Thursday, July 12, 2007; 12:00 AM
It's Bastille Day weekend, and Francophones will find a number of parties around town where they can toast the health of the Fifth Republic. Click here for our longer list of events.
Thursday, July 12
With all the love Allen Iverson gets in D.C., you'd think he was from here, instead of Hampton, Va., or that he hung around Georgetown longer than two years before heading to the NBA. (Okay, not everyone loves A.I. in D.C.) Every summer, Iverson hosts a celebrity softball game in Bowie that brings in big names to raise money for charity. According to the Reliable Source, "among the expected VIPs are fellow Denver Nugget Carmelo Anthony, Patti LaBelle, Vivica A. Fox, stars of the Wizards and 'The Wire' and other pro athletes and music biz types." Along with the fundraising, of course, is a huge weekend of parties and events that trade on Iverson's name and reputation to draw large crowds to clubs. (Just beware of the Nuggets star's bodyguards, unless you want to find yourself injured but ultimately $260,000 richer.) Tonight's "Kickoff Party" at Fur kicks off the festivities with mixtape DJ SNS, and promoters are saying that the "invited guests" include most of the folks confirmed for the softball game, plus Floyd Mayweather, Clipse and Method Man. Will you see any of the superstars? Doubtful, but it can't hurt to try -- grab a pass for free admission from MadPowerUnit.com, then get there early to make sure you get in the doors.
There have been a number of attempts to cross the bhangra and hip-hop markets over the years, primarily by adding Indian rhythms and percussion to American hip-hop tracks. The biggest hit came when Jay-Z lent his rhymes to the thundering dhol drums and Indian rhythms of Punjabi MC's "Mundian To Bach Ke" to create "Beware of the Boys," but other producers, most notably Timbaland, have dabbled in the sound. Now the shoe's on the other foot. For last year's hit "2 Step Bhangra," Canadian group the Bilz took what sounds like a standard, shuffling T-Pain-esque club beat, and mixed verses and choruses in both Punjabi and English. The result is a tune that would feel equally at home on urban dance floors in Mumbai or New York. (Watch the video here.) New follow-up single "Spanish Fly" follows a similar formula, although it's not as memorable as "2 Step." Desi fans get a special treat tonight when the Bilz and singer Kashif make their Washington debut at the Southern Hospitality party at MCCXXIII alongside DJs Bikram Keith, Dynamix and Big Boi. Arrive early for $3 domestic beers and $4 rail drinks. Tickets for the 18-and-over event are $15 in advance from http://www.shparty.com.
With the sad demise of the Warehouse Next Door, the city lost its primary venue for avant-garde and experimental music. Thankfully, the Velvet Lounge has stepped up to fill the void. The U Street club lacks some of the DIY charm of the Warehouse, not to mention those $2 cans of Schlitz, and the bands will have to deal with lugging equipment up that steep staircase, but those are small complaints, especially now that shows are starting at more reasonable hours. It's a bit of an oxymoron to have a "high-profile" experimental show, but tonight's with Richard Pinhas Duo qualifies. Pinhas is widely regarded as the father of electronic music in France, as he was one of the first to blend the noise of guitar-based rock music with the emerging electronic technologies. He remains a master manipulator of sound and those with an appreciation for textures and tones shouldn't miss his only East Coast appearance of the year. Local drone favorites Insect Factory open.
Cool Cee Brown has the humor and distinctive voice of Ludacris, the underground cred of MF Doom and the D.C. swagger of any cat who has rocked Madness gear or dubbed a go-go P.A. tape. His partner Joe D's got beats and more beats. As Dirty Water, their numerous releases can ably occupy the same playlist space as your EPMD and Little Brother tracks. Tonight the duo is sharing the Black Cat backstage with W. Ellington Felton and DJ Underdog of Major.
We've written about Asylum's Guitar Hero tournament before but just want to point out that the winner of tonight's rockin' video game competition gets tickets to see Slayer later this month. That's so metal it hurts. Signup at 8:30, contest begins at 10.
Femi Kuti's genes run deep. Like his legendary father Fela Anikulapo Kuti, known as the founder of Afrobeat, Femi plays marathon concerts with enough personnel and manic energy to not only fill a bus but also power it. He wails away on sax and keys and decries the corruption of Nigeria's ruling class in ways that almost make you believe in reincarnation. But this not just rehashing an old legacy. Femi's spin on his dad's creation is as relevant and exciting as it ever was, and he's not afraid to add new flavors to the stew. With the significant cultural underpinnings of the music, it's actually comforting to see tradition not only continue but to thrive. Femi will be sweating it out with his massive ensemble tonight at the 9:30 club.
It will soon be two years since hip-hop producer James "J. Dilla" Yancey passed away. While alive, Dilla really only got the acclaim that he deserved from serious hip-hop and soul heads, but those same devotees have been diligent in making sure the historical record shows that Dilla was one of the best of all time, if not the hands-down best. Unlike a lot of the unfortunate shilling of archival work from other deceased hip-hop stars, Dilla's posthumous releases have only solidified his standing. His catalog is so impressive in its depth and breadth that for the second year in a row, a practical We Are The World of Washington artists will be paying tribute by performing Dilla's work live. Led by drummer and producer J. Laine, whose "Applejons" project is directly inspired by Dilla's "Donuts," the J. Dilla Memorial Concert lineup at Bohemian Caverns extends from beat banging Dilla disciples like Kev Brown, Roddy Rod and Grap Luva to vocalists Musinah, Wayna and many more. As Dilla Dog was fond of saying, "Turn it UP!"
The Allen Iverson takeover continues tonight with a party at Love, and really, its numerous levels, open layout and multitude of bars make Love the best club in town for this kind of multi-level VIP-gawker extravaganza. WKYS is broadcasting live, so you'll get all the hip-hop hits you know, love and have heard 100 times before. Marcandtaz.com has a pass for free admission before 11. Don't sleep on the dress code.