Thursday, August 30, 2007; 12:00 AM
Thursday, August 30
If you're looking for a confrontational show, tonight's Deerhunter/Clockcleaner double bill at the Black Cat's backstage is a sure bet. Philadelphia's Clockcleaner is known more for its actions than for their music, which is a pretty good update of the vicious, lewd noise rock favored by bands like the Butthole Surfers and the Jesus Lizard. (To know why they've earned the tag of "Philly's most hated band," read this recent article from the Philadelphia Weekly.) If you're standing near the stage -- and even if you aren't -- be prepared for the possibility of being antagonized. Deerhunter may seem positively charming after Clockcleaner, but the band hasn't been without its recent share of controversy itself. Lead singer Bradford Cox has made some, well, questionable statements on the band's blog, which has turned into a must-read for indie kids with far too much time to kill. He also usually wears sundresses on stage. But none of that should take away from the fact that Deerhunter's album "Cryptograms" is one of 2007's most satisfying albums, with a unique and expertly-crafted ambient punk sound.
You can eat and drink well in Cleveland Park, but there aren't too many options for an evening that can run from lounging to seriously getting your boogie on. It looks like Aroma is taking a step back toward the days when it was a required destination for those looking for a mature but low-hassle combo of great DJs and a fun crowd. Selectadeb is teaming up with DJ Hut's John Johnson for tonight's debut of the Peas & Rice party. John Johnson has a history at Aroma that goes back to groundbreaking residencies with his Groovedistrict crew in the '90s. He was also a part of the Abstract Motion crew at Five, who were the first DJs we'd heard in Washington playing the emerging broken beat sounds of West London for anyone other than themselves and other forward thinking DJs.
Friday, August 31
In a few short weeks, Buzz will make its triumphant return to the D.C. nightlife scene, holding down every Friday night at Fur. We've missed their great DJ lineups and out-of-this-world party vibe, and can't wait to see who they book for the big opening party on September 21. While looking for a new home, Buzz has been hosting a series of DJ events at the odd RNR Bar & Lounge, where the vibe is more sports bar than music destination. The Sleaze DJs -- Simon, Spiggy and Matt Nordstrom -- spin solid sets of electro and techno, while Daniella Downs and Ransom drop breakbeats. Dubbed "Save the Bees" after the puzzling disappearance of billions of American honeybees, a portion of the evening's proceeds will be given to organizations researching the bees' behavior. Admission is $10 at the door, or $5 if you e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The event is open to women 18-and-over, while men have to be 21.
For some bands, a CD release show is simply another show, except this time there's a new product at the merch table. Justin Jones and the Driving Rain aren't treating their CD release show this way. The roots-rock quartet will showcase songs from its third album, "... And I Am the Song of the Drunkards" at the Rock and Roll Hotel with plenty of help from some friends. Frequent Thievery Corporation contributor Frank Mitchell will lend his saxophone talents, and Carlos Lineres of the Pietasters will play trumpet. Jimmy Stelling of old-timey throwback faves the Hackensaw Boys will play banjo (of course), while lap and pedal steel will be provided by everybody's favorite collaborator, Tom Hnatow. Rose Guerin (maybe you know her simply as Rose) and Lissy Rosemont of Junior League will make for some of the best makeshift backing vocals. Not only will it make the show feel more like an "event," but it should work well, since many of the songs on the new album are adorned with the extra flourishes that the guests will provide.
Today is Independence Day in Trinidad and Tobago, marking 45 years since the island nation broke from Great Britain, and there will be celebrating with soca music and lively tassa drums tonight at Zanzibar on the Waterfront. Calypso legend Black Stalin, a five-time winner of the Calypso Monarch competition, headlines the evening, which also features performances by slam poetry champion Roger Bonair-Agard, the Blazing Fire Tassa Group and Francis Richards & Company. Doors open at 6 p.m., and tickets are $20 in advance.
Lovers of Caribbean music might also want to visit Zanzibar's neighbor H2O, where Dominican singer Andy Andy's romantic bachata songs will have ladies swooning and the dance floor moving. Get on the guest list at www.h2odc.com and you get in free.
Despite the fact that Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suade's insular slang was nearly indecipherable, the hip-hop duo known as Camp Lo had some huge singles in the '90s that can still get the party live. "Luchini" and "Black Nostaljack" earned them a couple of slots among the classics, but it was a sexy Janet Jackson loop on 1996's "Coolie High" that first got DJs checking for Profile Records again. With a throwback style reminiscent of a Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier buddy film, Camp Lo's "Uptown Saturday Night" long player was a sleeper underground hit. Over the years they'd pop back up with bangers like "Glow" but couldn't catch on again with the masses. Now they're reunited with original producer Ski, who also helmed the boards for Jay-Z's early work. The resulting new album and mixtape are promising, and much like Ghostface Killah has done over the years, the Lo boys have simplified their heavily coded lyrics to good effect. Get a taste at Liv tonight.
Saturday, September 1
Time has flown by, but it's been 15 years since Dr. Dre unveiled "The Chronic," the most influential hip-hop album of '90s. Packed with P-Funk samples, gangsta boasting and endless dissing of Eazy-E and Tim Dog, the lyrical highlights of the album were delivered by a gangly newcomer from Long Beach named Snoop Doggy Dogg. His drawling, sing-song vocals and clever wordplay made him a huge hit -- his CD "Doggystyle," was the first debut album to enter the charts at #1, and "fo' shizzle" entered the national lexicon. Despite brushes with the law and some questionable career choices -- hosting a "Girls Gone Wild" DVD? Seriously? -- Snoop's managed to keep himself in the spotlight. He's playing down the gangsta image these days, marketing himself as a jovial, almost grandfatherly pimp, though he keeps making hits with the likes of Akon and R. Kelly. Snoop hasn't touched Washington for a few years, but he's performing tonight at Love. The lines will be around tha block, so get there early, and it's a smart idea to pick up tickets in advance.
We doubt there will be too many people booking flights and hotel rooms like they did for the Dismemberment Plan reunion shows back in April, but there will still be a packed house at Iota tonight as Travis Morrison celebrates the release of his excellent new album "All Y'All." Go ahead and compare it to "The Dismemberment Plan Is Terrified" or "Emergency and I" if you must, but you'd be better off just appreciating its funkiness, quirkiness and playfulness on its own merits. Morrison remains a dynamic frontman and while you can expect to hear lots of material from the new record, keep your ears open for some newer tunes as well. Travis (we'll go on a first-name basis since, you know, he works on the floor below us and has his paychecks signed by the same person that signs ours) says the songs he and the Hellfighters are cooking up now are "blowing [his] mind."
How's this for a farewell to summer: dancing to the area's finest big band on the Kennedy Center's roof terrace, for free. The Tom Cunningham Orchestra has been a favorite of local swing dancers for years, specializing in the authentically brassy sounds of Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman. Dynamic musicianship means you don't have to get up and Lindy Hop to enjoy the show -- you can just watch the experts in the crowd do their thing -- but there's an hour-long primer on the basic steps before the orchestra fires up. Three hours of swing, a dance lesson, a postcard view of the Potomac, and it's all free.
Speaking of outdoor music, is there a better way to say goodbye to summer than a rooftop cookout? Four local house DJs are throwing a party at Five tonight with free beer (from 7 to 9), barbecue (tips or donations accepted), and specials on frozen drinks. Best of all, there's no cover if you come early. Join Ramiro, Brandon Black, Cruxial and Colin C from 7 p.m. until the wee hours of the morning.