A new generation of rock n’ roll divas take the stage at the 9:30 Club this Saturday for a musical showcase presented by Girls Rock! DC—a week-long camp for Washington ladies, ages eight to 18. Not only does the program teach these young women—some of whom have never touched a musical instrument before—how to play electric guitar, bass, keyboards, or turntables, it also gives them a chance to write original music and perform it live.
For the past eight years, the 9:30 Club has offered its space—free of charge—to the showcase, and this year is no different. Founding camp member Jennifer Fox-Thomas says the concert is not about showcasing talent, but about female empowerment. “The real focus is on a feminist and women’s movement. Music is just the medium,” she says. “We’re not a rock school, but we’re about girls finding their own visions of how they want the world to be.”
Nine bands and two DJ crews—both digital and old-school vinyl—will perform the songs and sets crafted earlier this week. Since the camp is packed with pre-teen and teenage girls, you can expect to hear lyrics about the usual adolescent strife. As for band names? Power Gurlz and No Glitter on Saturday are just two examples. “A lot of the songs deal with the issues these girls are working through in their lives,” says Danielle Mouledoux, who handles communications for the camp. “There’s one called ‘My Perfect Imperfections’ about those little habits that might make them feel bad about themselves, and how they decide to accept themselves anyway.”
The showcase includes a raffle with prizes from Pleasant Pops and Red Onion Records and Books, as well as a brand-new feature: a 15-minute DJ battle and dance party to get the audience grooving along with campers. The two-hour show will also give staff members a chance to speak about the program between band songs and sets.
If you're older than 18 and still want to get your rock on, Girls Rock! DC has something for you, too. The second annual Ladies Rock DC camp in October offers women a chance to grab an instrument, hit the stage, and feel the feminine power.
THURSDAY, JULY 30
MUSIC: Local band BRNDA takes the stage at Black Cat’s Backstage, giving concert-goers a taste of their eccentric pop-rock sounds. They released their sophomore album through Babe City Records and have songs titled “Go Bi” and “Friends (Make A New),” so this will surely make for a promising night of silly antics and feel-good fun. $10, 7:30 PM.
ART: This might be one of the few times when walking down a dark alley at night sounds like a good idea. DC’s Leica camera store partners with coffee shop La Colombe to host a DIY one-night-only show in Blagden Alley, showcasing the photography of over 15 DC photographers. Local ice cream company Milk Cult provides treats; cocktails will also be available. Free, 8 PM.
FRIDAY, JULY 31
LUNCH: If you’re looking for an excuse to tell your boss that you’re taking a long lunch, look no further. A Creative DC pairs up with Maketto to host their second monthly networking event for local entrepreneurs, creatives, and everything in-between. Grab some steamed pork buns and kick off the weekend here. Free, 11 AM to 2:30 PM.
MUSIC: English songbird Laura Marling takes the stage at the 9:30 Club, cooing listeners with her gentle melodies and confident verses. Earlier this year, the 25-year-old released her fifth album, Short Movie, to critical acclaim. $30, 8 PM.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 1
MUSIC: Haven’t gotten your monthly fill of beat-boxing or traditional Irish singing? Snag tickets to "Hip-Hop Meets the Music of Ireland" at the Atlas Performing Arts Center and get both at the same time. Featuring DC’s own Grammy-nominated artist Christylez Bacon and Sean-nós performer Shannon Dunne, the concert explores the connections between hip-hop, go-go, and traditional Irish music. Expect anything from djembe drums to congas--with some fancy footwork in between. $25, 8 PM.
RUN: The Midnight on Mars III run takes place along the bustling H Street corridor. Hosted by the District Running Collective, in an effort to encourage both experienced and new runners alike, the run allows participants to split into different groups and leave the starting line at different times. The race begins and ends at Gallery O on H Street; giveaways, live music, and drinks await at the finish line. Registration begins at 12 PM. The race starts at 9 PM. $40.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 2
MUSEUMS: In 2004, a man digging through the crates of a local flea market discovered the work of artist Mingering Mike. The pieces, which include album art and song lyrics, provide a rare glimpse into DC's black musicians of the 1960’s and '70s. The exhibition of this collection, acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, closes on Sunday, when Mike’s creations return to the vaults once more. Free, 11:30 AM to 7 PM.
EXHIBITIONS: Care to finish the weekend in a meditative environment? Head on over to the National Arboretum’s "Third National Juried Bonsai Pot" exhibition, where you can witness the work of the premier bonsai ceramic artists of the country and admire the fine art of bonsai--including one tree that reportedly survived the bombing of Hiroshima. This show also closes on Sunday. Free, 8 AM to 4:30 PM.
Echostage is DC's largest dedicated concert venue, and it can hold thousands of people in its 30,000-plus-square-foot space. But it certainly isn't located in the heart of downtown, and a night in its dark, warehouse-ish building off New York Avenue, Northeast, can be difficult to plan. Here's everything you need to know if you're heading for the venue.
How to get there
Cabbing it or taking an Uber are probably the best choices; they'll save you the hassle of finding an affordable parking spot. If you want to take Metro, ride the Red Line to the NoMa-Gallaudet U Station. Echostage offers a free shuttle on the M Street, Northeast, exit, starting at 6:30 PM on Sunday through Thursday, and at 8:30 PM on Friday and Saturday. The last shuttle leaves the venue at 2:30 AM on Friday and Saturday night.
Where to park
Parking is available on the street and in lots surrounding the venue. Nearby spots cost anywhere from $10 to $30; check this parking map on Echostage's website for details. If you're planning to park on the street, bring cash. The nearest ATM is located inside the strip club Stadium Club--and it charges a whopping $6 convenience fee.
You can also try Parking Panda. The app lets you reserve and pay for a spot in advance--typically for about $10 on New York Avenue.
Where to eat and drink
Panda Gourmet (2700 New York Ave., NE; 202-534-1620): This Szechuan/Shaanxi restaurant occupies a brightly lit corner of a Days Inn, just a six-minute stroll from Echostage. Don't go for the ambience or service; go for the flavor bomb that is the mapo tofu, the wontons in chili oil, the mouth-searing dan dan noodles, and the stir-fried cumin lamb with dried peppers. This is our top pick in the area--plus, they've got beer.
Zion Kitchen (1805 Montana Ave., NE; 202-636-9097): Just an 11-minute walk from the show, Zion Kitchen serves Nigerian cooking, including a particularly good goat stew. The place is only open until 8 PM, so it's best for an early dinner.
Flip It Twice (1544 Rhode Island Ave., NE; 202-269-2980): Stop by this no-frills spot for omelets, waffles, sandwiches, and homemade desserts like cakes and pies. It isn't exactly a showstopper, but it'll do the job in a crunch.
MGM Roast Beef (1905 Brentwood Rd., NE; 202-248-0389): It's about a ten minute drive from the venue and closes at 6 PM, but if you're early to a show, stop by for hand-carved-to-order ham sandwiches.
Askale Cafe (3629 12th St., NE; 202-758-0077): Also located about ten minutes away from Echostage, Askale Cafe offers Ethiopian cuisine in a laid-back setting.
Union Market (1309 5th St., NE; 301-347-3998): You could always stop by Union Market on the way to the show and grab some oysters from Rappahannock Oyster Bar, a sandwich and beer from Red Apron Butchery, or brisket from The BBQ Joint.
Echostage, by the way, stocks a full bar. As far as prices go, a Corona can goes for $6; a Stella Artois costs $7.
1. Jim Gaffigan
Wolf Trap, August 12
Jim Gaffigan doesn’t need to go far to find material: He and his wife share a two-bedroom apartment in New York City with their five children—a situation that inspired his new TV Land sitcom, The Jim Gaffigan Show. This comedian (and Georgetown grad) brings his standup act to Wolf Trap this month. $30 to $60.
2. Furia Flamenca
Dance Place, August 1-2
Ideal Stage: A pop-up at the Alhambra with oud players, sherry, and mucha paella.
Spirit Animal: Jessica Rabbit’s long-lost Andalusian cousin.
M.O.: Sultry arm movements, finger-snapping, and copious ruffles.
Tagline: Showcasing the often overlooked Middle Eastern roots of flamenco.
$25 to $30
Try the lunch buffet at Woodlands in Fairfax
You could take your date to Le Diplomate for a brunch of oysters and boudin noir. Or you could venture instead to a strip mall in Fairfax, where there's a killer south Indian restaurant serving endless amounts of dosas, paneer butter masala, and bhelpuri. On weekends, from 11:30 AM to 3 PM, the buffet costs $10.95 per person and includes everything from curried okra to tamarind rice. Pro tip: Keep an eye out for those dosas. They taste best when they haven't been sitting out long; pounce as soon as they're brought out to the buffet.
Catch a show at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage
Romantic outings at Jazz at the Garden usually involve standing in a drink line for 20 minutes then pushing and shoving your way onto a tiny strip of lawn, where you can hardly hear the music. Here's a better idea: Check out Millennium Stage, where the concerts are free, and the venue has chairs! Finish up the evening with a leisurely stroll on the terrace, taking in those stunning views of the Potomac.
Eat Puerto Rican food and drink beer at Port City Brewing in Alexandria
On Friday nights, the Borinquen Lunch Box food truck slings Cuban sandwiches, empanadas, and slow-roasted pork shoulder from Port City Brewing's parking lot. From 7 to 9 PM, there's live music inside the brewery. Share a side dish of alcapurrias--plantain fritters stuffed with beef--then wash it all down with a $10 flight of beer while taking in the tunes. Each tasting brings six glasses with four- to six-ounces of beer, so it's quite the great deal.
Explore Roosevelt Island
This 88-acre park, connected to Arlington via footbridge, offers a city escape that's a little more special that the customary trek through Rock Creek Park. Walking around the island doesn't involve any strenuous climbing, so it's perfect for dates who want to spend time outdoors without turning into a sweaty mess.
Take a group dance class at Salsa with Silvia
Salsa with Silvia's dance school occupies what appears to be the owner's basement. Pay no mind: What it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in smooth hip motions. Weekend group dance classes range from salsa to Argentine tango to merengue and bachata, and pupils are encouraged to switch partners throughout the lesson, so it's a great ice-breaker for dates. First-timers pay $12 for a class and $17 each time after that. (Sign up in advance. Salsa classes in particular tend to get packed.)
Rent a canoe at Burke Lake Park
If your date is in the mood for a walk, Burke Lake Park has a great nearly five-mile trail. However, renting a rowboat and exploring the gorgeous 218-acre lake might be a better way to spend the afternoon. (There's also great fishing. The lake is stocked with walleye, yellow and white perch, catfish, and more.) Non-Fairfax residents pay $10 per car for entry; rowboat and canoe rentals cost $10.50 for a half-day, $16 for a full day plus $1 each for life preservers and $5 for a single launch fee.
Visit 52 O Street Studios during Open Studio weekend
About twice a year, this four-story warehouse showcases its artist studios with a cool open house event. Sauntering through these walls usually involves close encounters with handmade knitwear, art installations, custom furniture, and photography. During the rest of the year, the building hosts openings, film screenings, and workshops. Follow the space on Facebook to stay up to date on events.
Pick blackberries at Homestead Farm then drink wine at Rocklands Farm in Poolesville
Start the day at Homestead Farm, a 230-acre chunk of land, where you can pick your own blackberries, peaches, and zinnias. (The flowers are gorgeous and cost only 40 cents a stem.) In the summer, at the market on-site, you can buy peach smoothies and house-grown zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes--heirloom, cherry, and sungold. During the fall, expect hayrides, pumpkin patches, and hot apple cider.
Round out your visit to Poolesville with a stop at Rocklands Farm next door. The winery offers tastings in a rustic barnyard setting for about $7 a glass, and on weekends, it's a great spot for lunch. In the past, they've served burgers and pizzas baked in a wood-burning oven.
Hit up Daikaya's ramen shop and izakaya
Anyone who's been to Daikaya for ramen knows the waits can be incredibly long. Here's our advice: Leave your name with the hostess then head upstairs to the izakaya (a sort of Japanese pub), date in-hand. Grab a seat at the bar, and order a cocktail and a few skewers while you wait. Once you get a ring from the hostess, the bartender will take your unfinished drinks downstairs. Try the vegetable ramen, teeming with Brussels sprouts, snow peas, and wood ear mushrooms.
Check out Phillips after Five at the Phillips Collection
The Phillips Collection stays open late on the first Thursday of every month. In August, there's a summer road trip-themed bash ($12, 5 to 8:30 PM) that sounds extra date-worthy. Food trucks, like Red Hook Lobster, CapMac, Carolina Q, and Z-Burger, offer dinner, and Right Proper Brewing Company provides the brews. Gallery talks and vintage jazz tunes round out the night.
Last Wednesday, dozens of former WHFS DJs and other personnel gathered at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club to unveil the beloved radio station's first bumper stickers and T-shirts in more than 30 years to promote Feast Your Ears: The Story of WHFS 102.3 FM, a documentary in progress by Jay Schlossberg.
MONDAY, JULY 27
MUSEUMS: What was it like for women covering the Vietnam War? This Newseum event, moderated by CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, answers that question through the testimony of four journalists, including Edith Lederer, the first woman hired full-time by the Associated Press to report on Vietnam. Free, 7 PM.
MUSIC: Go ahead: Blame the German pair known as Milky Chance for creating the catchy folktronica tune "Stolen Dance," which is impossible not to bop your head to. Their second single, "Flashed Junk Mind," is equally as good. They sold out their first US tour--and tonight they're performing at Echostage with X Ambassadors as their opening act. $35, 7 PM.
TUESDAY, JULY 28
MUSIC: Last year, Interpol released "El Pintor"--the rock band's first album since their self-titled release in 2010. Now they're back on the road, touring for the first time in years and hitting up Washington for a performance at Echostage. $40, 7 PM.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 29
FILM: The Jane Austen Film Festival continues at Dumbarton House with an outdoor screening of Pride and Prejudice. It's the last evening for the series, so grab a picnic blanket and head over to Georgetown for a dose of Keira Knightly under the stars. Pre-registration for the event is full; be sure to get there early to score your own space on the lawn. 7:30 to 10 PM.
MUSEUMS: Everyone's favorite ball pit stays open late on Wednesdays throughout the summer. Stop by the National Building Museum's "The Beach" for some local craft beer, speciality cocktails, and a dip in a germ-free ocean of plastic spheres. $16, 5 to 9 PM.
PARTY: You could sleep in on Wednesday morning--or you can crawl out of bed and head over to Daybreaker DC at Dock 5 of Union Market for a early morning fete. Starting at 6 AM, there will be dancing, live music, tunes by DJ David Hôhme, yoga, and an assortment of juices, coffee, and tea. $20 to $35, 6 to 9 AM.
Olney Theatre's production of Mel Brooks's 2001 musical The Producers only has three more performances, but it's not going to close without a bit of manufactured controversy. Audience members at Montgomery County playhouse are going to have to walk past a small coterie protesting the show's play-within-the-play, because, the demonstrators say, it makes light of Adolf Hitler and the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany.
"I understand the intent is satire," says Jeffrey Imm, who is organizing the demonstration through his anti-discrimination group, Responsible for Equality And Liberty. "This is the point of morality: some things we have to recognize as absolute evil. When 6 million people are murdered, we don’t view it with knee-slapping, we view it with reverence."
In The Producers, which is adapted from Brooks's Oscar-winning 1968 film of the same name, two crooked Broadway producers endeavor to profit off a critical and commercial flop, which they believe they find in Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden, which portrays Hitler as a flamboyant dandy.
Even though the jokes in The Producers come at the expense of show-business types and Nazis, Imm is not impressed by its humor, or the original Broadway run's record 12 Tony Awards. Contemporary audiences, he argues, are no longer frightened by genocide.
What can I say about Silence! The Musical? No, really. Which of the raucous, racy jokes, the shockingly sexual physical gags or bawdy snort-inducing songs could I possibly describe in appropriate detail without having my hand slapped by my editor? The infamous off-Broadway musical, now playing at Studio Theatre's 2ndStage through August 9, makes The Rocky Horror Picture Show look like PBS Kids.
Director Alan Paul doesn’t make apologies or tone down the hilariously appalling script for a Washington audience—and that’s what makes the production so successful. Likewise, the talented cast never shows a moment of hesitation or discomfort that might leave the audience twisting uncomfortably in their seats. Like a master class in leaving humility at the door, the actors deliver filthy lines and evocative gestures, have their faces photo-shopped gratuitously onto ghastly explicit sexual images, and even display full frontal nudity without batting an eye.
From the minute you walk in to the room Silence! is an experience. Staged cabaret-style, the audience sits at intimate four-top tables adorned with dimmed black and red zebra lamps. Soft lounge music can be heard just over the din of the crowd.
Framed stills from the 1991 Academy Award-winning movie Silence of the Lambs—on which the musical is based—line the walls to jog memories of key plot moments. The shadowy bar serves cringe-worthy cocktails like the “Hannibal Nectar” and “Lotion in a Basket.”
The show begins quite chastely, with a chorus of coquettish lambs. But the real action commences when Clarice Starling (Laura Jordan), the young FBI trainee, makes the long walk down the cellblock (a low catwalk that extends from the stage out into the audience) for her first meeting with serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Tally Sessions). Inmates lurking in the shadowy spaces between the audience’s tables spit sexual slurs, inspiring Hannibal’s first ballad, “If I Could Smell Her C--t.” Coarse lyrics aside, Tally’s rendition is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, clearly showcasing his Broadway chops.
Jordan, also a Broadway veteran (and who played Clarice in Silence! off-Broadway), speaks and sings through a thick Jody Foster twang that, while charming, sometimes muddles her musicality. However, her infectious energy, wacky face contortions, and physical comedy—all played straight for the audience—keep you drawn to her throughout the show.
Tom Story, who rounds out the trifecta, slays the audience as serial-killer-turned-skin-seamstress Buffalo Bill. His every move drips with the kind of creepy lasciviousness that makes you want to cross a street or lock your car doors at a stop light. He seems to be having a ball on stage, injecting the show with a ferociously giddy energy.
DC actor John Patrick Loughney (a young Steve Carell look-a-like) slid effortlessly among several roles including the humorless FBI Director Jack Crawford and Starling’s dead father (complete with West Virginian accent and familial lisp), who dropped in from heaven throughout the show. Awa Sal Secka, another local with a serious set of pipes, delivered a brashy Aretha-worthy soul anthem as Ardelia.
There were some moments of uncomfortable silence in the show. Some jokes fell flat, either because they just weren’t funny or the audience couldn’t keep up. On a few occasions, the actors gave a little nudge-wink to make sure the audience didn’t miss the really filthy bits. Following a particularly off-color joke regarding the shade of a dead girls’ nail polish, Jordan announced, “I’m just going to wait until that one sinks in.”
A few seconds later, she was rewarded with gasps of horror and guilty laughter.
Now playing through August 9 at Studio Theater’s Second Stage. $20 to $50; 202-332-3300; www.studiotheatre.org.
Last month, the Spread Love Band was driving law firm Skadden, Arps bonkers, playing its mix of trombone-heavy jazz, go-go, and country just outside the firm's downtown offices. The music was so loud, apparently, that Skadden offered the band a couple hundred bucks to play somewhere else—and, according to an internal memo published by Above the Law, considered hiring a string quartet to take its spot outside the Treasury Building.
But for at least one evening next month, Skadden's Bartlebys will have a reprieve: The Spread Love Band is headed indoors for a performance at the Kennedy Center. The August 31 show, presented by DC nonprofit Listen Local First as part of the Kennedy's free Millennium Stage program, is being billed as a performance by "one of the distinctive sounds of the city."
According to Spread Love's website, you can also catch DC's most distinctive street musicians at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market on August 30. Till then, you'll have to try and catch them at their 15th and New York Avenue, NW spot. Don't worry about RSVPing with Skadden.