Wednesday, February 21, 2007; 7:00 PM
Thursday, February 22
Washington has had good results when the city's notable DJs cross over into different ventures. As is the case with DJ Dredd's Vegetate, it seems to work out best when the proprietor's musical sensibilities are infused in the DNA of the business. Major, the new streetwear and sneaker emporium in Georgetown, has a similar story. One of the partners behind the store is DJ Underdog, a staple of the underground hip-hop scene who has grown into a versatile party rocker. He's also a relentless sneaker junkie, and in the last couple of years he's turned some of his events into gallery showings by bringing in his collection for display. Underdog will be on the decks for the Double Up Party at Jin tonight, a joint venture between Major and the buzzed-about Dopeville Clothing.
Okay, we posted about this event and got such a big response that we're doing it again: This Thursday at Wonderland, Evil Disco, the most headbangingest DJ night in Washington, is featuring another Guitar Hero tournament from 7 to 9. Guitar Hero, for you poor souls who've never played the best interactive video game ever, requires you to jam along to songs like Motley Crue's "Shout at the Devil" and Megadeth's "Hanger 18" on a miniature plastic guitar. At the end of the solo, you're rated on how well you did. Evil Disco has a crowd that's up for shredding on a PlayStation on stage, so get there early to play, and then stick around for a night of Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, Danzig and other metal madness. There's no cover.
Friday, February 23
When you're hot, you're hot. Misfortune morphs into opportunity, and seemingly nothing can stop momentum. And Middle Distance Runner, like the paper plane on its album cover, is on fire. A recent trip up to New York saw the local alt-rock quintet become yet another victim of gear theft, and on top of that more than half of the band's members came down with food poisoning. These incidents barely qualified as bumps in the road, though. The band returned home to play a gig on the Black Cat's mainstage and there was an outpouring of support, including donations of money and instruments and maybe even Pepto-Bismol. Middle Distance Runner certainly impressed some of the right folks, as now the group will be headlining a show at the 9:30 club -- no small feat for a band that self-released its debut album back in May. It's been a quick rise for MDR, which has won over fans with a combination of catchy songs, entertaining live performances and straight up willpower. "Naturally" has that indie-rock shuffle the blogosphere can't get enough of, "That's a Lie" is a soaring, sure-let's-call-it-emo rocker and "Man of the People" shows some garage rock stomp. The constant smiles the band members have while on stage are often mirrored by the audience members, many of whom probably became acquainted with MDR through those ubiquitous free sampler CDs the band regularly hawks at 9:30 and Black Cat shows or leaves in handmade pouches in bars and clubs around town. Fellow locals the Dance Party open the late show, with doors at 10 p.m.
The first (and only) time David saw Akron/Family was Dec. 8, 2005. Why does he remember the specific date for a random concert? Because -- and sorry to get all Zach Braff on you -- more than any other show over the past few years, that one changed his life the most. Here's why: It wasn't necessarily the best show I've seen during that stretch, although it certainly was great. It was more the circumstances surrounding it. It was a Thursday night, the forecast was calling for snow, it was a band I was into, but not all that much. Still, I felt some pull to go see this show, to support a good band that I hadn't seen before on a night when there clearly wasn't going to be much of a crowd. So I went to Iota and was rewarded with one of the most unique performances I've ever seen. The band certainly didn't care that there were maybe 30 people in attendance. It went about its business as it normally would, playing a two-hour-plus set that veered all over the map from instrument-free four-part singalongs in the middle of the audience to psychedelic noise freakouts that extended past the 10-minute mark. The band's album didn't prepare me for that second half of that equation. I was expecting mostly gentle, back-porch folk with some experimental undertones, not the second coming of Blue Cheer. It was an awesome show and it served as inspiration to check out more unknown, somewhat obscure bands on a regular basis, because you never know when you'll have your mind blown. Tonight the Family has a much more high-profile show at the Rock and Roll Hotel. Opener Kitty Hawk flies under the radar in the Federal Reserve collective, but it might just be the best of the batch, with fragile indie-folk songs that exude that most intangible of musical qualities -- honesty. Deleted Scenes rounds out the bill.
Penn 12 is the city's newest lesbian nightspot, though it's opening some nights to gay men as well. Tonight's first edition of the Petticoat Posse features a mélange of performers -- drag queens, drag kings, burlesque dancers, singers -- which includes Beau Donka Donk Bottoms of the D.C. Gurly Show troupe and Ophelia Bottoms, D.C.'s reigning Miss Gaye USA. It's free, and doors open at 8.
Saturday, February 24
Si*Se is the band that can bring together World Bank employees, hippies, hipsters and music heads who are always looking for their next fix. Although the ranks are growing, the acts who can successfully mash together more than five ethnic musical traditions in one album are still few, and Si*Se shines brightly. Opening tonight's gumbo of world grooves at the Black Cat is the newest entry to the world of musical-stars-turned-DJ, as Stuart Matthewman has now taken to the decks as DJ Cottonbelly. We haven't heard him yet, so we can't tell you if his club selections match the bedroom fervor inspired by his work with Sade and Sweetback.
Tuesday was all about New Orleans-style partying to mark Fat Tuesday. Tonight at Love, it's the Brazilians' turn. Carnaval is one of the world's biggest parties, with samba schools and fantastically costumed dancers marching through the streets of Rio to unstoppable beats. It might not be that big at Love, but Carnafolia 2007 should be a great time: Samba dancers, DJ Luis from Sao Paolo spinning alongside DJ Paulinho's set of axe, pagode and Carnaval classics, and Brazilian drink specials that include $5 Brahma beers and $6 guarana cocktails. (It's such an authentic party that the club is advertising that door staff will accept Brazilian passports and IDs.) Admission is free until midnight with passes from dcgroove.com.
Here's one for the good news/bad news department: Tonight, the Young Benefactors of the Smithsonian are bringing some of Montreal's hottest house and techno DJs to the S. Dillon Ripley Center for Montreal Underground. Pheek creates some stunningly good minimalist techno -- lots of cool bleeps and blips over deep bass grooves, while Mossa plays similar, if grittier, electro-house. Featured DJ Vincent Lemieux is one of the founders of Mutek, an annual festival that looks to cutting edge music and art. So which of Washington's excellent, eclectic DJs will be featured along with these three trendsetters? Some of the underground Buzzlife DJs? Residents from Five? Nope: DJ Menan of Music 1 DC. Never heard of Music 1? For shame. From its bio, "For more than 10 years Music 1 DC has been making brides and grooms dreams come true." Now, not that we're knocking the Smithsonian too hard here, as DJ Menan has played the group's formal galas before, but you're matching up some amazing talent with a wedding DJ? Seriously, we're not down on this event at all: Go check out some great tunes, enjoy a cocktail or two from the open bar, and make sure you explore the "Clash of Empires" exhibit about the French and Indian War. It'd just be nice if some homegrown techno/house talent could find some new ears, too.
Yeah, nightlife should be about more than going out and playing video games (see Thursday's Guitar Hero shootout), because, well, you can stay in with your boys and do that any night, right? Sometimes, though, things sound so rad that we need to tell you about them. Tenleytown's Fantom Comics, best known as a place to stop in for graphic novels, is now hosting midnight video game parties on Saturday night with snacks and drinks. There will be different games and systems every week on the shop's 42-inch plasma TV, and tonight's vintage selection is Street Fighter, and the game (and its sequels) are going to be played on multiple platforms. There are prizes for high scores and competition winners, but as David was always the guy who got his spine ripped out and Fritz always had trouble beating that shapeshifting Twelve guy in Street Fighter III: Third Strike, so we probably won't be among them. But maybe you will.
Sunday, February 25
It's Oscar night, and while all the real action is in L.A., two neighboring Adams Morgan bars want to bring the glitz and glamour to 18th Street, complete with velvet ropes. Felix's annual party has the awards (with sound) on seven flatscreen TVs, discounted drinks and a special $25 three-course menu. As always, there are cocktails named after the nominees; "Borat's Blast" (grape vodka, ginger, pear puree and honey) and the "Little Miss Sunshine" (vodka, berry liqueur and lemon topped with champagne) sound like the best bets. Bring a can of food for the Capital Area Food Bank and you'll get a free beverage; dress like a movie star and you could win $100 in the look-alike contest. The Awards Viewing Party at Leftbank, meanwhile, starts with an open bar from 6 to 7, has all the action on two six-foot projection screens and Tiffany gift certificates for guessing the most Oscar winners correctly. There's also a cash prize for the most glamorous male and female outfits. RSVP now at oscarnightdc.com.
Five departs from its electronic dance music agenda tonight for one of its occasional forays into the go-go world. Headlining is the UnCalled 4 Experience, one of those bands that hit the go-go scene with the raw intensity favored by the youngsters and has since added slicker R&B elements with engaging results. Last year, the hit "Sexy Lady" blew up radio waves that often can't be bothered by local talent. Joining them is Wale, another rising star who wears D.C. like a badge of honor and fuses hip-hop and go-go better than anyone else who has tried it.
Wednesday, February 28
If you like effects pedals and heady-yet-catchy psych-rock then the Warehouse Next Door is the place to be tonight. Longtime Nightlife Agenda faves (the Sounds of) Kaleidoscope headline tonight's show, and if you haven't seen that name around these parts as much lately, it's only because we've taken it to assume that you don't need us to tell you to go see them at this point. It's still strange that the band hasn't been able to make more of a name for itself nationally; perhaps it's because there's not much of a heavy psych-rock scene in D.C. to bring attention to the band. Maybe if the quartet was situated just a bit further up I-95, closer to similar acts such as the Lilys, Blood Feathers, (the recently defunct) Mazarin and tonight's opener, Relay, things would be different. Relay, like (the Sounds of) Kaleidoscope, specializes in head-spinning pop tunes heavy on the layers. Most of the songs on the band's recent "Still Point of Turning" would have fit right in on K'Scope's latest, so this bill scores big points for synergy.