Sip free drinks while checking out vintage record covers, enjoy Blood Feathers' old-school rock and roll, hear one of the world's top DJs at Lima, catch Norwegian troubadour Sondre Lerche at an intimate one-man show, bounce between 12 downtown watering holes during a St. Patrick's Day-themed bar crawl or celebrate First Down sports bar's first birthday with cheap drinks and cheaper wings.
Monday, March 8
While crafting beats for luminaries of the '90s underground hip-hop scene, 88-Keys (listen) became a hot property among liner-note-reading hip-hop fanatics and music biz peers, who admired his ability to morph samples. With a helpful co-sign from Kanye West, 88-Keys branched out into singing and rapping and made a splash with his concept album, "The Death of Adam." He joins indie-rap and new-school-bridging duo Kidz in the Hall on the Crowd Control Tour at the 9:30 club. Rounding out the lineup is hot freshman Donnis and New South revivalist Izza Kizza.
Tuesday, March 9
Listening to Scout Niblett is always an uncomfortable exercise. Her slow-moving dirges build on fragments of electric guitar and her fragile voice, and you keep waiting for some other element to enter the mix. After you finally give up hope, some drums crash in and her hushed voice turns to a piercing wail. It catches you off guard and leaves you a little shaken. At Iota on Tuesday, she'll most likely be playing solo electric, one of the most confrontational stage setups, but one that makes perfect sense for this performance.
The world isn't exactly hurting for ramshackle, lo-fi indie bands these days. But that just makes it more noteworthy when an act is able to emerge from the pack. Cloud Nothings, a project from Cleveland's Dylan Baldi, does just that; he manages to pack more hooks and attitude into his ragged, fuzzed-out basement jams than most of his peers. He'll have a full band for Tuesday's show at DC9.
Update: We moved the events featured earlier in the week to the bottom of the post, so you can see our recommendation for today at the top.
Wednesday, March 3
If you breathe dust to get to the good vinyl, raid dollar bins like an archeologist and cover the gaps in your Ikea Expedit shelving unit with your prized records, you can find your tribe and drink up with them at Lounge of Three for the Classics. This occasional happy hour-and-art-show features a themed display of LP art pulled from the collections of local DJs, and this time, they're rock albums courtesy of DJ RBI. Free Smirnoff drinks between 7 and 9 make it an extra happy hour along with Nick the 1da and DJ 2 Tone Jones joining RBI on the turntables.
As Jay-Z himself once reminded us, "After the show, it's the after-party." And after Jigga's concert at Verizon Center, opening act Trey Songz is heading down to the Water Club -- that's the rechristened second level of Zanzibar on the Waterfront -- where he'll perform live at an event hosted by WKYS DJs Trini and EZ Street. (The party will be broadcast live on WKYS.) Doors open at 9, and women can get in for free before 11 if they text "JLVIPTEXT" to 313131 or grab a pass from www.tazevents.com. (Guys, you get discounted admission.)
D.C. has learned to embrace its innate nerdiness. Nerd Nite -- which is basically PowerPoint presentations in a bar -- has sold out DC9 for three months running. And now the D.C. Public Library Foundation is starting the Literati Society, a young professionals group for book lovers. The first event features Peter Birkenhead, an actor and Salon contributor who has written "Gonville," about growing up with an emotional abusive father. (You can read more about the book here.) Birkenhead discusses the book at Marvin from 7 to 9. There's no cover charge.
Thursday, March 4
"Goodness Gracious," the second album from Philadelphia's Blood Feathers, is an old-school rock-and-roll record, filled with songs that are meant to be heard in old, rickety bars where bands play two sets and the only beer on tap is cheap and American. They'll play just one set at the Black Cat on Thursday while opening for Seas, but that will be enough time to hear the group's sharp take on plenty of classic sounds, from rockabilly-tinged stompers to Bo Diddley-inspired romps to fuzzy psych folk. It's like a compilation of deep album cuts from lost records of 35 years ago.
Among the locals heading down to the South by Southwest festival this month are the Flying Dog Brewery, Eighteenth Street Lounge (the label, not the club) and hipster Web site Brightest Young Things. All three are sponsoring showcases for bands, and for those of us who can't sneak down to Austin for a few days, there'll be a SXSW preview at Policy between 6 and 9 p.m. Sitali (listen), a group featuring members of Thievery Corporation's band, and the Richmond-based hip-hop band Photosynthesizers (listen), will perform short sets, and you can sample multiple Flying Dog beers, including the new spring beer Garde Dog Biere de Garde. There's no cover charge.
Before Fly had velvet ropes and bottle service, it catered to the sweaty and the sneakered in its former incarnation as underground house club Red. The Scandal DC DJs and their promotion team bring that no-frills, just dance scene back to the space with Foundation. Stylo, FugAmi and guests rock house, breaks, funk and disco for no more than a $5 cover.
Glow has apparently gotten too big for Fur on Saturday nights. The long-running trance and house night has branched out to Thursdays at Lima. This week's headliner is DJ Rap (listen), the English drum'n'bass and house DJ whose 15-year resume includes 75 mix compilations (no joke), tours of the world's biggest clubs and her own genre-pushing d'n'b record label Propa Talent. Rap is visiting to promote a new album, "Synthesis," but you can probably expect her to drop all the classics you're dying to hear. Tickets are $15 from wanttickets.com, and -- pssst! -- you can snag free skip-the-line passes on Glow's Facebook page.
Friday, March 5
Over the course of seven albums - including last year's "Heartbreak Radio" and the 2007 soundtrack to "Dan in Real Life" - Norwegian troubadour Sondre Lerche (listen) has shown skill in taking elements of '80s new wave and '60s chamber pop and blending them into a lushly layered sound that imagines an indie-rock Burt Bacharach fronting XTC and a supporting orchestra. On his current on-the-way-to-SXSW tour, however, which stops at the Rock and Roll Hotel, Lerche is forgoing his band for a stripped-down, one-man-and-his-fingerpicked-guitar setup that should allow his wry observations about modern love to shine through brightly.
A certain paranoia runs through the songs of local trio the Vita Ruins. Foreboding electronics linger under the surface of most songs on the band's new album, "A Day Without a Name," while the atmospheric guitars and moaning vocals add a hint of desperation. Think of the band as a less bombastic version of Muse; the message that we're living in a hopeless, future age is similar, but instead of combating that dire situation with overblown histrionics as Muse does, Vita Ruins soaks up those anxieties and piles on more layers of sound. The decidedly more upbeat Ra Ra Rasputin and Cobra Collective open at the Black Cat.
Suburban clubgoers know that it's a fact of life -- albeit unfair -- that most DJs who visit the D.C. area spin at clubs in Washington. That could be changing, though. The V3 Lounge in Eden Center -- formerly known as Diamond Club -- is starting a weekly Friday night trance party. Headlining the debut party is Glow resident DJ George Acosta (listen), whose poppy-and-pumping new single "I Know" has been featured in sets by superstars Armin van Buuren and Ferry Corsten. Admission is $25 in advance (e-mail SheSoSILLy05@yahoo.com or call 703-237-3336 to reserve) and $35 at the door.
If you're going out to see a DJ on Friday night, we hope you don't need to get up early on Saturday, because you're lucky if the person you want to see makes it on by midnight. That's not the case at Policy's Pregame happy hour on Fridays, which has featured local headliners Stereofaith, Jackie O and Billfold taking over the decks from 5 to 9 at the 14th Street lounge. The theme is music the DJs themselves would like to hear, so this week, when Nacey of Nouveau Riche is up, he'll play songs he picked up on a recent trip to New Orleans, say, some from the Rebirth Brass Band or Bo Dollis, alongside the usual go-go and party music. There's no cover, and the beer is dead cheap: you can get $2 Yuengling, $3 PBR and $4 rail cocktails.
Saturday, March 6
When the influential Resident Advisor Web site picked its top 100 songs of the past decade in January, at the top of the list was "Miura," a 2001 fusion of disco, early-'80s New York electro and minimal house by the Brooklyn based-duo Metro Area (listen). Producers/performers Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani had a ton of buzz around the turn of the millennium, thanks to a string of best-selling (and highly sought) 12-inch singles. There have been only two Metro Area releases in the last three years: a mix CD for the long-running Fabric series and a three-song, seven-inch single. The latter proves the duo hasn't lost the touch. "Read My Mind" features warm, analog-sounding synths, a bubbly two-note bassline and stacked vocal harmonies that could have come from a late-period disco record. Perfect dance floor material. Geist and Jesrani are in town this week to launch the new Bar 7 in the old Warehouse Next Door space near Mount Vernon Square.
We're still two weeks away from St. Patrick's Day, but it's already time for the Leprechaun Lap, the day-long bar crawl when a dozen Dupont Circle and Midtown watering holes offer cut-price beer ($2 Coors Light! $3 Blue Moon!) and $5 Jameson Irish whiskey drinks. Around 1,800 people came out to party last year, say organizers Lindy Promotions, and they're expecting that many again to hit bars such as BlackFinn, Rumors, the Front Page, the Sign of the Whale and the Black Rooster. (In other words, it's going to be reeeeeally crowded.) Register at lindypromo.com, or just show up at Mackey's between 1 and 6, then hop around and enjoy drink specials until 9. Admission is $13; it's $10 if you bring canned food to donate to the Manna Food Center.
Chuck Brown just keeps go-going and go-going. The Godfather of Go-Go is making a rare U Street appearance tonight at the Prince Hall Masonic Temple alongside Suttle Thoughts, whose mix of go-go and R&B has helped define the city's "grown and sexy" sound. Tickets are $30 in advance from Downtown Locker Room locations.
After one year in business, Ballston's First Down sports bar has made its mark in the neighborhood. (For starters, its wings blow away Bailey's and the rest of the competition.) Expect to find college basketball on the bar's 18 large TV screens all day long at the bar's first anniversary party, but there are a number of specials, too, including $1.50 domestic drafts from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., $6 Jaeger bombs and 29-cent wings until close. There will be drawings for door prizes every hour -- think T-shirts, pint glasses and gift certificates -- and the grand prize of a cruise for two will be given away at midnight. Perfect excuse to tuck into some wings, have a cold beer and play shuffleboard in the game room.
On his records for Britain's Tru Thoughts label, Nostalgia 77 -- aka Ben Lamdin (listen) -- melds live jazz musicians, crackling funk breaks, snippets of Afrobeat and soulful vocals from hot talents like Alice Russell. The grooves are loose and the music is full of feeling -- Nostalgia 77's albums feature songs you can get sweaty to in a club on Saturday night and chill out with on Sunday morning. Lamdin makes his D.C. debut on the turntables at Eighteenth Street Lounge this weekend; upstairs on the second floor, hear live jazz from the Donvonte McCoy Sextet.
Sunday, March 7
If you've been counting down to the Academy Awards, there are a number of Oscar-viewing parties tonight, from a predict-the-winners contest at Maddy's to a laid-back night of beer specials and catcalling at Nellie's.
-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
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