This week's nightlife happenings include birthday parties for E.U. singer Sugar Bear and longtime Black Cat bartender Chad America, Fort Reno concerts by the Evens and Soft Power, a tailgate party for fans of SEC football, a new venue for Hip-Hop Trivia Night, appearances by Biz Markie and Fantasia at the Park at 14th and plenty of DJ nights that will have you movin' and groovin',
Wednesday, July 28
In the pantheon of D.C.'s musical heroes, Gregory "Sugar Bear" Elliott is a living legend. The frontman of go-go heavyweights Experience Unlimited -- E.U. to its fans -- is best known for "Da Butt," which became a nationwide craze after it was featured in Spike Lee's 1988 film "School Daze." That earned E.U. a record deal and national one-hit-wonder status, but inside the Beltway, a steady steam of albums and singles, including "Rock Yuh Butt" and "Cold Kickin' It," made sure that E.U. has never gone far off the radar. Wish Elliott a happy birthday and give him a hearty "thank you" at Zanzibar tonight, where he's performing with fellow go-go legends Rare Essence and the jazzier Suttle Thoughts. Doors open at 7, and there's an open bar and free buffet until 8. Even better: Text "Zanzi" to 25827 to get a message that's good for free admission (ladies) or $10 discounted admission (men) until 9.
What happens when an underground fave starts to get some mainstream attention? In the case of Ariel Pink not too much. For most of the past decade the L.A.-based indie rocker toiled in relative obscurity, releasing hazy, retro psych-pop. He was lo-fi before that became the hot thing a few years ago, he was chillwave before that became the hot thing this year. So it's no surprise that he's finally gaining some acclaim now, even though his latest album, "Before Today," largely leaves both of those microgenres behind. Make sure to get to Rock & Roll Hotel early to catch up-and-comers Magic Kids, whose debut album "Memphis" is a sunny and sugary throwback pop is yet another fine contestant for indie album of the summer.
Thursday, July 29
Indie-rock reunions are all the rage, but not everyone is taking part. A couple of locals who were in beloved '90s acts have resisted the urge and are instead focusing on their excellent current bands. Mary Timony played sludgy and dreamy songs with Helium, and although some of those elements are still there with her new quartet, Soft Power, things are a bit more jagged and driving with interesting twists and turns. The Evens have been quiet for long enough that it will almost feel like a reunion when the duo of Ian MacKaye (Fugazi) and Amy Farina (the Warmers) play punk-tinged folk songs at Fort Reno on Monday. Sometimes it's nice to live in the present and not the past.
Don't look now, but college football season is just over a month away. The Southeastern Conference, home to last year's BCS champion, Alabama, and third-ranked Florida, has undergone a number of changes over the offseason but looks as strong as ever on paper. Fans and alumni looking to get in the spirit (or possibly do a little trash-talking) should head for the SEC Tailgate at George, a Georgetown bar that usually requires its preppy crowd to be on a guest list to get in but is opening its doors to football-loving hoi polloi. Expect Southern rock tunes on the sound system, SEC football highlights on the TVs and plenty of drink specials, including $4 beers and $6 Jeremiah Weed sweet tea vodka cocktails. Jerseys and T-shirts are welcome; face paint might be overdoing it.
Flashing Lights is the combination of New York-based DJs Ayres, Nick Catchdubs and Jess Jubilee. It's more than a standard techno/electro/mashup party, as this crew brings seasoned party-rocking sensibilities to those popular styles. That means surprises and risk taking, not the same tracks du jour that everyone has from the same blogs. The trio gets it in at U Street Music Hall
The National Urban League is turning 100 this year, and celebrating with a large four-day conference that features President Obama, Maya Angelou and Jesse Jackson among its speakers. But once the speeches and symposiums are over, there are happy hours and parties open to the general public. Tonight's "Hart and Soul" party at the Park at Fourteenth should be one of the best: Comedian Kevin Hart is the host, and the diabolical Biz Markie is the featured DJ. If that doesn't have you itching to go, how about free Heineken from 5 to 11? All you have to do is RSVP on the FlowInsiders.com Web site
Get rootical on Thursdays at Patty Boom Boom for another installment of Basement Bashment. The line is consistently out the door for this roots, culture and dub reggae night so get there early, preferably so you can get some rum punch in your system before getting lost in the bass lines. DJs Fiyaman and Underdog are your selectors.
After a good run as a centerpiece event at the Hip-Hop Cheers, aka Lounge of Three, Hip-Hop Trivia night has moved along to Queen Makeda. The West Coast is the theme this week, so dig up your King Tee, Freestyle Fellowship and Eazy E records and brush up on your knowledge. Sign-up begins at 7 p.m. Two trivia bouts are scheduled at 8:15 and 9:30 p.m, with a round of drinks as the prize.
Friday, July 30
You can hear Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock in Mark de Clive-Lowe's music if you know what to listen for. Or you may just be driven to reckless abandon on the dance floor by his intricate electronic beats. With his penchant for vintage synth sounds, his airtight Rhodes piano work and jazz chops, de Clive-Lowe is at the top of intelligent dance music. It's a combination of top-notch production, arranging and instrumental skill and monster grooves. Onstage, he's a one-man electronica wizard, presiding over a few choice analog keyboards (along with their modern digital counterparts), an effects box and an MPC drum machine. His sets are wild rides of improvisation right before your eyes, as he'll compose songs on the spot by playing and programming all of these instruments in real time. Lowe generally tours with vocalists who match his ability level and taste for musical adventure. Frequent collaborator Sy Smith makes the trip this time, as the two are on the verge of releasing their first full project together. House and soul diva Tamara Wellons and DJ Chris Burns will provide the local support at Liv.
This is one of those nights where U Street Music Hall has enough entertainment to keep you occupied for hours. Start early with Carolyn Malachi's EP release show. This triple threat artist has been delighting DC and Baltimore with her poetry, jazz vocals and sizzling emcee'ing and just returned from a tour in South Africa. You can grab a meal on U Street, then burn some calories back at the club dancing to Red Fridays featuring Miguel Migs and Lisa Moody of Deep Sugar. To the uninitiated, the various microgenres that can be classified as house music are interchangeable. If you don't take the time to differentiate, you'll miss out on the particular strand that Miguel Migs is best known for -- a particularly sexy, nuanced and soulful form of dance music rooted in the organic. His releases on Naked Music Recordings and then his own label, Salted Music have defined this space for the past 10 years.
You may recognize Mustafa Akbar as the large dreaded dude who guards the door at Eighteenth Street Lounge on weekends, or for his soulful, honey-toned vocals on records by locals Fort Knox Five or Thunderball. But he's got another impressive item on his resume: curator and host of the annual MuStock Festival in Lignum, Va., about 90 minutes southwest of D.C. The three-day party features performances by a phalanx of reggae, hip-hop, soul and funk DJs and musicians you may have seen at D.C.'s better clubs and lounges, including Thunderball, Fort Knox Five, the All Good Funk Alliance, See-I, W. Ellington Felton, Asheru and the Els, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and Nappy Riddim. (The full lineup is at mustockllc.com, and as you might expect, dancing goes on late into the night.) Tickets, which include camping, are $50 in advance from the mustock Web site and $65 at the gate.
If you've missed the U.S. Department of Bhangra, we've got some good news: the popular night of Indian dance tunes, formerly held at Bossa, is making its Black Cat debut tonight on the backstage. Expect dance circles and plenty of good vibes to go along with the Punjabi beats. There's a $5 cover.
Richmond salsa machine Bio Ritmo is one of the few salsa acts to really cross over in D.C., playing the Rock and Roll Hotel and the Black Cat's main stage as well as the National Gallery's Jazz in the Garden series. We're big fans of the group's brassy Nuyorican sound, so we imagine that there will be quite a scene at the Salsa Room tonight as the club's expert dancers twirl to the Afro-Caribbean hits. (And if you're still working on your moves, we should note that 45-minute dance lessons for both beginners and intermediate students are included in the $20 cover charge.)
Continuing the Urban League festivities at the Park, Fantasia will be hosting the party after a special conventioneers-only benefit performance at the Warner Theatre. Show up early for $5 drinks (5-8 p.m.) and free hors d'oeuvres (6 to 8), and stick around for DJ Mad Hands. RSVP for admission by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, July 31
Tru Skool and U Street are like half-smokes and, well... U Street. DJ Underdog's showcase for the city's underground hip-hop talent has been a fixture since the days of freestyle ciphers at the now-vanished Capitol City Records. The Tru Skool Soundstage at the Black Cat features the new school with young duo DTMD, the now school with hard hitting and high profile Diamond District and the next school with experimental outfit Cornel West Theory. Beat genius Damu the Fudgemunk joins Underdog on the decks with Grap Luva as host.
D.C.'s Future Times label is a goldmine for fans of disco and house music, releasing records -- yes, vinyl records -- by retro-classicists Beautiful Swimmers and Maxmillion Dunbar. You'll hear plenty of similar grooves at Dodge City tonight, where Future Times presents DJs C-Rob and Mondo's Vitamin C night. There's no cover, great drinks and a welcoming atmosphere at the cozy little bar, which has quickly become one of our favorite U Street watering holes.
Sunday, Aug. 1
Sunday night U Street Music Hall hosts a benefit for the Stone and Holt Weeks Foundation. The brothers - sons of former Washington Post writer Linton Weeks - were killed in a car crash last year, and the foundation was established to carry on their spirit of volunteerism and activism. The musicians for the evening include Greta (of Gold Motel and the Hush Sound), space-psych rockers Tennis System and violin virtuoso Matthew Hemerlein.
Monday, Aug. 2
The Evens at Fort Reno (see Thursday listing).
Tuesday, Aug. 3
When our birthday rolls around, most of us secretly hope that our friends will throw a really cool party or purchase the perfect gift. Not Black Cat bartender Chad America. He's a take-charge kind of guy who organizes his own party, booking a couple of bands to play the club and inviting all and sundry to drop by. This year's entertainment comes from the snotty garage rock of (Stop Worrying and) Love the Bomb, the Electricutions' '70s-inspired political punk and the Drains. As always, there's no cover charge.
-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
| July 27, 2010; 7:49 PM ET
Categories: Bars and Clubs, Events, Music
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