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Posted at 4:26 PM ET, 09/28/2010

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

The Palace of Wonders says farewell with one final night of burlesque dancers, sword swallowers, fire-breathers and sideshow performers before it merges with neighbor the Red and the Black. Next month, it will reopen as the Red Palace. (Jay Premack for The Post)

This week's picks include a farewell to the Palace of Wonders, an African hip-hop star, Oktoberfest parties, classic rock, some of Scotland's finest bands and good old-fashioned retro rock.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Tuesday

Wednesday, Sept. 29
This week marks the final shows for the Palace of Wonders, the museum of oddities and performance stage that served as ground zero for D.C.'s burlesque/sideshow/vaudeville revival. The bar is closing as of Thursday night, and reopening Oct. 15 after merging with neighboring concert venue the Red and the Black. (The new place will be called Red Palace.) But before the stagelights go dark, there will be one last blowout with teasing burlesque acts, sideshow performers, (here's hoping someone drives nails up their nose), sword swallowers, belly dancers and comedians, plus some special guest stars. It's $10 and starts at 9, but you should be there early to browse the dime-store museum (marvel at the five-legged goat!) and get a good spot up front. We expect that it will be packed with people saying goodbye.

Wax Poetics, the forward-thinking bimonthly music magazine, has dedicated its September-October issue to classic reggae and dub sounds. One of the two cover choices features the late dub pioneer Augustus Pablo, and how better to mark the magazine's release than with a party featuring music spun by Clive Chin, who produced Pablo's first big international hits back in the '70s? The Wax Poetics crew is taking over Patty Boom Boom - D.C.'s top club for vintage reggae sounds - with Black Moses Sound, DJ Twice and Chin, whose résumé includes work with the Wailers, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Horace Andy and other big names. (Clive's father, Vincent Chin, owned the trailblazing Randy's record shop and studio.) Whether you're a fan of dub, lover's rock or foundation rasta sounds, you're sure to hear something that will get you dancing.

Thursday, Sept. 30
Step outside of an American-centric perspective, and it's a fact that on the global stage, African hip-hoppers are winning the race to the top. Blitz the Ambassador is one of the most exciting artists to emerge from this ascending group. Back home in Accra, Ghana, Blitz was sparked to rhyme when KRS-One and Public Enemy tapes made it across the Atlantic. After rising to the top of the scene there, he migrated to Ohio to attend college and honed his craft as an emcee. He really cemented his abilities as a live performer after a move to New York City, and subsequently built a buzz over the course of three independent releases. His sound combines a commanding bilingual flow (English and his native Twi) with live funk instrumentation and the distinctive horns of West African dance music. Hear it for yourself at Liv.

Friday, Oct. 1
It seems that every museum in D.C. is trying to lure a hip young(er) crowd with DJ-fueled "after dark" events. But unlike some, the National Portrait Gallery isn't playing the price-gouging game. Portaits After 5, held in the museum's covered Kogod Courtyard, features music from DJ Todd Threat, projected art by Claire Sconville, a photo booth created by artist Rob Northway, a bar in the middle of the courtyard, and extended hours for the museum's "Americans Now" exhibit. The Portrait Gallery is allowing you to come hang out for free. Sounds like a great way to start the weekend.

Jimmy Valentine's Tastemaker series rolls on with Darko from Spank Rock and Amanda Blank. This is the second time in a week where you can get big room dance club talent on the scale and feel of a house party.

Red Fridays at U Street Music Hall gives you another chance to check a legend off of your bucket list of DJs. Tony Humphries' 30+ year career makes him a candidate for house music's Mt. Rushmore. Humphries has been a resident at New Jersey's Club Zanzibar, London's Ministry of Sound and released hundreds of genre defining remixes. He'll be paired with our own Sam Burns.

This got a mention in Fritz's big beer events blog post on Monday, but here's a quick reminder about Chesapeake Beer Madness, where 16 local breweries will vie for the title of Delmarva's best beer -- as voted by you. Tickets for the event, which benefits Annapolis-based charities, include beer samples, food and live music. Participants include big guns (Flying Dog, Heavy Seas, Starr Hill) down to small craft outfits (Evolution Ales, 16 Mile, Williamsburg Ale Werks) in a bracket-style format. Entertainment comes from Justin Trawick, Tobias Russell and Caleb Stein.

Speaking of museum parties, the Corcoran's galas are always a tremendously good time, even though the price tags are higher than events we usually feature. Take "NOW at Night," a late-night event honoring the new NOW series of works by emerging artists. It features performances by Thunderball, the D.C. duo whose new album of funky electronic lounge music is due on Eighteenth Street Lounge Records in November, and avant-rock artists Bluebrain; open bar cocktails, wine and beer; snack and dessert buffets; and a chance to see the Corcoran's submission to the NADA Art Fair in Miami. There's also plenty of singles and young couples mixing and mingling. Admission is $150, and includes an invite to an after-party at the W Hotel.

Saturday, Oct. 2
Two years ago, killjoys from Virginia's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control fundamentally changed the Capitol City Brewing Co.'s annual Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest. Instead of $20 admission to an all-you-can-drink street party, the cover charge now included only 10 four-ounce samples of beer from any of the 30 breweries that set up booths in the streets of Shirlington. Many insisted they'd never go back . . . and yet we now like the festival more. It's less rowdy, and more kid- and dog-friendly. Fewer drunks stumbling around, throwing up in the bushes. Fewer people cutting in line. More chance to savor beers from the award-winning Devil's Backbone, a tiny brewpub in Nelson County, Va., or Pennsylvania's Troegs, or locals Sweetwater Tavern and Mad Fox Brewing Co. Throw in traditional German musicians and dancers, food stands and restaurants offering everything from bratwurst to crab cakes, and you've got a fun day out - even if you're less likely to be tipsy at the end of it.

A co-headlining show with Teenage Fanclub and The Vaslines at 9:30 Club? Let's not spend time questioning exactly how this is happening in 2010 and just be happy that it is. Both decades-old Scottish bands are touring behind strong new albums but this is the only date they are sharing a bill. The Vaselines were made mildly famous to a certain generation (that'd be "X" thanks to the die-hard fandom of Kurt Cobain). Their lone album '80s album is a unique touchstone of indie pop, with it's decisively twee arrangements, random bursts of noise and the sexually suggestive lyrics. They're still plenty randy and raw on "Sex With an X," their reunion album after more than two decades apart. Teenage Fanclub is decidedly more polished; "Shadows" is another elegant collection of finely-honed power pop.

It's been a whirlwind year for electro-house DJ Sander Kleinenberg, touring the world, spinning in Ibiza, dropping singles "This is Our Night" and "M.A.N.I.A.C." from the forthcoming "5K" album, and making a stunning (and completely packed-out) appearance at Lima Lounge back in July. Kleinenberg makes a return to Washington this weekend at the much-larger Fur, which should ease lines -- the Dutch DJ has plenty of fans. Check him out and you'll understand why.

Esperanza Spalding has enchanted jazz dilettantes with the delight she pours into her performances and her catchy compositions, while earning the grudging appreciation from aficianados for her prodigious bass chops. On her new album, she's exploring the classical roots talent does in a chamber music setting at Lincoln Theatre.

Looking for some old-time rock and roll? Guitarist Bob Hume, who leads the house band at the open mike at JV's, has the solution. The Bob and Jerry Band, featuring guitarist Steve "Jerry" Shartel, hews to the sound of the Stones, the Dead, Eric Clapton and other classic rock legends. They're performing at JV's, starting at 9 p.m. There's no cover charge, which leaves more money for an ice-cold beer.

Sunday, Oct. 3
Sonny Smith is a name that sounds like it's from another era, a moniker you'd see on a scratchy 45 in an old jukebox. This is fitting for the songs Smith writes and performs with his band, the Sunsets. But while those tunes are certainly brimming with retro charm, evoking the likes of the Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly, they feel more timeless than old-fashioned. Well-crafted pop songs featuring sweet harmonies and lilting melodies that tell stories of misfortune have been in favor for decades, and Smith is the kind of songwriter who will ensure they will sure to stay in fashion for decades to come.

Tuesday, Oct. 5
Baltimore's James Nasty can fill a major room on a prime weekend night and turn it into a churning, happy mess of folks going buck wild to club music. So to get him in D.C. on an off night is like a special treat for serious club heads. DJ duo Oh Snap!! and Ratt Moze set up Mr. Nasty with an alley-oop for the Tuesday night dunk at DC9.

Bummed about missing out on tickets for the xx's sold-out show at 9:30 Club? There is a very worthy and similar alternative just a few blocks away at the Black Cat. While headliners Gayngs will be worth seeing if only for the bizarro factor of Justin Vernon of Bon Iver teaming with members of the Rosebuds and Megafaun for some equally cheesy and catchy blue-eyed soul, it's opening act Glasser that is the real act to watch, especially for broken-hearted fans of the xx. Glasser is the project of Cameron Mesirow and she creates alluring songs that work in contradictions. Songs are equally icey and synthetic while warm and inviting. Mesirow's calming voice what makes it all very memorable. She'll be back as a headliner soon enough.

-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | September 28, 2010; 4:26 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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