Thursday, April 5, 2007; 12:00 AM
Thursday, April 5
Something new or something old? That's the question facing rock fans tonight. Over at the 9:30 club Iggy Pop and reformed proto-punk legends the Stooges take the stage for a sold-out show. There's no denying the group's immense influence and Pop's nearly-unequaled showmanship, but there's also no denying that the band's reunion disc is a major dud, to be kind. A better bet might be across town at the Rock and Roll Hotel where the Black Angels and VietNam share a bill. Instead of paying $40 to see one band 35 years past its prime, you can fork over just $12 to catch a couple of bands just entering theirs. Nobody will ever throw the word "groundbreaking" around for either group, but both know how to pay pretty great tributes to their main influences: the familiar druggy, droney, guitar-heavy attack of Velvet Underground and the blissed-out space rock of Spacemen 3. VietNam has a bit more garage-rock kick, and singer Michael Gerner -- who looks more in need of a shower than any of those poor saps on "Survivor" -- often channels Bob Dylan as he stretches a simple word like "heat" in a five-syllable exclamation.
If you read Fritz's magnum opus on bars in Loudoun County a few weekends ago, you might recall his praise for the Firkin and Hound, a laidback English-style pub in South Riding. It has everything you'd want: Thick carpet, good drafts, darts, pool and plenty of room to spread out. The pub's hosting its first-ever darts tournament tournament tonight, with divisions for both novices (beginning at 7:30) and intermediate players (kicking off around 8:30). The game is Cricket, not 501, so practice accordingly. Up to 15 players can compete in each division, and you can sign up at the door. Might want to arrive early and take advantage of the happy hour specials: $2 off all drafts and $1 off rail drinks until 7. After that, martinis are $6 all night.
Turntablism has sort of backed itself up into a nerdy corner of the musical landscape. Today's scratching and beat-juggling masters have achieved a mind-blowing level of technical proficiency that can be too complex for a layman to understand. Ironically, this leads the art form down the exact opposite path from the crowd-pleasing roots that inspired it. Unfortunately, these days it's generally not a good idea to attend a DJ battle if you are completely green to the scene, because you might end up dizzy and confused. One of the biggest names in the development of modern DJ battle techniques has decided to address this challenge. Roc Raida's Gong Battle puts DJs head to head against each other and smart-mouthed judges who will gong them right out of the club at the slightest hint of biting or general (and subjective) "wackness." No six-minute routines that you've been practicing all year. Come correct in one-minute advancement rounds and 90 second finals or get gonged. Underground super producer Alchemist and Beat Junkie member Mr. Choc add some star power to this comedic pressure cooker DJ battle at Sonar.
We've praised the free-liquor-of-the-week happy hour at Tapatinis in these pages before, but now Lima is trying to steal of some the limelight with a series of open-bar events. Tonight from 6 to 9, for example, the Spring Fling Happy Hour promises that any mixed drinks made with Plymouth Gin are free. Not a gin drinker? Don't worry. Other deals include $3 domestic beers, $4 imports and $4.50 Johnny Walker Red or Jack Daniels cocktails. (See Lima's Web site for a full list of specials. Dress to impress and get there early, because we have a feeling this is going to be popular.
Friday, April 6
It's not uncommon for rappers to have an inflated view of themselves, even to the point of speaking of themselves in the third person with a hearty shout of "Hip-hop is in the building!" before dropping a 16-bar verse. If tonight's headliner at the 9:30 club felt like letting loose such a lofty claim, no one in his right mind would try to dispute it. Newly inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Grandmaster Flash makes a return trip to D.C. tonight to display what original party-rocking was like before hip-hop even had a name.
Time to fess up: Had any of y'all heard of DJ AM before he started dating (and got engaged to, and subsequently disengaged from) Nicole Richie? Stop lying. When it comes to mixing and mashing up '80s tunes, old-school hip-hop and alternative rock, though, he knows how to keep the party moving. On the heels of his sets at the Shamrock Fest, AM's at Platinum tonight, and it's gonna cost you: There's a $25 cover. (Hey, someone has to pay for all those expensive sneakers you saw him buying on "Entourage.")
OK, so it's not quite Thievery Corporation or a Dismemberment Plan reunion. But a handful of bands led by local electro-noise-spazz rockers Sentai will set up shop at Murky Coffee -- which just recently started hosting shows in its upstairs space again -- tonight to raise money for the Callum Robbins Family Fund. Sentai features Hugh McElroy, one of those guys who always seems to have multiple projects going on. He's probably best known for his work with Black Eyes, who were well on their way to becoming one of D.C.'s premier bands before abruptly calling it quits a few years back. Sentai is a logical progression, trading the free jazz leanings of Black Eyes's later work for a more cluttered, electro sound that's extra chaotic in a live setting. Chicago experimentalists Scalpel, Baltimore multimedia-ists Video Hippos and noisy Virginians Bird Noises round out a bill that's all for a good cause.
Tonight, the Guerilla Queer Bar Takeover celebrates three years of proving one simple fact: Gay people and straight people can go to the same bars and hang out in the same room. The party started when a couple of friends got bored of going to the same-old gay bars and decided to invite their friends along to "invade" some mostly straight nightspots. Since then, they've partied everywhere from McFadden's to Fado to the Pour House, breaking stereotypes and having a good time along the way. They don't wear special T-shirts or have signs identifying themselves -- the Guerillas just mingle, like anyone else. Tonight, the super-secret anniversary destination is ... the Black Cat. Get to the Red Room around 9 p.m., talk to a few strangers and make your way to the Backstage, where DJ Stereo Faith and Julian S. Process are hosting the free Britpop night Sorted.
By now most people who care know that We Fought the Big One at the Marx Cafe is the monthly best bet to get your fill of obscure indie, post-punk, shoegaze, etc. Tonight things might get even more obscure as guest DJ Scott Verrastro takes to the turntables. Verrastro is a one-man wrecking crew on the D.C. underground music scene, singlehandedly responsible for booking some of the town's most out-there shows, whether they are at Warehouse Next Door, Velvet Lounge or his living room. If you read about a show in this space and thought "Now that just sounds bizarre," chances are Verrastro was responsible for booking it. Since WFTBO is a dance night, he'll probably focus on some of the more accessible -- though surely still plenty obscure -- records in his massive collection. It'll still be out there, just not quite as far out.
Saturday, April 7
The D.C. Caribbean Carnival isn't until June, but the buildup to one of our favorite community events begins tonight with the Glorious Saturday Fete at Zanzibar on the Waterfront. Fritz went into more detail on the Going Out Gurus blog, but suffice to say it features four top DJs spinning soca, reggae, dancehall and hip-hop (Sprang International, Andy Mix, Shiloh International and Hazzard), displays of the elaborate, Rio-style Carnival parade costumes and lots of door prizes, including airline tickets from Air Jamaica. Tickets are $20 at the door, and the party begins at 10.
We were getting spoiled earlier this week -- anyone who took a sick day on Monday knows what we mean -- but a little cold weather won't stop DC Hotspot's Spring Fling tonight at Mezza Luna. Bring some friends down to hear DJ Childsplay spin '80s, hip-hop and party classics and sip on a rack of $4 drink specials, including Heineken Light bottles, SoCo shooters and fruit-infused martinis. There's no cover before 11 if you get on the list on the DC Hotspot Web site.
Sunday, April 8
You had to move pretty quickly to get tickets for tonight's sold-out Lily Allen concert at the 9:30 club, which is bad news for those of us who were hoping to catch the opening set by the much-buzzed-about L.A. boy-and-girl duo the Bird and the Bee. The gentle bleeps and airy electro of the single "[Expletive] Boyfriend" couldn't prepare us for the lushness of the band's recent Blue Note debut, which is often redolent of a jazzier Air or Stereolab. If you're not going to the show, or you're in the mood for a post-Lily nightcap, you can hear Inara George and Greg Kurstin spin at an after-party down the street at DC9. Hint: It's not getting started until at least 11.
Wednesday, April 11
Wrapping up a stellar week for DJ lovers is tonight's appearance by Kid Koala at Rock and Roll Hotel. This inventive Canadian DJ started out in the early '90s like many aspiring turntablists, making his name on the battle scene and through his intricately constructed mixtapes. His vision extended beyond the scratch and landed him a record deal with Ninja Tune. Releases such as "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome" and "Some of My Best Friends are DJs" displayed his ability to tell stories and convey humor through his turntable prowess. His innovative performance techniques landed him positions in bands such as Bullfrog and the Gorillaz. Opening for one of the few truly gifted turntablists who doesn't take himself too seriously is Wonderland's own DJ Meistro.