Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week’s best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties. This week’s top five events:
Tuesday: Local beer lovers have had plenty of reasons to celebrate this year, thanks to the debuts of DC Brau and Chocolate City Beer, the first production breweries to operate in the District since the 1950s. Early next year, they will be joined by 3 Stars, a nascent brewery in Brightwood. As it waits for facilities of its own, 3 Stars has been working with existing breweries outside of D.C. to bring new beers to local taps, including Syndicate Saison, a summery collaboration with Delaware’s Evolution Brewing, and B.W. Rye, a maltier rye ale made with Baltimore’s Oliver Brewing. Head to Meridian Pint Tuesday night to sample the result of 3 Stars and Oliver’s latest partnership, a porter called B.W. Rye #2. To commemorate 3 Stars’ year of partnerships, Meridian Pint that night will be selling seven Olivers beers and four Evolution beers on draft, all for $1 off the usual prices.
Tuesday: Bradford Cox is the perfect amount of prolific. He doesn’t flood the market, but every year you get an album from him, and every time it’s reliably great. In 2010 it was “Halcyon Digest,” an album of spectacular, shimmering indie rock that catapulted his band, Deerhunter, to the top of the genre. In 2011 Cox offered up “Parallax,” the third album from his ambient-leaning side project, Atlas Sound . It follows in the sonic footsteps of 2009’s “Logos,” keeping the glistening sheen that helps define Deerhunter’s music but peeling away some of the noise to create a more personal and reflective mood. Maybe Cox will already have some new material to preview when he plays the Black Cat.
Friday: It’s always great when you get to hear masters play for the first time at U Street Music Hall. Sometimes deified DJs roll through D.C. and spin in spaces that aren’t optimized for their talents. But when they finally get in the booth at U Hall, they go off. And for dancers who have heard of these legends but never experienced them live, it’s the best first impression possible. We’ve seen it with DJ Spinna, Quentin Harris and King Britt, so we’re gleefully anticipating Kerri Chandler ’s appearance. After 20 years of soulful house innovation, Chandler still challenges himself in his live sets by using custom gear to share innovative musical ideas.
Sunday: Five years ago the world got a lot less funky when James Brown passed away on Christmas morning. So what better way to pay tribute to the man than a Christmas-night bash with the Godfather of Soul’s greatest songs? Soul Call Paul will man the turntables, and anyone who has been to his DJ nights around town knows that he has an ear for the best deep cuts as well as vintage dance floor favorites. The third annual James Brown Death-Mas Holiday Bash at the Black Cat will celebrate one of the greatest catalogues in American music history, and you better believe some “Funky Christmas” songs will blast through the backstage speakers. Get up, get into it, get involved.
Monday: After more than two decades in business, Clarendon’s Galaxy Hut is the archetypal neighborhood bar but even more so at the holidays, when you’re bound to run into old college friends that are in town to visit family. It goes the same for musicians: a day-after-Christmas show features some names familiar to Arlington hipsters of a certain age. Cotton Candy features Mark Robinson and Evelyn Hurley, who gained fame in the ‘90s as members of Unrest and Air Miami and Blast Off Country Style, respectively, and now call Boston home. The duo’s catchy, jangly indie-pop tunes are interspersed with covers of familiar old radio ads (”Jerry’s Ford makes it clear/Let the competition beware!”). Folk-rock singer Alice Despard was Galaxy Hut’s original owner and a frequent performer. Openers Girl Choir are the new project from Matt Datesman, formerly of the dreamy romantics True Love Always, which released a series of singles and albums on Mark Robinson’s Teenbeat Records between 1996 and 2003.
Looking for more things to do? Find 10 ideas after the jump.
Wednesday, Dec. 21
You know what we love about the winter solstice? It means that every day after it is just a little bit longer. Put some light into your night at Smith Commons’ Winter Solstice Celebration, with special beers (including Great Lakes Christmas Ale) and a taste of the new cocktail menu from 6 to 9 p.m. Bulleit bourbon, fresh pear puree and sparkling cider sounds like just the thing this holiday season.
Friday, Dec. 23
It seems like half of all of the Washington DJs ever mentioned in this column are playing at the Sham holiday party at the Warehouse Loft, along with some notable up-and-comers. A partial list of deck talent spread across three rooms includes Starks & Nacey, Underdog, Cam Jus, Adrian Loving, Thomas Blondet and Matt Stackswell. Genres covered can be summarized as “anything one would rage to.”
Dress-to-impress clubs with bottle service and fancy light shows now seem de rigeur for the D.C. nightlife scene, and that’s because of Zei Club, a ‘90s hotspot with a Miami vibe and pounding electronic music. Though it closed in 2001, Zei’s influence continues: People who worked or promoted for Zei went on to run Josephine, Lima and Barcode, among other venues. Tonight at Josephine, the Zei reunion features the old club’s resident DJ Pete Moutso and trance DJ George Acosta, who was Zei’s first big booking. Get a pass for free admission on clubglow.com.
Republic Gardens hasn’t had much to recommend it since it ceased to be the centerpiece of U Street nightlife in the late ‘90s, but the combo of DJ talent at the Blend party could shock its pulse to life again. Fatback’s mix of retro classics splits the top level, with Sam Burns, DJ Mark Moultre, Mr. E and DJ Ground spinning house. DJ C-Nice spins rap hits on the first floor, but sadly, there’s no lavish buffet like the olden days.
The Friday before Christmas means that hometown bands fill the clubs. The Dance Party left D.C. for L.A. a few years ago, but the ‘80s glam-rock nostalgists are back home for a bit to perform at 9:30 Club.
It’s a Federal Reserve reunion at Black Cat, when lots of 2007’s favorite twangy alt-indie-country faves get back together to share a bill. Jesse Elliott of These United States, Revival, John Bustine and Brandon Butler all perform.
Saturday, Dec. 24
If it’s Christmas Eve, it’s time for a Falafel Frenzy . The annual night of philanthropy brings ‘80s and ‘90s music, three hours of cheap drinks and hundreds of singles (and couples) to Lima. Tickets are $25 and $20 in advance. All proceeds benefit local food programs, including D.C. Central Kitchen and Hunger Action.
Some non-celebrators might argue that Christmas Eve is even slower than Christmas itself when it comes to nightlife. Jammin’ Java welcomes Good for the Jews for its annual show, this time “ Putting the Ha! in Hanukkah .”
Sunday, Dec. 25
Sixth & I is taking the Chinese-food-and-a-movie stereotype of Christmas to the next level with Chinese Food + Movies + Beer , an all-you-can-eat spread of kosher Chinese food, a sample of He’Brew beers from Schmaltz and a selection of choice films: “The Princess Bride,” “Spaceballs” and “The Big Lebowski.” Tickets for food, a pint of beer and your choice of film are $35 when purchased through Living Social before Dec. 21.