Every Tuesday, the Going Out Guide highlights the week's best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties.
Tuesday, Nov. 26
Thundercat is one of the most distinctive talents to come out of the churning Los Angeles music scene. By his late teens, he was already a bass guitar virtuoso and a member of Suicidal Tendencies. His playing is reminiscent of bass god Jaco Pastorius, but in addition to his heavy metal bona fides, the aptly named Thundercat has held down the low end for Snoop Dogg and Erykah Badu. His Brainfeeder releases seamlessly meld intricate bass playing, soul, jazz fusion and electronic songcraft. The last time he was in the District, he opened for Flying Lotus, his label's head honcho. Pockets of the crowd perked up at jams off his two albums, but the room wasn't entirely his. On this visit, however, he's headlining at a smaller room, so Thundercat nuts can really pack in and turn up at U Street Music Hall.
It's a busy time for the globe-trotting Richmond-based metal band Lamb of God. After spending years touring behind their sixth album "Resolution," the band will soon head back into the studio to record a new collection of songs. Lamb of God's 2003 album "As the Palaces Burn" is set to be rereleased with additional tracks, and a documentary, also called "As the Palaces Burn," is scheduled to come out next year. But first, there's the matter of a top-notch thrash metal show with Killswitch Engage, Testament, and Huntress at the Fillmore.
Wednesday, November 27
Showtime gets our vote as one of the best additions to the Washington bar scene in 2013, thanks to $3 beers and a seriously amazing jukebox. Owner Paul Vivari, a talented local soul DJ known as Soul Call Paul, lovingly assembled the selection from his favorite James Brown, Ike and Tina Turner and Howlin' Wolf tunes, as well as rare 45s by forgotten local funk and soul artists. On Thanksgiving eve, Vivari will assemble an all-star team of actual DJs to provide the music, including Michael and Manolo of Haydees' TNT Night, Mad Squirrel of the Black Cat's Party Lights, and Vivari himself. There's no cover charge to dance all night at the aptly named Jive Turkey.
The Clarendon Ballroom typically only operates on Fridays and Saturdays once it's too cold to enjoy its expansive roof deck. They make an exception for the night before Thanksgiving, though, when DJ Squirrel is on the decks and the home-for-the-holidays crowd shows up to party. Doors open at 6 p.m. for happy hour; Get there before 10 to skip the $5 cover charge.
Thursday, November 28
It's natural that many bars close on Thanksgiving Day in order to let employees spend the holiday with their loved ones. But not everything shuts down.
DC Reynolds will have free turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole for everyone, plus two-for-one drinks from 5 to 9 p.m.
The Black Squirrel opens at noon for its annual Thank You Thanksgiving, where you can get an all-you-can-eat Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, ham and sides for $5. On tap for the day: last-chance fall beers, including Evolution Jacques Au Lantern, Saucony Creek Captain Pumpkin’s Maple Mistress and Bruery Autumn Maple.
Smoke and Barrel is offering an all-you-can-eat buffet with three kinds of smoked turkey and a variety of sides for $15.95. Wash it down with $5 Wild Turkey bourbon all night. Coming for happy hour? Four local beers will be $4 from 5 to 8 p.m. (Note that the kitchen will be closed and not offering the usual menu.)
Once you’ve finished eating, head to the Kennedy Center and get rid of those calories through the magic of the Lindy Hop. The Tom Cunningham Orchestra performs hits by Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Count Basie and other vintage favorites from 7 to 9 p.m. Don't know the steps? Show up at 6 p.m. for a free lesson, courtesy of local swing dance champs Tom Koerner and Debra Sternberg. The evening's special guest is the wonderful Jean Veloz, who danced in Hollywood productions in the 1930s and '40s.
Most of our regular haunts, such as the Rock and Roll Hotel and the Howard Theatre, don't have live music on Thursday. JV's does, featuring rockabilly guitarist Dave Chappell. Doors open at 5; the band gets going at 9. There's no cover.
The Black Cat's Red Room Bar is an awesome place to hang out, drink beer and play pinball 365 days a year, but it feels extra special on Thanksgiving night, when everyone who's home to see their parents for the weekend decides to pop into the bar en masse. It's the kind of reunion you actually want to go to.
From the D.C. Caribbean Carnival to the much-missed reggae nights at Zanzibar on the Waterfront, Spyda the DJ has entertained dancers with soca and dancehall hits. He's joining forces with fellow DJ veterans Majestic and Nemesis at Tropicalia for a special "Re-Union" of their popular Dancehall Thursdays party. Admission is $10 at the door.
Friday, November 29
If you missed out on tickets for Animal Collective's sold-out Dec. 1 concert at the 9:30 Club, you can still catch the band DJing at the U Street Music Hall on Friday night. Animal Collective members DJed at the Bentzen Ball's grand finale at the Howard Theatre last month and at the 2012-13 Brightest Young Things New Year's Eve party. As you might expect for the band's original music, its DJ sets involve sound collages as well as an exquisitely curated selection of electro, dubstep, synth-house and whatever else has caught their collective ears. It's not the same as seeing Animal Collective in concert, but it should be rewarding nonetheless -- and a heck of a party. (Reminder, if you're under 21, you need to get tickets in advance.)
The Bullbuckers play a laid-back style of ska infused with northern soul and early reggae, but the peppy brass section has enough zip to get an entire bar grooving. (If you've ever seen the Delaware band at the Dogfish Brewpub in Rehoboth, you'll understand why it's regularly on the bill there.) The Bullbuckers begin a monthly residency at Acre 121 on Black Friday. Admission is free, and in honor of the "holiday," all seasonal drafts, including Abita Christmas Ale and Sam Adams Winter Lager, will be half-price all night.
Pizzeria Paradiso is taking Black Friday pretty literally: All three locations will pour nothing but imperial stouts on Friday, and they're keeping them on tap all weekend long. (You'll want to get the four-ounce sample tasters. Trust us.) Each bar will have its own lineup with no overlap, so if there's something particular you want to try – maybe Mikkeller's Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Stout or the 2012 version of Bell's Expedition – you'll have to check the Paradiso Web site to see what's pouring where.
Marlee in the Mixx has been covered in this column before, as the multi-genre urban outfit has been shedding week in and week out at Indulj on U Street since 2012. This young band -- all members are 24 or younger -- has been packing them in on Friday nights with an ambitious combination of originals and covers touching everything: go-go, hip-hop, R&B, rock and jazz. Their style is on the pulse of all the hits that top the charts now, but their chops are built on decades of musical influence, with a level of sophistication beyond their more famous peers. The band is finally dropping a release of all original material, and the listening session for its "10,000 Hours" EP begins at 8 p.m. at Indulj's upstairs lounge. The $10 cover charge is also good for the live session that starts in the main room at 11.
Alice Smith is one those strong niche artists that fans love to be the first to hip you to. The icing on the cake is the additional tidbit that she's from the D.C. area. This year Smith finally released "She," a much anticipated follow-up to her 2006 debut. Back then, she was most conveniently compared to Norah Jones, but in addition to the delicate-chanteuse sound, she's now mixing in funk-rock and R&B with some forays into country and blues. Hear for yourself at the Howard Theatre.
Saturday, November 30
The Walkmen left Washington for New York years before their album "Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone" made them Pitchfork stars back in the early '00s, but we're always going to claim these St. Albans grads as our own. They've spent a decade crafting records full of driving, anthemic indie rock and airy, delicate soundscapes, and few bands do it as well or as consistently. The Walkmen haven't released an album since 2012's "Heaven," but they're in town to celebrate the opening of Union Market's second-floor events space, known as Dock 5. DJ Will Eastman of Bliss opens. There's a two-tier pricing structure: Admission is $25, but $125 VIP tickets come with all-you-can-eat oysters from Rappahannock Oyster Bar, cocktails created by "Mixtress" Gina Chersevani of Buffalo and Bergen, and all-important private bathrooms.
Once Thanksgiving has passed, it's perfectly acceptable to begin listening to Christmas music. Kick off the season at Strathmore, where former Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan singer Michael McDonald lends his dulcet baritone to a program of original holiday songs, such as the smooth "Every Time Christmas Comes Around," and soulful takes on the classics. He'll also play a few hits from his back catalog if you ask nicely. (Fritz has a seasonal Q&A with McDonald in Friday's Weekend section; look for it online later this week.)
Monday, December 2
Tired holiday songs take on a new spice when they're performed by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, who lend a rousing, brassy New Orleans jazz feeling to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "O Christmas Tree," among others, at the Birchmere.
As soon as Thanksgiving's over, it's time to break out your ironically tacky holiday sweater for the endless stream of Ugly Christmas Sweater parties that fill our calendars every December. First up: The Merry Madison Ugly Sweater Party at the Loews Madison Hotel on 15th Street NW. Drop into the PostScript bar between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. for happy hour drink specials and to immortalize your sweater in the photobooth. Since the season really is all about giving, bring two cans of food to donate to the Capital Area Food Bank and you'll be entered into a raffle for a free weekend stay at the hotel.