJ for free, bid on a date and get advice from the author of "You Lost Him at Hello," or spend happy hour sipping fresh beer with a local brewmaster.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Monday | Tuesday

Wednesday, Feb. 24
Last month, the DJs behind Cafe Saint-Ex's Fuzz - an exploration of psychedelic jams, woozy electronic sounds and other label- defying genres - decided to move the party to the Velvet Lounge. It's a good thing they moved to a slightly bigger venue, because this month's party is looking epic. You'll get choice cuts from residents Neville C. (Brazilian Rhythms), Provoke (a resident at Eighteenth Street Lounge and Breadsoda) and Naraku, of course. Joining them in the Hawkwind/Shankar/Quicksilver Messenger Service love-in will be Geologist, the "sound manipulator" for indie darlings Animal Collective, and Kid Congo Powers, who has played guitar for the Cramps, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and the Gun Club. It should be a head-spinning night - and that's before you see the trippy visuals projected on the bar's front windows.

Georgia Ann Muldrow is the stylistic grand niece of Nina Simone combined with Sun Ra's cosmic outlook and J Dilla's facility for deconstructing sound into beats. She pushes the reaches of soul with her trademark style of angular phrasing, layered jazz harmonies and sludgy funk. Recently, she released a collection of material she recorded as a teenager, and listening to it, you can hear her solid songwriting chops and vocal expertise even at a young age; she just hadn't jumped into the experimental realm yet. Check out a different side of her work when she performs at Liv with life partner and rapping muse Dudley Perkins.

Before Gin & Tonic became Glover Park's capital of late-night '80s dancing and sloppy dance-floor makeout sessions, it was a live music venue called the Grog & Tankard. When the building changed owners, the old format went out the window, but the stage didn't. That's a good thing, because Gin & Tonic is starting a new Wednesday night series called Tavern Sessions, which features local bands playing from 8 to midnight without a cover charge. At Wednesday's debut, hear the Jason Mraz-esque Buster Brown and the Get Down (listen); forthcoming weeks star Down Wilson and the Bandylions for even more good-time bar music. Drink specials include $4 draft beers and $5 mixed drinks.

This week's date auction for charity -- Cocktails and Cupid Date Auction at Hudson -- helps the Washington Humane Society and features a special appearance by Jess McCann, the writer of the wonderfully titled "You Lost Him at Hello," which teaches women how to "sell" themselves to guys. (Ladies, maybe you should consult with her if your bids are successful.) A dozen bachelors and bachelorettes are on the block, and they come with dates courtesy of the Corcoran, the Washington Shakespeare Company, Tarara Winery, Napoleon and other local establishments. In between auctions, local swing trio Satin Doll performs. A $20 donation to the Humane Society is suggested for admission. The party starts at 7, and drink specials run all night.

If it's been a while since you got your '80s fix, head over to Tattoo for "Video Killed the Radio Star," which features VJ Benny C spinning music videos by one-hit wonders like the Buggles. RSVP on Facebook for free admission all night; doors open at 10.

Thursday, Feb. 25

Happy hour is our favorite time of the day, but it always feels like it's over all too soon, especially on weekends. So here's our new favorite drink deal, and it's perfectly positioned for night owls: Thursday through Saturday, Brasserie Beck's late-night happy hour means you can get Belgian draft beers, from just-okay Bavik to the deliciously hoppy custom-brewed Antigoon, for half-price. In other words, you can sample a rich tripel or a sour red ale for the low, low price of $2.50 to $5. Need something to go with the beer? Oysters are half-price as well: $7 for a half-dozen or $14 a dozen. This is the kind of special that can attract a crowd - Friday nights have been particularly busy on our visits - but it's worth the wait to try some great beers and oysters.

No empty blog hype, no new mixtape every other day, no bizarre fashion choices and no ostentatious jewelry. What Tanya Morgan delivers is simply smart rhymes over beats. Get familiar with this trio at Liv. 9th Wonder-endorsed Kooley High, Low Budget Crew member Kenn Starr and DMV beat whiz Nick The 1da round out the bill.

We're still over a week away from the unveiling of Tim Burton's take on "Alice in Wonderland," but some people are already getting into the spirit of the film and books. The monthly Tronik goth-and-industrial party is turning Town Danceboutique into its own version of Wonderland and encouraging guests to dress as their favorite character. Put some thought into it, because the best outfits can win T-shirts, posters and passes to a 3D preview screening. As always, there will be $3 drink specials. It's $5 to get into the 18-and-over party; bring a friend before 10 p.m. for two-for-one admission.

Shows at Big Bear Cafe are alcohol-free, but they wrap up early enough in the evening so you have time to drink as much as you want later. The relaxed setting is a good match for tonight's show with Brooklyn's Soft Spot and locals America Hearts. Both bands play charmingly low-key, homespun indie-pop tunes that don't require a fancy sound system or monitors. In fact, the more stripped-down, the better they'll sound.

Friday, Feb. 26
It makes sense that two of D.C.'s ascendant musical acts from different genres should want to join forces, and that's exactly what rockers U.S. Royalty and rapper Phil Ade are doing with Friday's show at the Rock & Roll Hotel. Both should appeal to each other's fans. U.S. Royalty is the buzzed-about quartet that plays rollicking, radio-friendly songs highlighted by chugging guitars and singer John Thornley's husky voice. Ade is part of the new breed of local MCs trying to put D.C. on the map as a hip-hop hotbed.

For many local bands, the chance to play the SXSW music festival in Austin next month is some combination of rite of passage, dream come true and arduous van ride. A small army of locals will be making the trip west, and Friday's show at Austin Grill in Alexandria is raising money to help send them on their way. It's also quite a bargain. For just $5, you can see four locals: anthemic rockers Middle Distance Runner, jangly Americana group the Beanstalk Library, the always-stellar Deleted Scenes and rustic Typefighter.

If you haven't yet checked out One Lounge -- the former Etrusco restaurant that's now filled with Euro-folks sipping chocolate or pear martinis on leather banquettes -- then tonight is your time to go. The Ivy Club network and the Princeton Club are hosting a fundraiser for Architecture for Humanity, an organization offering construction and design services in Haiti. Your donation -- $10 in advance, $20 at the door -- includes food and drink specials from 6 to 8 and funk and lounge music spun by the Brownrice Collective (Marvin), Christine Moritz (Eighteenth Street Lounge) and other DJs until 10.

Here's one of those crossover collaborations that could be an interesting addition to local nightlife. Art, drinking, music, bloggers: the Gallery at District offers it all. Startup local artist group No Kings Collective teams up with local blog ReadysetDC for this event, the first in a series where artists showcase their work at District Lounge. Francisco Esteban, Brandon Hill and Peter Chang are this month's artists, and Fatback/Sockets Records' Sean Peoples provides the funky tunes from 8-10 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 27
With hits like "Slow Down" and "Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down," Brand Nubian's first two albums are cornerstones of golden age hip-hop. With distinctly different voices and flow balancing each other, the two emcees work was the best of the pre-Wu Tang hip-hop. After their heyday in the street eras of New York hip-hop, their subsequent albums had gems like "Word Is Bond" and "Don't Let It Go to Your Head." Grand Puba, Lord Jamar and Sadat X hit D.C. at Liv with a gang of DMV talent including the Cornel West Theory and DJ RBI.

There's a good chance that when T-Model Ford takes the Velvet Lounge stage on Saturday night, he'll become the oldest performer ever to play the U Street club. He's such an old-school blues hound that he doesn't know his actual age. Could be 89, could be 90, somewhere in that general range. His impossibly hip stage name is another sign of that classic cool. (All the animal-loving indie kids could learn a thing or two about naming bands by studying monikers of old blues guys.) As for his music, Ford (aka James Lewis Carter Ford) plays the rough-and-raw mix of Chicago and Delta blues. Standout local punks the Shirks open.

By this point, y'all should know what you get from the True School DJs: The best golden age hip-hop and new jack swing beats, plenty of dancing and a crowd that's ready of fun. DJ Cuzzin B is on the decks tonight for the eighth annual Winter ONEderland party at Tabaq, which benefits the teenage-empowerment group Girls for a Change. Tickets are $10 before midnight and $20 afterward -- if you can still get in, that is.

This is almost to be good to be true, but it's not: Robbie Hardkiss, the San Francisco house DJ who gained fame with his "brothers" Gavin and Scott in the 1990s for their mix of acid house, breakbeats and trance, is spinning at Little Miss Whiskey's this week. For free. The Hardkisses are like royalty in the dance world: in addition to producing their own music, they put out records for artists like Rabbit in the Moon and spun at some of the West Coast's biggest raves. Hear what Robbie's up to when he's joined by fellow house-heads Lexus King, Lovegrove and Neil Kurtland. The music starts around 10.

Bring a new children's book to H Street Country Club tonight, and you get a free drink. The staff will donate all the books to the D.C. Public Schools as part of the D.C. Public Education Fund. Easy as that.

Monday, March 1
Happy ninth birthday to Freddie's Beach Bar, the only openly gay bar in the Northern Virginia suburbs. Tonight's Purple Party features DJ Alicia spinning dance music, and happy hour goes until 9. (The usual Monday night trivia is postponed, but watch out for "pop quizzes" with prizes throughout the night.) Happy hour starts at 4, and the dancing gets underway at 7. There's no cover.

Tuesday, March 2
Tuesday is the final show for Pash, one of the area's most consistently impressive, if understated bands. With a sound built on Merideth Munoz's expressive vocals and the sharp guitar interplay between her and Erik Bruner-Yang, the foursome never lack for energy or emotion. Typefighter and Olivia Mancini join the swan song at the Black Cat.

Every wonder who makes that kolsch or brown ale you're sipping? The Capitol City Brewing Company is hosting a meet-and-greet happy hour with brewer Micah Krichinsky at the downtown pub (11th and H streets) between 6 and 8 p.m. He's bringing along some special cask-conditioned beers you might not have tried before, so cut-price drinks aren't the only reason to show up.

-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | February 23, 2010; 8:17 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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