Nightlife agenda: Jellybean Benitez, Done and Done, Panda Head
Celebrate the newest issue of local fashion mag Panda Head with bands and DJs, enjoy a drum 'n' bass throwback at Warehouse Loft, crawl through Northern Virginia bars at the Ballston Caddy Crawl and catch some of New York's hottest DJs at (where else?) U Street Music Hall.
Wednesday, April 7
Back in 2002 and 2003, Juste Lounge was one of the hottest spots in D.C. for African-American professionals. Live neo-soul music, open-bar happy hours, hip-hop DJs and plenty of eye candy made the cozy two-story club a destination in an otherwise desolate stretch of Seventh Street NW. Then the Washington Convention Center opened across the street, tax rates (and rents) skyrocketed and Juste Lounge took off for an unlikely exodus at two locations in Bethesda, where a similar formula just wasn't drawing the same crowds. But Seventh Street is very different now, and Juste Pehoua is back to try again. He's hosting The Return of Juste Lounge tonight at its original address, which is the new upscale-yet-low-key Bar 7. Stop by between 5 and 7 to partake of an open bar and catch live music by Shorty Corleone (of Rare Essence) and Drakes until 10. Then it's a dance party with hip-hop on the main floor and reggae DJs on the lower level until 2. Grab a pass by texting JLVIPTEXT to 313131 or RSVP through www.justelounge.com. Otherwise, it's $10 to get in.
We've tried our fair share of fruit beers -- blueberry ales, strawberry wheat beers -- and frankly, none of them were very good. Dogfish Head's Aprihop is one of the rare exceptions. The hoppy IPA is made with fresh apricots, but it doesn't push the sweet taste to the foreground. Instead, it's more of a subtle flavor, backed up by delicious citrus from the hops. But don't take our word for it -- try Dogfish's spring seasonal at a tapping party at Union Jack's of Bethesda. Between 6 and 8, you pay $5 for a pint, which includes a glass for you to keep. And after your first taste, refill your glass for $2.50. All other Dogfish beers will be half-price during happy hour, but the Aprihop is the one to go to first.
You can scratch your '90s itch for pop hits and Top 40 pretty easily these days but if you're looking to balance that out with a hump-day evening of hip-hop, R&B and reggae, check out DJ Alizay of the 93.9 WKYS at Indulj. While Alizay still kills it in the mainstream clubs and on the airwaves, he takes it back for his appropriately titled Refreshing Wednesdays sets. The deck will be open as long as this early summer weather holds up, and there's no cover all night.
Thursday, April 8
U Street Music Hall's naked attempts to conquer the D.C. DJ/dance scene continue with an appearance by the DJs from Flashing Lights, the roving New York party whose motto is "house + disco + techno + rave" without the usually attitude. The crowd-pleasing trio of DJs DJ Ayres, Nick Catchdubs (of Fool's Gold records) and Jubilee should fit right in at U Hall. Listen to one of the absolutely banging mixes so you know what you're in for, then go dance until the lights come up. The 18-and-over party kicks off at 10.
'Tis the season for Maibock, a springtime variation of traditional German bock beer. It's generally a malty, copper-colored brew with just a touch of spice -- perfect for warm spring days. In the past, we've enjoyed the Maibocks (and their launch parties) from Gordon Biersch brewpubs. At the Rockville branch, for instance, the tapping takes on a Hawaiian luau theme in honor of the restaurant's new "Pacific Rim" menu. Between 6 and 8, there's free food, fresh beer -- including the ceremonial tapping of a wooden keg and samples out of "das boot," a pig roast and a raffle for a trip to Hawaii. And because Gordon Biersch events always have a charitable element, there's a silent auction benefiting the ziMS Foundation, the Ryan Zimmerman-founded group that works to find a cure for multiple sclerosis.
Local Nigerian afro-folk troubadour Kuku opens for Res at Liv in an evening of acoustic soul. Long a favorite on the Washington scene, Kuku blends poetry, comedy and lyrics in English and his native Yoruba. Res is finally following up on her smash 2001 album "How I Do" with a project called Idle Warship. Teaming up with Talib Kweli and singer Graph Nobel, Warship's tunes expand the hints of electro and punk in Res's early output into a wild dance-rock party. She'll be performing some of this material in an acoustic context, along with the singer-songwriter collection of songs on her new solo album "Black.Girls.Rock!"
Friday, April 9
Club-goers of a certain age grow misty-eyed over D.C.'s house music scene of the '90s and early '00s when now closed venues like Red, Five and the D.C. Sanctuary offered so many places to dance. Strangely, the D.C. drum 'n' bass scene doesn't get the same kind of nostalgia, even though early crews like 2Tuff were hosting events at the same venues and bringing in some amazing DJs from New York, London and beyond. To put it simply, DJs Slant, Stress and their compatriots spun some of the heaviest, face-melting-est beats ever unleashed on D.C. Take a trip down memory lane tonight at the Warehouse Loft, where the 2Tuff crew -- Slant, Stress and Bjoo -- are joined by another old-schooler, Locks. Headlining is DJ Dara, one of d'n'b's most famous faces, thanks to the Planet of the Drums tours (and his own regular headlining gigs in New York). And lest you think it's nothing but a bunch of old-timers, the second room is given over to the newest generation of DJs, including Tanc and Tiernan, who are behind the awesome Dive and Lie Wrecked parties. The 18-and-over party costs $10 from 10 to midnight and $15 after. It runs until 4 a.m.
Why pre-game at home when you can do it for a fraction of the usual bar costs and be entertained by the DJs you'd go out to hear on a peak weekend night? Steve Starks of Nouveau Riche is on deck for Pregame at Policy, and the drink specials will play extra nice with your wallet.
Local fashionista Morgan Hungerford's Panda Head Web site is more than just a street fashion blog. Her seasonal online magazine has photos and video of on-the-street fashion, music from stylish local bands (think U.S. Royalty and New Rock Church of Fire), paintings and other whimsical touches. What we also love about Panda Head are the free, all-ages parties Hungerford throws at Comet Ping Pong every time a new "issue" launches. There's always live music - this time around, it's whiplash punk rock from Maybe, Baby and feverish party music by Exactly - plus DJs and two cans of PBR for $5. There's no dress code, but given the target audience, you'll want to look good.
The Caribbean has been lounging around the local scene for more than a decade now, playing low-key songs best appreciated with a pair of good headphones. Back when garage rock revival was all the rage, this made the band an outlier. Now we're not saying that the Caribbean should be lumped in with the whole chillwave/glo-fi thing that's happening. That would be a bit ridiculous, especially because any one of the band's songs has more lyrical depth than an entire album from any band associated with those current genres. (Or maybe we're just suckers for songs that reference the Go-Betweens.) But perhaps the songs will find new fans in those who enjoy dreamy and relaxed music. Ryan Holladay (of Bluebrain) and Twins of a Gazelle open at the Velvet Lounge.
Stick around long enough and you can celebrate the 21st anniversary of an album by setting out on tour and playing the whole thing straight through. U.K. indie pop icons the Wedding Present are doing just that, playing 1989's "Bizarro" from start to finish. Never mind that the whole "21st anniversary" thing seems like some odd justification or that the album ranks third (at best) when it comes to ones we'd like to hear David Gedge strum and croon his way through. Ever since the band relaunched in 2005, its shows have been razor sharp -- and that includes Gedge's between-song banter -- so you shouldn't miss a chance to hear hyper-charged hits such as "Brassneck" and "Kennedy." Office faves the Jet Age open at the Black Cat.
Saturday, April 10
Forget about celebrating the 21st anniversary of an album -- it'll still be a while until the members of Power Pirate celebrate the 21st anniversary of anything. The local band consists of three high schoolers, ages 15 to 17. Yes, that puts them in the company of thousands of other teenagers who are doing the rock and roll thing for the first time. But Power Pirate isn't just messing around in a garage. The electronic-pop-rock songs on their debut album, "Plane Ticket," sound polished beyond their years. There's something decidedly '80s retro about the massive keyboards and flashy guitar work, but singer Emily Pakulski's vocals and lyrics remind you that, yes, these are teenagers. And that's a good thing, because a bit of angst makes it more interesting. As for the album release party ... it's not quite in the school cafeteria. Try U Street Music Hall, only the most buzzed-about new nightlife spot in town. It's an early show, with 6 p.m. doors. They may seem mature beyond their years, but there's still no need to keep them out until 3 a.m. (Of course, with the first U-Hall edition of Nouveau Riche taking place later that night, plenty of people will do just that.)
The inaugural Done and Done Festival is an all-day show at which six local bands will share a stage with six bands from New York, then they'll repeat the whole thing next weekend up in Brooklyn. It's sort of like an indie-rock foreign-exchange program. From D.C., you'll find some usual suspects: ragged soul-folk trio the Laughing Man, neo-shoegazers Last Tide and dance-punk headliners Ra Ra Rasputin. And the local booking team should be applauded for getting some good talent to make the drive down I-95; the best of the Big Apple bunch includes peppy garage rockers Byrds of Paradise, distortion-soaked indie-pop band Mount McKinley and Subway Sadists, who should inject the festival with some sludge-rock mayhem.
With Tiger Woods making his much-anticipated return to the Masters, this weekend is a big one for golf fans. And what better way to celebrate than with a golf-themed bar crawl through seven Ballston bars? The second annual Ballston Caddy Crawl invites you to dress up in golf attire - anything from plaid pants to Titleist hats - and raise money for charity. Festivities begin at Union Jack's at 2 p.m., where you'll check in and pay $10 ($1 goes to the American Cancer Society). Then it's off to the other bars, all of which will be showing the Masters on TV and offering drink specials: We like the $5 Firefly Arnold Palmers (sweet tea vodka and lemonade) at the Front Page, $2 domestic drafts and $4.99 mojitos and margaritas at Caribbean Breeze, and $2 drafts at the Rock Bottom brewpub. Sign-ups end at 6, but the deals go until 9. And we're not kidding about the outfits; there are gift certificates and prizes for the best ones.
What're you doing Saturday afternoon? Errands? Taking a nap? Catching up on "Gossip Girl" on TiVo? Forget all that and head for the Day Party at kstreet Lounge. It's like a usual weekend at kstreet -- DJs, dancing, bottle service, fashionably dressed crowd -- but it runs from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m., meaning you can still head out for dinner afterward, or go out clubbing without the need for a disco nap. The clincher is that today's selecter is DJ Jahsonic, the man behind the Main Ingredient hip-hop and soul parties at Marvin.
Sunday, April 11
Before dance music evolved into a genre, John "Jellybean" Benitez was writing the early chapters of its history. In the early '80s, he had a residency at the FunHouse, a key venue in New York's dance culture, along with Danceteria and Studio 54. Benitez worked on early records for Afrika Bambaataa (the legendary "Planet Rock") and Jimmy Spicer. Then he met a woman named Madonna and worked on some of her biggest club hits of the time, including "Lucky Star" and "Holiday," and he remixed songs for Whitney Houston. The FunHouse cry of "Jellybean rocks the house!" still reverberates today when Benitez drops bangers for veteran house music devotees and young club kids alike. Don't miss him alongside Sam "The Man" Burns at Eighteenth Street Lounge.
Shows at Big Bear Cafe are usually pretty mellow affairs: a few non-threatening indie-pop bands play music that never gets too loud. Sunday will be different. New Orleans metal band Thou is scheduled to play the tiny coffee house, so let's just hope it's still standing on Monday. The low-end rumble from the molasses-thick grooves could shake the shop's foundations, and the howling vocals will only add to the onslaught. Some people like to end their weekends as quietly as possible. This show is for folks who think those people are weak.
-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
| April 7, 2010; 6:35 AM ET
Categories: Bars and Clubs, Events, Music
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