Thursday, June 1, 2006; 12:00 AM
Thursday, June 1
Since it opened its first branch downtown in 1992, the Capital City Brewing Company has been one of the most decorated brewpub operations in the region. Tonight, the location on Capitol Hill, housed in the beautiful 1911 Postal Square building across from Union Station, marks its 10th anniversary with a blowout beer bash. Brewer Pete Velez has crafted two special beers for the party: an Imperial IPA -- that's an extra-fortified India Pale Ale with even more hops than usual -- and a dark German Alt. Both will be available in English cask-conditioned versions on the patio or on tap inside. For $5, you get a commemorative chalice filled with beer, or you can just order pints for the $3 happy hour price. Velez noted in an e-mail that food will be available, and for good reason: that IIPA looks to be about 8.5 percent alcohol.
For a band that has long had a reputation as one of the noisiest in the city, Alcian Blue has made one pretty album. There have always been atmospheric soundscapes under the wall of guitars, but when you trade in a drummer for a keyboard player and drum machine, things mellow out even more. Alcian's self-titled album on Elephant Stone Records sounds less like the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine and more like the lost 4AD from 1989 -- think Cocteau Twins or Dead Can Dance. Opening for Alcian on the backstage at the Black Cat will be labelmates the Situation, a quartet from Philadelphia. If there was ever a band for a label, this is the one: The group sounds a whole lot like the Stone Roses and is on a label named after a classic Stone Roses single. Ah, synergy. The band's song "Best Prescription Pill Available" is slightly out of character, but it's as catchy a harmonica-driven pop tune as you'll hear.
Friday, June 2
It's prom season again, with all those happy memories: dressing up in a billowy gown or polyester tux, posing for photos, dancing to Madonna and O.M.D. Will local charities ever tire of prom-themed fundraisers? Probably not, but as long as folks are willing to dress up like extras from "Pretty in Pink" for a good cause, who are we to complain? Tonight, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is taking over the Rock Creek Mansion in Bethesda for the evening, and the '80s Prom offers dancing, a buffet, a "best dressed" contest to name the king and queen, trivia contests, a silent auction and, unlike your first prom, an open bar. All-inclusive tickets are $75 from www.80sprom.org.
The final chapter in the slightly odd story of the Bonapartes will be written tonight at the Black Cat. Here's the plot so far: Band forms, sounds like Interpol, plays lots of shows around town, builds a somewhat substantial fanbase, secures headlining gig at Black Cat. The logical next steps would seem to be something along the lines of "record and release an album, take the show on the road, see if rock stardom is in the cards." But that won't be the case, as the Bonapartes will be packing it in after tonight. This concert almost didn't happen; when band members announced the breakup last month (in true 21st-century fashion, through a posting on MySpace), they said this gig would not be happening. Logic prevailed -- having the band's biggest and final show on a Friday night ensures a nice turnout -- and fans will get a chance to say "au revoir" to the Bonapartes.
Washington's Opus Akoben has definitely taken the road less traveled. The most adventurous group born out of the legendary Freestyle Union, Opus is a hip-hop band devoted almost entirely to improvisation. The group's lyricists have logged thousands of miles touring with avant-garde jazz musicians like Omar Sosa, Steve Coleman and Andy Milne. As a unit, the band has signed to a major label in France and charted internationally, but Opus is known to only a handful of fans in the U.S. As you might expect, Opus can be very cerebral, with unpredictable meter changes and freestyles that are complex in content and rhythm, but the group also delivers blue-collar boom-bap hip-hop with authority. The band recently toured the Middle East as cultural ambassadors for the State Department, and will be engaging in a question and answer session about the experience after their performance tonight at Sangha in Takoma Park.
Last weekend, legions of black-clad bikers rode their rumbling choppers into town for Rolling Thunder. This weekend's D.C. Scooter Rally won't have the same pavement-shaking volume, so the Vespa-loving crowds will have to rely on DJs. Tonight at Cue Bar, the official welcome party -- Beat D.C. -- features Operator Twice, Crispy James and Amanda Otto spinning Northern soul, mod classics (hopefully closer to the Jam than Blur), vintage rocksteady and other cool beats. Black and white attire is optional; looking good is not. The music begins at 10.
Saturday, June 3
Like many of you, the three of us could stand to learn more about Virginia wines. (For what it's worth, Fritz has enjoyed stopping at Veritas Vineyards in the past.) This weekend's Vintage Virginia Wine Festival seems to be the perfect opportunity to explore new vintners -- 58 wineries from across the state will be pouring samples at Bull Run Park. The problem? It's in Bull Run Park, so attending would involve driving, which would either limit the amount of wine we could taste or mean we'd have to bribe a designated driver. (And convincing someone to drive out to Manassas would require a pretty hefty bribe.) Thankfully, promoters Party DC have stepped forward to organize an all-inclusive bus trip from Ballston to Bull Run and back. You get round-trip transportation from the Front Page and tickets for the festival, so you can sample all the chardonnays and cabernets and enjoy live music by the Hackensaw Boys and Scythian without worrying about how you're getting home. Party DC has also reserved a private tent at the festival if you need a place to rest your feet. Purchase your round-trip tickets ($39.99) from PartyDC.com, and be at the Front Page by 11:30 for departure. There's an afterparty with specials when the bus returns around 7.
We've enjoyed Chris Richards' work in local post-punk band Q and Not U and his scaled-down solo work as Ris Paul Ric, so what're the odds we'll check out Ris Richards' DJ debut at Electrotease tonight? Ritty rood, Raggy. (We've been making those "Scooby Doo" jokes in the office all week.) The man of many monikers will be spinning '80s-tinged electro, funk and dance records alongside regulars Ca$$idy and the People's Champion at DC9, and if you need any encouragement to get there early, the club is offering free admission and two-for-one drinks from 9 to 10; it's $10 to get in afterwards.
It's not often that Washington's brightest soul stars get a chance to take over a big room if they're not warming up for a well-known national act. Take note, then, of the all-D.C. affair with Deborah Bond and Bilal Salaam at the Black Cat tonight. Salaam often gets mistaken for the eccentric Philadelphia singer with the same first name, but that's before a note of his music is heard. Where the Philly Bilal often walks a tightrope act between daring and off-putting, Bilal Salaam's vocals and songwriting infuse smoothness with accessible quirkiness. Bond and her band Third Logic have polished the gems from her debut album "Day After" to a lustrous sheen, but they've been cranking away on new material that they're psyched to work out live. Their Chaka Kahn and Jamiroquai covers are also fan favorites.
Sunday, June 4
The Canadians keep cranking 'em out, that's for sure. But the volume of bands coming out of our neighbor to the north can be a bit deceptive, because many of them share lots of members. That's the case with the Pink Mountaintops, whose main songwriter, Stephen McBean, is also the driving force behind Black Mountain. The group hails from Vancouver, so don't bunch them in with the Montreal scene (Arcade Fire, Stars, and the like). Things are always a bit weirder out west, and the Mountaintops are sort of a midway point between Spacemen 3's drone-rock and Smog's stark indie-folk. Catch the band at the Warehouse Next Door and get there early for a solo acoustic set from local singer-songwriter Benjy Ferree.
Tuesday, June 6
So, you may have noticed that today's date is 6/6/06. Besides the opening of "The Omen," there are a couple of other events around town promising a devilishly good time: Galaxy Hut is inviting everyone to bring an iPod loaded with heavy metal to the bar, where anyone can select the music for 15 minutes. (Slayer, Ozzy and Helloween are preferred, Stryper is not. Judas Priest is a tossup.) Over at Asylum, they've been looking for an excuse for another bout of Jell-O wresting, and here it is: the She-Devil Smackdown, where eight contestants will grapple in (blood-red) vegan gelatin for the chance to win $666 in prizes. Advance registration is required, so call the bar for more information.
Wednesday, June 7
The annual Capital Pride festival runs from June 2 to June 11, and while the "official" opening party and parade aren't until next weekend, Mr. and Mrs. Capital Pride will be crowned tonight at the Capital Pride Pageant at Apex. It's always a great time with participants doing just about everything to impress the crowd and the judges, so this isn't a night for the prudish. DJs spin intermittently throughout the night. There's a $10 cover charge, and the show starts at 9, so arrive earlier for a good view.
Thursday, June 8
Make all the jokes you want about lawyers being cold and soulless and remorseless ambulance chasers -- just don't tell them at Clyde's of Gallery Place tonight. It's time for the Lawyer's Night Out, an evening that benefits a number of worthy charities under the auspices of the Give a Little Campaign, which was founded by law firm associates. Here's how it works: At the door, you donate $25 (or more), which you can direct to the American Red Cross, CARE, Doctors Without Borders or the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative. You get tickets for two drinks, complimentary hors d'oeuvres and door-prize tickets. Doors open at 6:30 and the event runs until 9. While it's co-sponsored by dating Web site LawyersInLove.com, you don't have to be a lawyer to participate, and we won't tell if you don't. RSVPs are suggested; Visit www.givealittle2006.org.