By Fritz Hahn and David Malitz
washingtonpost.com Staff Writers
Thursday, March 1, 2007 12:01 AM
Thursday, March 1
Last-chance reminder: If you want to participate in Saturday's Idiotarod -- an annual sled-dog-inspired race around Washington, only with purloined shopping carts instead of sleds and teams of bar-crawling friends standing in for the huskies -- you have until 11:59 p.m. tonight to register on the official Idiotarod Web site. For those who need a recap: A team of six people hauls a shopping cart between various bars on Saturday afternoon, beginning at the Front Page at 2:30. You'll stop in at checkpoints along the way and wind up at an afterparty much, much later. All proceeds from registration go to the Arlington Food Assistance Center, which provides groceries to needy families. Good luck, and race hard.
For some of us, Independence Day is marked with parades, fireworks and parties on July 4. Then there are the folks from Texas, who celebrate twice a year: once in July and once on March 2, the date that the fledgling Republic of Texas seceded from Mexico and declared itself an independent nation. Of course, you can't let such an important holiday go by with a party, so the D.C. Texas Exes, an alumni group from the University of Texas, holds an annual party in Washington. This year's fiesta is at the Hotel Palomar and features local cover band Gonzo's Nose, who never fails to get people dancing to a mix of '80s and Top 40. There's a large silent auction, too, and $3 bottles of Shiner all night. Tickets are $20 until noon today or $25 at the door, and proceeds go toward a scholarship fund for local high school students.
DJ Dave Nada seems to be everywhere these days, dropping his lethal mix of Daft Punk, Baltimore club, electro, indie-rock remixes and hip-hop classics on Wednesdays at Vegetate, random weekends at Wonderland, house parties, underwear parties at Rock and Roll Hotel and the all-star Collector's Edition at Felix. His latest project is a group called Rubber Bullets with ex-Q and Not U singer Ris Richards, and the duo is also launching a monthly dance party at DC9 called Crowd Control. (Whew.) Tonight's inaugural edition includes a live performance by local MC Wale, whose mix of hip-hop rhymes and go-go beats has made him a huge favorite at Nightlife Agenda HQ, and a special set by New York-based Nick Catchdubs, whom we admire for the tight podcasts he creates for each issue of Fader Magazine. It's $6. You want to be there.
Friday, March 2
Disco City's premier at the Rock and Roll Hotel last month was a crowded, sweaty affair, so we're more than happy to send everyone back again for more of the same. DJ Chris Burns rocked the second floor lounge with a mix of Paradise Garage-style grooves, liquid funk and disco --- plenty of Frankie Knuckles, Tony Humphries and Larry Levan remixes for everyone. The bass will have your head nodding and your butt on the dance floor in no time. Disco City's free and starts at 10; get there early if you want a seat or a place to stash ya coat.
We're having some internal debate as to which is a worse fate to befall an up-and-coming band: having all of its equipment stolen or having to change its name. Forced to choose, we're leaning toward the stolen equipment. That's a lot of money down the drain, many instruments/amps are irreplaceable and it's a rip-your-heart-out moment. One day it's all there, and the next day it's all gone. At least the months of legal hassles leading up to a name change prepare you for the inevitable. Still, it's got to be a major bummer, and Roofwalkers -- formerly Pagoda -- is the latest band to experience that bummer. It's got to be especially disappointing because one of the main people on the other side of the legal battle is Thurston Moore, who more than anyone else in the music world has always looked out for the little man, but now he's got to look out for his own interest. And that interest is a New York band called Pagoda, signed to Moore's Ecstatic Peace record label, fronted by Michael Pitt. Pitt played "Kurt Cobain" in the Gus Van Sant movie "Last Days" and apparently thinks he is Kurt Cobain, at least based on the grungey sounds found on his band's really boring debut album. (Pitt's songs are waaaay more Silverchair than Nirvana.) In any case, it's time to start anew for Roofwalkers, and tonight's show at the Warehouse Next Door is the first under its new moniker. A new name doesn't necessarily mean a new sound -- the group is still your best bet in the area for getting that soothing, Yo La Tengo/Galaxie 500 indie rock fix -- and Roofwalkers shares a bill with Philadelphia singer-songwriter Adam Arcuragi, one of the top exports from the City of Brotherly Love. Hopefully he'll have his singing saw with him for this gig.
The Thermals basically do one thing, but man do they do it well. Over three albums for Sub Pop records, the Portland, Ore., group has emerged as one of the best bands around when it comes to bashing out energetic, three-minute indie-punk anthems. Early records were defined by a lo-fi hiss that resulted in the Thermals being one of those rare acts that actually sounded more polished in a live setting than on CD. The fidelity on last year's "The Body The Blood The Machine" was of much higher quality, which means it simply matches the songwriting. It's a concept album that probably won't go over too well in some red states, and the lyrics can be a bit heavy-handed at some points, but as long as those guitars are chugging and those catchy basslines remain, you'll be nodding and jumping around regardless. The Big Sleep and Statehood open at the Black Cat.
Saturday, March 3
Does it say something about the local music scene that Car Park Records is based in D.C., yet has a roster full of bands from Baltimore? Maybe. The weirdo quotient is a bit higher up I-95 than it is in our nation's capital, and that seems to be the sound the label is going for. The label has a showcase tonight at the Warehouse Next Door, with an impressive lineup headlined by indie-folk group Beach House, who really aren't that weird at all. The Baltimore duo emerged from obscurity thanks to a glowing review on Pitchfork, but the praise is well-deserved. The songs on the group's self-titled debut definitely hit on a certain mood -- lost, lonely, languid, other words that start with "L" -- but the album is more than a mood piece, thanks to solid songwriting and singer Victoria Legrand's enchanting voice. Dan Deacon certainly fits the weirdo bill more than Beach House. More than just about anybody, actually. And that's what makes him so intriguing. He sings or yelps or screeches over mostly electro beats, but this isn't "outsider" music. It may seem haphazardly thrown together, but it's just some mighty fine, slightly brain-damaged pop music. A couple of more spastic bands -- WZT Hearts and Ponytail -- round out the excellent bill.
Back when we were all too young to go to clubs, Charles Feelgood was throwing warehouse parties with Scott Henry, spinning classic funky house music for growing crowds. By launching Fever, a weekly event that featured everyone from Carl Cox to Derrick Carter, Feelgood and Henry put the Baltimore and D.C. electronic music scene on the map in the early '90s. Fever ended in 2001, and Feelgood's no longer holding down a weekly spot in the area, as he's much in demand from New York to L.A., so any chance to catch him is welcome. It's doubly sweet tonight, as he's marking the release of his brand-new two-CD Charm City Hustle mix set with a late, late night at Five --- doors open at 9 and the music goes until 5 a.m. It's $10 at the door, but e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org will get you in for free before midnight. Getcha hustle on.
When DJ Dredd opened Vegetate, his vegetarian restaurant and lounge, he made sure that there was a state-of-the-art DJ booth on the second floor. Because of Vegetate's well-documented problems securing a liquor license, though, he's rarely been found behind the turntables. Thankfully, Vegetate got its liquor license in late January, and Dredd's now decided the time is right to take over Saturday night selector duties, spinning a trademark mix of Prince and old-school funk and hip-hop for the folks at the bar sipping South African wines or green tea cocktails. Note that there's really not going to be much room to dance, so don't expect too much in the way of getting down. Also, it's an early set from 8 to 11, so have dinner or cocktails and use the spot for pre-gaming before heading out to the night's main event.
If Washington Social Club with These United States sounds like a familiar bill, it's because it is. The two bands shared the stage at the Black Cat just over a month ago, so why are we mentioning the same show again? Because this time it's for a good cause, as the show is a benefit for Empower DC, a local group that helps low-income residents of the city improve their quality of life. It's only $5 to get into St. Stephen's Church, but you can feel free to give more and are encouraged to bring canned food. And get there early, because things kick off around 7 p.m., with openers Junius.
Sunday, March 4
For obvious reasons, Sunday isn't always the greatest night to go out. So what kind of show works best on a Sunday? Do you want hard rocking bands that will break you out of your dreading-the-upcoming-work-week doldrums? Or do you prefer quieter bands that will gently take you through the last hours of the weekend? If you chose the latter, then the Black Cat has just the show for you tonight. The aforementioned Beach House makes it a double dose of D.C. and kicks things off, before giving way to San Francisco indie-folk act Papercuts. Sometimes you can tell a lot about a band based on its associates, and Papercuts is one of those bands. It's excellent recent album "Can't Go Back" was released on the label run by freak-folk kingpins Devendra Banhart and Andy Cabic (Vetiver), and Papercuts main man Jason Quever borrows from both, using the double-tracked vocals that were ubiquitous on Banhart's early albums and the laidback, country-folk shuffle that Vetiver does so well. Take a listen to "John Brown" on the March Mixtape and a snippet of "Take the 227th Exit" on our latest podcast to hear for yourself. By the time headliners Grizzly Bear hit the stage to play the dreamy psych-folk it does so well, those couches at the back of the club could look mighty enticing.
Monday, March 5
On our most recent podcast (can you tell we really want you to listen the podcast?), you might have thought we were joking when Fritz recommended a concert by yacht-rock singer extraordinaire Christopher Cross, or Rhome confidently predicted that he could blow up the spot by dropping "Ride Like the Wind" at just about any club. (We're still waiting to hear that one.) Here's the thing: We're not kidding. Cross's eponymous 1980 debut was a great collection of songs and a defining moment for the adult contemporary genre. It may not be your cup of tea, but it's serious quality for the genre, even if "Sailing" has become something of a punchline. Cross released seven more albums after that, and his blog says another one is coming this year. While he's probably not going to hit the highs of the theme from "Arthur" or "Think of Laura" -- you know, the early '80s track from "General Hospital" -- Cross is still out there performing regularly around the world. Catch him at the Birchmere tonight.