Thursday, November 1, 2007; 12:00 AM
Thursday, November 1
Club nights that deliver classic and non-mainstream hip-hop are like bands of revolutionaries in this town. They pop up unexpectedly and fight fiercely against the forces of Soulja Boy or whatever chicanery is on the radio these days, assemble a devoted band of converts to the cause, then ultimately fade off the scene, leaving tales of legendary deeds (i.e. smashed dancefloors and turntable heroics) in their wake. A long time soldier of the resistance, Quartermaine is reviving one of the most popular such parties in recent memory for one night only: Uncle Q's Living Room Reunion Party will return to Bourbon tonight with brothers in the struggle Harry Hotter and DJ Dredd manning the turntables.
Friday, November 2
If the brand-new Carlyle Club wasn't built with Doc Scantlin and His Imperial Palms Orchestra in mind, it may as well have been. Alexandria's new supper club, inspired by legendary art-deco nightspots in New York and Chicago, features beautiful leather banquettes, rich accents and dozens of tables with a view of the stage, which is big-enough for an 18-piece band. That view's important, because Scantlin is nothing if not the area's consummate showman. Dapper in a tux and tails, he leads his famed orchestra through versions of Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington hits, but also serves as ringmaster for the whole production, which includes songs performed by his wife Chou Chou, whose breathy croon recalls Marilyn Monroe and Betty Boop, and showgirls performing elaborate dance routines. The whole production is one of the most fascinating nights out in Washington. Scantlin will be at the club for two nights this weekend. Admission is $85 for the early 7:30 show and a four-course dinner, while $35 will let you watch you watch from the bar. The late show, which begins at 10 p.m., is $25 for general admission seating. Dress sharp.
DJ Lee Burridge doesn't do things half-heartedly. The "tour" for his last album included one-month residencies in seven different cities, including New York, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and Ibiza. And his latest mix, a stupendous three-disc effort for the underground Balance series on Australia's EQ Records, is an expansive, genre-hopping offering that builds from woozy, minimalist house through deep, wobbly techno and tech-house to a hard-charging climax on the third disc. The cohesive three-hours-plus collection is also one of the best representations of a DJ's club set that we've heard in some time. Let's hope Burridge drops plenty of bangers like Rejected's "Cliche" and Luca Bachetti's "Rolling Brooklyn" tonight at Fur, where he's headlining Buzz, along with Audiofly and local DJ Jason Royce, whose fun retro sets at Cobalt have landed him in this column before.
Saturday, November 3
The Thermals (listen) aren't necessarily one of my favorite bands, but they're one of those bands that I'm always in the mood to listen to. Even with 70 or so GBs in iTunes, there are plenty of times when nothing's jumping out at me. Enter the Thermals. The Portland group's ragged blasts of garage/punk always hit the spot, no matter the mood. And the Thermals are also one of the few bands that understand that brevity is a virtue for rock bands. Last year's album "The Body the Blood the Machine" is the band's magnum opus to date, clocking in at almost 36 minutes; the first two albums were both over within half an hour, but that doesn't mean there's any shortage of big hooks and bashing away. The band's last area show sold out, so you might want to hit the Black Cat a bit on the early side.
You can pretty much camp out at the 9:30 Club tonight for nearly 8 hours and gorge yourself on international future soul and jazzy downtempo soundscapes. Start out the evening with an early show with two bands fronted by women whose stage energy is so powerful it's almost mystical. Baltimore's Fertile Ground (listen) continues to weave spirituality, jazz fusion and soul into recordings and performances that keep them in demand internationally. Lead vocalist Navasha Daya is the light that makes the band's top flight rhythm and horn sections sparkle. Zap Mama (listen), the world music ensemble led by Marie Daulne, brews a stew of polyrhythms, multiple western and indigenous languages, funk, hip-hop and electronica into a whirlwind theatrical experience. Catch a breather from those two high energy bands, maybe cop a meal around U Street, and then return for the Swedish duo Koop's (listen) retro-yet-futuristic mix of beat science and jazz, performed by their electronically augmented swing orchestra. DJ Christine Moritz drops nuanced rhythms as hors d'oeuvres before the main course.
The tiny Dominican Republic, which shares an island with Haiti, produces a disproportionate number of major league baseball players, including Washington's Wily Mo Pena, Cristian Guzman, Jesus Colome and manager Manny Acta. Still, our favorite Dominican exports are delicious Brugal rum and killer merengue music. You can get samples of both -- as well as the Dominican's "national beer," Presidente -- tonight at Avenue. The party's called "Quisqueya La Bella," which means "Beautiful Quisqueya" -- the name the island's original inhabitants used. DJs spin merengue, perico ripeao (a traditional type of merengue), salsa and bachata on one floor, while hip-hop and reggaeton are played in other parts of the three-story club. There's an open bar from 10 to 11 p.m., and you can get on the guest list for free admission by hitting www.primop.com.
If you've been noticing more hirsute men around town lately -- say, the guy with the waxy Rollie Fingers-esque mustache on the Metro this morning, or dudes rocking the oh-so-sexy Tom Selleck look -- it may be because of a charity event called the Glorious Manpageant. Participants in this annual contest have been cultivating their facial hair for a month, growing it in the style of a pre-selected "Mustache Hero." Tonight, they show it off at Tom Tom, strutting down a catwalk, answering questions from judges and even having a drink thrown in their face "to establish the quality of 'stache when wet." It's all great fun, but even better, the $10 cover charge (and the competitors' $50 entrance fee) all goes to local charity Capital Queen for a Day. You benefit with $3 draft beers, wine and rail drinks all night.
Sunday, November 4
Galaxy Hut has been on a roll lately. The Hut is always worth patronizing regardless of who is playing, but the music schedule of late -- Kyp Malone, Greenland, the Aquarium have played recently; Benjy Ferree, Garland of Hours and the Ambitions are on the horizon -- has given extra incentive to head out to the tiny Arlington bar. Another fine show takes place tonight with Thao Nguyen (listen) bringing her smart, slightly quirky, down-home indie-folk to the Hut's (non) stage. Expect to hear a good number of songs from her upcoming album, due out on Kill Rock Stars in January. The OK Bird (listen) and Ilad (listen) also play.
Monday, November 5
Maybe there's a big garage rock scene in France, but you wouldn't know it by the French music that makes it to our shores. Nouvelle Vague, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Gotan Project ... most French exports are smooth, sultry and loungey. But not the Magnetix (listen), who sound as if they wish they were Detroit instead of Bordeaux. The group's amped-up, fuzzed-out songs recall the Dirtbombs and other groups that throw a little soul into their garage rock stew. Also on the bill are locals Suns of Guns, who are apparently too cool to have any sort of Internet presence, let alone a (gasp!) MySpace page. A year of shows has found the group -- featuring current/former members of the likes of Thee Snuff Project, the Twats and Eyes of the Killer Robot -- honing its sound and songs to become one of the more promising acts on the local rock circuit. An advance listen to SoG's debut recording finds them with an appealingly murky sound that owes a debt to legendary Australian post-punks the Birthday Party. Locals Bottles/Cans (listen) also play at the Velvet Lounge.
Tuesday, November 6
Much is made about Washington's inability to launch a hip-hop star. Kokayi (listen) may not be getting any run on 106 & Park, but his career highlights have included packing shows in prestigious European concert halls, touring the Middle East and Far East with his band Opus Akoben as a United States cultural ambassador, and improvising lyrics for an entire album and tour as part of an avant-garde jazz ensemble. It's a different road to travel from having a disposable hit that won't be worth an iTunes download a year or two later. He used a recent arts grant to concoct his first solo album outside of Opus or his many jazz affiliations. "Mass Instructions" is an exciting tour through club beats, soulful vocal workouts and straight ahead mash-out beats and rhymes. The record touches multiple regional and stylistic tastes while still throwing in enough local references to proudly represent D.C. Tonight Kokayi will be discussing the project and hosting a listening party at Dub's Pub, W. Ellington Felton's weekly happy hour at Bohemian Caverns. Get there early to sample half-price Belgian beers.