Wednesday, March 21, 2007; 4:45 PM
Thursday, March 22
No matter how wildly popular a boy band is, once the group breaks up, the odds are stacked against its members. For every Justin Timberlake, Bobby Brown or Ricky Martin who goes on to solo success, there's a Joey Fatone, Jordan Knight or that guy out of 98 Degrees. (No, not Nick Lachey. The other one.) While Omarion was always the most charismatic member of B2K, we're not sure anyone expected his debut album, "O," to top the Billboard charts as soon as it was released, especially as it came a year after B2K dissolved, but he's proved himself a master of smooth, uptempo R&B that gets the ladies rushing the dance floor. The heartthrob's second album, "21," came out right after Christmas, and it, too, is a winner; "Icebox" is one of the catchiest singles of the last year, thanks to Timbaland's gifted touch. Tonight, Omarion teams at Love with his good friend, "You Got Served" co-star and fellow ex-boy-band member Marques Houston, formerly of Immature. Despite two solo discs and a couple of guest appearances (most notably on Fiddy's "Candy Shop" remix), Houston's still waiting to break out. Maybe "Veteran," which was released earlier this week, will be the answer. Either way, this is a great chance to see two arena-quality acts in a small setting. Tickets are $20, doors are at 9 and like most concerts at Love, we're really not sure what time the artists will hit the stage. Better to be safe than sorry and arrive early.
The Manhattan Love Suicides is a pretty misleading band name. It sounds like it should be a goth/metal band from New York, but instead it's a noisy indie-pop band from the U.K. -- and a really good one, at that. The band takes most of its cues from the classic C-86 era of British pop, combining the brash noise of early Jesus and Mary Chain with the pretty female vocals of Heavenly. The band apparently likes JAMC so much that some of its earliest gigs were 15-minute noise fests just like the Reid brothers used to preside over. Hopefully we'll get something closer to at least a half hour tonight at the Red & the Black, because that would be enough time for the band to play most of the fuzzy, catchy songs from its excellent self-titled debut. Take a listen to "Suzy Jones" on the March Mixtape for an idea of what to expect. Openers the Positions play brass-infused indie-pop and are worth checking out, as are Fellows, a quartet whose first-ever show last weekend at Galaxy Hut was a ramshackle delight.
We don't usually put Baltimore parties into the Nightlife Agenda -- there's enough going on here in our own metropolitan area -- but we're going to make an exception for the grand opening of Mosaic, a new indoor/outdoor lounge at the Power Plant Live! complex near the Inner Harbor. The resident DJs on Thursday -- the residents -- are Thunderball and Fort Knox Five, and tonight's kickoff includes Calgary's blockrocking Smalltown DJs, Washington's All Good Funk Alliance and Rex Riddem, plus some unannounced special guests. If this was at the 9:30 club, you'd drop $20 or so to get in the door, but because it's in Charm City, the joint is free -- free! -- before 11 and only $5 after.
Friday, March 23
Holly Golightly mines the past better than just about any other musician out there. She'd be garage rock royalty solely for her work in the '90s with the all-girl group the Headcoatees, but thanks to an amazingly consistent string of solo albums over the past decade, those records are just a footnote in her career. Her solo work looks beyond simple three-chord thrashers, bringing old-time blues and country influences into the mix, along with her constant snarl of a voice. She has some influential fans -- she sang on the White Stripes's "Elephant" a few years back and she was heavily featured on the soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch's "Broken Flowers" -- but she seems destined to remain a cult favorite, which is just fine if it keeps her performing in cozy venues like Iota. Her latest project with the Brokeoffs (a.k.a. one-man band Lawyer Dave) ditches the rock completely for stripped-down gospel-country-blues. It might be a risky proposition for most, but Holly has proven herself time and again and this new work may even be the strongest of her career.
After-hours parties are the latest trend to hit D.C. museums. The Smithsonian's Young Benefactors brought hot Montreal underground DJs to the S. Dillon Ripley Center's "Clash of Empires" exhibit last month. The Hirshhorn stayed open until midnight a few weeks ago for the opening of a new Directions installation, complete with DJ Ian Svenonius's garagey jams and a cash bar. Now the National Museum of Women in the Arts is getting in on the marriage of art and nightlife with a Women's History Month party called VJ/DJ. With some help from the embassies of Spain and Finland, it has cooked up an evening that includes live movie-style projections by the Finnish video artist Solu, who specializes in abstract and ambient visuals; DJ Samantha C. Waldram, who rocks Barcelona clubs with electro and techno; members of the local all-female First Ladies DJ Collective; and Chicago VJ Tesia K. The evening also includes wine-tasting from a Spanish vineyard and light snacks from La Tasca -- handy, since it begins right after work. There's a $20 charge, which sounds like a lot for DJs, especially at a museum, but the fee includes all your food and drink. Doors open at 6, and everything wraps up at 10.
Saturday night is George Washington University's annual Bhangra Blowout, the South Asian dance competition that draws teams from colleges and universities across the country. The main event is awe-inspiring for fans of Punjabi music, and we're even more excited about all the concerts and after-parties that spring up around the Blowout, much like Howard University's homecoming. Tonight at Ultrabar, for example, the Bhangra Blast features a live performance by Bikram Singh, a Punjab-born, New York-based singer who toured with Punjabi MC before releasing last year's urban-influenced "American Jugni" album. Singles "Captain Bhangre Da" and "Kawaan" have been European hits, getting play on BBC Radio 1 and MTV Desi. A pass from BB14DC.com allows free admission for women all night long. (Guys, you have to get there before midnight. Sorry.)
Rather laugh and dance? Paul Varghese, whose stand-up was featured on "Last Comic Standing" and the Gurus of Comedy tour -- essentially a South Asian Kings of Comedy -- is bringing his act to Fur for the Pre-Bhangra Blowout Comedy Happy Hour and After-Party. Doors open at 7, and half-price food and drinks are offered early. Once Varghese finishes, DJ Lost Soul spins bhangra and other beats. Tickets are $25. Note that while it's open to ladies 18 and over, guys have to be 21.
Saturday, March 24
This past Tuesday saw a slew of high profile indie rock(ish) releases -- LCD Soundsystem, Modest Mouse, Ted Leo -- but don't look past "Turn the Lights Out," the latest from Chicago quartet the Ponys. After a pair of excellent albums on venerable garage rock label In the Red, the Ponys made the jump to the semi-big time of Matador Records and the result is the band's most polished album to date. There's nothing that quite matches the loose exuberance of "Let's Kill Ourselves" from the band's debut, but this is indie rock that actually rocks: big riffs, pounding drums, a generous use of the two most important effects pedals (overdrive and wah, of course) and songwriting that matches the intensity of the music. After a show on the Black Cat's backstage in 2005 and an opening slot for Bloc Party last year, the Ponys finally make the ascension to mainstage headliner this time around, and it's well deserved. It would be very foolish to miss out on openers Black Lips, whose presence on the bill makes this show one of the best of the year so far. Just remember to get there a bit earlier than you actually plan on getting inside; you know how that line can get outside the Black Cat on the night of a crowded show.
After tonight's Bhangra Blowout at Constitution Hall, the participants and crowds are dispersing around the District for some pretty big (and pretty cool) parties. We like the sound of the Blowout, which involves Bikram Keith -- the DJ behind the ever-popular Bollywood 2 Night parties -- taking over Cabanas and Nick's Riverside Grill on the Georgetown waterfront. Live dholi and dance performances should set the mood for Keith and DJ Fresh's mixes. Over at Avenue, almost a dozen DJs will be occupying the booth while two dholis accent the beat with their double-headed drums. Get there early, because there's an open bar until 11. And finally, since the Bhangra Blowout is an event for college students, we need to remember that some of the dancers and fans are going to be under 21. This means they're shut out of most events, though not the BB07 After-Party at Fur, which features DJ BigBoi, DJ Fresha and DJ V playing for an 18-and-over crowd.
Monday, March 26
Maybe it was last week's totally awesome Howling Hex show at Iota, but lately David's really been into bands that can deliver extended, loud, psych/blues jams. So it's perfect timing that New York's Blues Control should visit the Velvet Lounge tonight. The duo throws plenty of classic rock influences into the mix -- think riff-based rockers like Deep Purple and Free -- but don't expect anything as straightforward as "Smoke on the Water" or "All Right Now." (Note to self: Listen to those two songs right now.) Word on the always reliable Internet is that the band was one of Thurston Moore's favorites last week at SXSW, and while Mr. Moore's taste isn't always impeccable, he's on the money pretty often. Insect Factory and Plain Lace open.
Tuesday, March 27
Bishop Allen stole a page from the Wedding Present's playbook by releasing an EP a month in 2006, even if the group cheated in August by releasing a live show. If all of those songs had been on a single album, it would have been a contender for our top 10, but with such smart, well-crafted indie rock gems as "Fireflies," "Flight 180" and "Like Castanets" sprinkled throughout, we can't really complain. (Okay, 12 EPs x $5 each is a lot of money.) The Brooklyn quartet is at the Rock and Roll Hotel tonight with Teenbeat Records favorite +/- and Say Hi to Your Mom, a lo-fi group whose new album is about vampires and whose moniker joins the legions of third-tier-phrase-as-band-name indie outfits. Tickets are two bucks cheaper if you buy them in advance.
Wednesday, March 28
The best thing about legendary BBC DJ Gilles Peterson's late-night sessions -- which you can listen to on www.bbc.co.uk/radio1 -- is the way he bounces between genres and artists in a manner that's virtually unknown in the United States. He thinks nothing of playing a set that contains unreleased Slum Village, jump-up house remixes by Lil' Louie Vega and Coki's deep, gut-shaking dubstep, topped off by some weird Sun Ra. Somehow, it all flows into one head-nodding block. Latin, vintage house, new-school soul -- you'll hear and groove to it all. The eclecticism is something to be expected from Peterson, who's always on the forefront of funky new sounds. He's the man behind the Acid Jazz and Talkin' Loud labels, which broke Jamiroquai and the Brand New Heavies back in the '90s before introducing worldwide audiences to Roni Size's groundbreaking drum 'n' bass, 4hero's breakbeats and MJ Cole's futuristic two-step garage. Peterson very rarely makes it to Washington -- he hasn't been here for seven or eight years -- and we can't believe that he's playing for free at Five tonight. It's a show that's sponsored by Scion, whose habit of bringing talent like DJ Jazzy Jeff and Ras Kass to D.C. means that it does a better job than most car manufacturers when it comes to being mentioned in this column. You need to RSVP, though -- head to pookiesgallery.com and take care of that before the spots fill up. Local godfather of house Sam "The Man" Burns, Jahsonic and our own DJ Stylus (nee Rhome Anderson) round out an incredible bill.