Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz Staff Writers
Wednesday, December 12, 2007; 5:57 PM

Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Thursday, December 13
RPM is one of Washington's premier hip-hop bands, so if you're at the threshold of having heard their name enough times to think "I should probably check these dudes out," now would be a good time to make it happen. The lead rapper Raw Poetic started a spin-off group called Panacea with producer K. Murdock, and the most recent album, "The Scenic Route," helped revived the venerable Rawkus Records label and jumped onto critics' lists for progressive hip-hop releases this year. RPM serves as Panacea's live band, so the combination of RPM's back catalog and Panacea's current success means there's a bounty of strong material to draw from. Even better: the local boys are opening up for one of those rising stars that you end up kicking yourself for not seeing before their albums blow up on iTunes and in Starbucks. Matthew Santos is an alternative-folk type whose indie grind was sharply boosted by recent collaborations with Lupe Fiasco. The singer and his guitar share the cozy Black Cat backstage with the hip-hoppers tonight.

Funny that "Seinfeld" has been off the air for almost a decade, but we're getting more invites for Festivus parties than ever before. Tonic is throwing its annual affair tonight, with the traditional airing of grievances and feats of strength -- the latter represented by Wii boxing. Drink specials include $3 Yuenglings and $4 "Festivus shooters."

We try to feature charitable events throughout the year, but the holiday season always brings more opportunities to do some good while going out. Tonight at Pasha, the nonprofit group SHE.NA.NI.GANS is hosting a fundraiser and toy drive for the Children's Law Center, a local organization that provides legal services to poor children and families. The evening includes a happy hour from 6 to 9 and a DJ-fueled dance party from 9 on. Bring an unwrapped toy for a 4- to 11-year-old or make a monetary donation and you'll get a variety of drink specials, including $4 beers and $5 martinis until 9, and $5 rum drinks and $7 Grey Goose Vodka cocktails after that.

Friday, December 14
Lucky Dube triumphed over oppressive socio-political realities to achieve international success as a South African reggae ambassador, and when he was senselessly murdered in October, it left fans around the world reeling with grief. Dube began his career crafting songs in his native mbaqanga style, but his first encounter with reggae changed the course of his life. The music's themes seemed to speak directly to the struggle in South Africa, which was building in intensity in the '80s. Fifteen albums over the course of 20 years put Dube among reggae's legends, and some of his peers will be honoring that legacy at Zanzibar tonight during A Tribute To Lucky Dube. One of Dube's original collaborators, guitarist Mongezi Chris Ntaka, will share the stage with Kenyan spoken-word artist Anna Mwalagho and Mozambican jazz fusionist Loide. The S.T.O.R.M. Reggae Band will also be on hand to hold down the roots vibes in honor of one of the biggest selling African recording artists of all time.

If you're not seeing some local music on Friday, you're not trying. It's a threefer over at the Black Cat with Junior League (listen), who hit that sweet spot between breezy and twangy, ear-pleasing popsters Olivia Mancini and the Housemates (listen) and sincere singer-songwriter Vandaveer (listen). Sun Records throwbacks Shortstack, whose "A History of Cut Nails in America" was David's third favorite local album of 2006, hold it down at Iota with Charlottesville country-rockers Sons of Bill (listen). And over at the Rock and Roll Hotel pop/rock wunderkinds Middle Distance Runner (listen) make a hometown stop on their tour opening for electro-rockers Mobius Band (listen).

Ten years ago, a new style of dance music called Big Beat was poised to take over the world. With Fatboy Slim, the Chemical Brothers, the Prodigy and Basement Jaxx melding thundering rock-style drums and huge basslines to electronic flourishes and funky samples, this was finally going to be the sound that got ravers and rock kids to hit the dance floors together. Except, well, it didn't. There were hits -- "Praise You," "Firestarter," "Where's Your Head At?" -- but no sea change in the dance music world. The movement did help boost the careers of a number of acts, though, including the Crystal Method, a Vegas-based duo that was one of the few American acts to make a splash in the genre. The banging "Trip Like I Do," with its "Dark Crystal" dialog, and "Keep Hope Alive," built around snippets of Jesse Jackson, helped the Crystal Method's debut album, "Vegas," make a splash on both sides of the Atlantic. Like Fatboy Slim and the Chemical Brothers, the Crystal Method never really went away, though they've kept a lower profile over the past decade. But for the 10-year anniversary of "Vegas," they're back with a double-disc offering that contains the remastered album and remixes by Paul Oakenfold, MSTRKRFT and Miyagi. Flash back to 1997 tonight at Buzz when the Crystal Method tops a very strong bill, also featuring breakbeats by hotshots Proxxy and Lantern and house by Joey Muniz and Empath.

Pit bulls have it rough. If it's not Michael Vick, it's the Loudoun County Animal Shelter euthanizing the dogs rather than allowing them to be adopted because the breed is "inherently dangerous." (Thankfully, a judge ruled this fall that singling out the breed for euthanization is illegal.) Despite the dogs' image, there are plenty of people and families out there who love their pit bulls, so organizations are working to help dogs that have been rescued from bad situations. One novel fundraising idea is Pinups for Pitbulls, a calendar that features women and their pit bulls in poses straight out of vintage Gil Elvgren cheesecake pin-up art. Tonight at the Palace of Wonders, Pinups for Pitbulls is hosting an evening of burlesque, belly dancing and acrobatics to launch the calendar. Models -- including four-legged "ambassador" Carla Lou -- will be there to sign autographs, there's a raffle with prizes from restaurants and tattoo parlors, and 10 percent of all bar sales will benefit pit bull rescue groups. Admission is $10, and advance tickets are available here.

When we got the announcement about Tonic's Festivus party (see Thursday), owner Eric "Bernie" Bernstrom also mentioned that Friday night would be a birthday party for bartender, cocktail genius and all-around great person Patrice Hammond. (You can read a profile of her here.) Stop by and wish her well, and enjoy $3 Sam Adams drinks and Jameson specials while you're at it.

Speaking of Jameson specials: Le Freak, the electro-disco-centric dance night run by DJ Will Eastman of Bliss fame, is offering free Jameson from 10 to 11 tonight. Free. Jameson. As if Metropolitain's half-price champagne cocktails and glasses of bubbly weren't enough, we get free Jameson shots, too? Count us in.

More good deeds tonight over at Eyebar, where the promoters from the Nightlife Agency are offering free admission to the two-level lounge when you bring an unwrapped toy for the Toys for Tots campaign. DJs Impulse and Eyce are spinning Top 40, hip-hop and electro all night. A gentle reminder: Even if you're bringing a Wii to donate, you should dress well to get in.

Saturday, December 15
If you have a spare Santa suit lying around the house -- or you've always wanted to have a reason to buy one -- there are three Santa-themed bar crawls vying for your attention today. First is the long-running Santa Stumble, which features Santas, Mrs. Clauses, elves, reindeer and other holiday characters visiting several Georgetown bars. The party starts with happy hour at Third Edition at 4, but the real fun begins at 8, when the Santas set out en masse for Rhino Bar. Shopping and traffic along Wisconsin Avenue and M Street comes to a halt as passersby watch the parade and try to figure out what's going on. Later, the group hits Garrett's before finishing up with a big party at the Guards. There's no cover, but participants are asked, in the spirit of the season, to make a donation to the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society. Over on Capitol Hill, the Miracle on 3rd and 4th Streets offers a day of food specials and $2 beers at the Hawk and Dove, Finn Mac Cool's, Tune Inn and four other watering holes between Capitol South and Eastern Market. The day benefits Toys for Tots: Admission is $15, but it's reduced for $10 for anyone wearing a Santa costume or other "holiday garb," and you'll save an extra $5 if you bring a new, unwrapped toy. Finally, the newcomer in town is the Running of the Santas, which started in Philadelphia nine years ago but is expanding up and down the East Coast in 2007. There's no set schedule or agenda: Just hit one of the six participating bars, like the Front Page or Mackey's, for $2.50 Budweiser, Bud Light or Budweiser Select until 6. The "afterparty" takes place at McFadden's, where the costumed crowd can strut its stuff during the "Hottest Santa" contest.

You know those movies -- say, "Ocean's Thirteen," for example -- where you read interviews with the actors and all they can say is, "It was so much fun making this film and just hanging out with the entire cast!" We get the feeling that tonight's Washington Social Christmas at the 9:30 club will be the musical equivalent of that. All the ingredients are there -- a Saturday night, the holiday season, a stacked local lineup featuring Georgie James's Laura Burhenn (listen), good-time rockers the Dance Party (listen), up-and-comers Jukebox the Ghost (listen), members of Exit Clov (listen) and Le Loup (listen), all topped off by the "final performance" (at least for "a long time" -- which apparently means two weeks, since they are booked on New Year's Eve) by Washington Social Club (listen). Expect the evening to be sort of like a local "Last Waltz," with mini-sets and plenty of collaborations. Traditional and original Christmas songs will be performed and WSC frontman Martin Royle and Burhenn promise to take on the Pogues' holiday classic, "Fairytale in New York." Door prizes aplenty are promised, with the good stuff (iPods and such) handed out early, so if you're looking for some good swag you might want to get there around the 6:30 door time, even if it does mean you have to spend some time alone in the club with those Brightest Young Things freaks.

If that 9:30 club shindig is the Ghost of Christmas Present, then maybe the Hungry for Music Benefit at Iota is the Ghost of Christmas Future. Or Past, depending on your interpretation. It's another holiday show with a large collection of local talent, just a little on the older side. As in, some of these bands don't even have MySpace pages! Jelly Roll Mortals, Karen Collins and the Backroads Band (listen), Mary Battiata & Little Pink, the Grandsons (listen) and the U-Liners (listen) are all set to perform. Instead of giving away iPods, the organizers are asking you to bring musical instruments. (Hungry for Music provides musical instruments for underprivileged youngsters.) And instead of those Brightest Young Things freaks there will be WAMA weirdos.

If there's a hot Caribbean party in the D.C. area, it's a pretty safe bet that DJ Super Slice is on the decks. From Carnival parties to regular appearances at the Crossroads and Zanzibar to his shows on WPGC, WKYS and, Super Slice keeps crowds moving with a deft mix of reggae, soca and other Caribbean favorites. He's celebrating a birthday at the Crossroads tonight, and taking a rare night off to let his friends Shiloh Sound, Black Spider, Crown Prince Radio, Hazzard and the Vibyz take control of the music. In honor of Superslice's birthday, everyone in the house gets a glass of champagne at midnight. Tickets are $15 in advance from

Sunday, December 16
There will be a lot of rock and not a lot of space when the whirlwind of mayhem that is the Points (listen) plays Galaxy Hut. I wrote about the chaos that enveloped their show at the Red & the Black back in October, and the truth is that most other times I've seen the group this year, it hasn't been much calmer. The band's punk-garage assault doesn't get old, though, because the songs are as memorable as the pandemonium. Opening are Suns of Guns, and if you feel like you've already read about these bands in previous Nightlife Agendas it's because you have. But when some of our favorite bands play our favorite little bar, we simply cannot let it go without a mention.

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