Wednesday, Sept. 28
This summer, one of the District’s best disc jockey nights was MIA: The Whale , U Street Music Hall’s monthly event, was nowhere to be found. That’s because Beautiful Swimmers, the local DJ and production duo that helms the evening, was taking its cosmic-funk-disco sounds to faraway habitats. The Swimmers began the summer with a highly coveted gig in the MoMa PS1 Warm Up series, which regularly plays host to the best of the underground and on-the-verge. Then it was off to Europe for shows in the United Kingdom, Denmark and Norway. Somehow the Whale remains something of a well-kept secret, but as the DJ duo continues to expand its international audience, the District would be smart to see what the rest of the world is getting to know. Berlin’s DJ Kaos will also be on the decks.
The 1997 film “Love Jones” inspired and launched the careers of thousands of awful spoken-word poets. It also accomplished a few laudable milestones, spawning a timeless soundtrack and giving black 20-somethings a more complete representation on screen than the many ’hood films of the ‘90s, including a study of love not seen in standard rom-coms. D.C. artist Bomani Armah (of “Read a Book” fame, and a staple of the local urban arts scene for a decade) draws from the film for his newest release, “Bomani Armah Is Darius Lovehall in Love Jones the Date Mixtape.” He’ll perform the entire project at the Hyattsville Busboys and Poets with his band and a host of D.C.’s best — and far from awful — spoken-word artists.
Thursday, Sept. 29
Does it get better than great drinks at a great party for a great cause? Jonathan Harris, head mixologist at the Gibson, is playing host to an intimate soiree on the second floor of the speak-easy-like cocktail lounge to benefit Fashion Fights Poverty . DJ Soul Call Paul will spin retro funk and soul, and Harris will whip up four fashion-inspired drinks. One selection: The Green Gown, a mix of Danish akvavit, Green Chartreuse, Fernet Branca, dry vermouth and a ginger extract served in a glass rinsed with single-malt scotch. The cocktail takes its color from the Chartreuse, Harris explains, and is designed to look like “a shimmery green gown.” Everything is included with your $15 donation to charity.
Youth Lagoon is in the earliest stages of its existence, which is filled with both excitement and a bit of uneasy expectation. It’s the musical project of Trevor Powers, a precocious dude in his early 20s who has made an album (“The Year of Hibernation”) that has a warm bedroom aesthetic. This is basically a genre unto itself these days, and Powers matches up with some of the best by crafting spacey, synthy songs that you can casually sink into but that also have enough melodies to keep listeners paying attention. How will it play out live? That’s a question many of these one-man bands take a while to figure out, but you can get an early look at DC9 tonight when Youth Lagoon opens for the vaguely Shins-y Californians Gardens and Villa.
Friday, Sept. 30
It wasn’t that long ago that we were bemoaning the end of summer and its attendant activities, including evening pool parties. But just as the temperatures really start to cool, another poolside gathering is arriving at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. This one, however, is different: It’s hosted by artist Kehinde Wiley and serves as the kickoff for the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s “30 Americans” exhibition, which opens Saturday. Modeled on Wiley’s annual Fish Fry at Art Basel Miami, Rebirth of the Cool includes a barbecue, cocktails, music spun by DJs Jahsonic and Keenan, Howard University’s Showtime Marching Band and the Ooh-La-La Dancers. Leave your swimsuit at home - it’s forecast to be 64 degrees when the party begins - but look your coolest and most fashionable. The $35 ticket includes food and two drinks.
D.C. is in good hands when it comes to dance nights showcasing deep soul, funk and R&B cuts. Our city is filled with DJs who happily scrounge record bins across the country to bring you the most obscure and outstanding. But sometimes you just want to dance to some James Brown and Stevie Wonder. Well, how about having it both ways? Soul Call Paul will preside over the Soul Off (Round 2) , which will feature a full evening of the funkiest offerings from the Godfather of Soul and . . . Stevie Wonder doesn’t really have a nickname, does he? In any case, the Black Cat’s backstage will feature hits and lesser-known gems from the two icons of American music.
Africa Underground returns for a third edition at the National Museum of African Art. Entertainment includes Sahel and Eme & Heteru, two bands that cover a broad swath of African music styles, including zouk, mbalax and Afrobeat, as well as reggae and Afro-Cuban sounds. DJ Underdog spins between bands. There will also be mural painting and a market.
Southern hip-hop has had the biggest sonic influence on the direction of rap music over the past decade and has matured to the point where it has its own deep canon to explore. Well, it wouldn’t be dirty south rap if it matured too much, as no third coast hip-hop set would be complete without a solid amount of odes to nubile women and wildly modified automobiles. At Liv, DJ Square Biz rocks everything from the No Limit, Cash Money and Luke catalogs to the Dungeon Family and more for an aptly titled party called “Grits & Biscuits.”
Saturday, Oct. 1
The buzz world works in funny ways. A couple of years ago, there was no hotter indie-blog-rap act than Das Racist , the Brooklyn group that turned what seemed like a novelty hit (”Combination Taco Bell and Pizza Hut”) into rave reviews and two mix tapes that were packed with punchlines but also featured plenty of social commentary masked as stoner comedy. The band’s new album, “Relax,” is its first non-free mix tape, and while it has some true standout moments (lead single “Michael Jackson” is one of the year’s best), it’s been met with more shrugs than raves. The band’s opening act at the 9:30 Club tonight, Danny Brown, is filling that space of buzz act by capitalizing on a weird, funny and free mix tape. His recent “XXX” should top your to-download list if it’s not already in your iTunes. It’s a wild journey through Brown’s bizarre mind, with his slightly unhinged delivery making it all the more appealing.
Oktoberfest is well underway, although there don’t seem to be many beer-related German-centric events this weekend. Get your oompah fix at Sterling’s Sweetwater Tavern, where the house-brewed Oktoberfest beer will be flowing into giant mugs, local cover band Road Soda will be performing and grills will be going. You can even bring the kids for family activities. The fun gets underway outside at noon and lasts until 5.
Crowds converge on Adams Morgan today for the annual Crafty Bastards art fair, and after fighting the crowds to browse the T-shirts, bags, prints, hipster onesies and knitted cupcakes, you’re going to need a drink. The Black Squirrel and its sister bar, the Toledo Lounge, are hosting a special Great Lakes Brewing Company tap takeover Saturday, with two kegs of the super-rare-for-D.C. Big Black Smoke porter among the many offerings. Native Clevelanders may also be pleased to find Hanky Panky sandwiches, a Cleveland staple made with ground beef and cheese cubes on rye bread. (At the same time, the Black Squirrel is also selling beers from Georgia’s Sweetwater Brewing, which the bar is specially importing to D.C. for the weekend. The 420 pale ale and the IPA were really good last time the Squirrel brought them to town.)
Sunday, Oct. 2
It will get a little weird at the Birchmere on Sunday when Bonnie “Prince” Billy takes the stage. The long-running group, fronted by iconoclastic indie icon Will Oldham, plays a strain of folk music that can be both harrowing and uplifting; it’s sort of sweetly apocalyptic. Over nearly 20 years and almost as many albums, Oldham has created a unique worldview in which he observes all aspects of life, from the most meaningful to mundane, with the same steady calm. Look for a full review of new album “Wolfroy Goes to Town” in Friday’s Weekend section.
Tuesday, Oct. 4
Oktoberfest beers are flying out of taps across town, but at this time of year, a deluge of pumpkin beers is also sweeping into your favorite bars. They’re not all created equal, as we learned in last year’s Going Out Guide pumpkin beer taste test - some taste more like a crisp fall beer, others are reminiscent of spicy pumpkin pie. Jack Rose is getting in the Halloween spirit a little early at Night of the Living Gourd , which features 15 pumpkin ales on draft and the D.C. debut of the Fear, Flying Dog Brewery’s imperial pumpkin ale. To make it extra special, bartenders will pour pints of the Fear directly out of a pumpkin, which sounds kind of awesome. There will also be prizes for the best beer-themed costumes, in case you’ve still got that Duffman suit in the closet from Halloween 2003.