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Posted at 3:40 PM ET, 04/20/2010

Nightlife Agenda: Eighteenth Street Lounge anniversary, Animal Collective, Hot Chip

By David Malitz

Eighteenth Street Lounge has become an international DJ destination thanks to Thievery Corporation's Eric Hiton (left) and Rob Garza, who've made the Dupont nightspot their homebase for 15 years. (Michael Todd)

Eighteenth Street Lounge celebrates its 15th anniversary with a special DJ set from - who else? - Thievery Corporation. Electro-pop group Hot Chip makes the rounds on Saturday, Animal Collective's movie "Oddsac" is screened in Silver Spring and genre-hopping party starters Ozomatli rock the 9:30 Club.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Monday

Wednesday, April 21
If you've been searching for an Animal Collective fix since last year's still-mind-meltingly-awesome consensus album of the year "Merriweather Post Pavilion," you'll find it at an unlikely venue on Wednesday - AFI in Silver Spring. The band's followup to its breakthrough, starmaking album is a curious one - "Oddsac," a "visual album" that sets new music to psychedelic sights. The film was directed by Danny Perez who had previously worked with the band on disturbing, trippy videos for "Who Could Win a Rabbit?" and "Summertime Clothes," so watching those should give you an idea of what to expect. Basically, this isn't your typical popcorn flick. Pretty much the opposite - a little David Lynch, some low-grade horror and some of Animal Collective's weirdest sounds to date. Which is saying something. Director Danny Perez and Animal Collective member Geologist will be on hand for a Q&A session after both the 8 and 10 p.m. screenings.

Between how much love we give to both U Street Music Hall and anything affiliated with the Future Times/Beautiful Swimmers crew, it goes without saying that we are beyond psyched for The Whale, a new monthly party that finds the two joining forces. Expect the usual dose of cosmic funkiness and deep disco delights. Tonight's first installment is not only free but also features a guest appearance from New York DJ Lovefingers, who teamed with Beautiful Swimmers at Comet Ping Pong a year ago and helped create an otherworldly atmosphere in the restaurant's back room.

When you think of bands from Alabama you probably think of ... Alabama. Fair enough. Now name your favorite rock band from Alabama. Exactly - it's tough. Let us submit Thomas Function for your consideration. Most garage rock bands get by on some combination of attitude, volume and showmanship. Serious swagger, over-the-top stage antics plus loud and louder power chords make for a good formula but often cover up for a lack of songwriting chops. Not so with Thomas Function: Hooks and memorable choruses are the band's calling cards, and they come one right after another. German punk duo Mondo Ray opens at Jackie's.

Go see Atlanta's the Coathangers and you'll have a good time, guaranteed. The all-girl foursome is as much a gang as a band, switching instruments, group-singing/shouting on almost every one of their dancey, new wave/punk party starters. You'll know they've done a good job when they start high-fiving each other after a song, which happens fairly regularly. Baltimore punks Sick Sick Birds open at the Black Cat.

Thursday, April 22
You know how there are rules for "Fight Club"? There are rules for Nightlife Agenda, too. One of those rules is: If Double Dagger plays in D.C., the show gets mentioned. We're sticklers for rules around here so we have no choice but to inform you that Baltimore's finest will be gracing the Black Cat's backstage, and probably a bit of the floor in front of the stage, with their presence. The band's new EP "Masks" manages to continue to expand on their maximum/minimalist sound. As in, you can't believe how loud a band that uses just bass, drums and voice can be. Double Dagger has never shied away from writing catchy songs, even if their post-apocalyptic take on pop sounds is more brutal than bouncy. But new songs such as "Imitation Is the Most Boring Form of Flattery" and "Sleeping With the TV On" are almost head-nodders. Almost. Still more bone crushers. Future Islands and Ed Schrader open at the Black Cat.

The classy, marble-walled courtyard patio at Poste restaurant is one of the best outdoor drinking spaces in town. Secluded inside the historic Hotel Monaco and accessible through a tunnel-like entrance from Eighth Street NW, you feel like you're anywhere but Washington, especially once you stretch out on one of the low, cushioned sofas with a well-made cocktail. After weeks of tumultuous weather, Poste's patio is set to reopen with a summery backyard pig roast. Chef Robert Weland will be cooking a 400-pound hog on the patio while bar manager Rico Wisner whips up new warm-weather cocktails, including the Lucy in the Skyy, made with ginger-infused vodka, mango nectar and whisky liqueur. A $15 ticket - which supports local gardening groups Washington Youth Garden and Beet Street Gardens - includes a serving of pig and a drink of your choice. Items from the new outdoor-only menu (wood-grilled sardines, garden crudites, crispy clams) will be available for $4 each. No reservations are necessary.

As the proprietors of U Street Music Hall made careers from spreading Baltimore club music to the masses, it almost seems preordained that they would then build a temple of bass where they could welcome the Baltimore veterans themselves to come and rock to the fullest. The Unruly crew is royalty in the Baltimore club world. Scottie B., King Tutt and Shawn Caesar will be joined by deep house diva Ultra Naté and Lisa Moody to put U-Hall's system through a Charm City-style workout.

The New Pornographers are on the very, very short list of best pop bands making music today. You can have your Frenchies in Phoenix, we'll take the Canadian group that boasts a trio of stellar songwriters in chanteuse Neko Case, idiosyncratic Destroyer main man Dan Bejar and de facto New Pornos head honcho Carl Newman. The band's upcoming album "Together" is getting some serious "best of career" buzz so far, which if true would make it an easy album-of-the-year contender. It will be released on May 4 but there is a listening party at Cafe Saint-Ex Thursday night. In addition to getting to hear the album before it comes out (and even before it illegally leaks - not that we would know of such a thing) you can win a pair of tickets to the band's June show at 9:30 club, autographed posters, mix CDs curated by Newman, and other various swag. Then stick around and head downstairs to Gate 54 for more indie-pop goodness courtesy of the My Favorite Dress DJs.

Ask most people about spicy cocktails, and their minds drift to the overly fiery Bloody Mary they had at brunch last weekend, or they may wonder why anyone would want a spicy cocktail. But spices -- from fennel to chili peppers to the botanical herbs used in gin -- are an essential part of modern mixology, whether they're the star of the drink or playing a key supporting role. Want to learn more? Award-winning bartender Tad Carducci and New Orleans' Museum of the American Cocktail present a special seminar -- "Spice: The Fennel Frontier" -- at Darlington House on Thursday, which traces the use of spice, herbs and bitters from 2500 B.C. to the modern day. Along the way, you'll taste five exotic cocktails, including the Sea Monkey (gin, Pernod, Aquavit, lemon juice, apple juice and tonic) and the Little Market (reposado tequila, guajillo chile syrup, lime juice, pineapple and Yucateca green habanero sauce). Admission is $45 in advance from the Museum of the American Cocktail or $50 at the door.

The N.F.L. draft starts at 7:30 p.m., which means the Redskins can pick no later than 8:15. And since we all know that this town is Redskins-crazy (sorry, Caps fans), bars are hosting special Draft Day viewing parties in which we'll learn whether the Redskins are trading up to grab a quarterback or just sitting back and filling the gaping hole that is left tackle. ESPN Zone will be having a viewing party, of course, but some other bars are offering a little more in the way of specials.

"Any Given Thursday" at the Park at 14th is hosted by New England Patriots cornerback Leigh Bodden (a native of Hyattsville) and Redskins tackle Stephon Heyer, and University of Maryland safety (and hopeful draftee) Terrell Skinner. Doors open at 5, and drink specials include free Guinness from 5 to 7 and $5 premium mixed drinks from 5 to 8. Dress sharp to guarantee admission.

Tattoo Bar's doors open at 6 p.m., with happy hour drink specials running until 10. Fans who show up between 10 and midnight wearing their team's jersey get free admission and a free drink, and any group of five or more women receive a free bottle of champagne, whether in sports gear or not. DJ Benny C provides the beats.

Friday, April 23
Fans of techno, microhouse, IDM (intelligent dance music) and all the cutting-edge micro-genres have been buzzing about "Speaking in Code," a documentary profiling globetrotting DJs Modeselektor and the Wighnomy Brothers; electronic music journalist Phillip Sherburne; Tobias Thomas, the founder of the influential Kompakt record label; and other DJs, promoters and producers in the techno scene. (Watch the trailer here.) Working behind the scenes and spinning at packed clubs, they discuss what the music means to them and how they deal with success and tribulation. The musicians who appear as guests in the film - including Ellen Allien, Miss Kitten and Apparat - could fill the dance music tent at most festivals. "Speaking in Code" has its first screening in D.C. this weekend at the MOCA D.C. gallery in Georgetown. The event also includes a Q&A with director Amy Grill and a two-hour dance party with local techno DJs Measax and Clinic. Alcoholic beverages are included in the ticket price for those 21 and older. (The event repeats Saturday and Sunday nights with different pairs of DJs.)

Some promoters flit between clubs like hummingbirds, setting up popular events, running them until interest dips or there's a conflict with the venue owner, and taking off for a new spot. If you read the fine print on flyers or e-mails, you've seen the names Eric Taylor, Cheeky Sasso and Terry Frasier around D.C., hosting parties like the long-running Flirt at MCCXXIII, monthly parties at Gin and weekly affairs at Tuscana Lounge, among others. Now the three are joining forces at Bar 7 for the weekly Fuzion Fridays. The setup seems familiar -- an open bar from 5 to 7, hip-hop and R&B tunes and a fashionable crowd. Get in while it's hot: get on the guest list by e-mailing your first and last name to or visit for more information and free admission.

Saturday, April 24
X.O. has one of the hottest hands in D.C. hip-hop right now and a beyond-the-Beltway buzz for those still getting acquainted with what the DMV is about. Catch him and funk rockers Violet Says 5 for Pandamonium at Liv. The event's title refers to what appears to be a four-legged, upright escapee of the National Zoo who performs with Violet Says 5. Also elevating the evening's crank levels are Godisheus, the raucous hip-hop funk machine headed by DC rap vet Head-Roc.

Saturday may as well be Hot Chip day in the nation's capital. The U.K. electro-pop group, authors of such irresistible hits as "Boy From School" and "Ready For the Floor" are playing a sold-out show at 9:30 club with buzz band The xx. Good luck getting into that one. They will also spin a DJ set at the Sweetlife Festival, which takes place behind Sweetgreen's Dupont location. That show - also featuring local rockers U.S. Royalty, Merge Records up-and-comers The Love Language, rising star rapper Phil Ade and DJ Will Eastman - is also sold out. So you're out of Hot Chip luck, right? Except there's a pre-party at Solly's at 5 p.m. where you can win tickets to the sold-out 9:30 show. And after the 9:30 show Hot Chip's Joe Goddard will be a guest DJ for a special edition of Taxlo at the Velvet Lounge.

What we like most about the semi-regular Hometown Heroes dance parties is that they deliver exactly what they promise: great local DJs spinning electronic music. No special guests from New York or Berlin. No over-the-top themes. Just something like this: Fort Knox Five spinning funk, breaks and hip-hop, Eighteenth Street Lounge resident Farid Ali playing eclectic dub and breakbeats, and Chris Burns on the disco, garage and house tip. Down in the cozy basement, it's longtime scenester DJ Spiggy rocking various forms of electro, and Joe L and Aaron Sparks playing house. All this at the Trinidad and Tobago Clubhouse, which is a refreshingly large and unpretentious place to cut loose.

Sunday, April 25
If you had to name most influential nightspot of the last 15 years -- leaving out concert venues like the 9:30 Club -- we don't really think there'd be much argument about the winner. The Eighteenth Street Lounge -- and its owners, the DJ duo Thievery Corporation -- put D.C.'s nightlife culture on the global map, drawing musical tourists from around the world. A number of D.C. lounges have sought to emulate ESL style in ensuing years, from the couch-strewn rooms to the warm, house-party feel of the space. But it's the music that's the incomparable element -- a mix of house, funk, world beats, breaks and downtempo, with live jazz upstairs. ESL celebrates its 15th anniversary this weekend, and they're doing it proper, focusing on the residents who've built the Lounge into something special. Thievery Corporation headlines, ensuring long lines outside and a cluster of record-spotters hovering around the DJ booth, along with long-time favorites Farid, Tom B and Nickodemus spinning on the patio and in the main room. Meanwhile, the side Gold Room is hosted by Sunday night fixture Sam "The Man" Burns, and the upstairs lounge features the jazzy Donvonte McCoy Quintet playing tunes from the Eighteenth Street Lounge Music back catalogue. Doors open at 5, but the party goes into the wee hours. The $10 cover includes free food. If you're worried about lines, tickets allowing entry between 5 and 11:30 are offered on the ESL site.

Not to get all geographicist on you, but if you heard the gentle, acoustic folk-pop of A Weather and had to guess where the band hailed from, Portland, Ore., would probably be one of your first guesses. And hey, you'd be right on. The quintet's songs contain seductive, male/female vocals - not just harmonies, but verse trading, an underutilized tactic that does a great job adding some light tension to these quite gorgeous songs. The band opens for similarly mellow and pleasing local folkie Meredith Bragg at Galaxy Hut.

Monday, April 26
Although his given name means "old," Vieux Farka Touré is actually the progeny of the late Malian star Ali Farka Touré. With his mastery of old folk forms as well as his innovations with modern music, the younger Touré is taking the family legacy to new heights. Stringed instruments feature prominently in centuries-old Malian musical traditions. From that background Mali's guitarists develop their mastery, and Vieux Farka Touré is rising to the forefront of these players. After two solo releases, Touré has shown that he's increasingly adept at attaching blues, rock and reggae to traditional Malian forms in ways that are organic, exciting and new. His latest tour brings him to DC9 with Elikeh.

Over 15 years, constant touring, multiple lineup changes and five albums, Ozomatli has stayed true to their mission of compelling you to dance to a beat influenced by drums from all over the world. Originally gaining fame as a band that melded the various Latin styles of their Los Angeles home, Ozomatli grew to incorporate reggae and Arabic forms into an oeuvre that also prominently featured funk and hip-hop. The new album "Fire Away", released this week on 420, even has standard rock and a bit of doo-wop and it all still makes sense. Move your feet with this long running groove machine at the 9:30 Club.

Great performers, great cause. That's really the only way to sum up tonight's Raising the Roof cabaret featuring Harvey Fierstein and the cast of "Fiddler on the Roof" at Town. Proceeds from the $20 tickets go to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which raises money and awards grants to AIDS service organizations. Tickets go on sale at 6:45, doors open at 7:15 and the performance begins at 8. There are plenty of raffle items, too, including "Fiddler" tickets and autographed items. The cast has hosted similar events in other cities on its U.S. tour, raising almost $50,000.

-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By David Malitz  | April 20, 2010; 3:40 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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