Local Music Yearbook '03

We Sang. We Danced. We Set things on Fire. And Sometime after the Bar Closed, We Wrote It All Down for You.

 

OCTOBER

To raise money for the Sound Unseen film and music festival, members of local bands such as Idle Hands, Revolver Modèle, Friends Like These, and others take turns in a kissing booth as fans line up during the closing night party at the Historic Thorpe Building. Performing before the crowd later on, Revolver Modèle singer Ehsan Alam tells the audience: "Dance or I'll kill each and every single one of you."

A rapper known for his gritty rhymes with DAPO and Phull Surkle, Gene Poole (a.k.a. Samuel James Anderson) is charged with two counts of second-degree murder after a confrontation outside a party in south Minneapolis results in the shooting deaths of two men. He maintains his innocence.

The NorShor Theatre in Duluth, the cultural center of the city's art and music universe, closes under financial duress. As if in psychic sympathy, on the same night, Duluth singer, provocateur, and Low nanny Scott Starfire is randomly punched in the face on the street in downtown Minneapolis. Low organizes a "Jaw Aid" concert for Starfire's medical bill at the Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth, playing a song they named for him, "Starfire," and changing the lyric from "broken bodies all the time" to "broken jawbones all the time."

Booking some of the biggest experimental and avant-garde bands from around the world, the Destijl/Freedom From Festival of Music relocates to fancier digs--the newly renovated Fine Line. At first, there's a bit a of culture clash between the venue and its bohemian patrons: Two hours into the first day, a handwritten sign appears on the bar saying, "Please Tip." But the new sound system is a godsend for the bands, which include a trio featuring Jim O'Rourke and Thurston Moore. One member of Brooklyn jazz butchers No Neck Blues Band makes use of every part of the facility, clambering up a stack of speakers and performing a kind of high-wire act on the one-foot overhang of the club's balcony. Even more impressive: He's doing this while lifting a drum carved out of a tree trunk over his head.

Wellstone World Music Day inspires celebrations across the Twin Cities, and even out of state. At Ruminator Books in St. Paul, alt-folk singer Mason Jennings plays his "Ballad of Paul and Sheila." At Lee's Liquor Lounge, a group of singers join roots rocker Adam Levy for a Bill Murray-worthy "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding." At around the same time, another group of friends joins power-pop veteran Curtiss A onstage at the Turf Cub for the same song. Singing along are the day's co-organizers, Terry and Jim Walsh.

"At a time when everything feels fleeting, false, and fragile," folk-pop singer Martin Devaney later muses, "that day served to show that there are still so many people that can get out there and light a fire under our asses."

A concert by Total Chaos at Urban Wildlife makes good on both the band name and club name. With the hardcore headliners delayed for two hours, a rowdy roomful of punks starts yelling at the bartender to switch the TV from baseball to hockey. The request is ignored until half the crowd begins chanting, "hockey, hockey," shoving other patrons in protest.

Though the bartender relents, things get worse. At the end of the night, someone walks off with the better part of $1,000 that was meant for the band and club.

Blues scene giant Joel Johnson dies of a brain hemorrhage at age 55. The singer and rhythm guitarist with the Joel Johnson Band hosted the great Lazy Bill Lucas show on KFAI-FM (90.3/106.7) for 13 years, and delivered City Pages for longer than that. He was about to do his on-air shift when he fell ill.

 

NOVEMBER

After performing his song "Don't Be Mad if Your Girl Wanna Fornicate" and repeatedly calling the audience "pussies," rapper Ice-Rod is told by the Fine Line's manager on duty to get off the stage. The profusely sweating and shirtless MC pleads like a little boy to finish his set, promising to "watch my mouth." Allowed to continue, he offers his thanks, then screams: "This next one is for all you pussy bar-manager motherfuckers out there. It's called, 'Watch Yo Mouth'!" When he's done, he announces that he'll never set foot on any stage as Ice-Rod again.

Agnostic Front singer Roger Miret picks a fight with a Triple Rock employee over the fact that there's no Agnostic Front in the jukebox. Ejected from the premises, he learns the next day that the bartender he attacked was Billy from Dillinger Four. He spends the next week apologizing for his plastered behavior.

At the Hang-Ups CD-release show, Faux Jean pause before their last song to announce that this will be their final local show with bassist Faux Wayne and singer Jean Angel. It's the end of a hot lineup. "As far as I'm concerned, they kicked the door open for the Idle Hands, Revolver [Modéle], Bridge Club, Luke's Angels, and Friends Like These," remarks Idle Hands singer Ciaran Daly.

Bandleader Faux Jean (whose real name is Matty Schindler) doesn't announce whether he's found anyone willing to adopt the name Jean Faux.

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