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JULY 25

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Maybe it can’t win a presidential election, but don’t ever accuse the Grand Old Party of not knowing how to throw down. Possibly the best bash I’ve ever attended was the media party at last year’s Republican convention in San Diego. (They heeded the first rule of politics: “Make nice with the media.”) Not only was the limited-admittance soiree held on the city’s gorgeous bayside embarcadero, not only did it feature free food from two dozen of the fanciest restaurants in the West, not only did it include a breathtaking fireworks show, but after the food and the fireworks they unveiled Brian Setzer and his 17-piece orchestra. It was a stroke of genius: Setzer’s danceable rockabilly-swing repertoire was a hit with retirement-age pundits and Gen X reporter-drones alike. Setzer, of course, used to front the Stray Cats in the early ’80s, and though his recent orchestral work is inventive, it so far lacks the coherent sound of its feline ancestry (the outfit’s recent album Guitar Slinger features echoes as eclectic as Van Halen, Sting, and Harry Connick Jr.). But if the Washington appearance by the rockin’-est cat in the galaxy is half as good as the one in San Diego, it’ll be worth a trip. With the Glenmont Popes at 9 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $20. (202) 393-0930. (Louis Jacobson)