Thursday, June 28, 2007; 12:00 AM
Thursday, June 28
As a correspondent and producer for Vice Magazine's Internet television station, VBS.tv, Trace Crutchfield has explored Bolivia's largest coca market and the country's cocaine exports, gone shopping in the shantytowns of Rio (and been shot at for his trouble) and sipped sizzurp in Houston. Obviously, he's a man with stories to tell -- and great taste in suits -- which makes him the perfect guest for the Modernist Society's new "intelligent lounging" event at Bourbon. Every month, organizers will bring a special guest, like Crutchfield, for a moderated discussion and Q&A session, bookended by a happy hour (free Hendrick's gin from 8 to 9) and a dance party with DJs Neville Chamberlain and D-Mac spinning soul, deep funk, greasy R&B. "We hope to create a casual, comfortable atmosphere where we can discuss issues big and small in a frank, yet humorous tone," event founder Jason Mojica said in an e-mail. "Tongue-in-cheek pretentiousness, if you will." Think of it as a way to infuse your nightlife with some intellectual stimulation. Crutchfield and the Modernist Society's Mojica take the stage at 9 for the hour-long interview, and at least 15 minutes of that will be given over to audience questions and comments. (Watch some of Crutchfield's work here before you go.) There's no cover, and it's sure to be far more interesting than whatever you and your boys would be debating over $2 Buds at Lucky Bar.
Last month, the Alliance Francaise launched its new happy hour series, Soiree Carte Blanche, with a party at the cultural organization's Kalorama headquarters. Mixing an iPod DJ battle, spoken word poetry, video screenings, French wine and dancing to funky house music, the goal is "to provide something different," said Andoni B?rasat?gui, a cultural assistant at the Alliance, and "introduce an artistic twist to the standard after-work parties." The Soiree returns tonight at the Eyebar lounge in Midtown, and organizers aren't saying what surprises they have lined up for the evening, musical or otherwise, but the iPod battles are back on the agenda. If you want to participate, it's essential to get there early to sign up, as the limited number of slots filled quickly last time. Admission is $10 (or $8 for Alliance members), and doors open at 7 p.m.
Grits and Gravy is back again at Jin, bringing that much-needed dose of hip-hop classics, disco, early house and stone-funky '70s soul and R&B that gets its loyal crowd grooving. Doors open at 6 p.m. for that after-work rush, and there's no cover, no dress code, no stress -- just dancing, drink specials and friendly folks chilling out.
Finally, it's a good night for do-gooders on the U Street corridor. At DC9, Wes Tucker and the Skillets's funky R&B tunes (listen) are paired with No Second Troy's hook-filled indie rock (listen) to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. The Black Cat, meanwhile, hosts Banding Together, an annual event that features rock bands composed of lawyers from firms like Greenberg Traurig and Patton Boggs. The highlight of tonight's concert has to be an appearance by Beats Workin', which features White House Press Secretary Tony Snow on guitar. (They play covers of the Stones, the Eagles and Eric Clapton, if you're interested.) Let's not let wonk-spotting get in the way of a good cause, though: The cover charge is $10, which all goes toward purchasing clothes for homeless men, women and children. Doors open at 7.
Friday, June 29
Many bars and lounges opened their doors to the public in 2006, but even in a class that included Fly Lounge, the Rock and Roll Hotel and PX, the Palace of Wonders stood out. Perhaps it was the glass cases stuffed with macabre dime-show objects, like five-legged dogs, shrunken heads or the taxidermied remains of a unicorn. Maybe customers' attention was captured by the sword-swallowing bartenders. Or maybe the crowds are really coming out for regular weekend shows that might feature burlesque dancers, human blockheads or wild-west rope tricks. For the next two nights, the Palace is celebrating its first birthday with a diverse collection of fire-eaters, magicians, acrobats, shimmying dancers, tarot-card readers, light-bulb-eaters, sideshow carnies and everything else that will shock, amuse and amaze. (Don't miss Charm City's Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey.) Shows run from 8:30 to 2 a.m. both nights, with intermissions. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door, and you'll want to arrive on the early side to make sure you get a good view of the action.
The Young Lions are like the choir boys of old who used to sneak out to sing doo-wop on the corner with their homies. Steeped in tradition, this popular jazz trio is equally conversant with all the variants that were born after the emergence of what we today call "straight ahead." Casually clad in modern urban gear, you might catch them slipping into a loping Dilla-esque nu-soul groove at a Cafe Nema gig, or they might be suited up and swinging their way through a bop burner at Bohemian Caverns. Tonight at the Caverns, you can catch them improvising a journey through the eras of jazz, but you'll have the added treat of being able to head home with a copy of their new album in your possession.
For lovers of classic reggae, rocksteady, ska, dancehall and dub -- the music that flowed like water from Jamaica in the 1960s and '70s -- there is no better event in Washington than the monthly Soundclash DJ night at the Marx Cafe. Do you want to hear the Ethiopians? Gregory Isaacs? Tommy McCook? Lee "Scratch" Perry? Delroy Wilson? They've got you covered. It's hard to believe, but Mark Williams (who DJs as "The Kaiser"), Sam Votsis ("Sammy Gong"), Toby Gohn ("Rice 'n' Peas") and Bobby Mezewski ("Bobby Babylon") have been pumping obscure and well-known tunes through the speakers in the tiny Mount Pleasant bar for five years, rattling the walls and getting many heads to nod. Tonight's five-year anniversary party features giveaways (mix CDs, Trojan records box sets), limited-edition T-shirts and drink specials, including $3.50 Red Stripes and a house-made rum punch. Doors open at 10, and you'll hear everything from the Upsetters to the Wailers until 2:30.
Insipid instructional dance songs and brilliant refrains like "Ay Bay Bay" are still killing the urban charts. Imus riled up a whole legion of baby boomers to attack rappers, and even Oprah got in a few kicks and punches. Perhaps this is why Nas's "Hip-Hop Is Dead" tour rolls on, coffin on stage and all. Nas returns to Love tonight like a thief in the temple of all that his "Hip-Hop Is Dead" album decries. The record is good, but we're not exactly sure we agree with the sentiment. Pharoahe Monch's new one just dropped, soon to be followed by Talib Kweli and Common. Got that new Jazzy Jeff in rotation too. Hip-hop might be okay.
On the very short list of D.C.'s best bands -- especially in a live setting -- is the Points (listen). Most bands in this town want to be your friends, your buddies. The Points would rather spit beer at you. And we love them for that. The whole confrontational band thing isn't exactly new and can come off as a crutch for groups that don't have songs to make you care, but the Points aren't lacking for those. The quartet's unique guitar/moog/drums/theremin attack is trashy, noisy and memorable. Barnburner "Rock n Roll No Rules" is always a showstopper and there are plenty more like it. Give 'em half an hour and they'll make you a fan, even if you have to throw your shirt in the washing machine right when you get home. The Crucials and the Breakups open at the Velvet Lounge.
Man, Jimmy Buffet fans have a reputation as Hawaiian-shirt-wearing slackers, but we didn't know it was this bad: The local Parrot Head fan clubs are encouraging people to take today off -- the day after Buffet's sold-out Nissan Pavilion concert -- and come "spend the day lounging by the pool" at a Best Western in Manassas. There's a full 10 hours of partying and live music on tap at the Second Wind Pool Party, including the tropical-inspired tunes of Small Town and the Calypso Nuts. Tickets for the indoor-outdoor affair are $40, which includes dinner, pool access and the evening concert at the hotel bar, Addy's. (There are hotel discounts available if you just can't bring yourself to leave.) Make reservations here.
Saturday, June 30
It's really started to feel like summer in Washington this week, thanks to the steamy heat and the sudden rainshowers. But instead of focusing on our oppressive weather, let's imagine we're somewhere more pleasant, with sun and a beach. Somewhere like . . . Rio. Euronet International is taking just that tack tonight, throwing a Brazilian Summer Night Party at Heritage India, complete with high-energy Brazilian music from DJ Marcelo, cold drinks and a "best summer outfit" competition for both women and men. Doors open at 11, and tickets are $10 in advance from the Euronet Web site.