It's a big week for shows at 9:30 Club as Outkast's Big Boi comes to town in support of his outstanding solo debut while Of Montreal and Janelle Monae team up for a cross-genre extravaganza. Comet Ping Pong also hosts a pair of top shows and Town Tavern welcomes back students the best way - with cheap beer.
Over their 18-year partnership, Andre 3000 and Big Boi of Outkast evolved into specific and opposite archetypes, the balance of which made their work together so fascinating. As a solo artist, Big Boi sticks to his trademark style of nimble-tongued braggadocio, 'hood tales and party music. The crucial element of this consistency is that Big Boi gets markedly better at executing his already tight formula each time he sends a release to market. Where the Dungeon Family's original production style of Southern bounce hip-hop, electro-funk and rock was once seen as revolutionary, on Big Boi's first official solo album it's now effortless. "Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty" was delayed for three years, but it feels right on time. Dropping thundering club smash "Shutterbugg" as the first single is like throwing a knockout punch at the first round's opening bell. And to make sure his serious raps' bona fides were still respected, Big Boi dropped "General Patton," the aural equivalent of a horde of vikings riding to battle in low-riding Cadillacs. Everything on this album sounds really big, from the flirtations with pop on "Be Still" to raw heaters such as "You Ain't No DJ." Big Boi performs Wednesday night at 9:30 Club.
Sharon Van Etten could have made another album similar to her debut, "Because I Was in Love," and that would have been just fine. She stands out from the solo acoustic guitar pack thanks to her relatable lyrics and crystal-clear voice. But backed by a full band on her new album, "epic," her black-and-white sketches have become full-color portraits, and it's quite a trade-up. She's scheduled to have a band backing her at DC9 on Wednesday. Marissa Nadler will handle the standout solo acoustic part of the bill at DC9.
There's nothing particularly [expletived] up about [Expletived] Up's music. It's a symphonic brand of hardcore that thrives on the strength of a triple-guitar attack. It's more [expletive]-ing loud than anything. Frontman Damian Abraham is an entirely unique frontman -- ferocious growl, a seemingly endless string of clever quips between songs, and he looks like a 1980s WWF tag team champion. Openers at Rock & Roll Hotel are Cloud Nothings, whose jittery indie rock is an odd match, but both bands are among the more tuneful in their respective genres.
Dear college students: Welcome back to Washington. We hope you had an enriching summer, whether at the high-flying internship you always wanted or selling T-shirts on the Ocean City boardwalk. We're sure you have a lot to catch up on. Luckily, some bars can't wait to see you and your friends again. Just bring your college IDs to take advantage of dirt-cheap drink specials. Here's this week's no-brainer: On Thursday nights, Town Tavern's Senior Social Sessions offer unlimited rail drinks and domestic draft beers for $10 between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. when you show a college ID or intern badge, plus $2 16-ounce PBR and Bud Light cans all night. There are beer bong and flip cup tables if you and your friends want to challenge other patrons to a friendly drinking game. The only caveat is that even with an ID, you have to be 21 to get into the two-story Adams Morgan bar.
There is no part of Tobacco's album "Maniac Meat" that sounds natural. Everything is distorted, warped, fuzzed out or compressed. Beck guests on two songs, and it's not hard to see what he finds appealing about the band, which offers a fresh update of his mid-90s underground, junk rock mish-mash. Appropriately enough, Junk Culture opens at DC9.
The main problem that Comet Ping Pong faces in trying to establish itself as a nightlife hot spot is that it's the only option in that area of the city. To head to Comet is to commit yourself to a single location the entire evening. Good thing the pair of shows the restaurant turned late-night rock venue is hosting this weekend are worth seeing in their entirety. On Friday, Baltimore's masters of minimalist punk rock Double Dagger share a bill with D.C.'s Hume, which will be celebrating the release of its debut album, "Penumbra," which manages to be sharp, precise and sprawling in equal measures. On Sunday, Washington state band Christmas does its home town's outsider-punk heritage proud by keeping things weird, discordant and catchy while Alabama's Thomas Function delivers old-fashioned, hook-filled garage rock.
Jump-start football viewing season with the Hip-Hop Bar Crawl. Start at Queen Makeda in the afternoon and hit six U Street watering holes, each with a DJ rocking different flavors of hip-hop tunes. By the time you wrap up your jaunt at Tabaq, you'll be ready to watch the Redskins take down the Cowboys on the big screen.
We seem to be in the midst of a golden era for R&B/indie collaborations. Brooklyn art rockers Dirty Projectors have joined forces with Solange Knowles on her "Stillness Is the Move." Chart-topping rapper B.o.B. recently covered Vampire Weekend's "The Kids Don't Stand a Chance." Intergalactic soul upstart Janelle Monae and spectacle kings Of Montreal teamed up for two songs on Of Montreal's new album, "False Priest," and have upped the ante by going on tour together. It's a very appropriate pairing as both acts seem to exist on an otherworldly plane, not encumbered by earthly concerns. Monelle's album "The ArchAndroid" is a deserving breakthrough, a mind-expanding funk bomb of epic proportions. Of Montreal has the over-the-top stage shows and absurdist-electro jams down to a science but still risks being upstaged by its opener at 9:30 Club on Monday and Tuesday.
The intimate shows that Ben's Next Door books with stars and up-and-comers alike can give the place a cozy coffee shop feel, albeit one where you can order a Dark & Story and gourmet mac & cheese. Catch dinner and a show at this spot this evening and you may just find a new favorite artist. Avery Sunshine's music is like her name, a radiant brand of soul delivered from the gut with a joyful smile. The comparisons to Jill Scott are inevitable if obvious, but you've got to have a shared reference point when you tell your friends about her album that's a bit of church with a smidge of doo-wop and quiet storm jazz.
--Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
| September 7, 2010; 6:52 PM ET
Categories: Events, Music
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