Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week’s best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties. Our top five events:
Tuesday: During its nearly 15-year career, the New Jersey band Thursday has seen the word “emo” mean many things. When the group started out in the late-’90s, emo meant bands that really loved Fugazi and screamed a lot. A few years later the word somehow meant bands that really loved eyeliner and shopping at Hot Topic. But Thursday never compromised its sound, staying aggressive and true to its hardcore roots and increasing its fanbase with pulverizing performances. The band is going on an “indefinite hiatus” when its current tour ends, so this show at the 9:30 Club is one of your last chances to scream along.
Thursday: Kurtis Blow released what would become the first gold record in hip-hop music. He was the first rapper signed to a major label. He showed love to D.C. by recording with Trouble Funk and exposing the group to a broader audience. “The Breaks” is still a foundational party jam. So if you love hip-hop and ever have a chance to meet him, thank him profusely. Actually, you can do that at Jin this week when he stops by to kick it with the Grits and Gravy crew and perform a few of his hits. Grits & Gravy’s classics-filled parties have been a consistent presence in D.C. for years, and the timing for this one is perfect, since the massive Kings of Hip-Hop old-school concert at Constitution Hall, scheduled for Thursday, has been cancelled.
Thursday: There’s a certain joy to sharing music with friends. It’s not “Look what I discovered first!” so much as “I know you’ll love this, so check it out!” That’s the beauty behind Soul Parlour , a night of musical gifting hosted by DJ Jahsonic (of Marvin’s soulful Main Ingredient party) and Kennisha Ford at Blackbyrd. Anyone can sign up to DJ a 15-minute set from their iPod or iPhone by e-mailing email@example.com, though the organizers urge would-be selectors to pick “the best, rarest and most interesting songs” from their record collections, and they reserve the right to “Sandman” guests (a la “Showtime at the Apollo”) if the sets aren’t up to par. There’s no cover charge, and you’re guaranteed to hear something interesting.
Thursday and Friday: For a long time, the Roots were considered underdogs. Dedicated fans railed against the industry’s continued indifference to Black Thought’s lyrical dominance, Questlove’s visionary sonics and the band’s grandiose live shows. Now that Philly’s favorite sons are 13 albums deep, rocking on the Fallon show every night and getting Grammy love, no one can front on them anymore. Their shows still have the drive to amaze like the old days, thanks to years of improvement as a unit. The first live band Jay-Z ever used makes its first visit to the Fillmore.
Sunday: When you wake up New Year’s Day with a pounding head and a strong desire for greasy food, wondering where in the world you left your scarf/iPhone/purse/dignity, remember there’s someone who had a worse night: the bartender(s) who had to deal with hundreds of people shouting for glasses of champagne at 11:57 p.m., baying for the umpteenth round of shots or ordering “two vodka-sodas, one Red Bull and vodka, two Miller Lites, no, two Yuenglings, and a Long Island iced tea.” And they had to work on New Year’s Eve. So Jan. 1 is a bar employee’s Dec. 31, and the Black Cat is inviting everyone over for “ The Post Amateur-Hour Happy Hour ,” billed as “an all-night happy hour for people who had to work last night.” If you’re a bartender, bar back or server, this is the time to have someone else pour you a drink. If you don’t work in the industry, go apologize for ordering those Long Island iced teas. And buy your bartender a shot.
Looking for more ideas? There are nine waiting for you after the jump.
Tuesday, Dec. 27
All good things must come to an end, and the Velvet Lounge’s free weekly Lost and Sound DJ night is taking a break at the end of 2011. Curated by U Street Music Hall’s Will Eastman and Chris Nitti, Lost and Found has focused on some of D.C.’s most forward-thinking electronic music DJs. You’ve got one final chance to get deep and get down.
Wednesday, Dec. 28
It’s been another successful year for local label Future Times, which helped establish D.C. as a city with a vital dance music underground. Its free monthly party the Whale is always full of cosmic disco vibes and a reliably good time at U Street Music Hall.
Thursday, Dec. 29
Radiohead’s sprawling arrangements and haunting melodies have made their songs a favorite of jazz musicians, who twist familiar songs into something else completely. But you don’t have to be a jazz fan to appreciate saxophonist Bobby Muncy’s Radiohead Jazz Project at Twins Jazz.
Friday, Dec. 30
One of the best of our area’s crop of young rap hopefuls, Phil Ade balances pop sensibilities with serious MC cred. He’s able to make commercial-radio-friendly club jams and still drops exclusive videos where he reps his rap skills over classic tracks from the past. Catch him at Liv during the reFresh Fridays party.
If you’ve never experienced the wonder of an old-school sideshow -- artists swallowing broadswords, breathing huge plumes of flame, ramming power drills up their nose or stopping the blades of an electric fan with their tongue -- then you should see Philadelphia’s Olde City Sideshow . The troupe mixes gross-out stunts with burlesque dancing and carnival barker humor at the Red Palace.
Fredericksburg’s Raw Feels play fuzzy, screechy songs that wouldn’t sound too out of place on a mid-’90s shoegaze college radio playlist. Locals Tereu Tereu share a bill at the Dunes.
Saturday, Dec. 31
Oh, look, it’s New Year’s Eve . Check out our list of dozens of events, ranging from concerts to low-key, no-cover bar parties to $1,000-per-table nightclub blowouts. And remember that you can get a free taxi home, courtesy of SoberRide (1-800-200-TAXI).
Sunday, Jan. 1