By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Summarizing the year in local music with a timeline is a little like playing 22 records simultaneously and hoping to hear a symphony. (Try it yourself with our year-end CD recommendations.) But there are the equivalents of verses, choruses, and solos in the story of 2002--events that were resonant, if not harmonious, in a year more fucked up than Peter Buck on a British airline.
For many, the unheralded greatness of our local musicians was an oasis of meaning in a year spoiled by secret tribunals and BK Veggie Burgers. Which is why the death of blues legend Dave Ray was as painful to many as the untimely departure of Paul and Sheila Wellstone. The 12 months of events listed below only hint at the power and the glory (and the idiocy) you might have missed while you were watching Shipmates. Somewhere between Krispy Kremes and Iraq, between Miss World riots in Nigeria and "Free Winona!" in L.A., commercial culture lost its ability to matter. And not a year too soon.
DECEMBER 2001/JANUARY 2002
Local rapper Lil Buddy, whose "Woo Hoo" video shows him partying in a bank, pulls a ski mask over his face and robs the Vermillion State Bank in Rosemount with an air pistol. Escaping with nearly $40,000 in a stolen Audi, he is spotted by Eagan police within minutes, and chased until he crashes into a tree. Pleading guilty to the robbery (but not the auto theft), Buddy later attributes his problems to depression and concerns about the health of two of his brothers, who both suffered kidney failure earlier in December 2001. Out on bail, he returns to the studio to record his forthcoming album.On the first Saturday of the year, rave culture goes into what local techno godfather Woody McBride calls a "club coma." His former partners in the promotions outfit Mile High Productions--DJ Jack Trash (JT) and Compass Entertainment talent booker Rich Best--launch a weekly dance night at the Quest called Plush, the second installment of which is headlined by New York legend Frankie Bones. Plush becomes the most successful local dance-music undertaking of the year. Disney-owned radio station V105 (formerly Zone 105, formerly X105, formerly Rev 105) decides to address the painful scarcity of U2 on the air by switching to a new alternative format, "Drive 105," whose slogan might as well be "At least we play Iffy!" The all-volunteer Independent Music Foundation starts booking more punk shows at the Babylon International Café and Gallery, located in the East Lake Street space where Gus Lucky's used to be. Other genres are represented at the venue, as well: In October, absurdist rapper Ice-Rod covers the entire room in a plastic tarp and holds a concert/food fight. Hours are spent cleaning up the spaghetti, pudding, and cake.
After years of conflict with his landlord and neighbors, Bon Appetit owner Samir Elkhoury decides to sell his sandwich-and-beer joint, a haven for underage hip hop in Dinkytown. Live rap goes on to have its liveliest year ever in the Twin Cities, however, with regular nights at Mario's Keller Bar, the Lab, the Red Sea, the Loring Pasta Bar, the Fireball Espresso Café, the Circle of Discipline boxing gym, and the new Urban Wildlife Club.Meanwhile, headbangers hear that their favorite Columbia Heights hangout, Sharky's, will be closed in March to make way for a Walgreen's. A capacity crowd sends the joint off with a bang in March, rocking to the Slow Children, 13th Step, and Seventh Calling in near darkness. "Most of the neon signage had already been taken down," explains regular Sherie McEachern. "We drank all the alcohol left in the bar, and some of us even thought about buying a bar stool or table that we spent so many hours sitting at." The Sharky's roster moves on to the Main Event in Fridley, taking half of local music's hair with it.
MARCHBabylon regulars the Subversives play a set at the Mall of America before a midnight screening of A Clockwork Orange. General Cinemas is forced to refund tickets to patrons in the adjoining theater after the band drowns out the last half-hour of The Count of Monte Cristo. Plush talent booker Rich Best leaves Compass Entertainment for Clear Channel Entertainment, the Texas-based radio-and-concerts conglomerate, and Compass all but closes its live music division. This leaves Clear Channel in charge of the bulk of Twin Cities concerts. The following month, fans descend on the Quest to see trance stars Sasha and Digweed, the first DJ tour purchased in its entirety by Clear Channel. Arena funk-rockers Spymob appear on Late Show with David Letterman backing N.E.R.D. (a.k.a. production duo the Neptunes), with whom they recorded In Search Of... the previous summer. Spymob parlay the association into a deal with Arista. Michael Yonkers returns from obscurity with a reissue of Microminature Love (DeStijl) and a performance at Treehouse Records. Buried for 35 years, the psychedelic classic captivates a new generation of collectors with its homegrown guitar effects and vividly imagistic lyrics. Sub Pop expresses interest in re-releasing the disc in 2003.