The unofficial start of summer means an extra night of events, including pool parties, a chance to bust out your freshly cleaned white linen, Daylight’s anniversary soiree and an outdoor viewing of the Indy 500, but our calendar also features a free show by Beach Fossils, a Lady Gaga theme party, the grand opening of the “new” Toledo Lounge and First Lady of Bad Boy Faith Evans performing at the Park.
From the Jheri curl and New Jack Swing eras with Toni Tony Toné to his foundational neo-soul output when he went solo, Raphael Saddiq has been able to charm three generations of audiences, particularly since his past couple of albums have refashioned ’60s blues and soul. The funky, ageless wonder is paired with Scandinavian downtempo sensation Quadron for an evening at the 9:30 Club.
Music nerds can be infuriating. (We know this first-hand.) At the same time, you’ll want to thank them when they turn you on to that perfect band you’ve never heard. The DJ Battle to the Death features eight sound snobs — including Washington Post/Pitchfork reviewer Aaron Leitko, City Paper writer Jon Fischer, We Fought the Big One DJ Rick Taylor and Ra Ra Rasputin frontman Patrick Kigongo — taking turns playing one track at a time, trying to out-cool the previous song and get the crowd on his side. There’s no cover at this 18-and-older geekoff at VitaminWater Untapped Live.
Pharoah Sanders is jazz royalty. He came up as a member of John Coltrane’s band and his freewheeling style helped define the avant-garde jazz movement in the 1960s. He continued the tradition by playing with Alice Coltrane in the 70s, but also took the lead on his own creative projects and has remained a revered figured in the decades since. Sanders can still use his tenor sax to make his famous “sheets of sound,” and comes to Bohemian Caverns for three nights of shows on Thursday through Saturday.
The monthly Que Sera parties at Napoleon celebrate a year of rocking at Napoleon. Join DJs John Thornley (of U.S. Royalty), Philippe Chetrit (of Fatback) and friends for a night of Rolling Stones, garage rock, surf tunes and other upbeat party music. There’s no cover.
Last Thursday, Toledo Lounge reopened its doors for the first time since February. New owners Amy Bowman (of the Black Squirrel) and Scott Auslander (of Ventnor Sports Cafe) have cleaned the place up, stocked it with beers from Ohio to Belgium and made the fabulous jukebox free. It’s a little pricier than before ($13.20 for two pints of draft Great Lakes ale), but it looks like it could be a solid neighborhood hangout. Check it out yourself at the bar’s grand opening party, which features a rare, aged keg of Great Lakes Christmas Ale, since nothing says “Welcome Back!” like 6-month-old beer. (We kid.)
As the First Lady of Bad Boy, Faith Evans was one of the most visible women in hip-hop soul in the 1990s, whether as the wife of the Notorious B.I.G., singing on the Grammy-winning Biggie tribute “I’ll Be Missing You” or on her solo albums “Faith” and “Keep the Faith.” After a long absence from music, during which she wrote her autobiography “Keep the Faith,” Evans released “Something About Faith” last October. A Grammy nomination for the ballad “Gone Already” duly followed, and now she’s the latest performer to visit Franklin Square as part of the Park at 14th’s Park Unplugged series. Doors open at 5 p.m. Long lines are to be expected, so arrive early.
The monthly Soundclash at Marx Cafe is a high-spirited celebration of the golden age of ska, rocksteady, dancehall and dub music, but it’s also a chance to honor some of the giants of reggae music — especially as the titans who forged the sound in the ’60s and ’70s grow older. This time around, the party serves as a tribute to Skatalites drummer Lloyd Knibb, whose propulsive work on “Eastern Standard Time,” “Exodus” and “Simmer Down” (among others) helped define ska. Check out the free party — featuring guest DJs Garfield and Christian Kallai — but don’t miss the audio tribute on dcsoundclash.com.
Millennium Stage becomes an unlikely indie-rock hot spot this holiday weekend. On Saturday, the Kennedy Center’s daily free stage will host Beach Fossils , an appropriate band to ring in the unofficial start of summer. The Brooklyn group plays wistful tunes with such titles as “Daydream” and “Lazy Day” that shimmer and glide on the strength of reverb-soaked guitar riffs. On an album the songs are appealingly sleepy, but in concert they bounce to life - yet never so much to shake you out of the pleasant summer doldrums. On Sunday, longtime local favorite Medications plays a free show, bringing a bit more insistent energy with songs that nod to D.C.’s punk past while also throwing in plenty of pop hooks.
The huge swimming pool and pool deck at the Capitol Skyline Hotel has been D.C.’s hippest summer destination the past two years, with weekly parties bringing out hundreds of 20- and 30-somethings who want to splash in the water, flirt on lounge chairs or sip cocktails while working on their tans. This year, the events are being taken over by the team behind Marvin and ESL Music, the record label associated with the Eighteenth Street Lounge, and have been rechristened Dubsplash . Expect the music and vibe to be a little more chic but no less laid-back: There’s no dress code and canned beer will be offered alongside fancier cocktails. Saturday’s kickoff features longtime funk fixtures Thunderball, DJing with Marvin’s DJ Keenan Orr. Sunday brings Volta Bureau, a new DJ team featuring Will Eastman, Micah Vellian and Outputmessage, with DJ Deep Sang opening. We’re guessing advice from last year will hold true: BYO towels and arrive early to score the best poolside seats.
So you may have heard that Lady Gaga’s new album was released this week. She’s being honored at Town with GAGArama, a night of Gaga-riffic music and videos on the club’s main level, including a special dance performance by Town’s resident dance troupe. Doors open at 10, and the weekly drag show begins at 10:30.
Memorial Day Monday means an extra day of partying. A ridiculous amount of events are on the calendar. Here are some that have caught our eye:
Some people disagree on whether it’s proper to begin wearing white after Easter or whether you have to wait until Memorial Day. It doesn’t really matter at this point, though — break out your freshly laundered and bleached duds for Lux’s Lounge’s “All White Everything” party, hosted by hip-hop legend Doug E Fresh. Tickets are $30 in advance.
The fiercely independent Jimmy Valentine’s Lonely Hearts Club celebrates its fourth anniversary on Bladensburg Road with a free party featuring food catered by the BBQ Bus food truck, beer from DC Brau and DJs John Thornley and the Brother Brau, the latter featuring DC Brau co-founder (and veteran house DJ) Brandon Black. Doors open at 7.
Speaking of anniversaries, the Indy 500 is turning Indy100 this weekend, celebrating a century of racing in Indianapolis. The Evening Star Cafe is marking the momentous occasion by hosting an outdoor party with grilled burgers, hot dogs and ribs, beer specials, and big-screen TVs for race viewing. The party runs from noon to 6; bring the kids for Matchbox car races and other family-friendly activities.
For five years, Daylight has managed to combine the best of several worlds into one dance party. DJs Bill Source and Divine spin the best old-school disco, house, New Jack Swing and R&B into a joyously funky package. Newcomers and regulars alike are welcomed and greeted as old friends by a crowd that would rather get down to Chaka Khan or Shalamar or Afrika Bambaataa than post up at the bar. The house-party vibe is what has created so many loyal Daylighters the past half-decade, and it’s being celebrated in force at Liv on Sunday night, complete with a special buffet menu by Mahogany Restaurant chef Jairobi Murray. Picnic-style eats and DJs spinning Cameo and Sade? You’re going to thank us Monday.
It’s always important to make the Sunday of a long weekend really count, and the Fort Knox Recordings showcase at U Street Music Hall has an entire three nights’ worth of fun rolled into one. Local reggae stalwart See-I headlines the show, previewing material from its long-awaited debut album. The self-titled effort comes after years of packing local clubs and being a vital part of Thievery Corporation’s live sets, and injects touches of funk, soul and dub into the group’s reggae sound. Also performing live are Empresarios, who play a lively, Latin-tinged brand of electro-lounge. DJ sets from Thunderball and DJ Who round out the evening.
Kenny Dope was a hip-hop master in the ’80s. His greatest works with Masters at Work partner Louie Vega are a bible for soulful house music. He’s a voracious collector of vinyl classics with supercomputer-level knowledge of breakbeats that he employs in his sets in classic New York party-rocking fashion. As a producer, DJ and musical curator, Kenny Dope has very few peers and countless acolytes. The Nuyorican giant returns to Sam Burns Sunday Soul Solution, getting busy on the outside deck at Eighteenth Street Lounge.
This Memorial Day, DJ Dredd is casting aside the usual Prince-vs.-Another-Artist dance party formula and taking it back to the old school: nothing but Prince all night long at the Black Cat. Dredd’s collection is deep with Prince rarities and B-sides, and you’ll hear them alongside the hits all night long.
Remember the Happy Sundays rooftop party at the Donovan House Hotel we told you about last week? After a last-minute double-booking of the rooftop pool scuppered last Sunday’s planned launch, everything is a go for this week. The no-cover afternoon soiree, which features DJs Chris Burns, Gavin Holland, Stereofaith, Tom Lim and Jerome Baker III, kicks off at 3 p.m. and runs until late. You’ll want to arrive early to stake out a seat.
Town Danceboutique’s occasional WTF party returns with yet another oddball idea: kicking off summer with a “Rocky Horror Picture Show”-themed pseudo-Halloween event. (Hey, why not?) You never know what to expect with the WTF parties, but we’d wear a costume if you want to avoid tricks.
Medications at Millennium Stage (see Saturday listing).
Times New Viking are not indie-rock revivalists — they are indie-rock classicists. The Columbus, Ohio trio takes cues from plenty of ‘90s favorites but has always forged ahead with its own spiky art-punk sound. The trio’s new album, “Dancer Equired,” is a calmer, less noisy affair than the band’s previous four (quieter would still be false advertising) and finds the best pop songs of their career emerging once a layer of noise is peeled away. Vivian Girls side project the Babies and Baltimore’s grunge-tastic Dope Body open at the Black Cat.