Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz Staff Writers
Thursday, July 19, 2007; 12:00 AM

Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Monday

Thursday, July 19
Rock'em Sock'em Robots is one of the coolest toys ever -- the 1960s version of "Mike Tyson's Punch Out." The robot-shaped boxers have been making a comeback lately -- seen those Dodge Ram truck ads? -- and Mattel has reissued a new version of our favorite plastic pugilists. If you mastered that art of rockin' and sockin' as a kid, head to Ventnor Sports Cafe tonight for a new weekly Rock'em Sock'em Robots Tournament. The competition begins at 9, and winners receive Amex gift cards, among other prizes.

As much as the city benefits from the many salsa nights featuring DJs and live bands, sometimes the ambience is at odds with the vibe that the music and dance aim to generate. Tonight Eighteenth Street Lounge welcomes Bio Ritmo, a Richmond band steeped in the grittier tradition of Nuyorican '70s-era salsa -- the time when the Fania label was at its peak. Get your sexy salsa on without the twin aromas of ketchup and stale beer.

A chatter recently came to us seeking a Thursday night hip-hop option akin to Reunion Thursdays or Ghetto Rock -- the kind of events that have served the niche of folks who find it perplexing to wear slacks and hard shoes to a hip-hop club. Here's our latest answer: DJ Bill Source -- a long time veteran of the scene and current resident at Daylight -- is dusting off his classic hip-hop plates for a new weekly party. Throwback on Thursdays at The Common Share will feature a backbone of classic hip-hop with funk breaks and R&B. We've seen some wild out behavior at the Common Share on weekends, but the absence of any ringtone rap should have a self-selecting effect on this event.

The Front Page restaurants hosted a charitable golf tournament earlier this week, and they're hosting a golf-and-tennis-themed party tonight at the Ballston branch to celebrate. (Too bad we can't print the real name of the event.) We can tell you that golf and/or tennis attire is suggested, and there will be prizes for the best costumes, so run out on your lunch break to pick up some plaid plants or a swingy white dress. Drinks are half-price from 4 to 7, and free tacos are served from 5 to 7. DJ Smoky is on the decks spinning party jams, and the giveaways should start around 9.

Friday, July 20
It's not unusual for Baltimore bands to be featured in this space, and usually words such as "spastic" and "experimental" won't be too far away. That's not the case with J Roddy Walston and the Business (listen), though. The Baltimore quartet plays old-fashioned rock-and-roll, the kind that sounds best in a sweaty club, not an arty warehouse space. J Roddy bashes away on his piano while screaming enthusiastically in a hoarse voice, and the rest of the group channels the likes of the Band, Mott the Hoople and Jerry Lee Lewis. It's fun and plenty rocking, but far from mindless. After a long work week, the Business seems like the perfect band to let loose to on a Friday evening. Office faves the Jet Age (listen) headline at Iota.

Tonight the FunkDC crew takes over one of the best spots in town for those looking to lounge, converse and listen to creative DJs. Kid Gusto, Sean Haney, Moose and Neil Payne will be in rotation all night at Science Club, selecting from their deep arsenal of rare grooves, funk, dub and Afro-Latin workouts. You won't see them all together again for awhile, as they're about to put some new stamps on their passports, so you'll want to take advantage of an evening with the crew without a cover charge.

Evil Disco was one of our favorite events at the Wonderland Ballroom, thanks to hard-rocking DJ Hey Sailor spinning Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper and the monthly Guitar Hero 2 tournaments on the bar's big screen. Hey Sailor -- also a Wonderland bartender named Kara -- parted ways with the Columbia Heights nightspot last month, but in true metal fashion, the party will not die. Evil Disco makes its move to the Black Cat's backstage tonight, and you can expect all the metal and punk you can stand. There's no cover.

Upstairs, meanwhile, it's yet another "artist versus artist" dance party -- seriously, aren't people tired of this format yet? -- but at least it's an original one. At "A Little Respect," DJ Lil'E is taking on two of the greatest synthpop bands of the '80s: Erasure and the Pet Shop Boys. You'll hear the hits. You'll hear some remixes. You should wear one of those BOY hats or, at the very least, something flashy and interesting. Neil Tennant and Andy Bell would want it that way.

Many of us vinyl nuts and working DJs rely on the staff at DJ Hut to feed our addiction for new jams, but with the exception of Sam Burns and Stylus Chris, party people aren't generally aware that those hard working retailers are all accomplished veteran club jocks. After almost 30 years in the game, DJ Dub -- known as James Graham to his mom -- doesn't have to grind like he did when he was helping to build the D.C. house scene in the '80s. These days he can pick and choose gigs that allow him to share his musical vision with mature and appreciative audiences. Already holding down Wednesdays and Saturdays at Mie-N-Yu, he's adding to his Georgetown portfolio with a new Friday weekly at Fetoosh.

Saturday, July 21st
In a town that isn't exactly lacking for polished, slightly dramatic alt-rock, the Hard Tomorrows (listen) were one of the more dependable peddlers of that genre. After four years that included plenty of local shows, an EP and a strong album, the band is calling it quits. Hey, it happens. There wasn't much to separate the Hard Tomorrows from other bands that were able to break out of their respective hometowns to achieve wider success, but that's how the music biz goes. Maybe they needed a better street team. Say goodbye at the Red & the Black.

Electronic music trends and subgenres come and go with the tides, but the Planet of the Drums keeps rolling along. Three of the country's top drum 'n' bass DJs -- Dara, AK1200 and the all-conquering Dieselboy -- and MC Messinian have hit the road for the eighth consecutive summer, including a stop tonight at the 9:30 club. The format this year sounds intense: Three turntables and three CD decks, with two of the three DJs spinning at any given time, rotating through a selection of records. Expect anything from dark, thunderous beats to whipcracking breaks. Tickets are $22 in advance and $25 at the door.

El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico has been wowing the world's salsa dancers for more than 45 years, and has been the launching pad for a number of famous musicians, including singers Pell?n Rodr?guez and Andy Monta?ez and percussionist Roberto Roena, who went on to form Apollo Sound and played with the Fania All-Stars. The lineup has changed many times over the past four decades, but the sound has remained tight and clear, thanks to pianist and musical director Rafael Ithier, who has been with the band since its inception. Salsa fans owe themselves the chance to dance to El Gran Combo at least once, and the band is performing at the Hilton Hotel in Tysons Corner tonight. Tickets are $40 for the dance and $95 for a full dinner package. See for more information, or call 703-750-9277.

We're starting to think Stellastarr* would rather be DJs than rock stars. The New York-based new wave band hasn't released an album since September 2005, but they seem to find time to DJ at DC9 and the Rock and Roll Hotel every few months. (Note to the Garutachi/Electrotease promoters: How about shaking the schedule up a little and putting DJ gigs by Stellastarr* and VHS or Beta on hiatus, eh?) Stellastarr* is back at the Rock and Roll Hotel tonight, along with the ever-popular Ris Richards (it's contractually required to mention he was in Q and Not U) and Garutachi resident DJ Ca$$idy. The parties can be fun, and the best part is that admission is free if you RSVP to or just show up before 10.

Sunday, July 22
We're unabashed D.C. United fans, and as such, we hate Red Bull New York, the team with the worst name in American professional sports. United travel up to New Jersey today to play the "Artists" Formerly Known as the Metrostars, and while we aren't heading to the game, we'll be watching in spirit on the No Bull Bar Tour on Capitol Hill. The seven-bar crawl includes $2 Budweiser products and $4 Stella Artois beers at Capitol Lounge, the Hawk and Dove, Pour House, 18th Amendment, Tune Inn, Finn Mac Cool's and the Ugly Mug from 1 to 7, plus a pre-game album release party for Nightlife Agenda favorites Scythian at Finn Mac Cool's -- the band plays at 4 p.m., and United kicks off at 5. Tickets are $15, and include deals at all the pubs, the concert and a ticket to watch United spank New York at RFK Stadium on Aug. 22. (There's even a tailgate party before the game.) Make your first stop the Ugly Mug to pay for admission, then get crawling.

Is Blitzen Trapper the Next Big Thing or just the next Clap Your Hands Say Yeah? Both bands rocketed from obscurity to indie-buzz-band-of-the-moment when their self-released albums were given the big stamp of approval by Pitchfork. The CYHSY trajectory led to a quick spike in success -- locally, they sold out the Black Cat, then sold out the 9:30 club just a few months later. Then they released a second album that no reputable blogger (good one, right?) would ever admit to liking. Blitzen Trapper's recent "Wild Mountain Nation" is the Portland, Ore., band's second effort, and it's a mish-mash collection of everything from bluegrass to glam to folk to classic indie. It's an impressive batch of songs that shows impressive diversity in songwriting that might portend a more productive future than other out-of-nowhere success stories. Even if Blitzen Trapper turns out to be a dud, the presence of headliner David Vandervelde (listen) should make the show plenty worth checking out. The young Chicagoan loves T. Rex even more than Richard Attenborough, but his album, "The Moon Station House Band" is more than straight tribute, it's a very strong indie-glam album, especially for a debut. Locals Bellman Barker open at the Rock and Roll Hotel.

Monday, July 23
The Ponys (listen) are a great band -- one of the best rock acts around, for sure. The Chicago quartet packs a mighty punch with its guitar-heavy attack, putting the rock back into indie rock. It also has fine taste in opening bands; perhaps a little too fine. Back in March, garage-rockers-on-the-rise Black Lips opened for the band at the Black Cat and if they didn't quite steal the show, they came pretty close. The Ponys have been demoted to the Black Cat's backstage for this gig -- it's a Monday night in July in D.C., so it's sort of understandable -- but the opening act might once again steal their thunder. Jay Reatard (listen) plays songs that snap you to attention and rattle your bones. This year's "Night of Broken Glass" EP is four songs and eight minutes of twitchy, catchy new wave and punk-informed garage rock. On a per-minute basis, it very well may be the best album of the year. If you think rock is dead, or even just dying, a trip to the Black Cat tonight will easily convince you otherwise.

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