The doldrums of August? Not here. We’ve got one of the country’s biggest tributes to Madonna (just in time for her 53rd birthday!) at Town on Saturday, and her tour DJ is stopping by Barcode on Friday night to spin at a free party. Room 11 serves up free punch at its birthday celebration, Comet Ping Pong hosts a headbanging party, local brewers 3 Stars unveil a brand-new beer and Looking Glass Lounge gets physical at a new DJ night.
Wednesday, Aug. 10
Kurt Vile has been a favorite of this column for a long time. He was here in March but that was more of a teaser, just a brief, solo acoustic show at Red Onion Records. This time he has his band, the Violators, in tow, and there’s no doubt they will fill the Rock & Roll Hotel with their usual heady mixture of droney, folky psychedelia. Vile isn’t the only reason to attend tonight’s show — openers Woods finely toe the line between the indie and jam band worlds, while other openers White Fence and True Widow are also worth checking out.
If you’re looking for a low-key mid-week date spot — someplace cozy but lively, a little snazzier than your usual corner bar, with good wine, cocktails and food — then it’s hard to beat Room 11 in Columbia Heights. The bar is celebrating its second anniversary this week, and there’s going to be a party in the small dining room as well as the spacious patio. Co-owner Dan Searing just published his first book, “The Punch Bowl,” and will serve up free glasses of Jamaican Rum Punch from 5 to 7 p.m. There will be food specials, limited edition Room 11 T-shirts, giveaways and other surprises all night.
Thursday, Aug. 11
Monument is a local organization that views music as a platform for social change and activism. The latest event it’s sponsoring is a benefit for Grassroots Reconciliation Group, which helps former child soldiers in Uganda recover and rejoin society by assisting them in finding jobs. Headliner Small Black was one of the first bands to be labeled as chillwave when it emerged in 2009 with dreamy soundscapes that were as much about reverb and woozy synthesizers as songwriting. But the band now has a four-piece lineup and a live show that’s more engaging than many of its peers’. Opener Outputmessage is one of D.C.’s most creative and consistently excellent electronic music producers.
When it comes to super groups in hip-hop, Random Axe has been one of the most anticipated in years: Three pure spitters with heavy resumes came together on an album this year to execute an agenda of crushing beats and ballistic verbals. Sean Price and Guilty Simpson combine a menacing tone with surgical lyrical detail. Black Milk spits hard in his own right while also handling all of the production. And the whole thing was released on venerable label Duck Down, recently celebrating 15 years in the game with a universally praised tour of its star artists. Duck Down labelmates Smif N Wessun join Random Axe at Heaven and Hell.
DJ Geometrix is one of our favorite jocks on the party circuit — his smooth blends, hot remixes and strong selection of club hits and old-school jams make him a natural for spots like Ultrabar and Ibiza. (And, if we’re being honest, his new remix of Kanye/Roscoe Dash/Big Sean’s “Marvin Gaye and Chardonnay” is a total banger.) Geo, a turntablist affiliated with the Trooperz Crew, is on the decks at the revived ‘95 Live at Sweet Spot tonight, spinning nothing but ’90s hits all night. Can’t wait to see what he’s going to pull out. There’s no cover, and the needle drops at 10 p.m.
Color us intrigued by Body Jam. DJs Sean Peoples (of Sockets Records) and Mike Miller will preside over what they call “the P90X of dance nights.” It will be workout music and attendees are encouraged to bring yoga mats — a trip to the gym except with beer instead of Gatorade. It all goes down at Looking Glass Lounge.
We frequently go to Hill Country Barbecue for the live-band country karaoke, filling brisket and late-night happy hours, but the place is also a legit venue for seeing some of Austin’s finest musicians. Visiting from Texas this week is the Band of Heathens , a trio that frequently captures the ’70s country-rock boogie sound without crossing into “Sweethearts of the Rodeo” tribute territory. (Critic Mark Jenkins compared them to “’American Beauty’-era Grateful Dead” in Friday’s Weekend section and that’s pretty close to the mark.) Tickets are $10 for the Thursday night show, which begins at 8; get to the bar between 5 and 7 for two-for-one drinks.
Friday, Aug. 12
Eric Jao - better known as DJ Enferno - is one of D.C. clubbing’s top success stories. In college, the Northern Virginia native worked his way up from house parties to the city’s biggest nightclubs, winning the prestigious DMC turntablism battle in 2003. Since then, he has traveled the world with Madonna as her tour DJ; created the Live Remix Project, which allows a DJ to sample and produce music as it’s being performed live; remixed Drake, Kelis and Far East Movement - and kept clubs moving all over the country with smart sets of electronic and hip-hop remixes. Enferno is back in D.C. this weekend to spin with DJ Saam at Barcode. There’s no cover charge, but there will be long lines, so arrive early or make dinner reservations, which guarantees you a spot inside. (Doors open at 10 p.m.; food is served until midnight.)
Kendrick Lamar is a late-charger in the race for Breakout Rapper of the Year. It will be hard to surpass Odd Future when it comes to hype, Lil B when it comes to bizarre behavior or Mac Miller when it comes to popularity. But Lamar’s unquestionable talent makes him well positioned to stay in the conversation. “Section 80,” the recent album by the 24-year-old Los Angeles native, is a gimmick-free collection that features a lyricist who is confident and introspective and who has an ear for unobtrusive, lightly chilled beats that perfectly match his style.
Do you like to headbang but don’t necessarily dig metal? Comet Ping Pong has a three-band bill that might be just what you need. Hume, Dope Body and Buildings all play hard-hitting songs that are various degrees of heavy but without full-throttle mayhem. Baltimore’s Dope Body almost gets there, especially when goes heavy with its grunge-funk combo. Hume and Buildings are two of D.C.’s most precise bands, playing constantly snaking songs that veer in all sorts of wild directions while maintaining a hard-driving momentum.
DC Brau has gotten a lot of (deserved) attention for becoming D.C.’s first production brewery since the 1950s. They’re about to get some company: 3 Stars Brewing should start rolling out its first barrels this fall. While the brewery is getting set up in Brightwood, brewers Dave Coleman (of the Big Hunt) and Mike McGarvey have been collaborating with existing breweries. Memorial Day saw the release of the summery Syndicate Saison, created with the guys at Delaware’s Evolution Brewing Company, and this Friday is your first chance to taste the B.W. Rye, brewed with Baltimore’s Oliver Ales. It’s a malty, dry-hopped ale with “a generous dose of spicy rye,” according to 3 Stars. It will be available on draft and on cask at Meridian Pint from 6 p.m. on.
Saturday, Aug. 13
Speaking of Madonna, the Material Girl will turn 53 next week -- a fact that may cause a momentary pause for the millions for whom “Vogue,” “Like a Prayer” or “Like a Virgin” served as the soundtrack for growing up. It’s a cause for celebration at Town Danceboutique, where the annual Madonnarama party draws thousands who dance to Madonna’s music all night long, from “Holiday” through “Justify My Love” and “Hung Up,” spun by DJ Ed Bailey, who has taken the party all over the country. Besides music, the night features videos and special dance performances. Get to Town before 11 for reduced admission, a drag show and $3 drinks.
Sunday, Aug. 14
D.C. Beer Week brings a full week of tastings, tapping parties and beer dinners — look for Fritz’s big post of recommended events soon — and the first big party is the D.C. Beer Week Craft Beer Cruise on the Odyssey. Two dozen breweries are bringing their beers for unlimited sampling, including New Belgium, Unita, Allagash, Flying Dog and 3 Stars. Tickets are $85 and include beers from 5:30 to 9 p.m., a dinner buffet and a view of the D.C. monuments. See the full list of beers and breweries (and purchase tickets) at dcbeerweek.net.
Monday, Aug. 15
Galaxy Hut remains a charming and low-key place to see a show. If you haven’t been in a while, Monday is a good excuse to get out there, have a pint of Allagash 2011 Fluxus and enjoy the throwback honkytonk tunes of Ruby Rae. It’s darker than your usual singer-songwriter fare, with noir-ish and Southern gothic influenced lyrics. Her frequent collaborator Olivia Mancini will also be playing at the Hut.