Thursday, December 28, 2006; 12:00 AM
Thursday, Dec. 28
The Red and the Black hosts an excellent triple bill of power pop/garage rock that will help shake you out of the post-holiday doldrums. Locals Yell County plays songs that are tight, fast and loud, a trio of descriptors that tend to work well together. Punk and post-punk torchbearers the Buzzcocks and Husker Du are obvious reference points, but if you strain just a little you can hear a bit of vintage Green Day in there as well. And that's a good thing. Baltimore's Sick Sick Birds have many of the same influences but have a bit more of the Spirt of '77 in them, infusing their songs with some snarling vocals and a more straight-ahead punk feel. The Electricutions round out the show.
Unfortunately for all of those bands, perhaps the best garage back in the land is playing across town at the Black Cat. Listening to a Black Lips record, you'd swear that you were listening to some long-lost and overlooked '60s garage rock band. The production values are decidedly retro -- everything's fuzzy and it seems like the levels clip pretty regularly. The band can do two-minute thrashers like "Can't Dance" as well as hip-shaking numbers such as "Boomerang" and power pop nuggets like "Not a Problem." The band's live shows are always pretty exuberant affairs -- the quartet easily upstaged Be Your Own Pet back in October -- and the intimate backstage should make for an even better time. After all, perfect sound isn't something the Black Lips need to succeed.
Friday, Dec. 29
When bands from D.C. list their influences, the same few names usually get tossed around: Fugazi, Unrest, Minor Threat, Rare Essence, Bad Brains, Velocity Girl, Rites of Spring, Trouble Funk, Dismemberment Plan. One band who never seems to receive enough love is the Slickee Boys, though their influence looms large in American popular music. The Slickees' career began more than 30 years ago, and the band's first record, "Hot and Cool," is considered one of the first new wave records released in America. Over the next 14 years, the band became a staple on the Washington club scene. Tunes like "Jailbait Janet" and "This Party Sucks" meld roaring guitars with shout-along choruses; "Girls Want To Be With Girls" rides a funky organ line and garage-rock chords; and the fizzing surf riff of "When I Go to the Beach" got the Slickees onto MTV in the early '80s. The Slickee Boys broke up in December 1990, shortly after being inducted into the Washington Area Music Association's Hall of Fame. They still gather once a year for a reunion show, though, and you'd never guess that they've taken so much time off. Don't believe us? Head to Iota tonight, where the Slickee Boys perform with Switchblade -- another local band that gets short shrift in the history books.
A few years ago, Rhome and Fritz were fans of a night called Lemur Lounge at Casablanca in Old Town Alexandria. A cozy spot with good food, a relaxed vibe, comfy couches and a good-sized dance floor, it managed to bring in some of the best house DJs in the area, though it was well off the beaten path -- except for the heads who knew. The Lemurs stopped doing weekly parties at Casablanca back in 2004, but some local promoters still throw occasional events there. Tonight there's Festivus, a low-key pre-New Year's Eve party with DJs Aaron Lee (a Lemur Lounge vet), Keenan (ditto), Joe L. and Dimitri. Expect tons of funky breaks to get you up and moving. No cover, no dress code -- just an end-of-the-holidays party.
The members of local bloggers-cum-DJs collective Bluestate celebrate their second anniversary tonight at the Black Cat, but it's a bittersweet birthday: The four DJs are going their separate ways after one last no-cover party. Say farewell, then hit the dancefloor for a night of Britpop, indie rock, Swedepop, remixes and '80s classics. Doors are at 10. (Full disclosure: Fritz has been a guest DJ at one of their previous events.)
Saturday, Dec. 30
Regular readers of the column have seen us mention the Federal Reserve on plenty of occasions this year, and there's no better chance to get acquainted with its many members than at Iota tonight. Seven of the stables acts are scheduled to perform, which can make for a jam-packed evening. Who should you look out for? Singer-songwriter Rose is the only girl in this boys club, but she's certainly not a token inclusion. Her self-assured, not-strictly-conventional songs and sweet voice bring to mind '80s college rock faves such as the Sundays and Edie Brickell. Revival's full-length debut, "Horses of War," will be released shortly on Gypsy Eyes Records and while the songs can sometimes fall on the over-dramatic side of the alt-country spectrum, it's still an accomplished debut. Revival looks to be the evening's headliner on a night that is also scheduled to include performances from Let's French, Vandaveer, These United States, Kitty Hawk and Mikal Evans. And lots of guest spots during each other's sets, we'd guess.
The end of the year is a great time for D.C. music geeks. Besides the annual Slickee Boys reunion (see Friday listing), there are always other groups getting back together for a holiday show or two. Tonight, for example, the Rosslyn Mountain Boys are performing with the Nighthawks at the State Theatre. The Rosslyn Mountain Boys formed in the mid-'70s, playing country-rock in the style of Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers and the outlaw country sound so popular that decade. The group's self-titled 1977 debut promised much, but after a series of concerts with Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty and Buck Owens, they broke up. The original lineup is now back together, though, and performing a few times a year. Local country music fans won't want to miss this one, and having the wonderfully greasy blues and harmonica-driven R&B of the Nighthawks on the bill is just icing on the cake.
Sunday, Dec. 31
Okay, it's New Year's Eve. We really don't care for this particular holiday -- so much so that Fritz was called a New Year's Grinch on WAMU radio a few years ago. Why? Long lines, endless hype, overpriced tickets (are you REALLY going to drink $100 worth of open-bar liquor?) and crowds of rowdy drunks who've decided to try and get their money's worth from the open bar. So we'll tell you what: Here is a list of all the free events going on around town. Some offer DJs and drink specials. Others, like Buffalo Billiards, Cafe Saint-Ex and Galaxy Hut, will be open as usual. If you still want to go to a black-tie affair, your options are dwindling: A number of the big parties are sold out, like the Things to Do Soiree at the Wardman Park Marriott and the Big Night DC bash with Gonzo's Nose and JunkFood at the Wyndham Washington. Again, check our huge list of parties for ideas in all price ranges and dress code options.
Monday, Jan. 1
Shake off that hangover, because it's college bowl time. Yes, we know most people really care about their school's game and possibly a couple of the bigger BCS matchups. (We have a blog post on that subject here.) Our picks for the best places for neutral fans, taking into account the number of flat-screen televisions, good service and game-day atmosphere: Mister Days, Crystal City Sports Pub, Willie and Reed's, Cleveland Park Bar and Grill, the Pour House, Uptown Tavern, Rhino Bar and Caddies. Opening times vary because today is a Monday, so call before heading out.
At 12:01 a.m. on January 2, 2007, it becomes illegal to smoke inside any bar, club or restaurant in Washington. The employees of the Black Cat have been vocal opponents of the smoking ban from the start -- when owner Dante Ferrando asked them at a staff meeting earlier this year if they'd like to ban cigarettes before the government forced them to, Ferrando says, they voted 30-1 to let the smoke stay. With the ban looming, the Cat is hosting one last "Smoke Night" in the club's Red Room, where everyone's invited to come in, puff away and commiserate before all the ashtrays disappear for the last time.