We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.


I’ll always remember the first time that I heard Basement Jaxx. It was in a basement, of course—a basement bar in Sarajevo that had survived war and assorted mayhem. I was dancing there with some journalist friends, celebrating the end of a big Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe conference that none of us had had much luck selling stories about to our newspapers back home. The beer was flowing, and the DJ was pumping a mix of Bosnian rock and the latest Eurotrash dance hits. In the midst of this revelry, our mixmaster dropped in a track with the fattest, funkiest bass that I’d ever encountered in Eurodanceland and topped it off with a fabulous array of beeps and buzzes and a histrionic vocal that screeched, among other things: “Ain’t nuthin’ goin’ on but history/But don’t worry/Don’t panic.” It captured that Sarajevo moment perfectly, and only later did I find out (from German MTV, of course) that the song was the Jaxx’s megahit “Red Alert,” which was reigning supreme on dance floors from Ibiza to Istanbul. It’s two years later now, and the Jaxx have a new LP, Rooty. There’s not another “Red Alert,” but there are a few tracks—the first single, “Romeo,” and “Breakaway”—that bump Midnight Star and Cameo and grind Prince and housey diva vocalizing into something simple and delightful. You can catch the Jaxx in DJ mode at 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 18, at Nation, 1015 Half St. SE. $12. (202) 554-1500. (Richard Byrne)