Thursday, June 21, 2007; 12:00 AM
Thursday, June 21
As major corporations figure out ways to put a hip sheen on their products and market them to monied Millennials and Gen X'ers, our overall entertainment choices benefit. Toyota is expanding upon the urban playbook used so well to promote its Scion line and fueling the campaign for its new Yaris with trappings favored by true-school hip-hop heads. At Love tonight, the winners of an online custom sneaker design contest will be announced against a backdrop of b-boy battles and the hosting and mixing talents of the legendary DJ Kid Capri. Also appearing are Dice Raw and Truck North, two Philadelphia rappers who have been featured prominently on tours and recordings with The Roots.
We don't normally feature shows up in Baltimore, but maybe we should start doing so more often. It's starting to become a bit alarming just how many great acts choose to perform for our neighbors to the north instead of us in our nation's capital. In the case of Panda Bear (listen), at least it makes sense as the member of those charming, experimental sing-along freaks Animal Collective is originally from Baltimore. He's only playing a small handful of dates in support of his wonderful new album "Person Pitch," and tonight's show at the Ottobar is one of them. The comparisons to the Beach Boys "Pet Sounds" are inevitable but, for once, appropriate. Like Brian Wilson's classic, Panda Bear (that's Noah Lennox to his parents) has made a meticulously crafted album with absolutely gorgeous, cascading vocal harmonies. It's not just the harmonies that make "Person Pitch" so memorable, though. "Bros" may be the catchiest, most accessible 12 and a half minute song ever, merrily floating and droning along behind a combination of found sounds, reverb-drenched vocals, acoustic guitar strumming and various electronics. Scott Mau and WZT Hearts open.
This weekend is the D.C. Caribbean Carnival, and while the parade and festival aren't until Saturday, the unofficial events get started early, making this the best time of the year for fans of soca, reggae and calypso. Kick off the celebrations with two free parties tonight: First, Local 16 is turning its U Street rooftop over to the Supreme Team, Mystic Vibes and DJ Andy Mix for a soca-fueled happy hour and late-night affair. Happy hour starts at 7:30, but the music doesn't stop until 2. Down on the waterfront, the Rascalz Band -- marching on Georgia Avenue on Saturday -- and Klimaxx are hosting the Angels and Jumbies Party at Zanzibar from 10 p.m. on. There's no cover, but leave the athletic wear at home. DJ Hazzard & Giselle D Wassi One provide the music. (For the curious, a jumbie is a ghost-like spirit that takes over the human body during certain ritual dances.)
The sci-fi B-movie classic "Attack of the 50-Foot Woman" is loaded with Freudian conflict: A rich woman, dominated by her philandering, money-grubbing husband, grows to enormous size after an encounter with an alien spacecraft. Her new stature challenges the patriarchal system and symbolizes her liberation from a two-timing man. She seeks revenge against him, and society in general, and is killed in the process. Of course, you can just enjoy the campy film, which is presented at the Hirshhorn tonight as part of the museum's free summer movie series. It starts at 8, but get there early to get a seat.
We like to throw in embassy events from time to time, and after Fritz's recent experiences sampling Gruner Veltliner and other Austrian wines during the free tastings at Vidalia, he couldn't ignore a promising trip to the Embassy of Austria. Tonight's Austrian Wine Tasting includes an introduction to the country's grapes, including Gruner, Zweigelt, St. Laurent and Blaufrankisch, and eight wines made with them. Austrian hors d'oeuvres will be served, and a diplomatic greeting is on the cards. All-inclusive tickets are $59 from Giramondo Wines.
Friday, June 22
The Rock and Roll Hotel may be the big live music draw in the new H Street corridor, but over the past year we've grown more fond of its sister bar just a block away, the Red & the Black. It's a lot cozier, you can get red beans and rice should the mood strike you, there's a convenient patio in the back and the tiny performance space upstairs is surprisingly decent. Despite the lack of professional gear -- only the vocals are run through monitors, everything else is as is -- we've had better sound experiences there than at many other area clubs, including the Hotel. The booking tends to run hot and cold, but there are always at least a few worthwhile shows every month and at the very least it gives local bands one more spot to get a gig. Tonight the club celebrates its first anniversary with three very peppy bands, Pittsburgh's Black Tie Revue (listen), locals Nunchucks (listen) and Brooklynites the Subjects (listen). Admission is only $5 and drink specials are promised.
Wil Gravatt is one of our favorite voices on the local country music scene, playing the honky tonk music of Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, along with self-penned tunes that easily slot in next to those of his heroes. His band -- the Wil Gravatt Band -- is in-between regular gigs right now, but you can catch Gravatt and his acoustic guitar tonight at Cantina Marina on the Southwest Waterfront. With the bar located right over the water and a gorgeous view of the sunset over Haines Point, we can imagine this being the perfect summer escape and a perfect reward after another week in the office. There's no cover, and the music begins around 8.
About eight years ago, the Philadelphia and New York phenomenon known as Black Lily brought its showcase for emerging female hip-hop and soul talent to Washington, D.C. Even as Washington embraced Black Lily founders The Jazzyfatnastees, Jaguar Wright's starpower quickly became apparent as D.C. witnessed the fiery, foul-mouthed yet endearing spectacle that Jag eventually unleashed on the rest of the world. Jaguar's charm combines roof raising vocals and a stage persona that is part bad girl and part 'round the way girl. It's a type of showmanship that shows the influence of Millie Jackson and significantly predates the current talented yet dysfunctional sensation Amy Winehouse. Jaguar Wright returns to Washington tonight for a date at the Atlas Performing Arts Center.
There's much more going on for fans of Caribbean music tonight, as you could literally party yourself to death. The Crossroads is having a huge indoor and outdoor party with Trinidadian singer Destra Garcia (listen to her here) and the Xcaliber Disco Sound System (also from T&T). Beginning with a happy hour from 5 to 8 -- two-for-one drinks and a free buffet -- and free admission until 7, the lineup also includes Sprang International and Bobby's Music Machine.
Reigning Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Soca Monarch Iwer George heads a long list of performers at Til Morning, a party billed as the VIP Fete at the Galleria at Lafayette Center. The Soca Monarch is one of the top musical honors given at Trinidad's annual Carnival, and addition to George, tonight's lineup also includes fire-spitting Bunji Garlin, who won back-to-back Soca Monarch titles in 2004 and 2005, Bigger Irie (whose "Nah Going Home" helped him to the title of Groovy Soca Monarch King this year), Talpree, Faye Ann and Crossovah. Tickets are $35 in advance, or $75 for an all-inclusive pass with food and drinks, frum MYXRadio.com.