Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week's best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties.
Tuesday, May 21
Daft Punk's first album in eight years is kind of a big deal. So much so that there are dueling parties Tuesday celebrating its release. U Street Music Hall will be playing "Random Access Memories" all the way through on vinyl records, beginning at 8:30 p.m. When it's over, they'll put the needle back on side 1 and start again. Early arrivals get free posters and other merchandise. An album-release party seems archaic in this era of Internet leaks and online streaming. But a chance to hear one of the year's most anticipated albums on the city's best sound system? That's a no-brainer.
Meanwhile, over at Napoleon Bistro & Lounge, John Thornley of U.S. Royalty is DJing French dance music all night long at Random Access Night, which means plenty of Daft Punk and producers from the Kitsune and Ed Banger stables, but also tracks by Phoenix, Stardust and other groovy Gaelic rockers. (Listen for tracks by Daft Punk predecessor Darlin'.)
How do you choose to celebrate the birth of Christopher Wallace, the rapper better known as Biggie Smalls or the Notorious B.I.G.? If you're not able to pop a few bottles of chilled champagne while sitting in a hot tub with your closest friends, you could head down to the Howard Theatre for an old-school extended happy hour on Tuesday. DJ Biggs mixes it up from 6 to 8 p.m. for the post-work crowd. From 8 p.m. to midnight, Bad Boy Entertainment's DJ SNS rocks the classic hip-hop, R&B, reggae and a B.I.G. tribute set. It's all good, baby baby.
Wednesday, May 22
The official start of summer may be a month away, but we've been trying to spend as much time on bar and restaurant patios as possible. Cashion's Eat Place welcomes summer to its Adams Morgan patio by kicking off a new monthly cookout called the Summer Chill Out. A $30 ticket (sold in advance) includes a barbecue sandwich and your choice of two cocktails. As with many outdoor events, this party will take place weather permitting; you should call ahead if it's raining.
Thursday, May 23
The team behind Green Hat Gin dropped its first seasonal gin in April - a lovely summer gin with more sweet citrus and floral notes than the usual spirit. Those flavors will be showcased at a special Green Hat cocktail party at Boundary Road on Thursday. Bartenders will be whipping up drinks with the new gin, including Bee's Knees made with apricots and a Tom Collins made with rosemary and black pepper. Meet Washington's first distillers since Prohibition, sample summer drinks and get the Memorial Day weekend started a little early.
Macy Gray's 1999 album "On How Life Is" was the perfect introduction to the quirky songstress: frank tales of love and longing, with Gray's throaty contralto rasp rising over smooth neo-soul. Her most recent output has consisted of cover songs, but this tour, which stops at the Birchmere, finds Gray back where it all began, performing the Grammy-winning single "I Try" and the rest of her debut.
Waylon Jennings' son Shooter Jennings takes on today's manufactured country crooners on his recent single "Outlaw You." Dad would approve of the darker country and bluegrass that fill the younger Jennings' recent work, which you can hear at the State Theatre.
Whether you're going away for Memorial Day or not, the Textile Museum invites you to a pre-Memorial Day "Staycation" in Kalorama. The Santi Budaya Dance Troupe performs Indonesian dances while the Embassy of Indonesia's musical director provides the music. Satay Sarinah Indonesian restaurant sells food and drinks in the museum's garden (BYO blanket). Guests can create Indonesian-style batik postcards. The galleries, which include an exhibition about the textiles of Indonesia and Laos, stay open for tours. Tickets include your first drink.
Friday, May 24
Todd Terry is an absolute legend in the house music world. The man who made Everything But the Girl's "Missing" into an inescapable international hit. The man who helped turn the Jungle Brothers' "I'll House You" into a dancefloor classic. The man whose DJ abilities earned him the nickname "Todd the God" in his hometown of New York. He's at U Street Music Hall's Red Fridays. Don't miss it – pun intended.
Emo pioneers/political hardcore act Boysetsfire is back together, like many of its peers from the '90s. But rather than just play "The Day the Sun Went Out" in its entirety, or songs from that split EP with Snapcase, the Delaware band is recording new music, with an album on the way next month. Hear fresh stuff from "While a Nation Sleeps" – and, we're sure, classics from the "In Chrysalis" era – when the band's tour kicks off at the Rock and Roll Hotel.
You know it's a long weekend when DJ Dredd is headlining the main stage of the Black Cat. This one's called "Purple Stank," which is your clue that he's reviving the "Prince vs Outkast" concept. Find out what happens when two funky forces collide, back-to-back, all night long.
Saturday, May 25
Can't make it out to Rehoboth, Dewey or Ocean City this weekend? There's no need to worry about missing the sun and the sand, because the World Famous Pontani Sisters are bringing a "Beach Blanket Bingo" vibe to the Howard Theatre. The well-known burlesque dancers are the stars of the "Burlesque-a-Pades Beach Party," a revue that mixes magic, comedy, vaudeville acts and lots of dance routines featuring swimwear, grass skirts and other exotic costumes. Buy tickets in advance to save $5. (We'd still temporarily unfollow Instagram friends heading for the shore, though.)
Flying Dog's monthly Summer Sessions might just be your dream party: A chance to spend a weekend evening sitting in a field, drinking beer and listen to rock music. Except in this case, the music is by rock stars, such as Of Montreal, Deer Tick or the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and the field is located next to the Flying Dog Brewery, which means it's pretty dang fresh. The series kicks off with Of Montreal's fusion of weird indie-electro-funk, and given the band's reputation for over-the-top live theatrics, there's a chance we could be in for a treat. Tickets are $20, though that doesn't include beer, which will be sold a la carte.
Sunday, May 26
A floating nightclub: That’s the general idea behind California electronic music collective Distrikt's first cruise on the Potomac. The three-hour tour features a half-dozen DJs spinning house and funky tunes, including local heroes All Good Funk Alliance, an open bar and circus-style performances. Given Distrikt's reputation for throwing packed day parties at Burning Man, it's safe to say it's going to be pretty intense. And good. (They're taking over the multi-level Cherry Blossom boat, which looks like a paddle-wheeler, so multiple DJs can play at the same time.) The boat leaves the Alexandria City Marina promptly at 7 p.m., and returns at 10, followed by an after-party at U Street Music Hall. You have to get tickets in advance, so don't slack.
The Sonic Diaspora crew got a jump on summer last week, as they kicked off their Endless Summer series at Sankofa on Georgia Avenue NW. They're a good addition to the day party rotation, as the sweaty, intense African dance vibes give way to lounging out on a patio with friends, tunes and cold beverages as the hours slip into evening.
Three big anniversaries for major nightlife mainstays are going down this Sunday. Daylight, the party featuring classic rare groove, disco, funk and boogie, celebrates its seventh Anniversary at Liv with DJ Divine, DJ Source and Big Tone the host. (Your $15 tickets include a free catered buffet.) Jimmy Valentine's Lonely Hearts Club has been catering to underground dance party devotees, weirdos, wee-hours revelers and fans of alcoholic slushies since Bladensburg Road was still a strip of auto shops. New condos are popping up there now, but Jimmy V's hasn't changed. The bar celebrate six years with DJs AGFA, Joe L, Team Zapata and more on deck. Finally, bionic B-boy and veteran nightlife promoter Sonny Tran (a.k.a. Ghost) has been in control of a weekly hip-hop party at Modern for nine years, but he's set to end that run with one last blow-out to celebrate the milestone.
Monday, May 27
If you like your beer dark, don't miss ChurchKey's third Ales from the Darkside. This is where you'll find such rare beauties as Parabola, Firestone Walker's barrel-aged Russian imperial stout; Harviestoun Ola Dubh, an old ale aged in casks that held 21-year-old Highland Park Scotch; and Evil Twin's tongue-twisting Naked Lunch in a Copenhagen Heavenly Resto Imperial Stout. Twenty beers will be sold by the glass or four-ounce pour; given the average ABV, we'd suggest the latter.