Local Music Yearbook '04

We crowd-surfed with R.T. We bar hopped on light rail. And between some of our precious last sucks on a cigarette at the club, we scribbled it all down on a cocktail napkin.

Still onstage 24 hours later, Mallman looks exhilarated leading his band toward the finish line. When he reaches it, a giant banner of stars and stripes unfurls behind him: "Mission accomplished."

OCTOBER

Former Hüsker Dü singers Grant Hart and Bob Mould share the stage for the first time in 16 years at a Quest benefit concert for Soul Asylum bassist Karl Mueller, who is fighting cancer but still rocking out with his band. The duo's choice of songs? "Never Talking to You Again" and "Hardly Getting Over It."

Jane Sherman

As Hart quips, "If me and Bob can get together, that means we can all get together and put Bush out of office, right?"

It's a season of politicized rock, with the title of Mason Jennings's 2004 album, Use Your Voice (Bar None), feeling suddenly prophetic. Dillinger Four and Atmosphere collaborate on a reinterpretation of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War." Mark Mallman finds himself performing after Linda Ronstadt at a Kerry rally in Arizona. The C.O.R.E., Big Quarters, and other acts travel the country in a bus urging eligible voters to register. Their vehicle breaks down in Harlem for five hours, in the middle of the street.

Back home, the democratic spirit invades even a show by the sardonic likes of Conquerors and the Autumn Leaves, who hold an election for the best band of the two at the Hexagon. Conquerors bassist Keith Patterson warns the crowd, "If you vote for the Autumn Leaves, there will be a terrorist attack!"

Backed by a live band at the Pantages for the third night in a row, Paul Westerberg smashes not one, but two guitars. He seems frustrated over a blues he can't play. Coming back out onstage and starting over again, he pauses to tell a story about how, when he was 17, his best friend played him this song one afternoon, then "went home, wrapped his lips around the barrel of a shotgun, and blew his brains out all over his parents' kitchen floor."

An unbearable silence follows before Westerberg sings the old standard "I've Got a Mind to Give Up Living."

NOVEMBER

On Election Day, St. Paul hip hoppers Guardians of Balance and Eyedea organize a flatbed truck tour of low-income neighborhoods in the Twin Cities, performing with a mobile sound system and giving people rides to the polls.

That same afternoon, First Avenue closes, filing for bankruptcy. When the nightclub reopens two weeks later under new ownership--with ousted managers Steve McClellan and Jack Meyers back in control--metal band GWAR christens the audience with gallons of fake blood. (The band's first victim: somebody in a John Kerry costume.) Mayor Rybak backs off his earlier pledge to stage dive at the show, but follows through at a later concert by the Frogs.

Meanwhile, the city of Moorhead buys landmark rock dive Ralph's Corner Bar, giving owners until April to decide whether they want to make costly city-mandated improvements in order to stay open.

VH1's reality series Bands Reunited features Information Society, the former Minneapolis club sensations best known for their Leonard Nimoy-sampling 1988 hit, "What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)." But fans tune in only to discover that singer Kurt Harland is a no-show.

"He's a tortured artist," explains his former bandmate Paul Robb, speaking to City Pages a month later. "VH1 didn't know this, but we were communicating before the show. Kurt was very insulted that they ambushed him like that."

R.I.P.: Bemidji resident Roger Johnston, who pioneered a primitive style of '60s punk drumming with expatriate Hamburg greats the Monks.

 

DECEMBER

Radio K's Cosmic Slop (770 AM, 106.5 FM) retires from the air after 12 years of gabbing about obscure 1970s music. MPR's Pop Vultures (KNOW-FM 91.1) is canceled after 22 episodes of gabbing about current popular music. The Root Cellar record store closes after 11 years of gabbing with used-record buyers on Snelling Avenue. And pop troubadour Donovan flies in from Ireland to play the opening of the IN (Intelligent Nutrients, an organic restaurant launched by Aveda founder Horst Rechelbacher) after 38 years of gabbing with psychedelic hallucinations.

Goochers vocalist Sheela Namakkal and Sweet J.A.P. bassist Ben Crew get married onstage at the Turf Club. Ollie Stench performs the ceremony at the "punk rock wedding"--shortly before the couple's band, the Divebomb Honey, plays its first major gig. The event includes a reading by Felix Havoc of "The Rose," a tune made popular by noted punk icon Bette Midler.

Thanks to all the contributors: G.R. Anderson, Jen Boyles, Cecile Cloutier, Chris Godsey, Robert Morast, Peter S. Scholtes, and Lindsey Thomas.

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