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Posted at 7:55 PM ET, 06/ 1/2010

Nightlife Agenda: Capital Pride and Can A Sista Rock A Mic festivals kick off

By Stephanie Merry

Detroit MC Invincible serves as an early highlight for this year's Can A Sista Rock A Mic festival. (Erik V. Stephens)

A pair of annual events kick off this weekend with some highly recommended activities. The 10-day Capital Pride festival begins with a singles event at the Spy Museum, DJ night at Velvet Lounge and Mr. and Miss Capital Pride contest at Town. At Asylum, Detroit MC Invincible will start the Can A Sista Rock A Mic festival with a bang. And former Georgie James singer Laura Burhenn returns to town with her new band, the Mynabirds.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Monday | Tuesday

Wednesday, June 2
Local indie-pop group Georgie James never achieved the success many thought was coming to it, mainly because the band broke up after just one well-received album. It didn't take long for the members to move on to their next musical endeavor. John Davis was quickly performing sharp-as-tacks power-pop with Title Tracks, and Laura Burhenn's first album with her new band, the Mynabirds followed just a few months later. Burhenn ups the sultriness factor on "What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood," making for an album of smoky, seductive songs that show she's been listening to plenty of Dusty Springfield lately. While her voice is certainly the centerpiece, her songwriting shouldn't be overlooked. These are concise tunes with memorable hooks, proving she's more than just a pretty voice. Black Telephone opens at the Black Cat.

Thursday, June 3
Thursdays at the Clarendon Ballroom usually feature cover bands of one sort or another: party jams, classic alternative, '80s hits, maybe a little hip-hop. Not so this week, when the hard-rocking Toxic Mouse and Dr. Fu team up for an ode to the vintage days of Headbangers Ball. Expect leather pants, hair teased to the sky, video-worthy guitars and Van Halen-esque stage leaps, and, most important, rocking out to tunes by Mötley Crüe, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Guns N Roses, Dokken and all your hair metal favorites. Ever wish you walked into a bar and the band was tearing into "We're Not Gonna Take It" or "Rock You Like a Hurricane"? On this night, your headbanging dreams may come true. If you arrive early for the Ballroom's happy hour, admission to the show is free.

Friday, June 4
This week marks the beginning of the 10-day Capital Pride festival. Although the big parade and street festival are June 12 and 13, there are still plenty of things to do to kick things off this weekend. Thursday's Spy a Spouse, a singles event at the International Spy Museum, features DJ Matt Bailer of Mixtape, multiple bars, free food and, of course, matchmakers. Divas of both sexes compete for the title of Mr. and Miss Capitol Pride at Town on Friday night, while an unofficial "alt.dc.pride" party at the Velvet Lounge called Balls! features DJs Michael Rosen (Homo/Sonic) and Joshua Ryan spinning punk and hard rock tunes for a gay crowd that prefers slamdancing to Madonna remixes. Be sure to check Friday's Weekend section for a longer list of Pride-related events, or search

Like any poet worth his or her couplets, an emcee's worth is drawn from mastery of craft and life experience. This combination is the reason Invincible is so engaging. Her barrages of densely packed internal rhymes cut through the glass ceiling of a hip-hop world that still doesn't make space for women who aren't selling sex and frivolity. She is an emcee's emcee in the classic sense, demanding to be judged on style and substance. Her dexterity with rhymes is fortified by her acute observations on the urban decay of her native Detroit, the gender politics of being queer in a homophobic genre and the strife of Israel, her land of origin. Outside her focus on dropping knowledge, Invincible moves crowds by the force of her stage presence. Invincible opens up the Can a Sista Rock a Mic festival, a series of events focused on elevating the female presence in urban arts, with a performance at Asylum.

DJ Nitekrawler has been searching for a new home for Moneytown since April, which has left the scene low on evenings where you can boogaloo to obscure funk treats on vinyl. He's decided to set up camp over on H Street NE and Moneytown will be making its long awaited return to Little Miss Whiskey's, a spot that packs them in early and heavily on weekend nights. The Moneytown guests are still in effect. For the re-up, brings his deep crates and his rep for party rocking in the Midwest.

New York, New Jersey and Chicago are established house music strongholds. But Baltimore has its own squad of serious house maestros. Within Charm City's borders, DJ Spen is well known for pioneering radio mix shows dating back to the early '90s. The rest of the world dances to his past anthems with Basement Boys, Code Red Recordings and his current group The MuthaFunkaz. Spen's best regarded work is characterized by jackin' beats and inspirational gospel tracks. Chris Burns opens for Spen at another session of Red Fridays at U Street Music Hall.

Saturday, June 5
Add M'Lady's Records to the ever-growing list of tiny, DIY labels that have a knack for releasing one must-have, limited-edition seven-inch single after another. Of all of those appealing slabs of vinyl, the best of the bunch may be "600,000 Bands" by Felt Letters, yet another band featuring D.C.'s beloved punk provocateur Ian Svenonius (the Make-Up, Nation of Ulysses). The label is hosting an ice cream social and wild dance rumpus at Comet Ping Pong on Saturday, with performances by Felt Letters, Brooklyn duo Coasting, and Brett & the Whispers. Svenonious and frequent cohort Kid Congo Power will DJ between acts.

Monday, June 7
Plants and Animals is the rare small Canadian indie band. Many groups from our northern neighbor could fill a van with all of their band members; Plants and Animals could fit into a sedan, with an open seat for a case of Labatt Blue. That doesn't mean the trio's sound is small. In fact, there are some pretty stirring crescendos in the band's songs. And the fact that there are only three of them to create those big moments (instead of 8 or 9 people all playing the same thing to create a sense of grandeur) makes it seem even bigger.Lost in the Trees opens at Rock and Roll Hotel.

Tuesday, June 8
Do you like beard music? If so, then Tuesday's show at Iota is a can't-miss show of epic proportions. If you don't know what beard music is, just take a listen to North Carolina trio Megafaun. The band plays harmony-rich, rustic folk songs, equally pretty and twangy and sensitive. That's the definition of beard music. Also, look at the dudes. Holy beards! Then there's opener Sam Quinn - check out that beard - who is a bit more in the traditional singer-songwriter mold but with the quirks that go along with being part of the beard music genre.

By Stephanie Merry  | June 1, 2010; 7:55 PM ET
Categories:  Events, Music  
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