The D.C. Caribbean Carnival brings soca stars Fayann Lyons, Bunji Garlin, Alison Hinds and Machel Montano to town, DJs honor the first anniversary of Michael Jackson's death, the author of "Dance of Days" shows 70 minutes of local punk history on screen, from the Bad Brains to Fugazi and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association holds a pike-friendly prom.
Wednesday, June 23
Although it's primarily a dance music space, if you've been to U Street Music Hall and know anything about D.C. hip-hop, you might have wondered what Kev Brown's famously loping basslines would sound like on that herculean system. Wonder no more, because this anchor of the Low Budget crew is performing at Woofer Speakrz Wednesday along with affiliates Kaimbr, DTMD and Sean Born. Particularly notable about Kaimbr is the upcoming release of his Al Green project. Since the microphonist shares a name with the famous soul man, Kaimbr and Kev Brown crafted a project built upon samples from the Rev. Al's catalog. Low Budget DJs Quartermaine and Roddy Rod will keep it moving between performances.
Frog Eyes and Beach Fossils don't make for the most logical pairing, but as we've mentioned plenty of times in this column, we prefer shows with bands that don't sound exactly the same. Brooklyn's Beach Fossils are all about leisure. The vocals are relaxed, the guitars are gently soaked in reverb, lyrical topics rarely stray from daydreaming, vacations or lazy days. It's not too late to make this the soundtrack to your summer. Headliners Frog Eyes come from the opposite end of the indie rock spectrum. (And from the opposite end of the continent - the band hails from British Columbia.) Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade leads his band through dramatic, tension-filled songs filled with twists and turns. The guitars in Beach Fossils are gently plucked; in Frog Eyes they are attached with a slashing ferocity. Krug also screeches and shouts his vocals, compared to the hushed cooing of Fossils' Dustin Payseur. There will be the calm then the storm at DC9.
For the past decade, a coterie of forward-thinking Scandinavian artists has been deliberately combining jazz, soul, pop and electronica influences into genre-defiant works. Hailing from Denmark, Quadron is the latest sensation from a region that produced Little Dragon (Sweden) and Beady Belle (Norway). Quadron's story starts with the duo Owusu & Hannibal, whose flawless 2006 album sounded like Simply Red and Marvin Gaye on a spaceship with Flying Lotus. Producer Robin Hannibal then linked up with vocalist Coco through another dreamy Dane beat collective, the Boom Clap Bachelors, and the two are exploring a musical partnership as Quadron. It's a sexy, amorphous sound that beatheads, EDM fans, nu-jazzists and alterna-electro kids all gravitate to equally, so there should be a diverse crowd at Liv.
It's going to be hot today. Hot enough to cook eggs on the sidewalk. Hot enough to fry a dog's brain. (Don't ever leave a dog in a parked car, people.) Some people react to the heat by running to some place where the AC is jacked to 64 degrees. Others decide to embrace the summer weather and head outside. Put us in the latter camp. Local 16 is bringing back last summer's Local Wednesday happy hour on its rooftop deck -- Peroni drink specials, DJs spinning party jams, sun -- with no cover or dress code. Doors open at 6.
Time to have a few drinks for a good cause. The non-profit Capital Partners for Education, which offers one-on-one mentoring and academic support for low-income high school students, is hosting a fundraiser at Midtown Loft with a top-shelf open bar, hors d'oeuvres and a raffle with prizes including Nationals tickets and spa packages. All-inclusive tickets are $50 from cpfe.org, or $55 at the door.
Thursday, June 24
The history of D.C. punk and hardcore is littered with legendary bands that most music fans have heard of -- the Bad Brains, Minor Threat -- but broke up in the early '80s, or seminal acts that formed in the late '80s or early '90s but haven't played together in years (Fugazi, Bikini Kill). Get a multimedia history lesson -- or a walk down memory lane -- tonight at the Afinity Lab, where Marc Andersen, the author of the scene biography "Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital," will be hosting a video presentation with 70 minutes of classic concert footage and offering commentary about important musical acts from Rites of Spring to the National of Ulysses. Throw in DJs from Smash and Crooked Beat spinning D.C. bands and you've got one heck of an evening. As D.C. concert-goers might expect, this is a benefit, raising money for We Are Family, a charity that provides groceries, transportation and other assistance to low-income seniors. A $8 donation is suggested.
D.C. Caribbean Carnival events are starting to get underway tonight, though the big names are holding off until Friday and Saturday. The pick of the night is Ignite at Fur, which sees a DJ battle between Jugglers (Trinidad and Tobago), Private Ryan (Miami) and Sprang International (D.C.). Drink specials include $6 Guinness and Heineken all night, though the party is 18-and-over. Tickets are $25 from basementknockers.com.
Friday, June 25
This is the biggest weekend of the year for Washington fans of Caribbean music. Some of the hottest soca and calypso stars in the world are flocking to town for the D.C. Caribbean Carnival, which begins Saturday. But if your tastes run to old-school Jamaican reggae and ska - the soul-stirring sounds of Prince Buster, the Upsetters, Delroy Wilson or King Tubby - then you should be at Marx Cafe on Friday for the eighth anniversary of the monthly Soundclash party. Selectors Sammy Gong, Rice & Peas and the Kaiser work off original vinyl records, spinning a mix of classics, songs you haven't heard in years and tunes that will have you running to the DJ booth to ask what's playing. Get ready to skank and rub-a-dub all night, helped by $3.50 Red Stripes and stiff rum drinks.
It's all-"Glee" all night at Town's "Glee Club" party. This means "Glee" karaoke. "Glee" videos. Sing-alongs with "Glee" videos. Favorite moments from "Glee" on big screens throughout the club. And live performances when the DJs aren't getting Glee-ed up. "Is ["Glee"] the best show ever?" asks the Town press release. "It might be the gayest show ever..." Admission to the 18-and-over party is $10 all night, but those 21-and-over should arrive between 10 and 11 for $5 admission and $2 drinks.
Pittsburgh punks Anti-Flag have been angry for a long time. The group has been rocking far-left-wing punk anthems for the better part of two decades, speedy songs with serious messages - anti-war, anti-corporation, anti-fascist. Historian and political activist Howard Zinn even wrote liner notes on one album. There's always room for another cause, and for this show it's a local one as the band headlines a Taxation Without Representation show at St. Stephen's Church. There will be punk rock, pamphlets and maybe even a pit. Proceeds go to local nonprofit group We Are Family.
A year has gone by so fast since Michael Joseph Jackson passed on. The best way to deal with the inevitable blues is to be with friends, knock back a few and blame it on the boogie. DJ Bis, James Nasty, Harry Hotter, D Painter and Chris Nitti will pilot an hour each in the DJ booth rocking nothing but MJ's discography for Michael Jackson Is Still Alive at U Street Music Hall. Immediately afterward, Marques Wyatt takes over and brings to D.C. a taste of Deep, L.A.'s premier soulful house party.
The brilliance of Wavves comes from the glorious pop melodies -- complete with "woo-hoos" and "ahhh-ahhhhs" that slice through the dense layers of lo-fi scuzz and reverb. There's something beautiful under all the scraggly distortion and stoner philosophies of "So Bored" and "Beach Demon" with its lovely-but-reverb-caked "Goin' nowhere / Goin' nowhere" chorus. In fact, it's all the more beautiful for its attempts not to be beautiful. Live, however -- or at least last fall at the Rock and Roll Hotel -- Wavves had a "unexpected thrashy punk energy" that made the show mesmerizing. (You can read David's full review here.) The two-man-band is back at the Hotel with Cloud Nothings and Farewell Republic.
Virginia's football class of 2010 is celebrating making it to the pros with a happy hour and party at Bar 7. It's hosted by Rashawn Jackson, an undrafted free agent who signed with the Carolina Panthers, and former teammates Vic Hall (also undrafted) of the Chicago Bears and Chris Cook, the Minnesota Vikings' second-round pick, along with 2008 first-rounder Branden Albert (Kansas City). The odd man out is former Maryland (now Minnesota Vikings) safety Terrell Skinner. But you're not going for the football scouting report -- you're going because there are free drinks from 5:30 to 6:30, DJs spinning hip-hop and R&B on two levels, and there's no cover charge until 11.
Whisper it, but Dodge City is turning into an excellent little venue for low-key DJ nights. Maybe it's the tiny dance floor or the "adults-only" vibe, but Dodge City has been bringing in some pretty excellent DJs to set the vibe for a night of hanging out with a couple of friends and some great beer Tonight's the latest example: KC and Pete of the Fatback DJs will be spinning upstairs from 10 on. As always at Dodge City, no cover and no flip-flops. (Seriously. If you are wearing flip-flops you will not be allowed in.)
Carnival parties continue. At the Crossroads, the Carnival City happy hour includes two-for-one drinks and a free Caribbean buffet from 4 until 8, plus DJs spinning reggae and soca all night. Admission is free until 10.
Machael Montano has done more than most musicians to move soca toward the mainstream, adding hip-hop and reggae influences to his songs. (Example A: His work with Lil' Jon and Pitbull on the "The Anthem" remix.) Montano is headlining an outdoor concert at RFK Stadium with JW & Blaze, the reigning Trinidadian Soca Monarchs, Skinny Fabulous, Farmer Nappy, Patrice Roberts and Hitmen, plus a food court and multiple bars. General admission tickets are $40 from machelmontanolive.com.
The "Flags 'Til Morning" party at the Hampton Conference Center stars Grenadian soca singer TallPree, Trinidadian calypso singer and soca DJ Kerwin DuBois and soca-and-raga singer Lyrikal, plus a team of DJs including Super Slice and Spyda the DJ.
Saturday, June 26
It's hard to say what our favorite part of the D.C. Caribbean Carnival is: The Saturday morning parade that snakes down Georgia Avenue, with crowds of dancers in sparkling, over-the-top costumes; the festival grounds, where families and singles alike groove to live music while the smell of jerk chicken and roti wafts over the crowd; or the numerous club parties that give us the chance to see some of soca's biggest names on the same night. At Crossroads, for example, the Canival City bill features Alison Hinds, the Barbadian "Queen of Soca"; reigning Soca Monarchs JW & Blaze, who took the title at Trinidad's Carnival this year with the infectious hit "Palance"; Grenadian soca star Tallpree; and the Caribbean Traffik Jam band. New York's Steelie Bashment is the featured DJ.
We have a veritable griot in our midst in Cheick Hamala Diabate. This Malian troubadour often performs around town paired with salsa machine Bio Ritmo, so you've got another chance to catch the African bard and the rumberos at Rock and Roll Hotel. New Orleans jazz and funk outfit No BS Brass Band and the classic nuyorican selections of the Rice and Beans Sound System round out an evening of worldly dance grooves.
The first couple of soca is Bunji Garlin and Fayann Lyons, who've taken multiple titles at Soca Monarch competitions in Trinidad. While they're not performing at the Carnival in D.C., the husband and wife team will take the stage at the Soca Motion concert at the D.C. Star nightclub, along with Destra Garcia and Pumpa, and six local DJs, including Andy Mix, Spyda and Hazzard.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association's Bike Prom is back for a third year at the Black Cat, this time sporting a post-apocalyptic theme. (Mad Max costumes are encouraged.) This is a night for bike lovers with all the fun you expect from a high school prom -- and maybe more, since there's a full (and legal) bar. Expect the crowning of the king and queen, a photo booth, raffles and DJs, headlined by Anthology of Booty's Natty Boom. Tickets are $10; bike parking is free outside. (And yes, the Black Cat is offering additional racks for the night.)
-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
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