Nightlife Agenda: A week of retro DJs, post-punk and go-go

January 7

Every Tuesday, the Going Out Guide staff highlights the week's best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties.

Lissen Band
The Lissen Band, shown performing in 2004, was one of the city's most popular go-go groups in the early 2000s. Years after an acrimonious split, the group plays a reunion this weekend at the Howard Theatre. (Photo by Michael Temchine for the Washington Post)

Tuesday, January 7
If you frequent the city's upscale lounges – Heist, Josephine, Cities – then you've probably danced to DJ Benny Beats, though he also rocked parties at Patty Boom Boom, Little Miss Whiskey's and the Skyline Hotel's pool. Benny Beats, otherwise known as Benjamin Kovaleski, died last month at age 34, and his fellow Heist turntablists are hosting a memorial party for him during the regularly scheduled Industry Tuesdays. Expect to hear a number of DJs trading off all night.

Wednesday, January 8
Whether it's a job, kids or the fear of hauling creaking old bones out of bed in the morning, everyone eventually swears they're going to hang up their dancing shoes and put their clubbing days behind them. And yet, every now and then, there's a lineup that's just good and nostalgia-inducing enough to lure the most jaded folks back out on the town. Tonight at Flash, two of Washington's most venerated veteran house DJs are sharing a bill that should keep everyone moving until the wee hours. Earic Patten spent most of the '90s as the resident DJ in the main room at Tracks, the legendary D.C. nightspot that's responsible for much of the city's electronic dance music culture. Sam "The Man" Burns has spread the gospel of deep, soulful house all over the city during his long career - State of the Union, Red, Eighteenth Street Lounge - and few keep people dancing as long as he does. The two will split time on Flash's expansive, comfortable main floor while the downstairs turns into an underground hip-hop spot courtesy of DJs Ragz, Oso Fresh and Throdown, with beatboxing MC Jon Q on the mike. (And yes, those worrying about waking up early, the music stops at 2 a.m.) Buy tickets in advance to save $4.

Over her 50-year career, Bettye Lavette has had some high points, including the '60s soul classic "Let Me Down Easy" and a stint with the James Brown Revue, but she mostly flew under the popular radar. Then, in 2000, her songs were rediscovered and reissued by European soul fanatics, which led to new albums, headlining tours and even an autobiography. Her latest album, "Thankful and Thoughtful," is a romp through American blues and soul, which you can hear at the Howard Theatre.

Friday, January 10
Every month, the amateur storytellers of SpeakeasyDC take to area stages to tell autobiographical tales that prove that truth can be more engaging and entertaining than fiction. Depending on the month's theme, you may hear confessionals about social climbing, the heartbreak of first love or uproarious recaps of frat parties gone horribly wrong. One of the best introductions to the city's story scene is Speakeasy's annual best-of show. Since judges have winnowed the stories down from 125 to just eight, you know you're going to hear some truly memorable accounts. These Top Shelf events regularly sell out: In fact, the 7 p.m. show at the 9:30 Club sold out so quickly that the club added an encore performance at 9:30. Get tickets in advance or you'll be shut out. (EDITOR'S NOTE: This event is now sold out.)

Austin's Whiskey Shivers are bluegrass-fueled Americana for a generation that grew up listening to punk rock. This group of 20-somethings plays banjos, fiddles and washboards at breakneck speeds while singing high, lonesome harmonies about love and video games. There's even a Mexican-style waltz about (what else?) tacos and hangovers. But you don't have to listen for long to realize they're too talented to be dismissed as a mere novelty act. A free show at Hill Country shouldn't be passed up.

If you've dreamed of standing onstage at the Black Cat and belting out the songs of Black Flag, Minor Threat, Fugazi, the Misfits, Bikini Kill or Sleater Kinney, the semi-regular Punk Rock Karaoke is your chance. Just get there early: Last August, the signup book filled quickly and a number of people didn't get to sing. As always, this is for charity: The $8 cover goes to the Ambassador Pit Bull Rescue. Bring non-perishable food items for We Are Family, which delivers meals to local seniors, and you'll get buttons and stickers; bring five items and you get a valuable cut-the-line ticket.

Saturday, January 11
In the mid-'90s, Alarms and Controls would have qualified as a Dischord Records supergroup, featuring singer-guitarist Chris Hamley (previously of the criminally underrated Circus Lupus and Antimony) and Vin Novara (the Crownhate Ruin). Though the two didn't get around to forming a band or releasing a record until 2012, when they teamed up with bassist Arthur Noll. Alarms and Controls has produced a classic slice of D.C. post-punk, all jittery guitars and throbbing bass churning over stop-start time signatures and cracking drums. Smooth, tuneful melodies are set off by dissonant riffs and percolating drum fills lurking just below the surface, at times more than a little reminiscent of Shudder to Think. Alarms and Controls brings its so-retro-it's-new-again sound to Comet Ping Pong's back room, where the Plums and Puff Pieces open.

The L!ssen Band was on its way to becoming one of the best new-generation go-go bands in the early 2000s, bridging the gap between the old school and younger crowds in a way few others did. Unfortunately, the group fell victim to infighting over its creative course, personnel changed and L!ssen went through a couple of acrimonious breakups. Time seems to heal those sort of spats, which is why the members of L!ssen, who originally met at Eastern High School in the 1990s, have reunited for this concert at the Howard Theatre. In a go-go scene that's increasingly trained to crave covers, L!ssen was always good for putting that pocket underneath some funky originals.

Daft Punk isn't playing at my house U Street Music Hall this weekend, though you'll hear plenty of classics by the Parisian duo on Saturday night. DJs Will Eastman and Ozkar are hosting another of their Rev 909 nights, which pay tribute to the best of the French Touch indie dance scene, including Justice, SebastiAn and Etienne de Crecy. This time, the $10 cover charge will be donated to the University of Maryland's Josh Burdette Memorial Scholarship, named in honor of the 9:30 Club's much-loved, greatly missed head of security, who died last September.

Swedish-born DJ Thornato has a unique perspective among the current field of global bass practitioners: He came to the burgeoning scene as a producer who jumped into beatmaking full force before turning to rocking parties. His tracks and sets touch on the digi-cumbia, moombahton and trap sounds that are pretty well known, but you never know when he'll weave bluegrass, Balkan beats or gospel into the mix. He's taking over the main room at Eighteenth Street Lounge this weekend.

Pusha T carries the street-rap bonafides from his days as one-half of famed duo Clipse but pushed his solo brand successfully into the present with his recordings for Kanye West's GOOD Music label. That work culminated in one of the best hip-hop releases of 2013, his full length album "My Name Is My Name," from which he'll draw heavily at Echostage.

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Alex Baldinger | January 6