Thursday, February 7, 2008; 12:00 AM
Thursday, February 7
Chinese New Year begins today, and we're looking forward to welcoming the Year of the Rat in Chinatown on Sunday -- more for the promised five-story-high firecracker than those been-there, done-that dragon dances. For a different and more modern take on the holiday, head for the posh Eye Street lounge Eyebar, where DC Nites Asia is throwing a Chinese New Year celebration with DJ Chizzau spinning hip-hop and old-school tunes in the main bar, while DJ Neekola brings progressive house and trance upstairs. Because this is a special occasion, admission is free -- if you arrive by midnight with a pass from dcnites.com.
Speaking of parties with free admission, Ibiza is kicking off yet another Thursday night affair. This one's called Escape, and everyone 18 and over is invited to the vast club to see how it's different from the other Thursday night parties Ibiza has tried. (DJ Geometrix is on the main floor, spinning his satisfying party mix of hip-hop, mashups, reggae and house. That sounds good to us.) Those 21 and older get free admission between 10 and 11 with a pass from dcclubhost.com. Women make out even better with an open bar until 11. (Don't worry, guys -- everyone gets $5 rail drinks all night.
We've written about DJs and drink specials at Metropolitain a few times -- half-price champagne cocktails are treats that need to be shared -- and, to date, every party has been free. Until tonight. There's a $5 cover at the door to hear DJ Camea (listen) spin minimalist house and techno. The explanation? She's from Berlin, where she can be found playing her signature sound -- spare, but with some really deep grooves -- at underground clubs like the legendary Tresor. Camea is only in the States for a few gigs, and the (admittedly low) cost of admission helps cover her expenses. Fair enough, considering the high cost of transatlantic air travel. Check out her hypnotic remixes on the Myspace page above, then make it to Metropolitain by 10.
Dope kicks and skillful DJs go together like fat laces and shelltoe Adidas. You can never really have too many of either, which is why Major, Kickballers and Commonwealth can all do brisk business serving area shoe fiends, and you'll often find DJ booths in the stores themselves. Commonwealth is dropping a special edition model in DC Shoes' Gatsby line with a celebration at the store tonight and later with an afterparty at Saki featuring DJ Roli Rho. When turntablism was just becoming a huge phenomenon in the early '90s, New York's 5th Platoon were preparing to receive the baton from the X-Men, which was the dominant crew in the Big Apple at that time. Along with Vinroc, Daddy Dog and Do Boy, Roli Rho helped earn the young squad an extended run of battle victories and credit for the development of new styles. Although known for his beat-juggling routines, Roli is a skilled club jock who knows how to keep the flow but pepper his sets with technical flair. Hit the reception at the store that starts at 8 p.m., and you'll get free admission to the after party.
Friday, February 8
If you've listened to our newest podcast, you heard a short clip of "Paris, Texas," the new single by New York-based electrofunk outfit 33Hz. The group makes sexy, slinky, dance floor-friendly disco for the 21st century, similar to Chromeo or DJs on France's Ed Banger Records. It's down for yet another big bands-meet-DJs Blisspop night at the 9:30 club, with three of our favorite local DJs: Jetsetting hip-hop, electro remix and mashup king Dave Nada, whose turntable skills make him one of D.C.'s best; Will Eastman, who runs the monthly Bliss party at the Black Cat; and DJ Meistro, who mixes hip-hop and reggae bangers at Wonderland Ballroom and Napoleon.
It's a garage rock extravaganza tonight at the Black Cat, highlighted by a rare appearance by the always experimental and prolific Dan Melchior (listen). Melchior is a minor legend in garage rock circles, since he collaborated with Billy Childish and Holly Golightly and also toured with the White Stripes and the Fall. Most bands are considered hard workers if they release an album every other year; if Melchior goes a few months without a new 7" single, EP or full-length, his fans start to get worried. Melchior goes beyond the usual "three-chords + distortion + some swagger" formula that many garage bands adhere to, keeping listeners off balance with his bizarro takes on country, blues and folk. Openers the Hall Monitors (listen) basically stick to that previously mentioned "three-chords + distortion + some swagger" routine, but we're hard pressed to find any area bands that do it better. Go to a Hall Monitors show and you'll be baffled as to why D.C. audiences have a reputation for standing still and looking bored. This is a band that gets the crowd moving. The Breakups (listen) and Nunchucks (listen) also play.
Talib Kweli's (listen) career is proof that a slow burn is the best burn. The erudite lyricist emerged from the '90s indie hip-hop scene and clawed his way into mainstream consciousness with relentless touring, consistent releases and a dedicated approach to tending his fanbase. The great thing about his trajectory is that new listeners who just came aboard with his recent club hit "Hot Thing" could easily grow to love his earliest work with Hi-Tek. You can catch Kweli rocking at Love tonight for free if you get there before 11 p.m. Check lovetheclub.com for more details.
Saturday, February 9
Like so many of the reggae artists finding success in Jamaica these days, Tarrus Riley (listen) has deep roots in the music. His father, Jimmy Riley, had hits in the '60s with the vocal group the Uniques before joining Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare's Taxi label, where he recorded the certified classic "Love and Devotion." Tarrus got his start in the music business as a DJ, and his warm, rich voice is perfectly suited to switching between deep roots music and smooth lover's rock; hits like "She's Royal" display hints of both. Riley is appearing at the Crossroads tonight along with Duane Stephenson and Dean Frasier. It's ostensibly a tribute to "King of Reggae" Bob Marley, but we're more interested in hearing songs from Riley's own catalog.
The Turntables on the Hudson party has been a New York mainstay for 10 years now. Similar to Giant Step, this institution led by DJs Nickodemus and Mariano and percussionist Nappy G has helped blend the funk, jazz, electronic and progressive soul worlds into a landmark event that has been played by everyone who has made or spun a sexy beat in the last decade, from Quantic to Rich Medina to Karsh Kale. The compilations that were born out of this party are also great capsules of this scene. When Nickodemus and Mariano touch down in D.C., Eighteenth Street Lounge is their venue of choice. Be there tonight for this major Manhattan groove experience.
New Orleans? Founded in 1718. Cologne, Germany? Founded in 38 B.C. Germans have been celebrating the Lenten Karneval since the 13th century, and today it's one of Europe's biggest street festivals, with parades, huge floats, elaborate costumes, live music -- hmm, does this all sound strangely familiar? Get a taste of Karneval tonight at the German Embassy, where a black-tie event includes dancing to a 20-member German band, a performance by a traditional German folk group, a full buffet dinner, open bar with German beer and wine, karaoke, a DJ and more. Tickets are $120 from ThingsToDoDC.com. Remember to dress up; Masks and costumes are encouraged.
"American Idol" is back on the air, and with it, we hear from people who think "I can do better than that" and want to know where they can get their karaoke fix. Here's an idea for you: Head to Peyote Cafe in Adams Morgan tonight. While Peyote has karaoke Thursday through Saturday, we usually don't recommend it on Saturdays because it can get far too crowded, which means long waits at the bar and longer waits between songs for the "performers." Tonight, though, is different. The TNT Karaoke Bash is a fundraiser for a pair of Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team-in-Training participants, who are competing in a triathalon later this year. The $10 (or more) you contribute at the door is going to charity, and you even receive drink specials in exchange for your generosity.