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Posted at 7:27 PM ET, 03/16/2010

Nightlife Agenda

By David Malitz

Aeroplane will be the first of many big name acts to appear at the brand new U Street Music Hall. (Courtesy of William Morris Agency)

The Warehouse hosts its second straight big show this weekend when Chicago deep dance titan Ron Trent comes to town. But the big news is the official opening of D.C.'s newest nightlife hotspot, U Street Music Hall.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Monday

Wednesday, March 17
U Street Music Hall, the newest downtown club, opens in style with an impressive lineup on its first two nights. The venue will be the new home for popular local DJs such as Bliss and Nouveau Riche, and it will also host touring DJs and live bands. There's a bit of both this week. Opening night features Belgian DJ duo Aeroplane, known for crowd-pleasing mixes of danceable tunes that range from the gently psychedelic to the unabashedly pop. On Thursday, there's a live performance by local group Bluebrain, which plays electronic-based songs with billowy melodies.

Thursday, March 18
Evan Bliss of longtime local band the Low Life is now out on his own, playing a crowd-pleasing style that incorporates rock, soul and even some reggae. For his CD release show on Thursday at Hard Rock Cafe, he'll have a full band in tow, so expect less singer-songwritery fare and more of the hard stuff. His album "ShhhPOW" is also noteworthy because it's being released on his philanthropically oriented label, Holster Records, and a portion of the album sales go the African Children's Choir of Uganda, who appear on one of the album's tracks. The Hard Rock Cafe will donate some of the evening's proceeds to the nonprofit Musicians on Call, which brings live and recorded music to hospital patients' bedsides.

Friday, March 19
The highlight of Black Lips shows used to be the Atlanta garage-rockers' on-stage antics, many of which can't be recounted in a family publication such as this one. Whether the band's calmed down or not -- we'd bank on not entirely -- it's amassed enough irresistibly bouncy sing-along rock-and-roll nuggets to make the songs be the shows' main attraction now. It doesn't hurt that there's always an impressive opening act, in this case Nebraska's Box Elders. The group's are named after the bug, not the Pavement song (or that's the claim), but it seems to make sense since its early-'60s rock sound doesn't owe anything to the slackerly '90s. The Vermillions also play at the Black Cat.

The annual Francophonie Festival loves to turn unlikely buildings into throbbing nightspots. Last year, two French DJs drew 800 dancers to the Smithsonian's underground S. Dillion Ripley Center's galleries and exhibition spaces. This year, the Discoteque party moves to the National Postal Museum, and it should be an even bigger affair. Providing the beats is Parisian DJ duo Make the Girl Dance, whose sleazy electro-house hits "Kill Me" and "Baby, Baby, Baby" are custom-fitted for late-night clubbing. (Think of DJ Mr. Oizo from the Ed Banger Records label for a point of reference.) The $30 ticket includes an open bar with Heineken and Capital City Brewing Company beers and a selection of organic wines, as well as hors d'oeuvres.

Ron Trent's been creeping into and out of D.C. with increasing regularity. Chicago's deep dance titan has found a kinship with the D.C. DJs and dancers who keep the underground house sound alive until sunrise. When you go to hear his story that unfolds over hours on the turntables, expect chapters drawing from Trent's deep house work, his new wave excursions, his Detroit techno-style productions and heaps of classic disco and soul. Chris Burns shares the captain's seat for Body Music with Ron Trent at the Warehouse Loft. This one will be a quarterly affair, now that Trent is making himself more at home here.

Saturday, March 20
Theo Parrish, the mad scientist of the Chicago house tradition, is known as much for his haunting, darkly soulful productions as for the surprises in his DJ sets. By his ethos, "house music" is not simply a four-to-the-floor kick drum at a specific tempo; he goes beyond run-of-the-mill house music to unexpected selections of jazz fusion and classic soul. Parrish comes to D.C. as part of the Forward Festival, a five-night collection of electronic music performances, dance nights and production clinics that has matured admirably in its third year. Opening for Parrish at the Trinidad and Tobago Association is Trus'me, a young Englishman generating a lot of excitement with his new takes on post-disco and boogie sounds.

Monday, March 22
These days, it seems, landing your music on an iPod Nano ad is more important than making a music video. (More people will see it, for one thing.) Feist hit the charts in multiple countries and received a ton of attention after Apple used her insanely catchy "1, 2, 3, 4" in a 2007 commercial. Brooklyn's Chairlift went from "Who?" to "Who is that?" when its electro-pop single "Bruises" was featured in a Nano spot a year later. The latest campaign uses Miss Li's bouncy "Bourgeois Shangri-La." The piano-driven pop song isn't the quirky Swedish singer's first to show up on U.S. TV screens - her songs have also made it onto "Grey's Anatomy" and "Weeds" - but it's certainly getting her noticed. After playing a couple of South by Southwest shows, she swings through D.C. for a free performance at the House of Sweden. Opening is Francis, a bluesy rock band playing SXSW on the strength of one very strong EP.

Tuesday, March 22
Face it -- you're not getting into either of those long sold-out Spoon or Joanna Newsom shows on Monday or Tuesday. We suppose you can pay well over face value for a ticket to either, but it probably won't be worth it -- and this is coming from someone who thinks Spoon is basically the greatest band in the land. Don't pout. Just get yourself to Silver Spring for a fine bill of rawk at the Quarry House Tavern. You'll hear two bands who excel at taking retro sounds and making them fresh: U.K. rockers Thee Vicars who add a bit of arena-rock pomp to their '70s punk tribute and Norway's Pirate Love, who manage to combine the seemingly opposite sounds of psychobilly and noisy shoegaze. You might not ever hear either band get a full album stream on NPR, but is that really such a bad thing?

-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By David Malitz  | March 16, 2010; 7:27 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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