Oh, two notes before we get to the main picks: It’s American Craft Beer Week, so don’t miss our suggested itinerary of tappings and tastings. Also, you may have heard that the world is going to end on Saturday. Here are some suggestions for End-of-the-World parties and events.
Wednesday, May 18
The 1300 block of H Street NE may very well erupt into chaos on Wednesday night when the massively hyped L.A. rap crew Odd Future plays a sold-out show at Rock & Roll Hotel. In just the past week, frontman Tyler, the Creator was “arrested” at an appearance; an in-store autograph session ended in a mini-riot; and Monday’s show in Detroit ended abruptly after concertgoers kept throwing glass bottles at the stage. Be prepared for battle if you’re attending this show. Or you can be part of a much more tranquil scene just a block away at the Red Palace. Delicate is absolutely the last word you would use to describe anything to do with Odd Future, but it fits for Amor de Dias, the new side project from Alasdair MacLean of British indie-pop faves the Clientele and Lupe Nunez-Fernandez of Pipas. The hushed mood remains, but he relaxes on the reverb and shares vocal duties with Nunez-Fernandez, making for seductive chamber-pop with Tropicalia flourishes. Amor de Dias shares the bill with Damon & Naomi, who know plenty about making calm, beautiful music. New album “False Beats and True Hearts” continues the duo’s career of soothing, low-key psychedelic-folk. A block away it may be all kinds of insanity, but inside the Red Palace it will be entirely peaceful.
Before U Street began its gradual evolution to Adams Morgan East, it was an incubator for an entire school of soul, hip-hop, jazz and poetry artists that often combined several of those styles in one piece. A few of them did pretty well for themselves, such as multiple Grammy nominee and R&B star Raheem Devaughn. The work ethic that serves him today was part of his early rise in D.C. and led to many side projects. One of the best ones was Devaughn’s partnership with W. Ellington Felton as CrossRhodes.Over two albums that included such collaborators as Kyle Murdock on beats and Bilal Salaam on vocals, the duo crafted such jewels as “Fall,” “3 Sides” and “Put in Work” that still sound fresh almost a decade later. The scene is now buzzing about a single show CrossRhodes reunion at U Street Music Hall.
Thursday, May 19
Popular images of Prohibition are usually limited to Al Capone’s Chicago bootleggers or the swinging jazz speakeasies of Harlem. But buttoned-down Washington also had a boozy time during the “noble experiment” - author Garrett Peck estimates there were 1,500 to 3,000 speakeasies in the capital. Peck discusses Prohibition nightlife, lawbreaking and cocktails in his new book, “Prohibition in Washington, D.C.: How Dry We Weren’t,” which is being launched at the Woodrow Wilson House on Thursday night. Take a tour of the furnished 1920s house, sample period cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and even take a peek at President Wilson’s stocked wine cellar. (Wilson vetoed the Volstead Act, the bill that explicitly prohibited “intoxicating beverages,” so we think he’d definitely approve of this party.)
If you didn’t know the life of French artist Paul Gauguin, you’d think it sounded like the plot for a novel: A successful stockbroker and art collector decides to become an artist, so he leaves his cushy surroundings for the remote islands of French Polynesia, where he develops an influential style of painting while living among the native people. He dies poor and syphilitic and becomes enormously famous after his death. (Okay, it did make a great novel — W. Somerset Maugham’s “The Moon and Sixpence.”) Why are we talking about paintings in Nightlife Agenda? Because the Alliance Francaise has organized Tour Tiki Tahiti, a night that combines a guided tour of the National Gallery’s “Gauguin: Maker of Myth” exhibit and a party at the group’s Kalorama HQ with tiki cocktails, hula dancing, happy hour wine tasting, films and a DJ contest. It sounds like more than you’d get at your usual after-hours museum night, and admission is only $12, which includes the tour. (Drinks are from a cash bar: Before 7:30, wine is $3 and cocktails are $5; they cost $5 and $8, respectively, after that.) See a full schedule of events at the Alliance Web site.
Friday, May 20
Story/Stereo is one of our favorite regular events in the area, a laid-back evening that combines literature and music while giving the creators a chance to explain their inspiration and process. The musical guest at Friday’s edition at the Writers’ Center is Cornel West Theory, an inventive, outspoken local hip-hop group that always has plenty of provocative things to say in its songs. Getting to hear what they have to say about those songs - and their name-inspiration/collaborator Cornel West, and their thoughts on D.C., politics and a bevy of other subjects - will alone be worth the price of admission. Oh, that’s right - Story/Stereo is always free. We mentioned that this is one of our favorite local events, right? Authors Merrill Feitell and Susanna Lang will also read from their work.
You’re going to hear a lot about the Brightest Young Things VitaminWater Uncapped Live series in coming weeks — the BYT crew is essentially taking over an empty building with tens of thousands of square feet of space for art exhibits, concerts and bars. (Think of it as a curated Artomatic with better music.) The opening event is putting the vast space to use with three separate, simultaneous DJ parties: The funk/soul brothers of Fatback keep the dance floor packed in one room; their seductive, roses-on-your-pillow alter egos Tenderloin spin slow jams and quiet storm ballads in another; and the garage-rock-loving Que Sera DJs (whom you may have heard at their monthly Napoleon events) are in yet another. When you’re not grooving, there are 25,000 square feet of exhibits to explore, curated by Art Whino. Also, it’s all free, and open to everyone 18 and older. Doors open at 9:30.
At some nightspots, happy hour is just killing time until the night’s main attraction begins. And at some, it’s an attraction unto itself. The latter is definitely the case at the Crossroads on Friday nights: two-for-one rum punches and beers from 5 to 10, a free Caribbean buffet and tunes spun by resident DJ Jason Steele. For free. Sounds like you need a vacation in Bladensburg.
Saturday, May 21
Tittsworth has become an internationally famous DJ the past few years, flying around the world delivering hard-hitting sets, eating weird food, getting weirder tattoos and tweeting about it all. (Not to mention being part of the core team that opened U Street Music Hall.) He hasn’t produced any original tunes since his 2008 album, “12 Steps,” but that drought ends with the release of “2 Steps Raw,” a collaboration with local producer Alvin Risk. The duo tackle moombahton, techno, Baltimore club and more in four thrilling songs and celebrate the release of the EP tonight at U Street Music Hall.
Go-go artists have a knack for covering any artist and making that distinctive swing and percussion sound like it should have always been there in the first place, but putting the Purple One in the pocket with congas and cowbell is an idea that is long overdue. Grown folk go-go bands Suttle and Lissen 2.0 go head to head at Cafe Asia to see who can out-crank each other using Prince’s “Purple Rain” as the well of inspiration.
The House of Sweden is beginning its next House of Sweden After Dark series with a night dedicated to Swedish music. Between 8 and midnight, different floors of the building — including the very cool rooftop — will host DJs and screenings of Swedish music videos (think Gaby & The Guns, Familjen or Syket), all based around a live performance by Prylf, a group that uses Stereolab-esque electronics and punk attitude while pumping energy into old jazz standards. (Seriously — take a listen.) Admission is $20 in advance from TicketWeb, and no tickets will be sold at the door.
Sunday, May 22
It’s easy to get behind the concept of Soundbites. Start with three local bands spanning multiple generations - eternal go-go party starters Trouble Funk, soul-ska stalwarts the Pietasters and new dance-rock faves Ra Ra Rasputin at the 9:30 Club. Add food tastings from a diverse collection of local restaurants, including Jaleo, Indique, Policy, Cork and many more. Donate the proceeds to D.C. Central Kitchen, which provides meals and outreach to local homeless and poor residents. And voila - you have the perfect excuse to get out of the house on a Sunday night. Because really, how often will you get the opportunity to munch on tapas while Trouble Funk is playing “Drop the Bomb”?
UPDATE: Due to a private party at Donovan House, the Happy Sundays party will begin May 29 instead of May 22.
Memorial Day is inching closer, and we’re all dying to spend more time lazing around outside. As we write this, the forecast for Sunday is 84 degrees with no rain in sight - perfect weather for the kickoff of the new weekly Happy Sunday parties on the Donovan House hotel’s rooftop pool deck. A heavyweight roster of local DJs - Stereofaith, Chris Burns, Gavin Holland, Tom Lim and Jerome Baker III - will man the turntables from 3 p.m. until late, cranking summery party jams as guests enjoy lounging in deck chairs, beer and vodka specials at the cabana bar, and the occasional dip in the small pool. Make sure you arrive early to stake out a spot, and don’t leave before checking out the amazing sunset views.
Speaking of rooftop deck parties, DJ Shea Van Horn is launching his own weekly affair, Guil-Tea, on the spacious patio atop Nellie’s Sports Bar this week. Expect cheesy “guilty pleasure” pop music, sweet tea vodka drink specials and plenty of eye candy at this tea dance. The fun begins at 3.
Tuesday, May 24
In a city ravaged by a natural disaster that broke open already wide social fissures, Big Freedia provided a powerful form of catharsis through the hard-partying and risque indigenous New Orleans dance music known as bounce. When New Orleans natives were scattered throughout the Gulf Coast and beyond after Katrina, bounce music kept them connected and hopeful. But beyond those grander aims, bounce music is at its heart about getting down and free, through a vigorous dance vocabulary centered around the derriere. As a pioneer of “sissy” bounce, Big Freedia also carved out an affirming space for ambiguously gendered performers. The beats will be high energy and behinds will be encouraged to gyrate when Big Freedia hypes the party at DC9.