This week’s nightlife calendar features chances to help Japan by drinking beer or getting down to DJs, the reunion of ‘90s indie heroes Sebadoh, a scavenger hunt that hits bars in three quadrants of the city, an intimate performance by soul singer Jaguar Wright, quick blasts of punk rock at the Red Palace, and the interesting and highly danceable tape pastiches by local party-rocker and remixer 2 Tone Jones.
Belgian brewery Brasserie D’Achouffe is known for its spiced, fruity ales, including La Chouffe and McChouffe, and the funny little elves that dot its labels. American brewery Ommegang is known for making traditional Belgian-style beers. The two share the same parent company, Belgium’s Duvel Moorgaat, and now, they share a beer, too. It’s called Gnomegang, and is described as a “Belgian-style Strong Blonde Ale” with five types of malt, two types of hops and yeast from each brewery. We wish we could tell you more, but the tapping party for this limited brew isn’t until Wednesday night at the Pizzeria Paradisos in Georgetown and Dupont Circle. Stop by between 5 and 7 for half-price beer ($4 per glass) and giveaways, and try the new special “Belgium meets spring on the East Coast” pizza, with lamb sausage, spring onions, Pipe Dreams goat cheese and Belgian endives.
Here’s a quick and easy way to help victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami: Drink Japanese beer . Every time you buy a pint of Kirin Ichiban ($5) or Asahi ($6) at Iron Horse Tap Room, one hundred percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross. Move quickly, though -- there are only two kegs of Kirin and two smaller kegs of Asahi in the building, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.
If punk rock supergroup Off! plays the entirety of its recorded musical output Thursday at Red Palace it still might be the shortest headlining set in the club’s short history. The band has 18 songs that clock in at 18 minutes. Former Black Flag and Circle Jerks vocalist Keith Morris is the screamer-in-chief of this band, which also features former members of Burning Brides, Red Kross and Rocket From the Crypt. Thrash punks Trash Talk open, and you can expect bodies to be banging into each other from the first moment of the set. Be prepared.
New Zealand trio Street Chant made the long, long, long trek from halfway across the world to play some shows at last week’s South by Southwest music festival, so they may as well get their money’s worth and play some more American shows (they may not be back until CMJ in the fall or next year’s SXSW). A visit to the nation’s capital is on the group’s itinerary, which is good for anyone who likes sharp and shouty indie rock. The show at Comet Ping Pong is free, too. They can visit all the museums on the Mall during the day, and we’ll call it even.
Okay, you’ve been to all the hottest beer bars. You’ve sampled a bunch of cool microbrews. How do you make it exciting again? A weekend-long beer scavenger hunt! Or, to give it its full name, the District Beer Hunt . Starting at 7 p.m. Friday at R.F.D. Washington, teams of up to four beer lovers will scour bars across the city, deciphering clues about what’s on tap. For example, if you’re at the Reef and your sheet says, “This beer didn’t get its name in the rap game - it’s actually its ABV,” you need to order a glass of Oskar Blues Ten Fidy and show it to the Beer Hunt rep at the bar to get credit. There are 20 puzzles to solve at 10 pubs throughout the city, so you actually have until Saturday night to finish, when the Hunt wraps up with a party in R.F.D.’s back room. For more information about the hunt, rules and the awesome costume contest, visit www.jstreetbeer.com or follow @dcbeerhunt on Twitter.
The work week is over and it’s time to get the dress levels down and the good times going. Easiest way to do that: Go see acclaimed soul singer Jaguar Wright perform unplugged and for free at the Park at 14th. It’s going on six since years since her last album of hip-hop-tinged R&B, “Divorcing Neo 2 Marry Soul,” but the Philadelphia-based Wright will drop a new set this summer. (Hint: Expect some new material.) Doors open at 5, and the club says Wright will hit the stage “at approximately 7 or 7:30.” Since the Park often has lines down 14th Street on ho-hum nights, we suggest earlier arrival than usual. Don’t worry about the wait: Premium cocktails are $5 until 8.
It may be a rough weekend for the staff at Red Palace. After the chaos of Off! and Trash Talk, there’s no rest for the weary as Pissed Jeans brings its menacing rumble to the venue. Vocalist Matt Korvette doesn’t so much sing as expel words from his mouth like projectiles. The sludgy guitar and rumbling bass is equally confrontational, but there’s something charming about the group’s on-the-verge-of-destruction sound.
U.K. trio the Joy Formidable play rock music, the kind that British bands have done so well for decades now -- soaring, sweeping songs that hold nothing back in their aim for the sky, arena-filling ambitions. Back home the band is well on its way to fulfilling that destiny; catch them in a club over here while you can. Mona and the Lonely Forest open at the Black Cat.
Museum after-hours parties continue to be all the rage in 2011: There’s the recent sold-out Africa Underground at the National Museum of African Art (which returns in May), upcoming happy hours at the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum, and the return of the Brightest Young Things posse to the Newseum this weekend for “ A Night at the Newseum .” The December Newseum event became infamous because of entry lines that wrapped around the block, bars that only took “funny money,” desks that traded U.S. currency for funny money running out of said funny money, bars running out of alcohol and other injustices. However, we’ve been assured that all these problems have been dealt with over the last three months. Plus, the plans -- photo booths, caricaturists, treasure hunts through the museum -- seem more exciting than the usual “DJ and art” setup. Eighteenth Street Lounge DJs Nickodemus and Ancient Astronauts provide the grooves. And there are pieces of the Berlin Wall and exhibits to look at, too. Get tickets in advance from Eventbrite to (a) save $5 off the door cost and (b) cut at least one line.
Ladies’ night at the ever-popular Family Hemerlein variety show is not a ladies’ night of cheap booze and DJs spinning “It’s Raining Men.” It’s a chance to check out awesome comedic and musical talent who just happen to be women. From New York come Sara Schaefer, comic, writer and Emmy-winning “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” blogger, and Brooke Van Poppelen, who has been nominated twice at the Excellence in Comedy awards. Singer Natalia Clavier was born in Argentina but has D.C. ties as the first female solo artist on Eighteenth Street Lounge records. She has lent sultry jazz vocals to songs by Thievery Corporation and Federico Aubele, as well as recording her own album, “Nectar.” Check out all three women with ringleader Matthew Hemerlein and comic Seaton Smith, who may be the funniest dude in Washington. Doors open at 7 p.m. for cocktails and chit-chat at the Gibson Guitar Showroom, and the performance begins around 9. The last few shows have sold out in advance, so don’t wait to buy tickets at the venue — get them now.
The reunion trend will not go away. Neither will the “performing an album in its entirety” trend. At this point it’s best to just accept it and enjoy when a winning combination comes along. An example of that is indie rock sadsacks Sebadoh performing 1994’s “Bakesale” on its current tour. It was on this album that songwriters Lou Barlow and Jason Lowenstein were both at their peaks, covering all the bases of ‘90s angst. The lyric sheet reads bitter, self-loathing, distraught, depressed, annoyed, but that’s how everyone was in the ‘90s! The songs are punchy and packed with hooks, so it won’t be a totally downtrodden affair at the Black Cat.
The winning streak by Positive Force DC and St. Stephen’s Church continues this weekend with another strong benefit concert. The show marks a D.C. return for Carol Bui , who left little Washington for big Washington (the state) and now returns in support of her best album to date, “Red Ship.” It’s filled with the slashing guitars and passionate vocals that defined her previous work, but also features rumbling percussion that make for a full-bodied listening experience. Also on the bill are locals the Caribbean (who recently released a fine album of their own, “Discontinued Perfume”) and Tereu Tereu. The show is a benefit for 826DC, a Columbia Heights nonprofit group that helps students ages 6 to 18 develop writing skills.
Last week, we blogged about restaurants and bars hosting benefits to raise money for the Red Cross and other groups helping victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. This weekend, U Street Music Hall owner and frequent Japanese visitor Jesse Tittsworth is headlining a fundraiser with DJs Reed vs. Reed (DJs Reed Rothchild and Reed Obeyah) and Uncle Jesse getting it krunked up. Admission is a minimum $10 donation to the Red Cross, and every cent collected at the door goes to charity. Listen to a mix from Tittsworth’s appearance at Tokyo’s Air Tokyo club to get a sense of the vibe. As an added bonus, Tittsworth -- a tattoo aficionado who got inked in Fukuoka on his trip -- will be raffling off two $200 gift certificates to Tattoo Paradise, with all money going to the Red Cross.
The blend tapes of old were always full of eureka moments, where a cappellas found beats that made wildly different tracks sound like they were meant to be together. And D.C. hip-hop standard-bearer and party-rocker 2-Tone Jones’ new musical pastiches blend tape more than they mash up culture. Using vocals from classic Wu-Tang songs and mining his crates for smart jazz fusion choices as instrumentals, DJ 2-Tone Jones’ “Shaolin Jazz” project is a smartly assembled listen from end to end. 2-Tone rocks the blends live for the project’s release at the Palace 5ive streetwear boutique starting at 9 p.m.
The Sweet Spot is a fitting room for Montreal’s DJ jojoflores, not just because the system is equipped with warmth and power for a good house workout, but because in name, it’s a good descriptor for this spinner’s style: the sweet spot where soul, depth and a bit of harder tech tracks intersect. That’s a hallmark of his Gotsoul label and his Therapy sessions that take place in seven cities around the world. He doesn’t come this way often, so don’t miss this show. It’s always nice to be able to cross another DJ of his caliber off your must-see list.
There are two fine choices for live music to end your weekend. If you want to charge into the work week, then the five-band bill at Comet Ping Pong is for you. If we’re picking favorites, then the smart and shifty sounds of Fergus & Geronimo and the primal, two-man attack of Jeff the Brotherhood would be the sets not to miss. But Jacuzzi Boys, Little Daggers and Wild Yaks are all worthy as well. Across town at Rock & Roll Hotel it’s more of a standard comedown to end the weekend. Family Portrait have plenty of reverb and a good dose of soul, and their Aussie labelmates the Twerps play good old-fashioned indie pop. That show takes place at Rock & Roll Hotel.
Spring may have officially arrived on Sunday, but for some people, you can’t kiss good bye to cold weather until the first kegs of Bell’s Oberon Ale hit local bars. A summery wheat beer with fruity spice character, Bell’s is making its 2011 debut at the Big Hunt, beginning at 5 p.m. Swing by for free swag and a chance to put the winter blues behind you.
The Washington Humane Society’s Fashion for Paws event is very much a see-and-be-seen society scene (lots of local “celebrities” and Georgetown socialites strutting their pets down a runway) but that shouldn’t put us off the real purpose of the event: Helping the Humane Society help find homes for pets. Tonight at Rhino Bar, four guest bartenders will shake and stir and pour between 6 and 10 to raise money for Fashion for Paws. Twenty percent of all sales between 6 and 10 go to charity.
Once covered by the umbrella of hip-hop, beat culture has really grown into its own genre. The sample manipulation and drum work of hip-hop is there, and today’s beat-centric producers draw from a lot of sophisticated synth and effects techniques used across the dance-music spectrum. Hardware and software technologies have pushed the rapid development of these styles, making them sonically intriguing and more compelling performances — it’s not just geeks pressing ‘play’ behind the glow of their laptop screens. Daedalus comes to this beat artist showcase at U Street Music Hall from the Ninja Tune label, long an incubator for artists pushing electronic styles and concepts. Joining Daedalus is Tokimonsta, she of classical piano training, diminuitive stature and huge soundscapes.
More heaviness: Providence sludge psychos The Body and Australian noise mavens Whitehorse (lots of Pacific Rim visitors this week!) team up for a bill at Velvet Lounge that will leave you asking, “What? WHAT?!” a lot the next day at the office. Or to your cats. Or both. Point being, it will be loud. Local trio the Gift opens.