Nightlife Agenda

By David Malitz Staff Writer
Thursday, March 30, 2006; 12:01 AM

Thursday, March 30
Drinking in museums is cool. It's a lot classier than drinking in bars, at least. So take the opportunity tonight at the Hirshhorn for its Hirshhorn After Hours program, presented in conjunction with the museum's Hiroshi Sugimoto exhibit. Sugimoto himself will be present to narrate the beginning and epilogue of Kenji Mizoguchi's 1933 silent film, "The Water Magician." There will also be a guided tour of the exhibition at 6:30, and at 6 and 7 p.m. Richard Chartier and Taylor Deupree present "Specification Fifteen," a musical work created specifically for the exhibit. The museum will be open from 5:30 to 8:30; admission, as always, is free, but you'll have to pay for booze. Just don't chug -- you're in a museum, remember.

Friday, March 31
Everyone knows about classic rock. But what about classic electronic? If such a genre existed, the Orb -- Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann -- would likely be the equivalent of Led Zeppelin. The group's early records laid the foundation much of the mellow house music that's the soundtrack to "chill out" rooms at big raves or the background music in swanky lounges. The group's most recent album, "Okie Dokie It's the Orb on Kompakt," marks the duo's debut on influential German ambient-house label Kompakt and is a return to form after a couple of missteps. Enjoy the grooves at the 9:30 club.

Soul crooner Eric Roberson headlines the latest MN8 Productions show at the Black Cat tonight. A natural showman, he often gets tapped with hosting duties for these events, but tonight he'll get to showcase songs from his recent album, "The Appetizer," which will surely have all the ladies in the house swooning. He may have penned hits for Musiq Soulchild and Jill Scott, but he's saved some of his best material for himself.

Lulu's. We loved to poke fun at the nightspot that became synonymous with college functions, bachelorette parties and under-21 events -- perhaps no place was the butt of more Got Plans? jokes. But now that it is closing for good tonight, it's a bit sad. Sure, Lulu's was far from the hippest place in town, but that was sort of the point. How do you know what the "hip" places are unless there are not-so-hip places to balance things out? Lulu's was what it was, which is sort of refreshing as we get more and more places with strict dress codes, guest lists and drink prices entering double digits. Sometimes you just need a place to let loose, and that's what Lulu's offered. There will be a whole lot of letting loose tonight at the club's Closing Party, as a $20 cover gets you an open bar from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. We shudder to think of the debauchery that might occur.

Saturday, April 1
For that brief time in the late '90s when it seemed like electronic music would be the Next Big Thing, Roni Size was one of the artists at the forefront of the scene. His 1997 album, "New Forms," remains a defining drum'n'bass record, sounding as fresh now as it did nearly a decade ago. The mainstream never really caught on, but Size has, as both a producer and DJ. He'll be sharing the decks tonight at the 9:30 club with Brazilian superstar DJ Marky, while MC Armanni Reign -- who has feet in both the hip-hop and d'n'b scenes -- provides vocal accompaniment.

Bands hoping to make a name for themselves could look to local quintet Middle Distance Runner for some tips. The group has made its music readily available -- leaving free CDs at Iota, handing them out after shows at the 9:30 club -- and it seems to be paying off. The group has packed them in at recent gigs and another sellout tonight at Iota wouldn't be much of a surprise. MDR's sound clearly draws on mid-'90s British rock -- think pre-OK Computer Radiohead, Blur, Oasis -- and exudes a confidence and professionalism that many young bands lack. Maybe that's why they are so eager to get their music into people's hands. The Gaskets and the Cinematic Underground open at Iota.

It used to be that you couldn't read this column more than a few weeks without seeing a mention of our favorite drone-psych-folk-pop quintet Nethers. Their name has been absent for almost two months, but it's not because we've grown sick of them -- they've just been all over the country touring in support of their excellent debut album, "In Fields We Will Lie." It took them everywhere from Rock City, S.D., to some choice performances at SXSW, and now the group makes its triumphant return home with a gig at Adams Morgan's D.C. Arts Center.

Sunday, April 2
Fans of gentle, tuneful indie pop will want to head to Arlington tonight, where it will all be about the melodies. Private Eleanor plays hushed songs that bring to mind downers like Elliott Smith and Iron & Wine, but rarely comes off as quite as depressing. Sarah Azzara is a local veteran who has been making sweet, simple pop music for the past five years and just released her latest album, "It Turns Us On." Tonight's show at Galaxy Hut serves as the CD release party. It will likely be a subdued party, but that's fine for a Sunday night.

Monday, April 3
There are people out there -- trust me, I'm friends with them -- who claim that "Fun House," the second album by protopunks the Stooges (Iggy Pop's first band), is the greatest album ever. Hey, Jack White has even said as much on more than one occasion. One of the record's most distinctive features was the blasts of saxophone provided by Steve MacKay, which helped make it more than just a garage rock record, adding to the claustrophic intensity of the music. After a few years with the Stooges in the early '70s, MacKay collaborated with a cross-section of performers, including vintage alt-rockers Violent Femmes, country rocker Commander Cody and raunchy R&B singer Andre Williams. He'll perform with noise madmen the Radon Ensemble tonight at DC9, with improv/psych locals Kohoutek opening.

Wednesday, April 5
If it seems like every "influential" punk/post-punk/indie rock band from a few decades ago has reformed over the past couple of years, it's because that's exactly what has happened. The Pixies started the whole thing, and now everyone from Bauhaus to Gang of Four is getting into the act. One of the more unlikely reunions was that of Dinosaur Jr. last year. Frank Black broke up the Pixies via a fax message, which was pretty rude, but Dinosaur Jr. singer/guitarist smashed bassist Lou Barlow on the head with a guitar, and as a member of Sebadoh, Barlow wrote a song about Mascis called "The Freed Pig." But sold-out shows at $30 a pop have a strange way of healing old wounds, don't they? Not that this is a bad thing, since the the group's three albums before Barlow left remain some of the greatest examples of guitar-driven indie rock mayhem. Locals Dead Meadow open what is sure to be one of the 9:30 club's loudest shows of the year.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company