Thursday, September 28, 2006; 12:00 AM
Thursday, Sept. 28
If there's a woman in this town who knows gritty, garagey '60s funk and soul better than Michelle Mae, we'd love to meet her. Michelle Mae has spent more than a decade on the Washington scene with the Make-Up and Weird War, laying down taut, heavy basslines and spreading the retro Gospel Yeah-Yeah sound far and wide. As a special guest of the Modernist Society at Saint-Ex tonight, Michelle is bringing record boxes crammed with selections from the "James Brown/George Clinton/Meters funky school of thought" for your dancing pleasure. The music starts at 10, and there's no cover.
Ras Kass's career resembles that of a streetball legend who suffered career-ending injuries before ever getting a chance to shine in the NBA. The L.A.-based rapper flared brightly, then sputtered as label politics hamstrung his full-length releases and personal failures kept him two-stepping with the legal system. Ras Kass created tidal waves in the early '90s indie hip-hop scene, coming out of the gangstered-up West Coast with a super literate and complex style. The only thing he really shared with the G's was a seething anger, most notably immortalized in "Nature of the Threat", a dense screed from his 1996 "Soul on Ice" album that plays out like a damning take on Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs & Steel." His career derailed after he was arrested for DUI and then became a fugitive, and once in jail, he sued his record company. Ras Kass still pops up on singles and mixtapes with rhymes that sound like he never missed a step, but then he promptly falls off the radar again. Courtesy of Scion, the current corporate patron saint of hipness, you can catch this brilliant but bad-luck-plagued MC at Bohemian Caverns tonight for free.
Local Honey is one of a growing number of bands playing country-influenced music that appeals to the people who don't usually go for twangier stuff. That's not too surprising when you count Dolly Parton and PJ Harvey among your biggest influences, as is the case with this Pittsburgh-based group. Local Honey would actually fit in quite well with the Gypsy Eyes Records crowd -- the likes of Shortstack, Revival and singer-songwriter John Bustine, who happens to be opening this show. The group's songs are rarely sleepy and singer Becky Corrigan's voice walks that fine line between classic country wail and breathier indie crooning. Pagoda rounds out the excellent bill at the Warehouse Next Door.
Friday, Sept. 29
Rollie Fingers. Tom Selleck. Friedrich Nietzsche. Salvador Dali. Freddie Mercury. Teddy Roosevelt. What do these great men have in common? Mustaches. Bushy, waxy, attention-getting mustaches. We'd wager Magnum P.I. would do pretty well for himself at McFadden's tonight, where the Mustachio Bashio party is celebrating facial hair while raising money for charity. (Tom would certainly be a shoo-in for the "Sexy Stache" contest, but since he won't be in attendance, the field is wide open for the rest of us.) Organizers are making it worth everyone's while to sport a mustache, fake or not -- it's $5 if you've got something on your lip, $10 if you don't. Once inside, specials include $2 Budweiser bottles, $5 Bud Light pitchers and $5 pint-sized Captain Morgan drinks. Proceeds go to Locks of Love, a charity that provides hairpieces for children and teenagers who've lost their hair during chemotherapy and other medical treatments.
Saturday, Sept. 30
Hip-hop started out as party music with the rapper serving as facilitator in assistance to the DJ. Rakim is the defining figure in the evolution of the rapper from a mere master of ceremony to a full-blown lyricist. His precise and quietly menacing flow shifts focus from the concrete to the abstract, although his metaphors don't veer too far from the ethos of self-praise. Rakim also brings a gift of cinematic imagery to storytelling, whether it's scheming for financial gain on "Paid In Full" or telling a tale of seduction on "Mahogany." He's simply the shared forebear of every MC who has pushed the poetic possibilities of hip-hop music over the past two decades. As is the case with many masters who hyperspecialize in writing, Rakim's infrequent live performances have oft been cited as uneven. His body of work is so groundbreaking that you could almost pardon him if he just wanted to stand in the middle of the stage and rap over his own hits. As extra insurance against that possibility, Rakim is paired with DJ Kid Capri at the 9:30 Club tonight. Where Rakim's former partner Eric B. was a studio specialist, Kid Capri is one of the best crowd motivators to ever touch two turntables.
*$!#*@ -- the Goons are breaking up! That's really the only reaction we have about the D.C. punk band's "last ever show" tonight at the Black Cat. Influenced by the Descendants, the Subhumans and the Circle Jerks, the Goons wrote roaring, straightahead hardcore songs about hating the government, hating your job, hating credit cards, hating ... well, just about anything they could get up the venom for, with Serge's distinctive wailing vocals cutting above the noise. The Goons's three albums were loud, fast, and didn't shy away from telling you exactly what they were feeling. Opening is a another D.C. punk band we'd like to tell you about but can't, because its name is a rude word never spoken in polite company. But Band X has a new single out, which will be for sale.
With their preference for late hours and distaste for the standard nightlife trappings of overpriced booze and manufactured exclusivity, serious house heads often hide out in the overlooked corners of the scene where they can dance until 5 a.m. in sneakers and track pants. It wasn't always like this when party culture embraced a broader spectrum of dance music, from hip-hop and soul to reggae and house. Check out another installment of Rebirth at Mirrors tonight, and you might be able to engage in a bit of reintegration of your dance floor experience. You can get your mainstream urban sounds in the main room or head up to the Mocha Lounge as DJ Oji, DJ Curtis Lee and DJ Divine throw down the house tracks.
Gallery has come out of nowhere over the past few months to become the key venue for house music in the Washington area. There are venues that are bigger, or more underground, or what have you, but not one is bringing in DJs that can touch the lineups at Gallery. Sneak? Derrick Carter? Roy Davis Jr.? This Silver Spring restaurant and club is now the home of house. Tonight, it's yet another special treat: Todd Terry. One of the pillars of the New York scene, Todd the God is best known for his remix of Everything But the Girl's "Missing," which would be enough of a reason to see him, but his disco-meets-electro sound has touched the Jungle Brothers ("I'll House You"), Spiller ("Groovejet [If This Ain't Love]"), and dozens of other club hits. You don't want to miss this. Hit omnipresentdc.com for guestlist action, which means free admission until midnight. (Ladies get free drinks from 10 to 11.)
Monday, Oct. 2
The best movie theater in Washington? For fans of punk and indie rock documentaries, it's clearly the Black Cat backstage, at least this fall. After last week's screening of a crucial Bad Brains show from 1982 (and with a double screening of live shows by the Stooges and Dead Boys on tap next week), the club presents "Shield Around the K: The Story of K Records" tonight. The Olympia, Wash.-based label can be thought of as sort of the Dischord of the West Coast, maintaining a strict DIY ethic over its more than 20 years of existence. Bands on the label have generally been quieter and goofier than the jagged punk Dischord made its name on; twee-pop trio Beat Happening, featuring label founder Calvin Johnson, served as K's flagship band, and rare live footage of the group will be featured in the documentary, along with performances by Mecca Normal, Fugazi and others. Proceeds from the screening benefit All Our Power.
Tuesday, Oct. 3
David simply couldn't let a Washington appearance by one of his very favorite bands go by without mentioning it. Baltimore's the Oranges Band, opening for the French Kicks at the Black Cat, plays some of the catchiest music you'll hear, but it's not your garden variety power pop with a few big chords and multi-part harmonies. But it's not so complex that you won't find yourself tapping your toes, nodding your head, or maybe even both. At least that's what happens whenever David sees them, and that's about the most physical activity he can handle.
Wednesday, Oct. 4
None of us are vegetarian, but we're looking forward to trying the special meatless sliders tonight at Vegetate. Hang out in the second-floor lounge on Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. and not only can you sample these curious menu items for a buck a piece, but accompanying your hump day noshing is DJ Dave Nada, a favored Nightlife Agenda jock with an ear for making popular and obscure records play nicely together.