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Nightlife Agenda

Saturday, October 27
Since the 31st falls on a Wednesday, tonight's the big night for Halloween parties. Rather than recap everything that's going on, here are a few highlights:

Young professionals organizations Things to Do D.C. and Professionals in the City are hosting dueling bashes (at the Hard Rock Cafe and Grand Central, respectively) with similar themes: salsa lessons, costume contests, DJs and dancing, vampire hosts. Both also have the same grand prize: A trip to Iceland, courtesy of Iceland Airways, so make sure your costume is top-notch.

The annual Nightmare on M Street Bar Crawl features $2 and $3 beers at 13 different downtown bars, plus a midnight costume contest with $500 in prizes. Register at Rumors or the Front Page, then wander to any bar you choose: Singapore Bistro, Porter's, Ozio, McFadden's, Five, Black Rooster Pub, Madhatter, Penang, Recessions, James Hoban's or Overtime Cafe. (Hint: This crawl tends to attract thousands of participants, so the best ways to get your money's worth are to go early or to pick some of the lesser-known places, like Overtime Cafe or James Hoban's.)

We can't resist the D.C. Zombie Lurch, which starts with costumed zombies dancing to "Thriller" at the Washington Monument -- seriously -- and then bar crawling in full gore-covered regalia to Club Midnight at the Meeting Place, where there's a costume contest and dancing.

The Clarendon Ballroom's annual Monster Bash blowout is one of the most packed events in town, with Dewey favorites Mr. Greengenes and resident DJ Pat Premier. The costume contest includes several hundred dollars in prizes for the best and "most original" outfits. Get there early or you might be forced to wait in line outside.

If you want solid party music, Gonzo's Nose and That Guy are two of the most dependable cover bands in town. They're both performing at Fright Night at the Front Page. If you've been to the Ballston pub, you know things can get a little ¿ cramped on weekends, so tonight's celebration is expanding expanding into the atrium of the office building next door to make room for more revelers. There's a $300 prize for the best costume, and arrive early: Women are admitted free before 9, and the cover charge, which starts at $5, is schedule to rise throughout the night.

DJ Herve, who spins at the Alliance Francaise's parties, has organized an Angels and Demons party at Tabaq, with "internationals '80s and '90s music." His past Halloween events have drawn a well-dressed European crowd. Want something simpler? My Brother's Place has a $10 cover, $2 beers and $4 rum drinks all night, and the winner of the costume contest gets a happy hour for 10 friends, which includes an open bar. How can you beat that?

Okay, something not Halloween related:

Mention rock bands from Montreal and you're likely to think of over-the-top indie rock like the Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade or the Unicorns. King Khan and BBQ Show (listen) are the complete opposite of that. The two-man group is stripped-down garage rock at its finest, playing trashy, catchy, rockabilly-influenced stompers. And we mean stompers in a pretty literal sense. The drum kit used by Mark Sultan (aka BBQ) often consists simply of a kick drum and tambourine, so he can leave his hands free to accompany Blacksnake (aka King Khan) on guitar. This is more hip-shaking than head-banging garage rocks, so be ready to get down. Local wild children the Points (listen) open at the Red & the Black.

Sunday, October 28
TV on the Radio isn't quite big time but they are at least big time. A featured slot at Virgin Festival, sold-out two night stand at the 9:30 Club, major articles in magazines that your parents might have even heard of. So the fact that Kyp Malone (watch/listen), guitarist for the Brooklyn art-rockers, is playing a rare solo gig at tiny Galaxy Hut is pretty big news. As with many one-off projects, don't expect it to be quite as accessible as TV on the Radio -- not always known for being the easiest band to absorb themselves. At the very least, the evening gives you an opportunity to get up close and personal with one of the greatest beards around these days. Janel and Anthony open.

All those college kids who hoarded 7-inch records from seminal bands like Black Tambourine, Jane Pow and Velocity Girl in the early '90s are all grown up now, probably with office jobs and maybe even families. So the big question is: Will they be able to muster up the energy to stay out until past 1 a.m. on a Sunday night for one of the best local indie pop shows of the year? Openers the Lodger (listen) are Slumberland's quasi-re-launch band -- the U.K. group's album "Grown-Ups" is the first full-length released by the label in nearly six years -- and it features that same classic wistful, jangly sound the label specialized in for so many years. Headliners Lorelei (listen) were responsible for some of those seminal records on the label during its first go-round, and a recent reformation has found the group's shoegazing sound aging quite gracefully. It's middle band Public Record (listen) that might be the most interesting act on the bill, though. The Philadelphia quintet seems slightly out of place in between two indie-pop acts with its everything-meets-everything sound (seriously, it's all there -- reggae, jazz, afro-pop, funk, soul, rock, you name it), but who needs a completely homogenous bill anyway? The eclecticism never feels forced, and the funkiness always feels fresh. (On a side note, guitarist Greg Pavlovcak was a member of criminally overlooked local '90s act the Ropers -- who recorded for Slumberland, of course -- making him the fourth former member of the band to perform at the Velvet Lounge in the last eight days after Mike Donovan played with Sic Alps last Sunday and Doug Bailey and Alex Hacker played with (The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope on Monday. Where's Mike Hammel, anyone?

Van Hunt (listen) is often compared to Prince, but he's more likely to cite Sly Stone, Fela Kuti, and George Benson as primary influences. The first one seems particularly fitting, since Sly merged soul and rock in a way that no one before him had conceived of, and now Van Hunt creates new music comfortably in that niche. Go on and add Curtis Mayfield in there for good measure, since you can hear him in the falsetto and guitar work on Van Hunt's ballads. These influences are synthesized rather than aped, and the end result can't be neatly boxed up. That explains why he's ended up at Blue Note of all places after his run of albums on Capitol. You can get familiar with "Popular," Van Hunt's forthcoming release on that venerable jazz label, at the Black Cat tonight.

Monday, October 29
The Comedians of Comedy are like the anti-Dane Cook. The revel in their nerdiness -- it's pretty much Brian Posehn's entire routine -- and everything is understated and weird instead of over-the-top and obvious. Patton Oswalt made an odd mainstream breakthrough as the main voice in "Ratatouille" over the summer, but his stand-up routine remains reliably cranky and vicious. Posehn, a regular scene stealer on "The Sarah Silverman Program," is one the funniest/angriest nerds around. Maria Bamford makes sure the evening isn't simply guys night out and does the innocent-to-shocking thing as well as it can be done. And Eugene Mirman ... well, he's just a weirdo. Laught it up at the Black Cat.

We've all read florid descriptions of beers that had no relation to what we tasted when we took that first sip. (Notes of plum? Who does Bass think they're kidding?) Think you can break through the codes? Put your tastebuds to the test at Hard Times Cafe in Bethesda tonight at the bar's annual mystery beer tasting. Representatives of 10 breweries take turns talking about their fall beers -- the style, the malts and hops used, whatever. Then you taste 10 unlabeled beers. The object is to match each official "description" to one of the brews. It's a lot more difficult than you think, and will have plenty of people scratching their heads by the end, wondering which IPA is which. (The customer with the highest number of matches wins a prize.) The $25 ticket includes beers and a meal, usually chili, wings and such. Reservations are suggested, so call the restaurant ASAP.

Wednesday, October 31
Halloween merits a post unto itself. Keep watching the Going Out Gurus blog.

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