The week between Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day contains the much-anticipated debut of Wild Flag, the kickoff of a real ale festival at Rustico, a hip -- and free -- party on the roof of the W Hotel with bands from Eighteenth Street Lounge Records, the Nouveau Riche dance party's fifth anniversary, groovy French band Chateau Marmont, and the Going Out Guide's special pre-St. Patrick's Day happy hour at the Dubliner.
Thursday, March 10
Going to see Wild Flag in concert is like going to see a movie when the only thing you know about it is the cast. Director, writer, story - who cares? Wild Flag is a supergroup whose collected resume speaks for itself. The band features guitarist/singer Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss, two-thirds of Sleater-Kinney, arguably the best American rock band of the past 15 years. There's also Mary Timony, one of indie rock's most underappreciated and inventive guitarists, who has long been making wonderful squalls of noise with old bands Autoclave and Helium, as well as a solo career. Keyboardist Rebecca Cole rounds out the lineup. The band released its first official song just a few days ago - and it's the kind of stormy, style-shifting rocker you would hope for - but even without that teaser, we didn't need to be sold on this show at the Black Cat.
The W Hotel's P.O.V. roofdeck bar has the best views of any bar in the city, but it can be a hassle to get into, and once you're up there, well, there's not much aside from the views and pricey cocktails. That looks to be changing, though, as the W is teaming up with uber-scenesters Brightest Young Things for a series of free events at the W throughout the year, and it will be interesting to see if Brightest Young Things can get the W on the radar of the city's young and hip. The first BYT/W event is this week, featuring performances by two artists from Eighteenth Street Lounge Records: funk throwback Frank Mitchell Jr. (whose band includes a number of Thievery Corporation musicians) and the hip-hop-and-breakbeats duo Ancient Astronauts in the rooftop bar. Again, there's no cover -- just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the list. That said, an RSVP is not a guarantee of admission; capacity is limited, so early arrival is strongly suggested.
(If you can't make it this time, circle April 1 on your calendar: That's set to be a rooftop afterparty for The Pains of Being Pure at Heart 's Black Cat concert, featuring the band as guest DJs. We'll have more info about that soon.)
How meta: Athletes for Hope is a charity founded by superstar athletes that encourages professional athletes to be more philanthropic in their communities. (It also works with younger athletes to help them make a difference in their communities.) The organization is hosting a fundraiser Thursday at Buffalo Billiards that sounds like the perfect guys' night out: Take on the Redskins' Lorenzo Alexander, the Mystics' Chasity Melvin, Patriots cornerback Leigh Bodden or one of 20 other professional athletes in pool, shuffleboard, Wii Bowling or darts, with all the proceeds going to charity. Tickets are $40 and include two drinks, appetizers, a beer tasting, all games and a raffle ticket that could win signed balls, a hockey stick autographed by Mike Green or other prizes. Organizers expect the event to sell out, so buy tickets in advance from the Athletes for Hope Web site.
Friday, March 11
We've had a long love affair with Merge Records, dating back to when Fritz bought a "Mower" 7" record by Superchunk at Go! Records. So it warms our heart to see the label doing better than ever, riding high with Arcade Fire's Album of the Year Grammy and serving as homebase to an impressive stable of new bands. We already told you about Wild Flag, but there's plenty of Merge Madness the rest of the weekend, too. Friday finds Baltimore's Wye Oak performing at the Black Cat. David wrote about the duo in his recent "bands with buzz" story, and new album "Civilian" serves as a new peak with dynamic songs that surge and shimmer. Psych-drone standouts Lower Dens also come down from Charm City. If you want to see this show and haven't bought tickets yet, do it now.
Teedra Moses's cover-girl looks and street appeal put her in the mainstream R&B world, but her arrangements and songwriting collaborations with artists such as Raphael Saddiq made her a fave in the now dispersed neo-soul scene, too. Having gone independent since her last major label release in 2004, Moses continues to enjoy grassroots support on many tours and mixtape releases. Following up a lauded Bilal show, The Park continues its Unplugged series with Teedra Moses.
Saturday, March 12
Nouveau Riche has consistently been one of D.C.'s most enjoyable DJ nights for half a decade. Maybe it's the ahead-of-the-curve tastes of DJs Gavin Holland, Nacey and Steve Starks, all of whom are at home dropping electro/techno/house bangers in the DJ booth or crafting remixes in the studio. Maybe it's the up-for-anything crowd that packs DC9 or U Street Music Hall. Maybe it's that the DJs and the crowd regularly hit that sweet spot where everything meshes perfectly and you don't want the song -- or the night -- to end. Actually, there's no maybe about it. Nouveau Riche marks its fifth anniversary with a throwdown at U Street Music Hall, where they'll preach to the converted and convert the rest. (Quick reminder: Due to a recent policy change, if you're under 21, you need to purchase tickets in advance.)
If you've been to the quasi-underground Soca parties at the Trinidad and Tobago Clubhouse in upper Northwest or wound down low at the Caribbean Carnival parties at Zanzibar on the Waterfront, you've danced to tunes spun by Spyda the DJ . A Barbadian native who has become a D.C. fixture, he's bringing his favorite dancehall and rockers to Patty Boom Boom this weekend - Vybz Cartel, Beenie Man and much more. (Get a preview on Spyda's mix page.) Spyda is on the decks until 3 a.m.; get there early to beat the inevitable lines.
From fusion latin funk to cumbia, dub and house, the Empresarios have a hot electro-organic mix brewing on their debut release, "Sabor Tropical." Lovers of dancehall and reggaeton will find something to get down to on this album while DJs riding the wave of tropical tunes in dance music get a few jams to rock in their sets. You can catch Empresarios at Rock and Roll Hotel with Thunderball and Funk Ark right before they make a splash at SXSW.
On Saturday over at the Red Palace, it's a Merge two-fer with the Love Language and Telekinesis. The bands fit perfectly as both play highly agreeable pop songs. The Love Language goes for more swooning, romantic ditties; Telekinesis keeps it sugary and caffeinated. Neither lack memorable hooks. There are good shows and there are fun shows. This one should be both.
Last month, the Peach Pit '90s dance party made the big move to DC9 from Dahlak (via a quick pitstop at Liv). Professional sound system! Multiple bars! Rooftop deck! Talk about a step up, eh? If you want to shake your groove thing to the Soup Dragons, Pet Shop Boys, Deee-Lite and other pop favorites, swing by Ninth Street after 10 p.m.
Monday, March 14
As you may have heard, St. Patrick's Day is coming up. Pubs are crowded, lines are long -- don't you wish you could enjoy the festive spirit without all the hassles? We do, too. That's why the Going Out Guide is hosting a pre-St. Patrick's Day happy hour at the Dubliner. Join us after work for live music by Irish singer John McGrath, a staple of the Dubliner's March 17 party, and some great drink specials, including $4 pints of Dubliner Ale and Lager and $10 Irish Boilermakers, which pair a 20-ounce pint of Guinness and a shot of Bushmills whiskey. We'll be raffling off prizes, including four VIP badges that allow the bearers to skip the lines at the Dubliner's hugely popular St. Patrick's Day party. Doors open at 6, and the deals run until 8.
The French know their way around electro-pop. They can do it big (Daft Punk), moody (Air) or more rock-centric (Tahiti 80). Chateau Marmont has remixed the likes of La Roux, Ladyhawke and Röyksopp, and featured the likes of Ariel Pink and Dam-Funk on a recent free mixtape. So even with its new album not yet released, there's a good idea of what expect from the band's show at Velvet Lounge: It'll be groovy, and there will be dancing.
Tuesday, March 15
In most bars, "March Madness" means endless college basketball games on the TVs. At the Rustico beer bars in Alexandria and Ballston, though, it has a new meaning: A chance to drink delicious cask ales. Cask Ales are the traditional British beers, served while they're undergoing a secondary fermentation in the barrel and without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide. This makes the flavor more subtle and refreshing. Each bar will have its own lineup of five different casks at March Cask Madness, which begins March 15; we're partial to the selection at Ballston, where you'll find Thornbridge Kipling, an English pale ale made with the grassy, citrus Nelson Sauvin hops, and the wonderfully light and easy-drinking Bitter & Twisted from Scotland's Harviestoun brewery. (Hop-heads can find Nugget Nectar from Harrisburg's Tröegs brewery at both locations.)