The Beatdown

Things to do in Denver when youíre dead.

"How can we miss you if you won't go away?"

That question applies to a lot of people, specifically Kiss, Cher, Michael Jordan and, most recently, the Lord High Commander of the Freak Brigade, Maris the Great. Evidently, he's back -- although I didn't know he was gone. Just a few weeks ago, I spotted him at the Dove sporting a mask that looked about as menacing as something out of Eyes Wide Shut. For chrissakes, people, the growling (and no longer pink-maned) superfreak has been out of the scene since -- when, Halloween? Less than three months? But I guess you can't kill that which won't die. So, yeah, homeboy is back. And here's the $64,000 question: What the hell has my man been doing for the past eighty days? Recalibrating his Satan-o-verb so that he can sound less like Cookie Monster and more like El Diablo? Watching Oprah? Knitting sweaters? Doing tae bo?

After seeing flix of his latest victims -- Anika Zappeand Karen Exley, the bodacious broads of Hemi Cuda, and their boytoy/beatkeeper, Devon Rogers -- on Maris's revamped Web site (www.maristhegreat.com), I know this much: He dyed his hair, got his ass stomped by the Cuda gals, learned how to use Flash and made a shitload of fake blood. Other than that, Maris's return seems like a whole lotta second-verse-same-as-the-first revisionism. Then again, he could have more up his sleeve. Oooh, what else does he have planned? I'm getting chills just thinking about it, like somebody slipped Icy Hot into my underoos.

Guess the only way to find out is to stop by one of the gigs celebrating the Great One's return, which, not entirely coincidentally, feature two types of music that also refuse to die. On Friday, January 23, Pink E's will host a metal show with some the area's premier outfits -- Switchpin, Brutal Infliction, Synthetic Delusion, Aggressive Persuasion, Sickbox and Maseneye. The following night, January 24, the Dove will be a punk mecca, with Antik, the Commodes, D.O.R.K., Zero Some, Yellow Second and Rubber Planet (more pop than punk, but work with me here). Word to the wise: This show is all-ages and starts at 5:30 p.m., presumably to accommodate the crumb-snatching nerd herd coming to see D.O.R.K.

Perhaps I should be worried that Maris might want to kill me for talking all this shit. But considering that I no longer have a penis -- he's still obsessed with little wooden boy and the twins, right? -- I think I'm safe. If not, and he does plan to do me harm, he'll just have to take a number.

I love you, you're perfect, now don't change: Last week my ears started buzzing incessantly -- probably because I was caught in a swirling vortex known as the ninety-three-and-a-third level of corporate-rock hell. But right when my eardrums were about to burst into steaming piles of goo, I could have sworn I heard local boys Love.45 on K-Tickle -- aka KTCL/93.3-FM -- sandwiched between Switchfoot's "Meant to Live" and Linkin Park's "My December." Then I thought I heard Love.45 again later that night and the next morning. Turns out I did.

According to Rubin, Channel 93.3's assistant program director, who prefers to keep his surname on the DL, the loved ones have indeed been added to regular rotation. The only other time I can remember something like this happening was back in 1998, when, at the urging of local champions Willie B. and Uncle Nasty, Bob Richards added "Seize the Day," by Sick, to KBPI's playlist. Brothers and sisters, I don't need to tell you how fucking huge this is -- but I will.

It's pretty simple, really: Unless an act has naked Polaroids of someone powerful or knows where the bodies are buried, you can bet it won't get within smelling distance of mainstream radio -- especially a station controlled by the Deathstar. And that includes major-label hacks backed by flacks who know how to work it. So you can forget about a bunch of unsigned yokels with nothing but talent, ambition and a simple four-song EP.

As it happens, though, I'm not the only one who thinks that "Don't Ask Me," from Love.45's Seattle SessionsEP, is the feel-good hit of the year. Alf, the jock who hosts 93.3's long-running Locals Only show, presented the song to station program director Mike O'Connor, music director Hill Jordan and Rubin for consideration. "We all agreed that it was a hit, and then we sent it to a local research database that we use," says Rubin. "It came back on par with bands like Incubus and a couple of other national acts. It came back stellar, and so we were like, 'You know what? Let's put it in.'"

It's all about playing the songs that people want to hear, Rubin says. "Ultimately, the listeners put it on the air," he explains. "I know it sounds cliche, but the people who fill out the surveys really do have a say."

Maybe. Still, it takes someone with a great set of ears to make that say possible. And according to Rubin, that someone is O'Connor: "Mike's been in radio for a long time, and he knows what he's doing."

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