Nightlife Agenda

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By Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
washingtonpost.com Staff Writers
Thursday, August 10, 2006; 12:00 AM

Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Tuesday | Wednesday

Thursday, August 10
Philadelphia-based MC Freeway had a promising debut a few years ago, though the all-dealing, all-the-time hustler vibe probably turned off more than a few listeners. Reports that Freeway was working with Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Kanye West, Black Thought, Just Blaze, Mariah Carey and a host of other artists on his forthcoming CD had us curious, but the May release has been pushed back and back. Though Freeway's been keeping busy on mixtapes by the likes of Whoo Kid and Lil' Wayne, there's no longer any hint of an album release date on the Roc-A-Fella Records site. Maybe you can ask Freeway about it tonight at MCCXXIII, where he's performing as part of WKYS DJ Steph Lova's birthday bash. Doors open at 9 and the flyer promises "open bar from 10-11 p.m. during Freeway's performance." Translation: Get there early. An e-mail from eviplist.com is good for half-price admission.

It's well established that Nethers is one of our favorite local acts, and we try to catch them as often as possible. The band makes its debut at the Red & the Black tonight and if you're on the fence about attending, the presence of opening act Blood Feathers should be enough to convince you to be there. The Philadelphia group's sound should serve as a perfect complement to the psychedelic folk of Nethers. Blood Feathers has a more straightahead take on folk-pop, favoring chiming guitars and gentle harmonies on its excellent album "Curse & Praise." The easy highlight, though, is when the group ditches the easy and breezy for the power-pop stomper "Origins," which will give Nethers hit "O the Deed" a run for its money for the title of Best Song of the Night.

Friday, August 11
An interesting all-local bill at the Black Cat brings together the trashy glam rock of Death By Sexy (whom we once compared to Jet), the melodic, synth-driven power-pop of the Dance Party (Fritz just described the band's "Victory Will Break Your Heart" as the bastard child of Superchunk and the Get Up Kids), and local favorites Washington Social Club who, surprisingly, haven't played in the District since January. Tonight's show is the official release party for Death By Sexy's "Big Hit," so get there early, check 'em out and pick up a copy if you like what you hear.

A new monthly mixture of DJs, art installations and late-night dancing, the debut of Mixed Signals at Duke's City has us intrigued. With techno DJs running from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. -- including the Motor City's Detroit Techno Militia -- a lack of dress code and art by Mark Jenkins, this could be a party to watch in the future, and the kind of after-the-clubs-close destination U Street could use. Admission is $10, but you can halve the cover by visiting mixedsignalsdc.com and getting on the list.

Saturday, August 12
Imagine a city where no dance floors throb to Blur, the Stone Roses, the Arcade Fire, Belle and Sebastian, Pulp or the Smiths. Pretty scary, isn't it, indie rock fans? Welcome to Washington, circa 1998. It seems odd now, but before DJ Mark Zimin launched Mousetrap at the now-closed Metro Cafe, Washington didn't have a consistent dance night dedicated to Britpop, indie rock and soul. Mousetrap's steady growth kicked down a lot of club doors for nights like Bliss, Panic, and the Liberation Dance Party, among others, and singlehandedly introduced monthly dance nights to the Black Cat. Tonight, Zimin is marking his night's seventh anniversary at the Black Cat by doing what he does best: Playing music that the crowd wants to dance to. It's not always cutting edge, and playlists are often heavy on chestnuts from the mid-to-late '90s, but we guarantee the floor will be heaving all night long. Doors open at 9:30.

DJ Tom B makes spy music. Sure, he's known for holding down numerous residencies that range from funky house to retro '80s electro to flirtations with techno, but when he sits behind the boards to craft his own projects they could be the score for a new Bond flick. The title track to "Echo Chamber," his new Rhythm & Culture release, dubs out ragga chatting over crisp hip-hop drum hits, plush synth textures and a bassline that could have been borrowed from Sade. It makes you feel like drinking a dry martini while you wait for a mysterious, ethnically ambiguous woman to meet you at an after-hours club in Zurich to deliver an important briefcase. Along with Jimi Wes and Shane Camp, Tom B will be spinning at Gallery tonight to officially kick off the release of the "Echo Chamber" EP. Cover charge varies by gender and proximity to peak hour, so arrive on the early side.

Once the Miss India D.C. Pageant winds down at Lisner Auditorium, the vibe will begin to heat up at the official afterparty at Cloud. DJ Bikram Keith -- a veteran of some of our favorite bhangra and Bollywood parties -- is spinning, all drinks are half-price from 9 to 11 and admission is free when you get on the guestlist. Cloud doesn't have a lot of room for dancing, but the mix of lounge seats and open areas should be just right for post-pageant mixing and mingling.

Fans of quality indie pop performed by bands with absolutely terrible band names should take up residence at Galaxy Hut this weekend. On Saturday night, Burlington, Vt., sextet the Smittens -- not the twee-est name we've ever heard, but close -- bring their catchy, ramshackle tunes to Arlington. The songs bear all the hallmarks of classic indie pop -- simple melodies, multiple singers who can't really sing and silly lyrics that reference pop culture at every opportunity. Used to be that Galaxy Hut had bands like this almost every night, so if you're feeling nostalgic for those days, you know where to be. Locals the Antiques -- the best moody British band from 1986 that's somehow making music in D.C. right now -- headline.

Sunday, August 13
Besting the Smittens when it comes to ridiculous band name is Brent Gorton and the Tender Breasts, who will be at Galaxy Hut on Sunday. Perhaps it's a bit racy by indie pop standards, but the word "tender" is in there, so it's all good. And don't think Gorton has bad intentions; this is a guy who has a song called "Cuddlecore" on his new album. Gorton (we just can't refer to the group as the Breasts) is more likely to indulge in a bit of distorted guitar rocking or lo-fi Mountain Goats-esque wailing then the Smittens, which keeps things from getting too monotonous. Bizarro laptop-and-vocals act Jakuta and Carl are also on the bill.

Tuesday, August 15
Esthero records don't come around often, so when she finally performed in Washington last year an army of fans all exhaled simultaneously. Now she keeps coming back and that's definitely a good thing, as she's since proven that her otherworldly and emotive vocal style isn't the sum of studio trickery. Her sound, that of a smoky lounge chanteuse filtered through a drum machine with just a hint of indie-rawk-grrl, transcends the trip-hop box she was placed in after her 1998 debut "Breath From Another." You can join the sizable (and growing) fanclub at the Birchmere tonight.

Wednesday, August 16
Dre King is the guy who makes local poets, rappers and soul singers look and sound good. He has featured prominently in the development of many of the current crop of young area soul musicians, including the best notes on Bilal Salaam's debut EP. He also is frequently one of the guys splitting the check from a corporate or wedding gig, since his horn, keyboard and arranging skills are in constant demand on the local circuit. King is stepping into the spotlight tonight at Cada Vez to introduce his new solo project to the community at the weekly Soundbridge showcase. Aspiring performers take note, as this is a good place to pass around some CD-Rs.


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