The Beatdown

Setting the stage for 2005.

If what happens on New Year's Eve is any indication of what's ahead for the next year, then we're in for more great music and drunken debauchery.

I kicked off the night around 7:30 p.m., breaking bread with Jeff Arnold (El Jefe at the Velvet Underground) and the Supersuckers at the Tom Tom Room. After a brief encounter with rolled-up raw-fish doobies, I moved on to the Underground and caught a few songs by King Rat, who was in rare form. But I couldn't stay; my better half arrived to whisk me to the next stop on my tour. I'd strategized my itinerary down to the minute, but I hadn't factored in that my wife can't negotiate LoDo, even on a calm night -- and we got caught in hellacious gridlock created by all the Highlands Ranch-hands who'd assembled on the 16th Street Mall to stare at the sky.

We finally escaped downtown around 11 p.m. and headed east; I'd hoped to see a bit of Slim Cessnaat the Bluebird. But after circling the neighborhood for almost an hour in search of parking, the white-knuckle, nerve-shattering hell ride had my heart seizing like Len Bias's after he'd blasted rails of the booger sugar. After dropping my wife at La Rumba, I hit St. Mark's Coffeehouse, and as soon as I heard Judith Avers's gorgeous voice -- which combines the range of Gillian Welch with the fragility of Rosie Thomas -- I felt as intoxicated as the revelers next door at the Thin Man, St. Mark's conjoined twin. Avers, one of the best singer-songwriters in town, delivered a compelling set in front of just a scant half-dozen people. Although St. Mark's was as desolate as a rural road in Iowa, the intimacy complemented Avers's material, which conjures up rustic back-porch sing-alongs.

Next, it was off to the Ogden for Kronow. By the time I got there, only forty or fifty people remained, most of them die-hard crumb-snatchers up past their bedtimes. Still, Kronow tore it up. Vocalist James Brennan said his voice was cashed, but he sounded better than I'd ever heard. Toward the end of the set, he and his crew unveiled some bludgeoning new material, heavy fucking metal à la V.O.D. with a Meshuggah-like prog-slant. If the band continues in this direction, Kronow will be the heavy act to watch in 2005.

The night's most amusing moment, though, came at Lipgloss. Despite the late hour, the room was jam-packed, the dance floor as sticky as the ground in a porn palace. And the still-gyrating mass of bodies indicated I'd missed one hell of a party. I made my way through the intoxicated throng to the bathroom, where I encountered Carlos D, who holds down the low end for Interpol. "May I politely cut in front of you?" he asked. "I'm the DJ." Sure thing, Chief. After all, he'd just made my night by throwing down vintage GN'R.

Besides, the last thing I wanted to do was kill the buzz by interrupting the music. That's the type of shit that can stick with you all year long.

 
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