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Posted at 5:36 PM ET, 08/24/2010

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Celebrate Michael Jackson's 52nd birthday with music from throughout his career -- including the Jackson Five -- at a pair of parties on Friday. (Motown Records)

Among this week's picks: Celebrate Michael Jackson's birthday with a pair of dance parties, drink in the D.C. Beer Week festivities, check out the sound of African hip-hop, pretend to be in a lost episode of "Beverly Hills 90210" at a hip pool party, judge for yourself whether Yo Majesty protege Dominique Young Unique is the next big thing, and dance to a pair of Bay Area bands that recall the Smiths and vintage pop-punk.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Monday | Tuesday

Wednesday, Aug. 25
D.C. Beer Week is under way, and since we've been blogging/tweeting/talking on the radio about it since last weekend, we're not going to go into too much detail about it in this column. But if you're looking for something to do tonight, our top pick is "A Bitch and a Bastard," a five-round event pairing the beers of Stone Brewing Company (including the legendary Arrogant Bastard) and Frederick's own Flying Dog Brewing Company, whose current flagship is the Raging Bitch IPA. Tickets for the party at the Big Hunt are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Get more D.C. Beer Week picks here.

In any group of well-known artists, you can always find a few similar artists in the background. They may have equally impressive talents but never achieve the same level of notoriety. Query such artists as Prince, Roy Ayers and Chaka Khan, and Sandra St. Victor's name will come up with admiration and warmth. St. Victor has worked with all of those artists as a vocalist and songwriter. Her breakthrough came fronting the band the Family Stand. The hit "Ghetto Heaven" is still a club classic, but the group's career followed a similar path to St. Victor's: ambitious stylistic forays that were critically feted but met with indifference by their record label. Despite that, the diva has forged on, finding new niches for her formidable voice and marshaling a cult following. St. Victor is gearing up for a new batch of solo projects, in which she experiments with other genres. Get a preview during two shows -- at 8 and 10 p.m. -- at Blues Alley.

The Green Carpet Affair turns Eastern Market's North Hall into a networking and learning space this evening for everyone working in or interested in Washington's growing green economy. Progressive hip-hop artist Christylez Bacon and DJ Dub Ell (aka W. Ellington Felton) provide the entertainment, along with a few surprise guests as well as complimentary food and beer.

Thursday, Aug. 26
Your quick D.C. Beer Week pick: 3,000 oysters paired with seven Rogue ales and three Rogue spirits at the Reef.

Victor Calderone is a DJ with an ear for the dance floor. It's not just the long-running residencies spinning anthemic vocal house music at New York's Limelight and Roxy and Miami's Liquid or his parties on Fire Island and at major Pride festivals. It's his skill making remixes that work for other DJs, too, leading to a long relationship with Madonna and work with Sting, Destiny's Child and Beyonce. The promoters of Glow continue their excellent string of bookings for the intimate Lima Lounge by securing a Calderone appearance a few days after he plays New York's far larger Pacha nightclub.

Keeping the green thread going through the week, See-I plays U Street Music Hall for Live Green's 2nd Anniversary. Live Green functions like an environmentally-friendly chamber of commerce of sorts, aggregating discounts to consumers from local green business. You can get some reggae, drink specials, snack action and information about where to spend your greenbacks for green products.

Temperatures have already dropped into the 60s this week and you might have to start pulling those heavier layers out of storage soon. You won't have many more chances to floss in your summer wear, so pull out your flyest whites at the Phillips Collection for the Phillips After Five White Party featuring the art of Alberto Alberto Gaitán and Kenny George, music by Bluebrain, and a performance by Glade Dance Collective.

As long as there are bars in D.C., there will be "networking" happy hours for "young professionals" in their 20s and 30s. (We have our suspicions that 90 percent of business cards exchanged at these events aren't used in a professional sense, if you know what we mean.) But as wary as we may be, it's hard to turn down Hudson's 6 Degrees of Separation: free hors d'oeuvres, drink specials that run until 11 and DJ Seyhan (whom you may have heard at the Shadow Room and Donovan House) spinning on the patio. Grab a $6 cocktail (Stoli, Skye Vodka, Plymouth, Jim Beam, Bacardi) and relax. And bring a few extra business cards. You never know if you'll need them.

Friday, Aug. 27
Your quick D.C. Beer Week pick: We can't choose just one, sadly. Take your choice of Michigan Rare Craft Beer Blowout at the Big Hunt, which features hard-to-find brews from Bells, Founders, Jolly Pumpkin and New Holland, and a chance to meet award-winning Flying Dog brewer Bob Malone and sample his brews at the Black Squirrel.

Michael Jackson would have turned 52 on Sunday. In the year since his death, it has been fascinating to see how many people have rediscovered and reembraced his music in a way they never did in the past decade, when Jackson was better known for his legal troubles and bizarre behavior. In honor of his birthday, there are two big celebrations Friday, and they're only a few blocks apart.

Kick off your Night of Michael at U Street Music Hall, where Harry Hotter (of the Beacon's rooftop parties), Andrew Jaye and James Nasty spin at the Motown Happy Hour. Expect plenty of vintage Jackson Five, solo Michael Jackson and his contemporaries during the free event, along with $5 Absolut Vodka drinks.

The main draw of the evening will be the Michael Jackson Birthday Celebration at the 9:30 Club, hosted by the peerless DJ Dredd. He promises to mix up the music of Michael and his siblings into one endless string of hits, and if Dredd's work at the Prince parties is anything to go by, this is going to be one festive and fiercely funky night on the dance floor - a perfect tribute to the King of Pop.

If you love the four-on-the-floor party beat of Baltimore Club music, DJ Sega should be an essential part of your iTunes collection. Sega, who's part of the Mad Decent posse, is flying the flag for Philly Club music, which resembles a jacked-up version of its Baltimore cousin. Expect '80s commercial and cartoon samples dropped into the hypnotic beats, alongside Lil' Jon catchphrases and other familiar get-the-party-started tracks. Sega's "New Jack Philly" mixtape is the blueprint, and whether he's spinning at a Philadelphia roller rink or in front of hundreds at Australian clubs, he gets things live. The bass will be shaking and bodies will be moving at the Rock and Roll Hotel's upstairs bar.

When BlackFinn has a ladies night, they really have a ladies night. Martini and a Makeover features all the girls-night-out trappings: $5 martinis, free desserts, a chocolate fountain, free beauty products and samples, giveaways from Bethesda retailers. (Our only question -- it's sponsored by Palm Beach Tan. Isn't this the time of year when you don't need to pay for a tan? Wouldn't they be better off giving away free tans in December when everyone is all pasty?) To get in, RSVP to SDuani@blackfinnbethesda.com.

Saturday, Aug. 28
All summer long, you've been promising yourself you'd make it to one of the pool parties at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. DJs, squirt guns, a huge pool, plenty of lounge chairs -- it all sounds so great. And now it's the middle of August and you only have two more weeks to experience the parties. So stop making excuses. This week's Brightest Young Things party has a "Beverly Hills 90210" theme. Consider this an invitation to bust out your keds or roll up your jeans, then head down for '90s music, peach pie eating contests and other fun. $15 to get in; drink specials run until 8 p.m.

With all the Jacksons and Motown nostalgia floating around this weekend, it might be hard to find an even more soulful retro night -- but DJ Soul Call Paul has done it. The Soul Off is essentially your parents' version of DJ Dredd's Prince Vs. Michael Jackson dance party, with the songs of James Brown and Stevie Wonder played back to back all night long on the Black Cat's back stage. It might be tempting to declare The Godfather of Soul the winner before the first record is played, but if you've ever been on the dance floor when "Uptight (Everything's Alright)," you know they're waaaay more to Stevie than "Ebony and Ivory." There's no cover charge.

Heads up, Franchophiles. Marianne Dissard may have been living in the U.S. for more than a decade, collaborating with members of Calexico and Giant Sand, but she still sings in French and plays music that can evoke both Champs Elysses and the Southwestern desert. It's a rare combination but one that works thanks to her commanding voice, which is plenty expressive even if you have no idea what she's saying. Baroque-pop locals The Strugglers open at Comet Ping Pong.

DJ Spyda is one of the most consistent Caribbean and West African DJs in town. From dancehall to hip-life and from Zanzibar to Almaz, if you dig reggae rhythms you've likely partied with him. Spyda rocks his own Virgo birthday bash at Liv with Rane from WPGC 95.5 FM and DJ Super Slice, another one of Washington's strongest selectors.

And finally, if you've been looking for an excuse to wear your Uncle Charley's old Shriners outfit, it's time for another installment of the roving Fez and Mustache party, which is being held at DC9. It's a night of klezmer, Balkan rock and Eastern European party music, enhanced by the wearing of fezzes and fake mustaches (by both sexes). It's $5 to get in; fake mustaches will be given to early arrivals and the best outfits will win prizes.

Sunday, Aug. 29
How is it that there aren't more current indie bands that sound like the Smiths? The '80s are plenty popular with younger bands these days but more on the synth side of things. Magic Bullets sound a whole lot like the Smiths - a lot, lot - but manage to sound fresh nonetheless. Jangly, wistful, clever pop have a way of being timeless on their own. Catch the San Francisco band at the Black Cat.

Ron Trent, Sam Burns and Adrian Loving man the turntables for the Hip-Hop Harmony Fundraiser at Eighteenth Street Lounge. Hip-Hop Harmony helps develop African hip-hop artists, and if you're not listening to K'Naan (Somalia), Blitz the Ambassador or M.anifest (Ghana), you're missing out on a solid stream of great material from the next frontier in hip-hop. Washington has its own circle of talented African hip-hop acts performing at this fundraiser, including Doom E Right, who was repping Zimbabwe on wax during the golden age when American rappers were just starting to look to Africa for identity. Other emerging talents on the bill include Senegal's Waterflow and Mamoudou.

Monday, Aug. 30
The pop-punk genre will forever be associated with the likes of Blink-182 and New Found Glory. But that's not the way to describe Bare Wires, even if pop and punk are the main ingredients in the Oakland, Calif., trio's appealing sound. The songs on the group's new album, "Seeking Love," aren't noisy or confrontational enough to be punk and not glossy or wimpy enough to be considered power-pop. The band has found that sweet spot where the genres intersect, meaning there are plenty of hooks delivered by guitars that stop just short of doubling as buzzsaws. Local hellraisers Maybe, Baby open the show at the Velvet Lounge.

First it was a cool concept and a nifty what-if, then it became an anticipated promise and eventually matured into fully realized album and tour. Nas and Damian Marley built upon mutual artistic admiration to craft the "Distant Relatives" album, a project that explores the overlap between Marley's reggae, Nas' hip-hop and conscious themes. The duo previously led a packed discussion panel on the project at National Geographic and will now perform the finished product at the 9:30 Club.

Tuesday, Aug. 31
Here's one for the possible breakout star pile - Dominique Young Unique, an 18-year-old MC who seems poised for big things based on sheer energy. There are plenty of parallels that can be drawn between her and Baltimore Next Big Thing Rye Rye. Both teenage fireballs are as kinetic as you'd expect and have become favorites in their local scenes, Rye Rye teaming with Baltimore club standout Blaqstarr and Dominique Young Unique with Miami bass stars Yo Majesty. Unique spits our rapidfire raps over equally speedy beats - it all happens so fast that it's hard to process it all. But that's just fine because this isn't brain music, it's booty music. So may as well shake it at DC9.

Local creative force Kokayi continues to expand his sphere of influence in ways that are not so local, including a 2009 Urban/Alternative Grammy nomination and his two electro-rock projects Dastardly and The Caesarz. His first solo hip-hop album was released on QN5, a boutique indie label with rabidly devoted fans and a slavish devotion to quality as well as pushing boundaries. Stop by Little Miss Whiskey's tonight to get the first listen to Kokayi's "Roxstar", the lead single of his QN5 sophomore project, then party with DJ Saucee.

Unnatural Helpers get to the point and then get out. The Seattle band's new album is 15 songs and clocks in at well under half an hour, so don't expect a marathon set when the band hits the Black Cat's backstage on Tuesday. Do expect a pretty classic take on the classic Pacific Northwest sound - think less grunge and more speedy punk a la the Wipers and the Fastbacks. Openers Heavy Cream from Nashville won over the crowd as opening act for the Vivian Girls at Comet Ping Pong with their similar brand of hard-charging, no-frills rock.

-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | August 24, 2010; 5:36 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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