Wednesday, April 20
It takes a special DJ to appeal to fans of shoegazing rock bands, dubstep DJs and minimalist German house producers, but Pantha du Prince easily bridges that divide. Layering ambient, reverb-soaked clouds of fuzz and bleeping melodies (a.k.a. M83) over textured beats that come straight from the minimalist playbook of Kompakt favorites Michael Mayer or Dntel, he also tosses in enough deep, rich bass and natural noises to draw comparisons to dubstep don Burial. Pantha (a.k.a. Hendrik Weber) made his first visit to the States since 2007 last summer, and the three-stop tour included a night at U Street Music Hall that we’d place as one of the shows of the year. It was two hours of electronic alchemy that shifted from woozy bass to deft electronic percussion to head-nodding loops of chiming melody that ranged from somnolent to perky, but never became full-on dance-floor anthems. The crowd still ate it up. He’s back for another go, this time with the Sight Below, a Seattle group that melds wall-of-guitar shoegaze with keyboards and electronic percussion, and local electro and minimal DJ Solomon Sanchez.
Two very different bars are celebrating their first anniversaries Wednesday night with festive gatherings. In Arlington, the spacious P. Brennan’s Irish Pub is marking a year on Columbia Pike with music by local troubadour Pat Garvey; $3 pints of Irish beer from 7 p.m. to close; $9.95 Irish entrees until 10:30 p.m. (the fish and chips are especially good); and $3 Miller Lites all night. On U Street, the hip, low-key Dodge City throws its own birthday party with DJs on both floors from 5 p.m. to close; free hamburgers or veggie burgers; $2 Pilsener Ace beers from 5 to 8 p.m.; and $4 cans of Dale’s Pale Ale and $5 shots of Tito’s Vodka all night.
After releasing one of the best local rock albums of 2010 with the debut “It Was Easy,” Title Tracks has already set the bar high with the follow-up, “In Blank.” It contains more of the same sharp, smart power-pop, with even more snap and verve this time around. Pick up the new album at Wednesday’s release show at the Black Cat.
Wednesday’s date is 4/20. In honor of this momentous once-a-year event, the Black Squirrel is serving the beers of Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewery , notably, its flagship, oh-so-tasty 420 Extra Pale Ale. The light-drinking beer, rarely found in these parts, was named after a never-built Interstate bypass around the city of Atlanta. The bar will also pour SweetWater IPA, the blueberry SweetWater Blue (which is pretty tasty and refreshing) and the dark Happy Ending Imperial Stout. Beers cost between $6.50 and $8. For some reason, they’ll be served with hemp brownies, hemp pretzels and hemp-seed mustard, and house-made beefaroni. As usual with these out-of-town beers, supplies are limited, so hit the Squirrel sooner than later.
In honor of Earth Day, Kimpton Hotels are planning all sorts of outdoor events, including a pig roast and a happy hour. Our favorite: Cocktails for Conservation at Hotel Helix. Mixologist Rico Wisner (usually of sister hotel bar Poste) will be crafting drinks with organic and sustainable spirits, and there will also be hors d’oeuvres and raffle prizes. The all-inclusive $20 fee will be donated to the Trust for Public Land and the Potomac Conservancy. Since space is limited, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phasefest, the annual music festival for gay and lesbian artists, is already in the planning stages for 2011. But before the first band can take the stage, the festival needs to raise some cash. The year’s first fundraiser is Poison, an ‘80s dance party and air guitar contest at Phasefest host (and namesake) bar Phase 1. Doors open at 9, and the $5 cover -- which goes to Phasefest -- includes all-night drink specials: $1 kamikaze shots, $2 PBR pounders and $3 Sex on the Beach shots. The only rule in the air guitar contest: Your song has to be from the ‘80s. The best performer takes home $50.
Thursday, April 21
There have been so many rock reunions over the past few years that none should come as a surprise anymore. But seeing the Factory back together is still a massive surprise. The D.C. cult faves from the late-’80s played hard rock songs about the sort of things hard rock songs should be about -- girls, drugs, girls who like drugs. Nearly 20 years after their demise, singer Vance Bockis and bassist Scott Sartorius have put past disagreements behind them and are back with a new album and are playing their first local headlining show in nearly two decades Thursday at Surf Club Live. (NBC Washington has a video interview with Bockis and Sartorius.)
Attention, ladies: Now that warm weather’s almost here, you may be thinking about sprucing up your wardrobe with new purses/belts/jewelry for summer. But what to do with the old stuff? Dress for Success, a charity that provides professional clothing and accessories to disadvantaged women entering the workforce, would love to take it off your hands during a special happy hour at the downtown BlackFinn. In exchange, you’ll get entered in a raffle to win a spa treatment or other prizes. The party, which runs from 8 to 10, includes from hors d’oeuvres and discounted cocktails. (Make a table reservation with a group of friends and you might get free champagne; contact KJunda@BlackFinnDC.com.for more information. The suggested dress code is “Little Black Dress.”
Competitive eating: It grosses some people out. It turns others into champions. For the fourth year, Bar Louie is hosting its nationwide Rock the Tots contest, which sees how many pounds -- pounds -- of tater tots contestants can eat in six minutes. Last year, D.C.’s champion put away 2 pounds, 10 ounces for fried spuds, which was less than half of what Pittsburgh’s big “winner” consumed: 5 pounds, 13 ounces of tots. If you think you can do better, be at Bar Louie at 8 p.m. on Thursday for the big contest. (You can sign up in advance at the bar anytime, or just do it that night. There’s no entry fee.) The winner gets a $50 gift certificate and free tater tots for a year. Mmmmmmm. (Spectators can show up between 4 and 7 for discounted drinks and $1.50 plates of tots.) Just remember to wear those pants with the elastic waistband.
Friday, April 22
These days any band can have a hot MP3 or even a buzzy debut album. But will the thrill remain on that second release? With the new “In Love With Oblivion,” Crystal Stilts confirm that they’ll stick around for a while. The Stilts have managed to improve on the shambling indie-pop charm of “Alight of Night” by adding some noirish embellishments -- creepy, crawly guitar lines and singer Brad Hargett’s disembodied drawl. It’s a less dramatic overhaul than what Slumberland labelmates Pains of Being Pure at Heart went through for their recent sophomore effort, but it’s just as effective. German Measles opens at the Black Cat.
Meanwhile, on the main stage, it’s the return of the Homo/Sonic dance party, which tends to pull a more diverse (and larger) crowd than similar electro-indie nights targeted at the alternative gay audience. Everyone gets down to Santogold, LCD Soundsystem and Le Tigre.
With the end of another (college) school year, the Wild North parties at the Warehouse Loft take another hiatus, but not before the Pacemaker and Party Bros DJ duos set fire to the dance floor one more time with their mixes of Dutch house, electro and other classics they dig up. Those four trade sets in the main room while the four DJs known as Let Them Hear Cake take over the smaller side room. To set the mood, vodka drinks are free for the first hour; the 18-and-over event starts at 10 and goes until late. RSVP to get reduced admission.
Saturday, April 23
The ascension from underground favorite to superstar can be quick these days. Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T. is surely aware of this. Less than six months ago, he opened for Wiz Khalifa at the 9:30 Club; later this summer he’ll open for Khalifa at 17,000-capacity Merriweather Post Pavilion. K.R.I.T. might not have the easygoing stoner persona that helped catapult Khalifa to stardom, but he may have already lapped his more famous friend in terms of talent. K.R.I.T.’s recent “Returnof4Eva” mixtape shows that the 24-year-old has wide-screen ambitions and the skills to match, pairing vivid stories with precise beats. He performs this weekend at Jaxx (Saturday) and U Street Music Hall (Sunday) with opener Freddie Gibbs, another rapper for whom bigger things await and whose casually ferocious delivery has already made him one of the best MCs around.
When it comes to gospel-tinged Southern blues, there’s no one like the Holmes Brothers . The W.C. Handy Award-winning trio -- featuring brothers Sherman and Wendell Holmes and “honorary brother” Popsy Dixon -- have been together for more than four decades. They can roar like classic B.B. King or Albert King, they can move your soul like a Sunday church service and sometimes they do both in the span of four minutes. The group’s newest album, “Feed My Soul,” provides the usual cookin’ R&B boogies and gospel ballads, but the subject matter is more serious: Wendell’s 2008 diagnosis of bladder cancer. He’s now well enough to tour again, and the Holmes Brothers will be stopping into Hill Country on Saturday night.
Want to get your weird on this weekend? The annual Avant Fairfax festival has you covered. Over at the Old Town Hall, there will be the timeless British folk of Michael Chapman, the exploratory improvised psychedelic rock of Kohoutek and the delicate, virtuosic playing of Black Twig Pickers. Other acts are variously noisy, raw and always weird.
Next Saturday, Australian pop princess Kylie Minogue brings her Aphrodite Les Folies tour to the Patriot Center. Apparently some people just can’t wait that long, because DJs Shea Van Horn and Aaron Riggins are hosting All You Can Eat , an all-Kylie dance party at DC9. Can you handle tunes from“The Locomotion” to the new “All My Lovers” all night long? Well, you’ll probably get your $5 worth.
Need some more diversity with your night? DJ Soul Call Paul of the Velvet Lounge’s monthly Big Bad City ‘60s soul party is hosting Catfight ! at the Black Cat: Nothing but Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner and Etta James all night long on the backstage. If you’re only familiar with Etta’s “At Last” or Tina’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It” ‘80s hits, Soul Call Paul will educate you about the days when those women served up some serious funk. It’s $5 from 9:30 p.m. on.
Sunday, April 24
During the final years of his long life, Pinetop Perkins made the State Theatre his local venue of choice, so it’s fitting that the Falls Church concert hall will be hosting a tribute to the boogie/blues piano great. Among those taking the stage: Daryl Davis, a local pianist whose rollicking style makes him a direct descendant of Perkins, and bar-band blues standard-bearers the Nighthawks.
Should you really see a band with 666 in its name on Easter? Hey, we just tell you what your options are. But it would be a pity to miss out on the Puerto Rican-style party punk of Davila 666 at the Black Cat. The group’s six members all take the surname Davila, and the Ramones tribute is no mistake. Like their heroes, the sextet makes sure to get plenty of bubble-gum hooks into their songs, and even though the lyrics are entirely in Spanish, Davila 666 proves that a good pop song is universal.
Monday, April 25
By the time Federico Aubele recorded “Berlin 13,” his fourth album for Eighteenth Street Lounge Music, the Buenos Aires native had figured out his perfect sound: a Panamerican blend of deep, bassy dub rhythms interlaced with hip-hop beats and bursts of Latin percussion, and overlayed with sinuous classic guitar melodies, the occasional accordion riff, smoky Spanish-language vocals and strange, dark electronic samples. “Berlin 13,” recorded in the German capital, is Aubele’s most urban album yet, and it’s exactly what you can imagine listening to in one of that city’s stylish lounges or hip cafes as the midnight hour fades away. The album was released Tuesday, but Aubele celebrates next week with a premiere party at the Rock & Roll Hotel.
There must be a limit to the amount of great music the Fresh & Onlys can release, but they haven’t hit it yet. After a nonstop string of albums, EPs and singles in 2008 and 2009, the band hit its peak in 2010 with “Play It Strange” and made the transition from scrappy garage-pop band to a band that realizes its fleshed-out psychedelic visions. Since that album came out, frontman Tim Cohen has released a pair of new ones, and the band keeps its winning streak going with the new “Secret Walls” EP. Knowing them, the show at the Red Palace will probably be filled with songs from the next release.
Yacht crafts excellent off-kilter, left-field electro-pop, best heard on 2009’s “See Mystery Lights.” The group’s songs are usually some combination of goofy, sweet, optimistic and mystical. “Dystopia,” the first single from upcoming album “Shangri-La,” addresses the end of the world with something just short of glee. The band has a knack for making you feel a part of something and making the bleak enjoyable. Join the party at the Black Cat.