FOR THE SECOND year running, I've been invited to a friend's New Year's party. Thing is, her party deliberately begins after midnight, to avoid the cliché trappings of the season. Last year the party couldn't entirely dodge the petty discomforts endemic to the holiday--the exes of various guests showed up with new beloveds, and some guys nobody knew smashed a painting. No problem, says my friend--just so she doesn't have to bother with worrying about who's kissing whom at midnight and endure the banality of the countdown.
That's all very prudent of her, but it leaves traditionalists like me feeling sort of restless round midnight. Last year I was so bored waiting for the party that I wandered into First Avenue to see what was going on, which is sort of like cruising out to I-35W at rush hour because you want company.
And this year? Well, at least this year has roused up a worthy controversy in the local club scene, surrounding burgeoning jam band Wookiefoot, who signed on with the Cabooze to play this December 31. But then the Quest showed up with an offer the 'Feet couldn't refuse. For a moment there, both venues were advertising that Wookiefoot would ring in the New Year, and rumors began to circulate that the Cabooze might take legal action. All has been resolved, however, with the band playing an early Cabooze show and then a midnight Quest show.
Why such a battle over this band? Clubs count on the surest moneymakers on this special night of the year, which means those bands least likely to offend the greatest number of patrons are in demand. And so we've got G.B. Leighton at the Radisson South, the Honeydogs at the St. Paul Radisson, and the Big Wu at the State Theatre. Ravers have a better option--2001: A Sound Odyssey (with venue to be announced). But if you want to be home before dawn, or make the late-night party circuit, your best bet, as discerning readers might have guessed from the picture on this page, is at the 400 Bar, where a double dose of tuneful bombast from 12Rods and Spymob will mark the ritual changing of appointment books.
THE BALANCE OF power sure is shifting from what they told us in high school civics, eh? First the federal judiciary all but appoints the chief executive. Now, as the New York Times reported on December 19, certain duties formerly entrusted to the FCC have been usurped by Congress. And with this shift in power, the Federal Communications Commission's landmark attempt to bring about low-power FM stations is all but finished.
As reported in RPM earlier this year, commercial-radio lobbyists (and representatives from NPR) have battled long and hard to prevent the FCC from creating these newer stations, low-wattage outfits that would provide nonprofit community radio. Such parties have claimed that the low-power stations would create interference, and when the FCC claimed otherwise, their opponents asserted that the commission's methods were incomplete. With help from some congressional accomplices, the LPFM naysayers determined that the easiest way to circumvent the FCC's decision was to take that decision-making ability away from the FCC.
Consider this legislation a little parting gift from outgoing state Sen. Rod Grams, who smuggled this provision into the budget bill.
But worry not: I won't leave 2000 on such a miserable note. I recently met up with Dwayne Culpepper of Judgement Day Records, a new shoestring operation that's promoting a hardcore crew called the Wicked Mob, featuring Culpepper's brother and business associate Antonio. Originally from East St. Louis, Illinois, the brothers were raised in the Twin Cities, where they established themselves as child performers before spending the last few years, as Dwayne Culpepper puts it, "woodshedding."
Judging from the single "Bring It, Bring It," the hiatus has benefited Judgement Day immensely. This debut track is hooked by a nervous, staccato keyboard about an octave away from being audible only to dogs, and a simple but catchy chorus that repeats its antagonistic title. It also introduces the other members of the camp: the gruffly eloquent Enditement, the deliberate Kimchi, and, my favorite, a poker-faced preteen with a tough, hyperactive flow named Lil' Hostile. Their thuggish vibe is familiar but by no means tired, though not for the squeamish--or, as Dwayne Culpepper asked me after a preview, "Wasn't too explicit for ya, was it?"