Nightlife Agenda: Oktoberfests, whiskey and the Weeknd

Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week's best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties. If you're looking for events and specials related to the government shutdown, you can find those in a separate blog post.


London Grammar brings its haunting late-night tunes to U Street Music Hall on Sunday night. (Photo by Jem Goulding)

Tuesday, Oct. 1
As of Oct. 1, every draft line at all three Pizzeria Paradiso locations -- that's 42 taps in all -- will feature Oktoberfest beers, pumpkin beers, seasonal ciders and harvest ales for two full weeks. (Each bar will have a different draft lineup during Autumn Fest, so check the Paradiso Web site to see whether there's a certain beer you want to try.) Go Tuesday or Wednesday for half-price beers between 5 and 7 p.m. A special autumn pizza features pumpkin pesto and bacon.

Wednesday, Oct. 2
Bourbon is all the rage, and while you may know your Knob Creek from your Pappy Van Winkle, we're willing to bet you don't know as much about Kentucky's favorite spirit as Bill Thomas does. The founder of Bourbon and Jack Rose has assembled (and tasted) one of the finest collections of bourbon and rye on the East Coast. Thomas is leading classes that blend bourbon tasting and history every Wednesday at the Glover Park Bourbon, and this week's topic is "Bourbon 1960-1990: Rise and Fall." You'll learn about how the spirit changed over the years, and more important, you'll get to sample some rare stuff: This week's star attraction is a pour of Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond that was bottled in the early '80s at the old Stizel-Weller Distillery. Tickets are $40, and there are only 20 spots available in each class. E-mail Bourbon manager Jared Hyman (jared.hyman@bourbondc.com) to save your seat.

Thursday, Oct. 3
Surfer Blood's sunny, slightly ramshackle indie-rock songs are the perfect soundtrack for driving to the beach on a sunny day. In the midst of fall, melodic tunes from the new album "Pythons," which take fuzzy cues from Weezer and the Pixies, will transport you to sunnier (and more rockin') climes than the Rock and Roll Hotel.

Antibalas is the root of today's Afrobeat revival, as well as the renewed love affair with throwback soul created with '60s analog recording and arranging techniques. This collective was the house band for "FELA!," a Broadway musical based on the life of Afrobeat creator Fela Kuti, and the supporting musicians for soul singer Sharon Jones, where they were known as the Dap Kings. Antibalas shares the Black Cat stage with D.C. brethren the Funk Ark.

Jimmy Valentine's Lonely Hearts Club is a great neighborhood hangout. Sure, it gets some spillover from nearby H Street NE on weekend nights, but for the most part, it's a place where people who live within walking distance gather for good music and strong drinks. The bar goes above and beyond to be a good neighbor, too: Tonight is its annual fundraiser for after-school programs at the nearby Webb Wheatley Elementary School. Donate $20 and you'll get three drinks from the house from 6 to 9 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 5
Meridian Pint's 2012 Oktoberfest street party, timed to coincide with the nearby Columbia Heights Day, was a blast. Oktoberfest beers from Germany flowed at a beer garden in the middle of 11th Street, while two dozen American beers were on tap inside. A brassy German band performed traditional songs. Restaurant owners and bartenders climbed into a dunk tank for charity. Pups dressed in ballerina outfits and dirndls vied to win the Doggy Costume Contest. Owner John Andrade says he plans to stick with the same formula this year, again coinciding with Columbia Heights Day. But expect more activities for kids, including a moon bounce and face painters, and tables for local vendors.

The area's longest-running beer festival turns the streets of Shirlington into a boozy block party this weekend. Fifty breweries will be pouring four-ounce samples at the Capitol City Brewing Company's Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest while local restaurants feed the masses. Taps open at noon and gates close at 7; Arrive early, before the popular booths start running out of beer. Something to look out for this year: In addition to Oktoberfest Lager, new Cap City brewer Kristi Mathews Griner is introducing two seasonal beers: Smoketoberfest, a smoky German lager, and the pumpkin-flavored Dr. Punkinstein.

For the past three years, Canada's the Weeknd (singer-producer Abel Tesfaye) has been at the center of a strain of music that critics and tastemakers have been falling over themselves to classify in catchy fashion. PBR&B? Hipster soul? Neither of those are very useful to describe a singer with an R&B background crooning about sensitive introspection and the hedonism of the young party scene over indie and electronic soundscapes. After his three buzz-building mixtapes, Tesfaye is now touring on the strength of his official album, "Kiss Land," and gets to fill a big room in the form of Constitution Hall.

Alice Russell is a British export whose fame is finally starting to reach an intensity on par with her gift. A slow burn is the best burn, as this unique vocalist sidestepped the flash-in-the-pan curse for a path of longevity. It has been nearly 10 years since boutique label Tru Thoughts released a compilation of Russell's many remix and collaborative works in the realms of nu jazz and electronica. Since then, her sound has gradually grown to encompass funk-rock, pop and acoustic soul. It's fitting that Russell's return to Washington takes place in the Howard Theatre -- a bigger room able to house a powerhouse voice.

Sunday, Oct. 6
London Grammar is a London-based indie-rock trio that specializes in chilled, stripped-down atmospherics: Hannah Reid's rich, acrobatic soprano soars over minimal instrumentation. The absorbing ballads are quiet, moody and utterly perfect for late-night listening. See the band at U Street Music Hall while you can: London Grammar's debut album, released in early September, has already been tipped for major awards by the British media.

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Stephanie Merry · October 1, 2013

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