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CC Club 80th Anniversary, night two, 12/7/13

Curtiss A and the Sex Rays
Curtiss A and the Sex Rays
Tony Nelson

CC Club 80th Anniversary Party, Night Two (Night One recap)
With Sex Rays, Buildings, BNLX, the Mighty Mofos, Gay Witch Abortion, and Bethany Larson and the Bees Knees
CC Club, Minneapolis
Saturday, December 7, 2013

It was hard to tell at first, but that dark spot on Billy Batson's forehead was blood. It was hard to tell, too, just how it got there. Most likely Batson, the singer for Minneapolis punk legends the Mighty Mofos, had accidentally hit himself with his microphone -- although it may as well have been his comb, which he pulled out repeatedly to coif his slicked-back gray hair. Either way, within a few minutes the blood was running down Batson's face in thick, red streams. And he never missed a beat.

On a night that was all about rock 'n' roll as the CC Club hosted a weekend of concerts for the first time in, well, a very long time, this moment may have been the most rock 'n' roll. And it couldn't have been more appropriate that it came from a band that frequented the Uptown bar back in its heyday of the 1980s.

See Also: Slideshow: CC Club 80th Anniversary, night two
It's been a landmark year for the CC Club in a lot of ways, and these two nights of concerts were a perfect way to cap it all off. The place has come a long way in recent months, considering that less than 12 months ago there was some cause to wonder whether the place would even still be around at this point. But the new owners from next door neighbors French Meadow have been good to their word on preserving what has become the last real holdout of a bygone neighborhood. Recently they brought back the beloved jukebox, and now they've rekindled another old tradition: live music.

The Mighty Mofos
The Mighty Mofos
Tony Nelson
The Mighy Mofos' Billy Batson
The Mighy Mofos' Billy Batson
Tony Nelson

And that was really what the night was all about -- taking a step forward while celebrating the past. This was the CC's birthday party, after all, and the bands that played were somehow secondary -- a fact helped by the lineup being kept completely secret, right up till the moment each band hit stage. And, of course, their was longtime patron and friend Curtiss A there to handle the emcee duties.

So it was appropriate, too, that it was the Mighty Mofos -- a band with roots running all the way back to the '70s -- who really stole the show on Saturday night. Most of the younger customers who made it in the door probably had little idea who these guys were, but they tore through a rip-roaring set of songs that was heavy on covers, bookended by a pair of MC5 songs. There was the bloodied Billy Batson on vocals, of course, and right alongside him his brother Ernie, who calmly set the tempo on lead guitar. Leave it to the veterans to show you how it's done.

The Mofos weren't the only ones to set the volume at 11, though. That was true of just about every band that stepped on stage Saturday night, save for the opening act, Bethany Larson and the Bees Knees. From there, there was plenty of white noise and a little bit of chaos, highlighted by the siren wails of Gay Witch Abortion and the all-out assault of Buildings. Somewhere in the middle of those extremes was the minimalist riffing of BNLX.
 
What kept coming to mind, though, was how right the whole situation felt. Sure, it was a little disorienting to see the room in such an unfamiliar state, with the stage set in the back, replacing the pool tables, and with the rest emptied out save for the booths along the wall. But with the Christmas lights adorning the stage and the see-through curtain with the CC logo embroidered in, it all fit perfectly.

Gay Witch Abortion
Gay Witch Abortion
Tony Nelson

It was helped, too by what was a relatively small crowd -- which is to say, the club probably could've sold more tickets if they'd wanted to, but they clearly wanted to keep things lower key. And it worked, because it helped add to the intimacy of the occasion, as though it was a party between close friends. In any event, there was no mention of whether the bar will return to hosting regular shows, but now it almost seems hard to imagine it not happening.

If there was anything missing from the night, it was a big, be-all-end-all finale. Sure, the thing that everyone would've loved -- an appearance by the admittedly recently reunited Replacements -- was never going to happen, but given that Tapes n' Tapes had gotten back together to cap off the first night, it was a bit of an anticlimax that it was the Sex Rays who brought the whole weekend to a close.

No matter, though. Late in the set, Curtiss A hopped on stage with Joe Hastings and the rest of the Rays, and together they brought the night to a crackling -- and appropriately ramshackle -- conclusion, including a rowdy rendition of the Beatles' deep cut "Bad Boy."

Earlier in the night, Curtiss, in his inimitably off-center style, had quipped, "This place opened in 1933. It's good to see a business could still thrive when everyone was depressed." (Never mind that Prohibition had just ended...) That was something to cheers to -- and another 80 years, we should hope.

Critic's Bias: We all have our CC stories, don't we?

The Crowd: A mix of young and old, but presumably all -- at one time or another -- regulars.

Overheard in the Crowd: "BNLX -- is that supposed to mean something?"


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