Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week’s best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties. Our top five picks are here, and there are 10 more selections after the jump.
Thursday: If you ever made it to a ‘95 Live party at Steve’s Bar Room a few years back, you probably haven’t forgotten it. The Tuesday night gathering was a veritable DJ hangout, with a rotating cast of local turntable wizards, including Alizay, Harry Hotter, Dirty Hands or Geometrix, dropping retro ‘80s-early 2000s tunes that ran the gamut from classic hip-hop to banging electro remixes. Steve’s closed last year, and ‘95 Live went on hiatus, but it’s back for one night only as part of the Water Street Project, a temporary pop-up arts space on the Georgetown waterfront. Catch DJs Jerome Baker III (Good Life Tuesdays at Recess) and Harry Hotter (Liv, the Get Down) rocking the place for free - yes, free - and dress to dance as well as impress.
Thursday: The Howard Theatre officially reopened two weeks ago, but the party planners at Brightest Young Things are just getting around to hosting their kick-off party. It should be an interesting night, too: The District’s own DJ Gavin Holland, of the long-running Nouveau Riche parties, spins alongside Nancy Whang, formerly of dance-punk stars LCD Soundsystem, and the Juan McLean, and Brooklyn-based producer Bit Funk. The centerpiece of it all is the Underground Rebel Bingo Club , a bawdy, over-the-top version of your grandma’s favorite evening pastime. After attending a one-off bingo night at the Fillmore last year, we can tell you to expect lots of R-rated jokes, silly prizes - such as an inflatable zebra swimming pool or a large boombox, which the winner proceeded to smash onstage - and a crowd that’s ready to drink, holler “bingo,” heckle the winners and get really, really into the game as the night goes on. This is the first BYT party at the Howard, but there are several more in the works, including a summer Pride party.
Thursday: Quintron and Miss Pussycat sort of sounds like it could be the title of one of the burlesque shows that the Red Palace regularly hosts. But in this case, it’s a band that has, during the past decade, earned a reputation as one of the country’s weirdest and unique groups, playing a self-described brand of “swamp-tech noise” that’s heavy on Hammond B-3 organ and an array of trashy synthesizers and drum machines. The New Orleans band’s concerts often look as bizarre as they sound, and local openers Heavy Breathing and Lenorable make fine stage setters, bringing their dark vibes to the club.
Friday and Sunday: If it seems like Ted Leo’s name pops up a lot in this space, that’s because it does. But every time the indie rock stalwart comes to town, it feels like we must note it and this time is no different. For this weekend’s pair of shows at the Black Cat, Leo will be performing his much-loved 2001 album “The Tyranny of Distance” in its entirety, for the final time. In addition to hearing many of the best songs that Leo’s written (a tough list to keep small), the whole thing will be captured on a camera for a future concert film. So wear something nice but don’t take this as an excuse to sing along extra loudly.
Sunday: The annual Forward Festival kicks off Wednesday, spreading out across the city to showcase both top-flight and emerging electronic music artists. Everything is covered, from the roughest face-melting dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass to ambient, soulful and jazzy soundscapes. (Check ForwardDC.com for more details.) Most major dance music venues are hosting at least one event, and other events are popping up in makeshift spaces, including city parks. The closing event Sunday at Southeast’s Garfield Park is typical of the Forward philosophy, presenting not just DJs and producers but also visual artists and dancers. Musical talent includes Oddisee and his progressive hip-hop, Washington party funksters All Good Funk Alliance and the UK’s J:Kenzo.
Keep reading for more, including NFL draft parties, whiskey tastings and underground Afrobeat.
Tuesday, April 24
Wednesday, April 25
Short, round-shouldered bottles of Bulleit bourbon and rye whiskey have become familiar sights at local bars, and for good reason: They’re smooth, easy-sipping whiskeys with plenty of flavor. Distillery owner Tom Bulleit is paying a visit to (where else?) Bourbon this week, where he’ll answer questions about the brand and the distilling process. All-night drink specials include $5 glasses of Bulleit, $8 Manhattans, Sazeracs and Old Fashioned cocktails, and $7 pints of Burial at Sea, an ale made by the DC Brau and Olivers breweries that has spent several months aging in Bulleit whiskey barrels.
Thursday, April 26
This is no doubt the day Redskins fans have been waiting for: when the teams drafts its quarterback of the future. Capitol Hill blog Cloture Club has moved its annual Draft Day Party to Rocket Bar, teaming up with Ball Hogs radio and Redskins fan site Hogs Haven. (“Special guests” are promised.) There’s a $5 cover, with proceeds going to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and all-night drink specials, including $3 Miller Lite and $4 rail drinks.
The Lunchbox Theory crew returns to Bossa with another night of dancing to sounds inspired by the vast traditions of West African music. Upstairs, DJ Underdog shares the decks with DJ DrewCool. Downstairs Cheick Hamala’s band takes the stage backed by centuries of Malian griot tradition.
Everyone rushes to the latest, newest hotspots, but sometimes you just don’t want to get lost in the crush at the bar. That’s when it’s good to revisit spaces that aren’t being swept up in the current hype. Your date may thank you if you check out some classic funk, soulful house and hip-hop with the Gruv Boutique DJs at Marx Cafe.
Rock music lost a legend recently with the death of Band drummer Levon Helm. The Band’s final concert was a guest-heavy, all-night affair that became “ The Last Waltz ,” one of the greatest concert films ever made. Martin Scorcese’s classic screens at Artisphere on Thursday.
Friday, April 27
Two words that should strike fear into the heart of any “Dr. Who” fan: Sexy Dalek. But that’s what you might get at Swami YoMahmi’s special “Dr. Who”-themed burlesque shows at the Red Palace, which feature tassel-twirling fixtures Reverend Valentine and Candy del Rio. Just beware of suggestively dressed Cybermen.
Saturday, April 28
Though no one knew it at the time, the summer of 1958 was a momentous time for pop music: Prince Rogers Nelson was born on June 7, Madonna Louise Ciccone took her bow Aug. 16 and Michael Joseph Jackson arrived Aug. 29. It would take a few years before their contributions to the pop canon were recognized, but it would be impossible to imagine the ’80s without them. DJ Dredd honors these three famous faces at a dance party called, fittingly, “ 1958 ” at the Rock and Roll Hotel. Buy tickets in advance or arrive early to guarantee admission, because these parties tend to sell out.
Sunday, April 29
Lena Seikaly is one of D.C.’s brighest up-and-coming jazz stars and has earned plenty of comparisons to one of her heroes, Ella Fitzgerald. Tonight she performs two “Tribute to Ella” shows at Blues Alley.
Monday, April 30
If you had to pick one person to teach a class on songwriting, it might be Nick Lowe . His sharp wit and intrinsic sense of melody have made his 40-plus-year career one of rock-and-roll’s richest. Take notes at the Birchmere.