THE CANCELLATION OF the December 9 Mazzy Star show at First Avenue was a blessing in disguise, since what came in its place--the local "Future Perfect: A Drone and Trance Event"--turned out to be an unexpected, genre-bending delight. The evening displayed some nice, healthy clashes between the tastes and intentions of the performing DJs, the bands, and the largely club-kid draw that attended the 18+ show. Sandwiched between hot DJs Drone, JT, Rod Smith, and Chris Sattinger were well-received performances from "pop" bands like Sukpatch, Colfax Abbey, and Blue Shift, a new Shapeshifter offshoot whose constituents took the stage in radiation suits.


The Colfax Abbey set came on the heels of a performance from surreal techno-maven Sattinger, after which the DJ accompanied the band for a set of free-flowing non-pop from their new ambient EP, Penetrate (Ultramodern). Four "songs" in 40 minutes, the disc is perfect for those quiet nights at home, if you know what I mean. Sampling-popsters Sukpatch were also well received by dancers not used to the 'Patch's indie beat--and I'm pleased to report their new material is becoming more funk than 'delic. Not everyone agreed, I guess: An impatient, testosterone-riddled gent beside me was spewing incongruous jeers like, "They remind me of Blind Melon--they fuckin' sound like girls!" (Huh?) But this kind of divergence of opinion was one of the virtues of the night; like other local concept gigs Moon Mountain and Freeloaded, musical cross-pollination is what it's about, and it bodes well for the health of the scene.

CHRISTMAS PRESENTS: Semisonic's great Great Divide has earned a high-profile rave in Rolling Stone's "Year in Recordings" feature in the December 25 issue, rubbing shoulders with such heavy company as 2Pac and the omnipresent Beck. "Manna from Badfinger heaven," raves writer David Fricke... In just four weeks Polara's Pantomime EP has shot to the upper reaches of the CMJ Top 200 chart, now sitting in the Top 10 most heavily played discs on national college radio. One week, only Johnny Cash was being added to more college playlists. That's impressive for a band's first major-label release, and geez, it's only a single. (Yet another EP culled from studio surplus is due in January.) For the record, other local CDs making CMJ waves include Willie Wisely's She and Sukpatch's Haulin' Grass and Smokin' Ass. Think Tank's Skullbuggery hit number eight on the CMJ dance chart, and the heavily acclaimed Garmarna (actually a great Swedish act on local label Ominium) are all over the world chart. It's a coup, I tell ya... Finally, late-'80s local pop sensation Something Fierce is back on the block--after a five-year absence following a car accident involving chief songwriter Jeff Carpenter--with A Sound for Sore Ears. The Fierce still includes Jerry Lefkowitz on guitar and drummer David J. Russ, and is gearing up for a January 7 gig at the Cabooze. Stay tuned... (Simon Peter Groebner)

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