Thursday, October 26, 2006; 12:00 AM
This is a busy weekend, what with the DAM! Fest -- read's David's preview here and listen to our podcast here -- as well as a slew of Halloween parties. We're not going to list every Halloween event in this column, so we encourage you to check out this list.
Thursday, Oct. 26
MP3 bloggers are a fickle lot. Give them a great track to post and they're your biggest fans. But follow it up with lesser material and the buzz can end before it ever really began. The Cold War Kids became downloader darlings with tracks like "Hang Me Out to Dry" and "We Used to Vacation," but now that there's a full album instead of just a few hot clips, even Pitchfork's started dissing them. Personally, we enjoy Nathan Willett's Jeff-Buckley-like vocals over the band's solid (if predictable) bluesy indie backing, and are curious to see how these O.C. boys mesh with locals the Soft Complex and Baltimore's Oranges Band (officially One of David's Favorite Bands Ever) at DC9 for the first night of the DAM! Fest.
Speaking of DAM! Fest, turntablists will be crowding around the mixers at the Rock and Roll Hotel, where DJ Spooky is presenting a night of his avant-garde electronica, alongside the Gray Kid. And if you're looking for all-girl Japanese punk bands -- and who isn't? -- head to Velvet Lounge for Gito Gito Huster.
Ciara, Rihanna, Cassie. It's often difficult to differentiate between the young hip-pop princesses du jour, but their latest hits can create a stampede towards the dance floor -- especially on college night at Love. Ciara, who's kicking off an interesting trio of concerts at Love this weekend, is the one most likely to make you miss Aaliyah. Tonight you'll probably get your best "Baby Girl" (as Aaliyah was affectionately known) with the Missy Elliott assisted "1, 2 Step."
You may think that mixing happy hour drink specials and sharp objects would be a recipe for disaster. At the Helix Lounge, though, it's a Halloween tradition. The annual pumpkin carving contest always brings out the creative types, and why not? First prize is a weekend at Helix, while the "Spookiest Design" wins $50. Here's how it works: Show up at the lounge's patio to pick out a pumpkin -- this is first come, first served -- and carving tools. The innards are already scooped out, which means you can spend more time working on your design. Work must be finished by 8, with judging beginning shortly afterward. If you're not planning on participating -- or taking the event too seriously -- Helix is extending its half-price burgers-and-beers happy hour until 8 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 27
Washingtonians just can't seem to get enough of Floetry. That's probably because the duo serves up emotional and sexy ballads, sharp hip-hop soul and club tracks that make the ladies raise their drinks and squeal, "Heeey! That's my jam!" The British accents help a lot, too, as the singing/rapping vocalists trade melodic runs and spoken-word couplets. Give them a warm welcome back at Love.
On the surface it seems that the Baltimore-spawned and Philadelphia-based duo Spank Rock has provided hipsters a way to mold hip-hop into their own image. As part of a movement pushed by DJs like Diplo, Spank Rock has helped bring the repetitive, catchy and occasionally profane sounds of Baltimore club music to a wider audience. When removed from its original context, the music's culture is irresistably ironic -- PBR at a hip-hop show? Sure! For everyone who has never read the Fader magazine and can't be concerned with the social ramifications of odd cross-cultural pollination, Spank Rock does some pretty interesting stuff. Sometimes it's cartoonishly gutter, like a new take on 2 Live Crew. Sometimes it's retro-futuristic b-boy stripper music. It crafts recognizable influences into something original, and isn't that what hip-hop is all about? Joining Spank Rock on the Black Cat stage tonight is Monster Maker, the newest project from producer DJ Sharkey that features New York's C-Rayz Walz and Washington's Kokayi pulling lyrical and vocal duty. Head across town afterwards to catch Sharkey spinning at the Rock and Roll Hotel.
Sharkey's appearance on H Street caps one of the more interesting lineups of the DAM! Festival, which includes Travis Morrison (ex-Dismemberment Plan) and dreamy, noisy Brooklyn rockers Longwave. But the show of the night is at the Red and the Black, where female singer-songwriters-to-watch Laura Burhenn and Carol Bui are joined by Decibully, a Milwaukee band whose thundering drums and chattering guitars are nicely augmented by synthesizers and lap-steel guitar. It's worth mentioning that two of the guys used to be in the Promise Ring.
Friday's slow for Halloween events. The biggest prize of the night is Hot 99.5's "Freek-O-Ween" costume contest at Fur, where the grand prize is $1,000. Too bad you'll have to put up with Puffy protégés Danity Kane, the generic all-girl group from "Making the Band 3." Admission is $20 and it's open to all women 18-and-over, while guys have to be 21.
The key to King Britt's career is versatility in a field crowded with specialists. He started out as the DJ for jazz-rap sensations Digable Planets, but now, depending on whom you ask, he's either one of the best remixers or dance music DJs in the business. Like many electronic producers, he's filtered his oeuvre through multiple pseudonyms. His African-tinged dance project was done under the name Obafunke. In the guise of Scuba, he churns out deep house. The Sylk 130 name was responsible for two soul projects, and as King Britt he explores spacey hip-hop and spoken word on the "Adventures in Lo Fi" album. His appearances at Five's Friday night affair usually find him exploring the techno side of things, a style he's been rooted in since his days working with Josh Wink. Come in the right get-up tonight and you might win $500 in Five's Halloween costume contest.
Saturday, Oct. 28
Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year, and since that's a school night, most bars and clubs are having their parties on Saturday. Here's a full list, but our picks would be Bridezilla's Revenge at RNR Lounge, because really, what's more scary?; the Buzzlife team of Scott Henry and John Tab taking over the Woolly Mammoth Theater for an old-school dance party (and a costume contest with $1,000 in prizes); the "Nightmare on M Street" bar crawl, with drink specials at 14 bars downtown; and the annual Monster Bash at the Clarendon Ballroom with live music and DJs.
We weren't sure if Jammin' Java would celebrate a second birthday, let alone five, but the unassuming club -- located in a faceless Vienna strip mall -- marks half a decade in business today. All credit goes to the three Brindley brothers, who took a failing Christian coffeehouse and turned it into one of the top 100 clubs in the world in terms of ticket sales, according to concert industry journal Pollstar. If you haven't been back lately, the 5th Anniversary Party might be the perfect time to stop by and check out the new stage, the stellar sound system, a new bar -- now with liquor! -- and seating options. Performing tonight are a number of local alt-rock bands who regularly perform at the club, including Welbilt, Shane Hines, the Getaway Car, the Echoes and the Brindley Brothers, whose mix of Wilco, the Gin Blossoms and the Replacements is always worth catching.
We'll admit we don't get Lady Sovereign. We know who she is, of course, and Fritz even picked up the 12" of "Cha Ching (Cheque 1, 2)" in London a few years ago. Her mix of hip-hop, garage and a hint of grime can be amusing, as "Hoodie" proved. Her flow can be sharp, but occasionally runs into problems. Her screeching -- especially in that accent -- borders on grating. Her constant references to being 5'1" are annoying. But Jay-Z sees something in her, and he's signed the self-proclaimed "white midget" to Def Jam. If anything, she may have some limited M.I.A.-style success in the hipster market -- get a glimpse tonight at the 9:30 club, where the S-O-Veeeeeee is headlining an early show.
Closing out Love's concert weekend is one of the last names we would throw out if their booking manager asked us to guess their upcoming schedule. Starting in 1991, Cypress Hill dropped a couple of albums that kicked in the door with a loco Latino dimension to West Coast gangsta music. Their rowdy cannabis-fortified style quickly crossed over into Lollapalooza world and they've ridden that wave ever since. Today's krunk-weaned youngsters wouldn't know about that, so we suspect this show might bring out some older heads who remember when "How I Could Just Kill a Man" sparked mosh pits among folks who would never step foot in a punk show.
On the DAM! Tip, it's a hard choice between DC9, where the literate, meticulously crafted indie-pop of Bishop Allen and De Novo Dahl makes for an intriguing doubleheader, and the Red and the Black, which hosts the Eames Era, a quintet bringing its catchy, sing-along twee all the way from Baton Rouge.
When hip-hop first began, "sampling" was limited to taking key drum fills and basslines and looping them endlessly -- see Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express" in "Planet Rock" -- but as computer software and DJ techniques have become more advanced, the building blocks have gotten smaller and the manipulation of them is more sophisticated. Girl Talk's "Night Ripper" is the latest example -- a tour-de-force that deftly blends what seems to be dozens of brief snippets of Biggie, Dr. Dre, the Incredible Bongo Band, Black Sheep, the Waitresses, Lady Sovereign, Mark Morrison and more into the same party jam. It's like an unending version of "Name that Tune." Given all the high-tech wizardry evident on the album -- and the long list of samples used listed in the album credits -- we're really curious to see what's going to happen when Girl Talk takes the stage at the Black Cat as part of the monthly Bliss party.
Monday, Oct. 30
Hometown boy Benjy Ferree has long been a Nightlife Agenda favorite, and now that his quirky, ear-catching folk-rock has landed him a deal with ultra-cool indie label Domino, we're going to have to share our favorite Cafe Saint-Ex bartender with the rest of the world. Before he heads up to the annual CMJ showcase in New York, Ferree is playing a show at the Black Cat with new labelmates the Archie Bronson Outfit, a London band whose heavy, churning take on '60s psych-blues-rock has made its new album "Derdang, Derdang" a staple on Fritz's iPod. Headlining is Apples in Stereo, a chiming, straight-ahead indie-rock band that hasn't released an album in about five years.
Tuesday, Oct. 31
Finally, Halloween rolls around, and it's a bit of a let-down after all Saturday's goings-on. Here's what we like: a scary night of barhopping in Mount Pleasant, complete with shuttle bus and drink specials; Asylum hosts a fractured fairy tales party (the tagline is "What ever happened to Snow White & 'Lil Red Riding Hood after they slaughtered the seven dwarves?") with a $250 prize for best costume; Modern is open with DJ Blk Ceaza for anyone looking to escape the usual Georgetown madness; and the Palace of Wonders' Halloween party offers drink specials for all revelers in costume. But the best part about Halloween at The Palace? The weekly all-female arm wrestling contest goes on as scheduled. There's still a $50 prize for the winner, and it's hosted by sword-swallowing bartender Charon Henning. Wrasslin' starts at 10:30.