Thursday, May 10, 2007; 12:00 AM
Thursday, May 10
Dan Deacon might be the performer with the most buzz in Baltimore's burgeoning experimental warehouse scene, and it's well deserved. "Spiderman of the Rings," out this week, does a remarkable job of capturing the frenzied exuberance of his live show, but in-person is still the best way to experience Deacon. This video clip can give you a very small taste of what to expect, but if you've been dying to see a show heavy on the audience participation and bleeps and gurgles from various pieces of old electronic equipment, then you'll certainly want to be at the Rock and Roll Hotel tonight. The balding, bespectacled Deacon is about as perfect an anti-rock star as they come, and that's a big part of his charm, but his spastic, vocoder-heavy, electro-indie jams are good enough to stand on their own. Get there early for both openers, Brooklyn's spooky, harmonium-driven rockers Beat the Devil (listen) and local hip-hop deconstructionalists Food For Animals (listen).
Friday, May 11
DJ 9th Wonder is no longer a member of the hip-hop group Little Brother, but he's been keeping busy supplying other artists with beats, teaching a college course on hip-hop and pushing his True School movement. True School is a series of events for Gen-X hip-hoppers whose musical identity tenuously connects to the Tom Joyner generation and who are diametrically opposed to the favorites of the "106 & Park" set. A True School jam is a grab bag of golden age hip-hop, new jack swing and movies like "House Party" and "Do The Right Thing." When 9th brings it to D.C., he teams up with the highly capable DJ Cuzzin B. They'll be doing it for the 28 and up crew at Bohemian Caverns tonight. Be advised that no selections by Akon, Fergie, Yung Joc or any teen hip-hop sensation with an instructional dance record will be spun.
DJ Spooky's music is often called turntablism, electronica, downtempo and even "illbient," but his output can be aesthetically linked to avant-garde electronic artists like Jean-Jacques Perrey or even Brian Eno, although beats and turntables figure prominently in his work. Spooky gets a bad rap for putting "intelligent turntablism" and art above the dance grooves, and while that can sometimes be true -- his book "Rhythm Science," which explored the art of sampling, included a CD with audio clips of interviews with Marcel Duchamp, James Joyce and Gertrude Stein -- seeing him live is a study in the finest forms of audio and video collage. Always provocative -- he created a 21st-century score for "Birth of a Nation" -- he is always ready to do the unexpected. So we can't wait to see what That Subliminal Kid will do at the Black Cat tonight, and we hope it involves some of the rare old Jamaican dubs he mixed and complied for Trojan Records last summer.
"Party Bros" sounds like a bad "Saturday Night Live" sketch or the latest sex-and-gross-out film from the National Lampoon franchise, but it's a new collaborative DJ night from two guys we've written about in this column in the past. Chris Burns spins soulful disco, smooth funk and deep house at the Rock and Roll Hotel and Metropolitain, he recently appeared at Daylight and he's on the schedule for Mirrors's back-in-the-day Rebirth party. Gavin Holland, meanwhile, primarily spins electro at DC9's Nouveau Riche and on his XM radio show. They're bringing their disparate record collections together for a new monthly collaboration at Selam, which Burns says will be nothing like their nights: "Lots of loud rock, Southern hip-hop bangers, probably a disco set somewhere in there. Not going to put a whole lot of emphasis on the DJing, more on partying." It starts at 10, and as always, there's never a cover charge.
As far as D.C. institutions go, Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, the Make-Up, Weird War, "Sassiest Boy in America," that guy with the big black hair standing next to you at a show) arguably isn't even the top Ian. But he's still one of the city's great treasures, adding a good dose of je ne sais quoi to underground D.C. for the past two decades. His musical legacy is well established, and last summer Svenonius added "published author" to his credentials with the release of "The Psychic Soviet," a collection of essays he's penned throughout the years. The pocket-sized book -- given Svenonius's communism infatuation, the parallel to Mao's "Little Red Book" is no mistake -- contains well-thought out arguments on a variety of subjects from vampires to the origins of punk rock. It's often funny, but never in a self-consciously ironic way. Svenonius will give a multimedia presentation (read: slideshow) of "The Psychic Soviet" at 7 p.m. tonight at Crooked Beat Records.
Saturday, May 12
We admire -- no, love -- the idea of a group of motorcycle-loving, hard-riding police officers and firefighters that calls itself the Renegade Pigs. We like it even more because it's a nonprofit group dedicated to raising money for charity. Tonight at RNR Bar & Lounge, the group is hosting a party to benefit the Gerard W. Burke scholarship fund at Catholic University. Burke, a D.C. police sergeant, suffered a fatal heart attack in March 2006 while chasing a stolen car. His name will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial later this year. Though tonight's event is sponsored by (and sure to be full of) police officers, it's still a biker party, so expect things to get a little crazy. Free beer and food are offered from 6 to 8, while a bagpipe band performs. A "naughty schoolgirl contest" runs from 9 to 11, with a $500 prize for the best costume. There's a motorcycle show outside and drink specials from 6 to midnight. The cover is $20, but all proceeds from the event go directly to the Burke scholarship fund.
Bad Boy Bill rose from cutting hip-hop records on Chicago's turntablist scene to filling clubs around the world with his electric brand of Chicago house. He got his start in the '80s with the essential, insistent-but-funky "Jack It All Night." Fast-forward two decades and Bill was just named "America's Favorite House DJ" by BPM magazine. Five "Bang the Box" compilations he's overseen are filled with mechanical and deep, dark-edged but uplifting tunes that keep dancers going for hours on end. His latest project is "Behind the Decks," which offers a mixed CD as well as a booth's-eye view on the accompanying two-and-a-half-hour DVD. Bill's spinning at Glow tonight, and as always, it should be packed. You're advised to get tickets from clubglow.com and skip the lines outside.
Spring is here, and Iota has a fine lineup of romantic, jangly season-appropriate music for you tonight. Kicking things off will be the debut of Julie Ocean (listen), a new indie-pop outfit featuring former members of Velocity Girl, the Saturday People, Severin and other bands from the heyday of the 7" single. A couple of bands celebrating the release of new albums will follow. David once described the Antiques (listen) as "the best moody British band from 1986 that's somehow making music in D.C. right now" and after a few listens to "Sewn with Stitches," the description holds. The meticulously crafted songs are full of drama, sometimes heavy on thick organ, other times with reverb-laden guitar. The songs on Lejeune's "For Club and Country" (listen) don't lack for drama either, from Sam Bishop's vocals to the grand, fleshed-out arrangements. This isn't simple, guitar-based indie rock; it's something bigger, and the quintet does a fine job pulling off the complicated sound.
While we're frequently gushing over some exotic Belgian ale or hoppy West Coast IPA in this column, we don't want to forget that there's a lot of good beer right here in our own backyard. The Maryland Brewer's Spring Fest brings together a dozen brewers from across the Free State, so you don't have to drive to Baltimore for Oliver's English-style ales, then hop in the car and head for Frederick to sample the German lagers at Brewer's Alley. There's more than beer at Frederick's Harry Grove Stadium: make a day of it with activities for the kids and five bands, including Jah Works. Admission is $17 ($20 at the gate) and includes six beer tokens and a commemorative mug, while designated drivers get in for $10. (It's free for kids 12 and under.) Gates open at noon, and last call is at 8.
Sunday, May 13
Along with Sam Burns, DJ Mandrill is an elder statesman of the turntables in Washington. He's been rocking dance floors long enough to have collected all the garage classics that birthed house music when they were still new in the shops. His parties have migrated around town for years, spending extended stretches in spots like Andalu and Chaos. Predominately gay devotees count on Mandrill for the feel-good energy of his deep disco and soulful vocal house sets. Mandrill's Sunday Soiree debuts in a new space tonight, Dupont Circle's Fab Lounge.
Tuesday, May 15
Amy Domingues is as in-demand as collaborators come. Her trademark cello sound has adorned dozens of albums by D.C. artists; she's the kind of player who makes bands figure out a song that could use some cello, just so they can get her on the record. In between all of her guest appearances, soundtrack work and involvement with chamber group Threnody Ensemble, Domingues has her own band, Garland of Hours (listen). The group's second album, "The Soundest Serum," is definitive proof that Domingues is no mere sidewoman. The nine-song outing isn't as mournful as one might expect. Songs like "Brick Eyes" and "Exit" don't exactly rock, but they are upbeat chamber pop numbers with a bit of muscle to them. Benjy Ferree, whom Domingues often tours with, opens the CD release show at the Black Cat's backstage.
Wednesday, May 16
Warm weather has us dreaming of sandy beaches and strong rum drinks, and Juste Lounge is nudging the tropics a little closer with the kickoff of a weekly Caribbean Getaway night in Bethesda. The Image Band, which has been one of the most reliable groups on the local reggae scene for years, is playing reggae, soca and calypso from 8 to close, and the evening kicks off with half-price drinks from 5 to 8. It's not an all-inclusive trip to the Dominican Republic, but it'll do for now.