One of the District’s coolest annual events, the Forward Festival is a melding of cutting-edge electronic music, art and video at venues across the city. For five days and nights, whether you like synth-pop, dubstep, disco, 3-D art, video installations, creative workshops or house music, you’re sure to find something going on. (There’s a full schedule on www.forwarddc.com, along with videos and a special ForwardFest mixtape.)
If we had to pick just a few highlights, we’d try these:
On Wednesday night, Aussie synth-pop DJs Cut Copy are heading to U Street Music Hall after their sold-out 9:30 Club show, where they’ll spin alongside the Fixed DC crew. Also that night, at Georgetown’s Letelier Theater, East German experimental DJ Fred Bretschneider spins abstract electronic tunes.
Saturday finds English DJ Toddla T - known for cutting-edge grime and aggressively bassy party music as well as hosting shows dedicated to new music on BBC Radio - making his D.C. debut at U Street Music Hall.
Sunday’s loaded schedule includes two must-dos: A free all-day outdoor party at Yards Park, near the Navy Yard, with DJs spinning dub, funk, house and Afrobeat, and a U Street Music Hall appearance by High Contrast, whose jazzy, upbeat drum ‘n’ bass tunes have made him one of the brightest stars in the genre. D.C. stalwarts Slant and Bjoo warm up the decks.
Many people are stoked about the barbecue at the new Hill Country in Penn Quarter, but we’re intrigued by the consistent lineup of country and rockabilly-themed entertainment, including Wednesday’s debut of Rock N Twang Karaoke, where customers can take the stage and sing one of hundreds of songs -- Johnny Cash to Guns N’ Roses -- while backed by a live band. There’s no cover charge, and you should be there by 8 to get a seat.
When Fritz reviewed Falls Church’s Public House No. 7 earlier this year, he loved the traditional English pub food and the cool neighborhood atmosphere that didn’t try to be “Ye Olde” anything. His only complaint: “English cask ales have been proliferating in the past year, most recently down the road at Rustico in Ballston, and it would be great to see one here.” That wish gets granted this week, when the Heavy Seas Brewing Company — formerly Clipper City — taps a firkin of Loose Cannon IPA that was prepared with locally grown hops. The first pint is poured at 7.
It’s Ladies’ Night at Falls Church’s Dogfish Head Alehouse and you know what that means — free pink pint glasses for everyone (with beer purchase after 7 p.m.)! Well, that and an increasingly rare appearance of Bitches Brew, the fantastic sweet, strong imperial stout that was featured on the “Brew Masters” show on the Discovery Channel. Food and drink specials will be offered from 7 p.m. on, and hard-rockin’ Alexandria band Fight the Lion takes the stage at 7:30.
If you had to personify punk rock, you could do a whole lot worse than Mike Watt . The first few years of his 30-plus-year career were spent playing bass for the Minutemen, a trio whose hyperspeed blasts of hardcore and devotion to the do-it-yourself lifestyle (”we jam econo,” they said) has them rightly revered as punk icons. Watt’s career since then has been a nonstop journey through the rock underground, recording on his own and joining other bands, all while playing in his distinctive, bursting style that has spawned a generation of devotees and imitators. His latest, “Hyphenated-Man,” qualifies as a late-career highlight, returning to the quick blast style of the Minutemen and sounding as vital as ever. Catching a legend on the backstage of the Black Cat is not a chance you should pass up.
Have you ever found yourself spending your lunch break waiting in line for a food truck in Farragut Square or L’Enfant Plaza and thought, “Man, this would be so much better if I had a BEER?” Apparently we’re not the only ones. Starting Thursday, the Chinatown Coffee Company is kicking off weekly food truck happy hours. From 6:30 to 8:30, get something to eat outside — this week, it’s the excellent Takorean Korean taco vendors — and then get a seat inside and enjoy $3 beers. Really a no-brainer if you’re looking for something beyond the usual let’s-go-to-a-bar happy hour.
Slick Rick was swagged out long before current adherents to that doctrine were born. From defining a fly-guy aesthetic with designer labels and massive jewelry to carving out a unique niche among a peer group of legends through his Brit-inflected voice and storytelling abilities, Slick Rick is an all-time icon of style and flavor. And his canonic status is permanently secured by his innovations in cadence, rhyme structure and hits like “Children’s Story” and “Hey Young World.” Slick Rick belongs on the bucket list of any popular music lover, not just hip-hop fans. At Liv, the Ruler will take you back to an era when rocking a crowd was an MC’s main aspiration, not mix tape downloads or YouTube hits.
After Slick Rick performs at Liv, he’s making his way across town for what’s billed as an “Unplugged, Up close and Personal” appearance at Love. Tickets are $20 after 8 p.m., though you can also get on the guestlist for free admission via lovetheclub.com. Or you can show up between 6 and 8 for Majic 102.3’s happy hour, with free food and drinks from 6 to 8, plus salsa lessons from 8 to 10.
This is a big week for sorta-second chances. Didn’t get tickets for those two Cut Copy shows at 9:30 Club? Don’t worry -- the band’s DJing afterward at U Street Music Hall on Wednesday night. And if you waited too long to get tickets for The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s sold-out Black Cat concert on Friday night, you can console yourself with a free afterparty that night at the W Hotel’s posh P.O.V. rooftop lounge, where the indie buzzband will be DJing from midnight on. (Concert opener Twin Shadow will reprise his role at the hotel, taking over the decks at 11 p.m.) As with the last Brightest Young Things/W Hotel party, getting in couldn’t be easier: Shoot an RSVP to email@example.com. Only catch: An RSVP is not a guarantee of admission. If you show up late, you might not get in at all. Doors open at 10:30 p.m., which is before the band will be taking the stage at the Black Cat. We’ll bet a lot of people will be going to the party or to the afterparty, but not both.
Many of us who are distant from the African continent but are global in our music tastes end up exploring African sounds through recorded collections of traditional styles or the works of grand ambassadors such as Fela Kuti, Salif Keita and Youssou N’Dour. But youth culture is driving African music at a frenzied pace, and the emerging styles are spreading throughout the world via dancefloors and DJs. So many of these styles are cross-pollinating across geographical and language boundaries, particularly as the children of African immigrants push the evolution of their music in Europe and the Americas. Zouglou, kwaito, kaduro and coupe decale mix old beats with modern production and pop sheen to generate tidal waves of high energy dance sounds. Party with DJs Kimozaki, Underdog, i:Wah and Cortega as they mix these sounds at Sutra for their Electrafrique night.
You may have heard that Dan Snyder is suing the City Paper over a 2010 article called “The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder.” The City Paper has created a legal defense fund in response, and there’s a fundraiser for it at Madam’s Organ on Friday night that’s basically an anti-Dan Snyder party. Expect a four-foot Dan Snyder piñata (”pretty much life size!” crows the party invite), a Dan Snyder cake, live music, a “Dan Snyder in a Cheerleader Uniform” costume contest and a silent auction featuring Redskins memorabilia, vacations and sporting events. Doors open at 7.
Most Cherry Blossom Festival events are designed for families and tourists. Except, of course, for the annual Cherry Blast , which brings cool art and music to hip crowds in unusual spaces. This year, the party is down on the Southwest waterfront - at the old Zanzibar - where the entertainment includes performance art, burlesque and graffiti, plus music from quirky, hook-filled Brooklyn indie band Bear Hands, the Beach Boys-influenced synth-pop group ANR and a number of DJs. Check out murals while snacking at food trucks. And Zanzibar’s deck offers a perfect spot to watch the official Cherry Blossom Festival fireworks. The $10 admission includes one free drink, but no tickets will be sold at the door, so get yours in advance.
It’s time for another installment of No Scrubs at the 9:30 Club, in which DJs Will Eastman and Brian Billion act like your favorite ‘90s jukebox. TLC? Nirvana? Warren G and Nate Dogg? Spice Girls? Kid ‘N Play? You’ll hear them all. In fact, we’re willing to bet you’ll buy a ticket within 10 minutes of checking out this nifty little MP3 preview mix. Hurry up, though, because this night always sells out.
Toddla T at U Street Music Hall (See Wednesday’s Forward Festival listing)
So Lil’ Wayne, Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj will be in town for a concert at the Verizon Center, and naturally they’re all hosting their own after-parties. Lil’ Wayne is taking up residence at Love, where it will cost $20 to get in, $60 to hit a VIP floor, or $200 if you want to sit on the stage where Weezy may be hanging out. Tickets are on sale now. (Doors open at 8 p.m., or an hour after the concert starts.) Rick Ross is heading for the DC Star, where he’s hosting a party with Wale and Backyard Band to celebrate Wale joining the Maybach Music label. Tickets are $20 in advance, or $40 if you want to skip all the lines. And Nicki is hosting an “invite only” event called Pink Sunday at the Park at 14th, where the way to guarantee admission is through bottle service. Of course. (Call 202-262-3939 if you’re interested.)
Forward Festival Outdoor Party at Yards Park (See Wednesday’s Forward Festival listing)
High Contrast at U Street Music Hall (See Wednesday’s Forward Festival listing)