Thursday, October 11, 2007; 12:00 AM
The District's Awake! Music Festival is in town this week -- see David's picks, complete with MP3s to download, on the Going Out Gurus blog -- so we'll be offering a "pick of the night" in addition to our usual recommendations.
Thursday, October 11
DAM! Festival Pick of the Night: We gave you fair warning on A Place to Bury Strangers (listen). A few weeks after the band's killer show at the Black Cat in August, it received the ultimate hipster endorsement -- the "Best New Music" tag from Pitchfork -- and now APTBS seems well on its way. Any success the band receives is well-deserved, as the New York trio's effects-laden, loud-as-hell shoegaze is one of the most exciting sounds around right now. It's a packed bill tonight at the Rock and Roll Hotel, as APTBS is scheduled smack in the middle, after Via Audio (listen) and Slaraffenland (listen) and before those poor souls who have to follow them on stage, the Big Sleep (listen) and Dirty on Purpose (listen).
Most DJs can be pinned with some sort of style descriptor like trance, house, breaks, electro-dub-grime-step or minimal ambient techno. It seems like hyper-specialization is even a badge of honor in some circles. DJ Spinna is a rare breed who represents the classic DJ mindset of employing as wide a range of stylistic tools as possible to rock a room. Building his reputation in the early '90s, he released several breakbeat-based DJ tools that launched his hip-hop career. His work with Jigmastas, Polyrhythm Addicts, Mos Def and many more solidified his place in the indie hip-hop explosion of that time. He's also legendary in the house world, having produced scores of must-have remixes and legendary originals like Shaun Escoffery's "Days Like This." Spinna's soul credentials are also impeccable. His mixsets and compilations mine the deepest Northern soul, disco and rare groove plates, while his two artist albums showcase emerging nu-soul talents like Angela Johnson and Abdul Shyllon. Although Brooklyn isn't far away, Spinna doesn't make it down here very often. We think it's worth a trip to catch him at Mosaic in Baltimore, especially since it'll only cost you a fiver after 10 p.m. Get there early for Mark Styles's opening set and you'll get in for free.
Friday, October 12
The Alliance Francaise's series of "Soiree Carte Blanche" parties was originally styled after "the best Parisian happy hours," but the occasional events have become much more than that, mixing poetry, house music, avant-garde films, iPod DJing, crepes and champagne into get-togethers that encourage cross-cultural conversation as well as dancing. Tonight's installment moves to the Hillwood Estate, with happy hour held in the museum and its grounds. Visitors can choose between exploring the grounds, spinning a few tunes from their MP3 player, watch French-language videos or just mix and mingle with the interesting crowd. (You don't have to be a francophone to participate, but it doesn't hurt.) Admission is $8 in advance or $10 at the door, though you do need to RSVP to 202-686-5807. As a bonus, the Alliance is offering rides from its Kalorama headquarters at 6 and 6:30 p.m., then a shuttle back to the Metro once the party's over.
Your local electro/bloghouse DJs know that the words "MSTRKRFT Remix" is a mark of quality. Over the last two years, the Canadian duo MSTRKRFT (listen) has created dancefloor anthems by reworking the likes of Justice, Bloc Party, Annie, the Kills, Chromeo and Panthers. The latter's "Thank Me With Your Hands" went from hardcore to catchy hardcore electro-funk under MSTRKRFT's guidance. You've heard these remixes at local parties like Bliss, See You Next Tuesday and Nouveau Riche, but tonight's your chance to see MSTRKRFT -- pronounced "Master Craft" -- live, when Jesse F. Keeler (ex-Death from Above 1979) and Al-P (ex-Girlsareshort) take the stage at Buzz at Fur.
DAM! Festival Pick of the Night: Both shows tonight feature some promising bands. At the Rock and Roll Hotel there's genre-defying Cleveland weirdos Dragon of Zynth (listen) along with extremely tuneful locals The Beanstalk Library (listen). At the Red & the Black, peppy popsters Hallelujah the Hills (listen) and the Subjects (listen) should get people bouncing up and down. But we're psyched for the afterparty at the Hotel, which is dubbed We Fought the Hej. It's a combination of two of the city's best indie DJ nights, the Scandinavian pop-flavored Hej Hej and obscuro-post-punk spinnin' We Fought the Big One. We're not sure what the setup will be, but we'll assume that DJs Natalya and Trickster will trade off sets. It might be a bit jarring to keep switching back and forth between Acid House Kings, the Birthday Party, Love Is All and the Teardrop Explodes. Admission is free.
Ledisi (listen) gets no run in the modern world of R&B and you'll only occasionally hear her on adult contemporary radio, but she's doing just fine not being a household name. The northern California diva packs rooms from coast to coast with a powerful jazz-trained alto rooted in old soul. When she was still honing her chops in Bay Area jazz clubs, her self-released CDs found their way to fans around the world by word of mouth, and they quickly went out of print as soon as she could press up subsequent batches. Thankfully, that's no longer a problem. Her "Lost & Found" album, released on the venerable Verve Records this year, is reaching a wider audience who find themselves wondering how they're just now discovering this amazing vocalist. Ledisi brings together fans who love Jill Scott and Ella Fitzgerald at the Birchmere tonight.
Last summer, we were stoked about Gallery, the restaurant/lounge/dance club that brought a ton of energy to Silver Spring. With guest DJs like Derrick Carter, Roy Davis Jr. and DJ Sneak, Gallery became a major player on the house music scene. Then the promoters left, the buzz died off and we only gave the place an occasional "what ever happened to ...?" thought. Now the Your Three Hosts group, which has hosted happy hours for the international crowd at Eyebar and Lima, is taking over Friday nights. They're calling it "City Limits" and offering an open bar from 10 to 11 p.m. In contrast to the Chicago house kings of 2006, though, the entertainment comes from DJ Freddy Van Pammel, whom none of us have every heard of (and a Google search turns up nothing). Still, it's nice to see a new night try and make something of Gallery's space, which includes front and rear patios, plus a large bar and dance floor. RSVP to y3h.org.
Saturday, October 13
DAM! Festival Pick of the Night: Even though Shudder to Think released three albums on Dischord, the band never really fit into the D.C. scene of the '90s. Or any scene, really. Lead singer Craig Wedren's (listen) falsetto vocals combined with some glam-rock tendencies ruled out fandom from the post-hardcore crowd and they never really made it with the slacker crowd, either. STT had its share of devoted fans, though, and one of them happens to be DAM! Festival booker Eric Boucher, who made it his mission this year to get the now-solo Wedren to perform. He succeeded and Wedren will bring the rock to the Rock and Roll Hotel, headlining tonight's bill with a full band in tow. Openers are Leeds, U.K. atmospheric rockers iLIKETRAINS (listen), local indie-rock mainstays Metropolitan (listen) and prog-y, all-over-the place New Yorkers Time of Orchids (listen).
Buzz has gotten a lot of press with its reopening, but Glow, the trance-heavy night at Ibiza, has also undertaken an aggressive booking strategy reminds fans of electronic dance music that there's more than one game in town. Tonight, for example, Dutch DJ Sander Kleinenberg (listen) is bringing his multimedia show to D.C. Though he's known for spinning crowd-pleasing progressive house at five-star clubs like Pacha, Space, Crobar and the Ministry of Sound, Kleinenberg was an early adopter of the DVD-DJ decks, which let the DJ mix the visuals as well as the sound.
Meanwhile, around the corner at Fur, Global Saturdays brings Serge Devant (listen), a resident at New York's Crobar. More importantly, though, Devant has ringing endorsements from DJs like Tiesto. Devant has studied music since childhood, which could be why his trance and electro-trance tunes have distinct melodies, make use of counterpoint and generally avoid that generic thump-thump rhythm that can be found far too often in the genre.
Sorry swing dancers, but the salsa crowd is taking over Glen Echo's Spanish Ballroom tonight. Aside from dance performances by the Latin Motion group, Keith Givens' Salsa Social features an hour-long intro-to-salsa lesson with local dance teacher Givens, and then three hours of classic mambo, cha-cha, rumba and classic Afro-Cuban salsa music from Orquesta Le Leyenda. Doors open at 7, with the lesson at 8.
Sunday, October 14
DAM! Festival Pick of the Night: Arbouretum (listen) is a fine last-minute addition to the festival lineup. The Baltimore group plays slow-moving, often-beautiful songs that split the difference between psych rock and post-rock. Frontman David Heumann has been a sideman for the likes of Will Oldham and Cass McCombs, but proves himself a fine bandleader. Arbouretum opens for Telograph (listen) at Iota.
Local quartet the Alphabetical Order (listen) sounds like it's having fun on its new album "I Am Magically Happening!" Not in a campy, over-the-top way, but in the way that it should sound when four people are making music that they are excited about. And the band should be excited about its full-length debut, an impressive collection of songs that looks fondly back at the '90s -- both locally and nationally -- without feeling like a mere tribute. Most songs have weird little twists and turns but manage to retain subtle pop charms. To celebrate the release of the new album, the band is selling it for $5 tonight at the Black Cat's backstage.
It's going to be hot and sweaty inside DC9 tonight, even if the recent heatwave is a thing of the past. We're not sure if Israeli garage punks Monotonix (listen) will light their drumset on fire -- it's probably a violation of some sort (our guess: fire code) -- but the band doesn't need fire to make its presence felt. If you like a band's live show to be filled with antics and general mayhem, this is a show for you. Openers TheDeathSet (listen) are one of Baltimore's premiere party bands, working things into a frenzy with punk guitars and an iPod rhythm section of samples and programmed beats. The blasts of energy come in 90-second bursts and you get a few seconds to catch your breath before the onslaught begins again in full.
Tuesday, October 16
We understand why Germans love Oktoberfest: Endless giant mugs of beer, piles of bratwurst, drunken singing. We don't understand the country's love affair with David Hasselhoff, though, especially after seeing poorly dubbed episodes of "Baywatch" and hearing the Hoff's sketchy (and slightly predatory) single "Jump in My Car," in which the former Michael Knight tries to lure ladies into his sports car despite their protestations, and then kicks them to the curb when he finds out where they live. (The video, which features the Hoff sending up his "Baywatch" and "Knight Rider" characters, redeems the song somewhat.) Anyway, back to Oktoberfest and the Hoff. Rustico is bringing back its Don't Hassel the Hof Brau party, which honors Munich's famous Hofbrau Oktoberfest beer as well as David Hasselhoff and Halloween. The restaurant will give away cool Hofbrau mugs with every beer purchased, and guests are encouraged to come in costume. We. Can't. Wait.