Don’t Miss: Bliss w/ The Juan MacLean @ U Street Music Hall, 12/27/14

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Nancy Whang and Juan MacLean of The Juan MacLean (Photo by Tonje Thilesen)

Of course, you probably already know that DJ Will Eastman hosts his personal dance party Bliss on the last Saturday of every month at U Street Music Hall, which he co-owns and manages.

And of course, U Street Music Hall has become the place to experience exciting new house music.

But I would say they’ve really taken it up a notch with the Christmas edition of Bliss on Saturday, Dec. 27, by hosting DJ sets from The Juan MacLean, the duo of Juan MacLean and Nancy Whang (she formerly of LCD Soundsystem).

This means an unparalleled amount of DFA Records-inspired goodness will drop on DC this weekend. The production-savvy MacLean and Whang know how to make the most of sounds great and small, transcending subgenres from electroclash to deep house.

Of the two as a band, DFA Records says, “Throughout, Nancy is the triumphant leader–front and center; Juan works his magic with the arrangements and production, quoting freely from house, techno, and disco, yet surpassing genres all together. Together, Juan and Nancy play with the lyrics and melodies, as well as the arrangements, creating an interplay remindful of classic disco records. The sounds you’re just not supposed to reach for, the Juan always reaches for.”

If that wasn’t enough, the lineup for Saturday night also features Ben Browning, bassist for Australian new wave/house band Cut Copy. Browning has formed a special relationship with DC, spending some time here in general and spinning specifically at U Street Music Hall.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

Bliss
w/ Juan MacLean, Nancy Whang and Ben Browning
U Street Music Hall
Saturday, Dec. 27
Doors @10pm
$10 (Free for 21+ before midnight)
18+ (Advance tickets required for 18-20)

Music Park: Nicole Atkins @ Rock and Roll Hotel — 12/19/14

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As a half-full room at the Rock and Roll Hotel looked to the stage, the performer they came to see walked in through the doors behind them.

With her guitar hung around her shoulders, Nicole Atkins, a tiny chanteuse with a big voice, strode into the middle of the room and opened her set from the floor with her anthem “Neptune City,” the folky Americana ode to her hometown in New Jersey.

The audience reconfigured itself in a crowded circle around her and sang along Friday night, giving one of the warmest welcomes to a performer in my concert-going experience.

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Music Park: Positive Force Coat Drive w/ Cricket Cemetery @ Black Cat, 12/22/14

The Black Cat

If you’re looking to unwind and contribute to a good cause tonight at the same time, Cricket Cemetery, an Arlington, Va.-based independent record label teams up with Positive Force at the Black Cat (1811 14th St. NW, DC) to spin a free party in the bar and collect coats for those in need.

DJs Mike Schleibaum and Dean Sullivan will spin vinyl in the Red Room.

In a statement, the folks at Cricket Cemetery said, “During the harsh Winters of Washington, DC, far too many die from simply not being warm enough. In the tradition of punk rock meaning more than Mohawks, and leather jackets, we at Cricket Cemetery, and our partners in Positive Force, are embarking on what we hope to be a yearly winter coat drive to keep our fellow humans in our community warm.

“The Black Cat has graciously offered us their space to have a party to kick off this drive in the Red Room Bar, Monday, Dec. 22. There will be DJ’s, prizes, drinks and good hangs, but most of all we want you there to bring a coat, and throw a few bucks in the can for your community. All cash donations will go to Positive Force to continue their valuable work in helping those who need it in Washington, DC. SMASH! Records has also offered us a corner of their shop to keep a donation box for coats throughout the holiday season,” they added.

You may know Cricket Cemetery best as the label behind punk rockers Loud Boyz, the energetic DC punk band that seems to be everywhere in the past year!

We Are Family, a DC senior outreach network also will be on hand to collect donations, according to the Cat’s website.

DJ Night and Coat Drive
w/ Cricket Cemetery and Positive Force
Black Cat
Monday, Dec. 22
Doors @8pm
Free
All ages

Music Park: Paperhaus Tribute to Kraftwerk @ U Street Music Hall — 12/14/14

Kraftwerk Trans-Europe Express with Sheldon Cooper
DC’s own Paperhaus paid tribute to Kraftwerk Sunday night

Wow, Paperhaus knocked it out of the park last night at U Street Music Hall.

The psych rock quartet were joined by Erik Sleight of Br’er and Stronger Sex to stage a performance of the Kraftwerk album Trans Europe Express. I had little to prepare my expecations for the experience, but it didn’t matter. Even if I had the highest of expectations, the band would have exceeded them easily!

First and foremost, of course, Paperhaus augmented their synthesizer arsenal. Alex Tebeleff, normally on guitar and vocals, dedicated himself to a synthesizer while Erik supplemented him. Eduardo Rivera took occasional synth duties in addition to his guitar and backing vocals.

After a brief introduction, the band ably leapt into the first track, Europe Endless, and they sounded great! Alex enunciated his words in such a way as to lend them a Kraftwerkesque aura, while Eduardo occasionally sang into a vocoder.

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Wear an Ugly Sweater and Don’t Miss: Scythian @ 9:30 Club, 12/13/14

Group Shot

Unpack and brush off the moth balls from your ugliest Christmas sweater, it’s time for the annual Scythian show at the 9:30 Club.

This Saturday, Dec. 13, the local boys of Scythian will descend on DC once again and play their unique brand of Celtic rock.

If you’re not familiar yet with Scythian, they started playing weekly shows in DC over a decade ago in local Irish bars, like Finn MacCool’s (now Molly Malone’s in Barracks Row) and Fado (Chinatown).

They will be playing new music from their latest album released this past summer, Jump at the Sun, and many of their old classics.

Whomever wears the ugliest sweater to the show, will win VIP tickets to DC’s Shamrockfest held in March at RFK Stadium.

Vintage 80s Mountain Range Tacky Acrylic Ugly Christmas Sweater

Tickets are available here.

Scythian, with Driftwood (opener)
9:30 Club
Saturday, December 13
8pm doors
$17

Photo Reel: DC Prohibition-Era Photos via Dupont Circle Hotel

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After a thrilling chase through the busiest streets of Washington, a couple of bootleggers and their car are apprehended by the Capitol police, on Jan. 21, 1922. (Original photo courtesy Library of Congress)

The Doyle Collection Hotel Group, owner and operator of the Dupont Circle Hotel (1500 New Hampshire Ave. NW, DC), has restored and colorized some Prohibition Era photos from the Library of Congress to commemorate the 81st anniversary of Repeal Day.

“The vivid colors bring these images to life, perfectly capturing both the fashion and atmosphere of this fascinating chapter in American history. Many of these historic photographs are set in Washington, the home of our own Dupont Circle Hotel,” Doyle Hotels say on a blog dedicated to the photos.

As DC only celebrated Repeal Day last week, we all may recall that the 18th Amendment outlawed alcohol throughout the United States in 1919 in a ban that lasted for 13 years until the 21st Amendment overturned it.

“Throughout the 1920s, the government worked to enforce Prohibition, although those who opposed the law found ever-creative ways to enjoy a drink! Bootlegging (the illegal manufacturing and sale of alcohol) was rampant, as were stores and clubs who secretly served liquor. These became known as speakeasies, since customers had to keep their voices down to avoid attracting police attention,” says the blog.

You can view all of the restored pictures online at the Doyle Collection Hotel Group website.

Interestingly, the Ireland-based Doyle Collection Hotel Group has eight hotels throughout Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States, but our Dupont Circle Hotel is the only U.S. location.

Music Park: Paperhaus @ Black Cat — 12/9/14

Paperhaus is a band in touch with its feelings.

And those feelings often manifest themselves in six-minute songs that project the majesty of a space or an idea — “Mountains are moving high against wide sky,” vocalist Eduardo Rivera sings by way of example on the very new “Untitled.”

In that way, Paperhaus often wear their prog-rock influences on their sleeve. The band’s ethereal and lengthy guitar riffs and often-mystical references certainly *smack* of King Crimson or early YES but its winning formula of two guitars, bass and drums and a love of jamming out feed their self-described psychedelia. Lyrically, Paperhaus explore topics like the joy of being alive or the pain of lost love.

The band debuted some new songs backstage at the Black Cat on Tuesday, Dec. 9, opening for Jamaican Queens. The kicked off with “Untitled,” a selection from their self-titled debut album set for release in February. “Untitled” seems to celebrate being alive with references to a bit of religion and a bit of nature, and the pleasant, ambling guitar work couples well with Eduardo’s airy, soft voice.

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