The Beatdown

Elevators, Frappuccinos, and things that go bump in the night.

I'm a Nancy boy.

While everybody's afraid of something, the things that scare the shit out of me are laughable -- perhaps not as grin-inducing as a friend's irrational fear of midgets, but amusing nonetheless. You want to know what freaks me out more than anything? (Besides being subjected to revisionist pabulum like the Darkness, the Scissor Sisters and Junior Senior?) Elevators. Seriously, wanna see a grown man shrivel up before your eyes, hyperventilate and whimper like a schoolgirl? Convince me to climb aboard one of those man-made, steel enclosed death contraptions.

At South by Southwest this past spring, my room at the Austin Hilton was on the 21st floor. I couldn't have been more mortified if you'd strapped me to a chair with duct tape and forced me to listen to "Lean Back" on infinite repeat. But while I was paralyzed by fear, I'm also a realist: I knew my two-pack-a-day-chain-smokin' fat ass couldn't scale all those stairs. So I overcame my fear, at least temporarily. Take that, Joe Rogan. (Actually, I persuaded the concierge to escort me to my room every day.)

Since this weekend is Halloween -- ostensibly the scariest of all holidays -- I asked a handful of Mootown luminaries to reveal what, exactly, makes them completely lose their shit.

Virgil Dickerson, the man behind Suburban Home's annual Monsters of Mock (which takes place this Saturday, October 29, at the Gothic Theatre), had his answer ready: "My nightmare is that we will live in a world where there's only Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Blockbuster. I've done some traveling. When you go to Europe, every town has its own identity. There's like a really cool personality to every town. It scares me to think that one day there's not going to be a Wax Trax or a Twist & Shout -- or all the cool indie shops. I'm afraid I'm going to wake up one day and it's just going to be one major conglomeration of Blockbuster, McDonald's, Best Buy and Starbucks. I'm afraid that I'm going to have to eat McDonald's and drink a fucking Starbucks Frappuccino, because there's no other options.

"Oh, and that clown scene from Poltergeist still scares the shit out of me," he added. "That thing is out of control. That's when the little kid has the life-sized clown doll, and it's just chilling on the chair, and then all of the sudden it comes to life and starts wrestling him. That shit is scary."

Tyler Jacobson was more hesitant. "I would say planes," the DJ offered, "except I'm getting on one tomorrow, and I don't want to say anything like that. The irony would be too much. Uh... Van Morrison. I just have a feeling that ŒBrown Eyed Girl' is going to be played at my funeral. I don't know. I got nothin'. I got nothin'." (Let's hope he puts a litte more thought into what he'll spin at Lipgloss's pre-Halloween party on Friday, October 29, at La Rumba.)

Paul Trinidad of Love.45, due at Herman's Hideaway this Saturday with the Fray, Bop Skizzum and Bump in the Night, is scared of not being all he can be. "I'm afraid of not covering all the bases, of not trying, basically," he revealed. "If it's midnight and there's still stuff to do, I'm afraid of going to bed, because I've just blown ten more opportunities."

Chris K, the Old Goat from Hapi Skratch Records -- the crew responsible for the "Heavy Festivities" this Friday at the Soiled Dove featuring Tyfoid Mary, Drug Under, Kronow, Dead Heaven Cowboys and Gashead -- can relate. K fears that he won't kick enough ass before he kicks the bucket. "I'm afraid of my own relevancy -- or lack thereof," he said. "I'll be fifty in January. I'm afraid that I won't get something relevant done, that I won't achieve something in music in general. I guess I'm afraid of failure. I didn't get into this business to be an artist. I got into this business because I knew I would never be as good as the artists I idolized. So I kind of got into it from the perspective of sharing music that I liked with other people. And one of my dreams has always been to earn a gold record -- not for myself, but for somebody that I worked with. I'm afraid I'll never achieve that."

Jake Schroeder of Opie Gone Bad doesn't worry about what he's accomplished; he agonizes over "people thinking I'm related to Pat Schroeder," he confessed. "I have this horrible phobia of people actually thinking I'm related to that woman in any way. I wake up at night crying, and I have to be comforted back to sleep with my stuffed-elephant GOP doll."

Politics scares lots of people, including Mark Bliesener (BandGuru.com, Big Head Todd and the Monsters). "I suppose everybody's saying the re-election of George Bush, right?" Bliesener wondered. "That's the first thing that comes to mind. I fear the increased polarization of the populace, the potential of a draft, the potential of a war with Iran -- I should say the surety of a war with Iran -- and the increasing encroachment of religion into not only politics, but everyday life. Encroachment into places it doesn't belong.

"Generally, I'm also afraid of turning on the radio," he continued. "With some fine exceptions, ordinarily what I get coming out at me is not something I want to listen to. Or, I should say, I already know what to expect. I'm never surprised by it. Everything is a pastiche of something else. The lack of fearless originality is what scares me. It's all become a lot too predictable. I think that the rehash and nostalgification of life is not a good thing. As much as I love a 1-4-5 Chuck Berry progression, I'd like to think we could move beyond that one of these days. Certainly there are great creative people doing wonderful things, but the mainstream is not willing to open up to anything original or creative. This sort of dovetails into why the re-election of George Bush scares me. The country just continues to take giant steps backward on all levels, and that's not a good thing."

DJ Style and Fashion was reading a different chapter of the same book. "You know what scares me the most is the phenomenon of homogenization in the music industry," said Style. "The homogenized approach to music. If you'll notice, everything is processed to be the same. Natural selection is out the window. All there is is just derivative homogenization. It's like a rehash of this or a rehash of that. There used to be a time when people craved difference. People do not want to hear anything different anymore. There's no such thing as art for art's sake. Art for art's sake has disappeared. All we have now is commercial art -- art for commerce. That's it. Nobody expresses themselves just because they want to express themselves anymore. And that's fucking scary."

According to Bill Terrell, the frontman from Rogue (appearing this Sunday, October 31, at Whiskey Bill's with Metal Church, 3 Inches of Blood, Head Shop and Fury), only two things make him sweat. "My wife and the IRS -- because my wife will kick my ass if I don't toe the line, and the IRS will fuck me if I don't toe the line."

Tom Clenin, bassist for the Skulls, due at Equillibrium's third annual Halloween bash at the Larimer Lounge on Saturday night (see Upbeats and Beatdowns for full details), doesn't frighten easily, either. That is, unless you're turning tricks on Colfax minus a set of choppers. "Not much scares me anymore," said Clenin, "except hookers with no teeth. When you bring a girl home to meet Mom, you want her to have a nice grille. I guess that's why I stopped soliciting hookers, because I couldn't find any with teeth. But really what scares me, I think, are carnies, midgets, tweakers, ex-girlfriends and people that think like me."

Rhett Lee, formerly of Carolyn's Mother (how weird does that sound?), has smaller concerns. "Those little earwigs," Lee explained. "There those little pincer bugs that are always in people's basements. I hate those. I have no idea why, but they just creep me out. Like, I'm cool with spiders and all the rest of the things you'll find in the basement. But those things -- it's probably because they're so fast."

Not as fast as Dan Rutherford, our man from Morning After Records, who knows when to haul ass. "Frat parties scare me," Rutherford said, "because I'm afraid of getting my ass kicked." And if you've ever seen Rutherford, you know that with that haircut, he's just begging for an ass-whuppin' from the Sportos.

Upbeats and beatdowns:On Tuesday I got the scariest news I've heard all year, and it was no trick: Melissa Martin, the booking and promotions manager at the 15th Street Tavern, phoned late that afternoon with word that the Tavern will host its last show ever this Saturday, October 30. After nearly a decade as one of Denver's most renowned dives, the Tavern will go dark after performances by Love Me Destroyer, Black Lamb, Crimson Haybailer, the Otter Pops, Slow Crawl, the Rabid Ragdolls and Crack Owl. For those who want to hang at the Tavern one last time and wish Andy Artzer, the Tavern's owner, and his crew a fond farewell, the show runs from 3 to 10 p.m.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Frontside Five unleashes its new disc at Equillibrium's Halloween soiree at the Larimer Lounge, with King Rat and two of the area's finest tribute bands, Zillion Dollar Sadists, which pays homage to Turbo Negro, and the Skulls, who channel the Misfits; Sympathy F gets back together for one night at Cero; Potion # 10.30.04 features the turntable skills of East Coast imports Kooky Scientist and Gregory Shiff as well as DJs Ivy, ejay, Trip Coffin, Scott Everett, Shane Delinks, Alalaone, P2 and Satori C (call 303-382-3496 for event locale); Saved by Hero, Blind Harvest, the Dearly Beloved, Tenpenny and All Ways Out hit the Oriental Theatre; Wendy Woo tunes up at the D Note; D Bone drops his new disc, Flying Saucer Trailer Park, at Punch and Judy's; Maris the Great, a cat who thinks every day is Halloween, presents Bite My Halloweenie 2004 with Assisted Suicide Assembly, My Only Hope, Ainmatter, the Mutiny and Emnity at Pink E's; Cabaret Diosa and DeVotchKa join forces at the Boulder Theater; DJs Rob Hatch and Slave 1 oversee a hearse raffle at the Cherry Pit; Datacode Division and Black Cell drop into 2101 Champa; Tea Leaf Greenand Leftover Salmon swim up to the Fillmore; and the Motet conjures up Prince at the Fox Theatre.

Finally, on Sunday, October 31, DJ Psycho is behind the decks at Dream; the Fairlaines are joined by -- no shit, this is the word that was passed on to me -- Faith No More, the Ramones, Modest Mouse and the Melvins (ever get the feeling that you're being duped?) at the Starlight in Fort Collins; and Never Surrender and Incognito (ex-members of Herman's Hermits, Loggins & Messina) insist that your mama don't dance and your daddy don't rock and roll at Eck's Saloon.

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