THURSDAY 12/20

ELLIOTT SMITH, ALASKA

(Crystal) I was thinking recently that it would be really funny for a gay to redo Elliott Smith's excellent song "Needle in the Hay," which he penned for his self-titled 1995 Kill Rock Stars release. Only on the gay version, instead of crooning the lyric "needle in the hay" in a beautifully listless whisper, as Smith does on the original, some big nelly thing would sing "needle in the HAAAAAAAAAY, giiiiirl!" while flitting his arms about wildly and performing the running man. I was only thinking that, though, because I had gone all sentimental and pulled Elliott Smith from its dusty sleeve. It's a great album--not his brilliant best, which would be 1997's Either/Or, but great nonetheless. JEFF DEROCHE

CHAMPION, BREAKER BREAKER, OVER MY DEAD BODY, FOR THOSE I'VE KILLED

(Paris) Heavily influenced by Gorilla Biscuits' NYC style of straightedge hardcore, Breaker Breaker is from (get this) SAN FRANCISCO, where they must suffer from constant West Coast identity crises. SF was the very same city that stripped my own hands clean of the badly sharpie-d X of sober brotherhood. Struggling to make a bold stand amongst the decadent culture which thrives on indulgence, Breaker Breaker's anthems of youth frustration just might help keep you from straying down the same path of unabashed narcotic consumption and using your Christmas bonus on hookers instead of gifts for needy children. JAMES SQUEAKY

HAIL ME A CABARET!

(Blackbird) This is somewhat of a variety show, all centered around the idea of the cabaret. Though the show sounds a little scattered, as there doesn't seem to be a lot of unity between the readings and song and dance and performance art (beyond the fact that they're all about the idea of the cabaret, of course) there are a lot of redeeming local all-stars on the list. Teen Sleuth and Dr. Frank West will read. Grace, Q. Huckeby, Daphna Kohn, and Amoree Lovell will be performing some lovely music. And Matthew Hattie Hein and Jeff London will do something funny, possibly involving music. Oh yeah, and a short play will happen, featuring Mr. and Mrs. Peacock, whoever they are Possibly a film or two will also be shown. Damn, this show must have taken a shitload of organizing. KATIA DUNN

PIRATE JENNY'S X-MAS PARTY

(Ash Street) Did you hear about the new pirate movie? No? It's rated RRRRR. The Mercury does not discourage the celebration of Christmas in any form or fashion whatsoever (as long as it is the celebration of our Messiah, got it?). Even, in this instance, heathen pirates. Tempering the broad sound of arena-rock with xylophones and pithy lyrics, Pirate Jenny presents their seasonal show. With meat-and-potato big-note guitar chords and strong back beats, they pump out musically solid songs like "Scrabby's Sleigh Ride," a Nirvana-inspired yuletide carol. If, at times, the gimmick--the growling, the "walk-the-plank" jokes, the three-cornered hats--gets tiresome, the narration about Santa's fateful visit to their pirate ship redeems the band with charming coyness. PHIL "DOT" BUSSE


FRIDAY 12/21

CHAZMADAR, BENDIXION, MCNARRIES PUNKFEST

(Rabbit Hole) It's a good thing that I know Chazmadar are local, otherwise I'd be tempted to say that they're British. They have a pop-cheer kind of feel, but they're not as simple-minded as a lot of pop can be, and they're also a little tragic and dark. Another band that is playing with Chaz. is Mcnarries Punkfest, which isn't punk at all (weird, I know), but rather a light kind of circus-sounding music. This music would also probably work to narrate a funny nature video, like of a duck walking around a lake. It's interesting-silly, with funny bass lines and no words, and also entertaining. KD

DECEMBERISTS, LITTLE WINGS, SCHICKY GNAROVITZ

(Blackbird) The Decemberists are a capsule of epic-folk singing, which is a very refreshing change from ironic songs that seem to have nothing to do with anything but laundry detergent commercials and jingles. For example, check out the following lyrics: "Sweet Annabelle, as seen reclining on an ocean swell as the waves do lather up and lay/ her down 'til she's fast and sleeping. Oh well, I guess I'm nothing but a/ ne'er-do-well who/ fell asleep at the peeling of the steeple bell. I'm on track and keeping." These lyrics are sung with out an ounce of cheekiness or winks, and you can tell as the Decemberists wear their heart on their sleeves throughout. Somehow, they've also managed to update the music, so that it's not a straight rendition of folk, but takes into account the last, oh, 30 years. KD


SATURDAY 12/22

BETTER OFF DEAD WITH DJ MAKEOUT KING

(Better off Dead, 331 NE Hancock, 21+) DJ Makeout King hosts an awesome DJ/dance night. It's at this weird venue in Northeast Portland, which always gives me a big boner. The venue is, on this particular evening, called Better Off Dead (it changes its name with each event) and hosts over-agers in a big space to drink and dance and eat food and listen to all kinds of '80s music--from the dark and gothy, to the happier, Duran Duran-type stuff. If this is something that you're interested in, please go, because good attendance is what will keep this night (and venue) going. KATIE SHIMER

TEMPER., EVA DESTRUCTION, HUSSY, THE LADYKILLERS

(Satyricon) Hussy's music is inspired by none other than driving '70s roots rock. They consist of two guitars, bass, drums, '70s screechy rock vocals, and have at least 12 songs. (According to the press release, Doug Cohen, the lead vocalist/guitarist, wrote 12 songs in three weeks during a writing frenzy in 2000.) KS

31KNOTS, DILUTE, BOZART

(Blackbird) Bozart is one of the best instru-metal bands in the world, and since they share a drummer, they're very similar to local metal celebs, Lachrymator. But I've heard Bozart about 5000 times, so who I'm really excited about is Dilute. They're more instrumental than instru-metal, but they've definitely got as much class and as much sophisticated talent as Bozart. They're full of time-changes and crescendos, while also keeping the wank factor in full check. Oh yeah, and there're some vocals thrown in as a little pepper--it's nice that they're not the feature presentation. KD

PIMPTROPOLIS: THE PLAYER'S BALL STARRING MR FUNKY, KEANE

(Boiler Room) You know how chicks always use Halloween as an excuse to dress up all slutty. I hate that. Anyway, here is an actual excuse to dress up all slutty and still maintain your dignity--Pimptropolis: The Player's Ball. It's a costume party where you dress up as pimps and hos and the best costumes win prizes; they say real pimps and hos are not invited, but wouldn't their costumes be the most authentic? Anyway, Mr. Funky from the Soul Stew crew spins the soul tunes--so hopefully this party will go off as stylish as one of Dolomite's (the pimpiest of pimps), minus the kung-fu, and people getting blown away. KS


SUNDAY 12/23

BIG YEAH, BLAK SCIENZ TRIBE, NEON BROWN

(Blackbird) See Music pg 17


MONDAY 12/24

We're in a recession, yo. It's one day before Christmas and bitches be broke.


TUESDAY 12/25

SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT + THE INCREDIBLE KID, DJ ANJALI

(Blackbird) There's nothing that says "assloads of holiday cheer" like a good slasher film! Obviously, a very, very sick person came up with the idea to show the banned-in-many-states Silent Night, Deadly Night, one of the scariest horror movies of the '80s, on CHRISTMAS DAY. (For the record, Phil Busse wrote about Silent Night, Deadly Night Part V, in I'm Staying Home on page 37, and though Phil is a very sick person, he's not the same sick person whose idea it was to show the movie at the Blackbird.) The movie is about a kid who watches his parents get massacred on Christmas and subsequently goes insane, eventually donning a Santa suit and murdering people in the name of the holiday season. If you saw the film as an impressionable youth, there's a good chance it kept you up nights. Much less frightening (but equally as fun) is the appearance of The Incredible Kid and DJ Anjali, who'll be spinning records after the film, at around 11 pm. They're some of the most eclectic DJs in town, with a mix that includes The Coup, Mark Robinson B-sides, and Ms. Anjali spinning Britpop and bhangra (East Indian dance music). JULIANNE SHEPHERD


WEDNESDAY 12/26

POETRY SLAM, DJ OPUS X

(Berbati's) See My What a Busy Week pg 14


THURSDAY 12/27

VENOM III

(Madame Butterfly) Venom III, who's part of the local deejay crew Clan of the Cave Mack, and who is rumored to have fingers so softened and shiny from deejay-ing that you can see your reflection in them, will be spinning a wide range of "downtempo darkness" tonight. It's a good time to check out Madame Butterfly, the new restaurant/haven for deejays. Plus, you can drown your sorrows in the moody beats of Venom III's scratching and a bunch of booze--always the most healthy solution to any of life's problems. JS

LUTHER RUSSELL BAND, JEREMY WILSON BAND, CAPTAIN VS. CREW

(Crystal) Captain vs. Crew have a new record coming, called All Coked Up and No Place to Go--a sentiment I can really relate to. They play rock with an indie influence, with discordant vocals and short, punky guitar riffs that are pretty tough and manly sounding. KS

BABETTE SOLL & LEW JONES CD RELEASE

(The Old Church) Babette Soll, a Julliard-educated pianist, and Lew Jones, a self-educated guitarist, are releasing their dramatically titled Eternal December today. The record, predictably, includes all the classical hits, including Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Greensleeves, Pachelbel's Canon in D Major, etc. Now, I'm not one of those people who can immediately tell which recording of a symphony is performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and which is performed by the Davis Middle School Jazz Choir, but I'm pretty sure that Babette screws up on this CD. Her timing is a little sludgy, and I think there are even some wrong notes on a couple of tracks. Lew Jones recites a poem ("Eternal December") and sings an acoustic song he wrote called "Jerusalem" which, while lyrically obvious, is actually the high point on the record. Ultimately, this concert is something you definitely do not want to miss if your parents are in town and you have to entertain them. It's pretty music, but nothing you can't hear over the loudspeaker during the holidays at Lloyd Center Mall. JS


FRIDAY 12/28

THE EPOXIES, STATCH & THE RAPES, ANTI-WORLD, THE SPEDS

(Ash Street) Valley Girl, the hilarious, early '80s wrong-side-of-the-tracks movie starring Nicolas Cage as a sensitive punker, owed its greatness largely to its soundtrack. The Plimsouls, Josie Cotton, Sparks, and Modern English set the tone, not just for a love story, but for an era full of Top-Siders and spiked hair. If you've been missing those days of simple new wave, it is imperative to see the Epoxies. Their chugga-chugga punk riffs bring back the days of early new wave, with a futuristic smattering of melodic keyboards. But their live performance is so spectacular, it nearly eclipses their music: the band--duct-taped and bespectacled with square sunglasses--bursts with outer-space energy. Their vocalist, Roxy Epoxy, never stops dancing, and belts out every anthemic line with a cache of electricity. JS

THE DARK SIDE OF OZ

(Berbati's) Stoner's delight! Supposedly, if you play Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon simultaneously with the Wizard of Oz (put the needle on the record at the third roar of the MGM lion), it's synched up perfectly, as if Dark Side was written as a soundtrack for the film--a trippy, trippy soundtrack. For the record, Floyd denies they did this on purpose. It's just one of the really weird coincidences of time and life that you can ponder if you smoke a lot of weed or, even better, swallow a couple bottles of Robitussin. JS

BLACKALICIOUS, LIFESAVAS, PALE SOUL, DJ WICKED

(360 Vinyl, 3 pm; Crystal, later) Quannum Projects, the Bay Area hiphop super-crew, have a thing for Portland. First, they signed hometown heroes Lifesavas; this lead to members of the Quannum family making frequent trips up here to rock the spot. Then, a few weeks ago at the Lifesavas record release party at Ohm, Lyrics Born said he liked Stumptown so much he was thinking about moving in. This heavy flirtation with our fair city is to your benefit, and it is to mine as our suitors to the south come up here looking to show us a night on the town, and we, in return, wave 'em like we just don't care because Quannum shows Portland the love, and we show it right back. Thursday will be a special night, as The Gift of Gab and Chief Excel bring the Blackalicious show to town and share the stage with Lifesavas, Pale Soul, and DJ Wicked. JOSH HOOTEN

DIZZY ELMER

(Fez) I met the guys and one of the gal-friends from Dizzy Elmer once, through a friend of a friend. I'm not a small guy, but I immediately felt undersized, like they were living in some different super-sized dimension. In leather jackets and full-lunged voices, they filled the space. They talked about their muscle cars and overhauling engines. It was all so cliché that at one point I referred to one as "Ponyboy" and asked if they considered themselves "greasers." The woman that was with them (also big, bold, in beat-up jeans and leather jacket) leaned close to me and whispered one word: "Soci'." It was pronounced as a demeaning threat, for which I have since respected Dizzy Elmer. Two of the guys then began wrestling in the near-empty bar, tossing and body-slamming each other against the floor until one of the planks split. This is all to describe their music: Unapologic, bold, big rockability. Not that ironic Stray Cats rockability, but the genuine article. PDB


SATURDAY 12/29

JERRY JOSEPH & THE JACKMORMONS, PINEHURST KIDS

(Blackbird) It may not be the Clash returning to a burn-down-the-house gig in London, or the Beastie Boys playing a whirlwind tour of Europe, but the middle-of-the-road rock band, The Jackmormons (somewhere between heavy-riffs of AC/DC and the soft sounds of Air Supply), are returning for a three-day blitz on their hometown. Starting tonight with the radio-friendly Pinehurst Kids, they follow with a Saturday night at St. John's and New Year's Eve at The Fez Ballroom. With sweet, just one-chord-up-from-middle-C vocals, the band has a rich, pleasant and dreamy (in that just waking up, alpha-wave stage) sensibility that fits with the holiday mood: A tad sweet, a bit warm and gooey. And like everyone this time of year: They're returning home and just want to be loved. PDB

SCAN 7, MIKE CLARK

(Fez) Like rock-n-roll before it, techno originated as a black art form. Rising up from the urban decay of dormant factories in Detroit, frustrated youth programmed toyish Yamaha keyboards and Roland drum machines into symphonies of electro-funk that oozed melancholy and alienation. Both hailing from Detroit, Mike Clark and Scan 7 have accomplished careers of performance and recording behind them, Clark, a world-class DJ for over 20 years (with a selection that flows between techno and house) and Trackmaster Lou, aka Scan 7, performing live and releasing records on the biggest Detroit-influenced labels in the states and abroad. From his years in the militant, politically-charged Underground Resistance crew (whose music focuses on inner-city themes of pollution, crime, and gentrification), Scan 7 promises to not only make you dance, but make you think as well. ELLIOTT ADAMS

PINK MARTINI

(Aladdin) There is a theory in the office that Pink Martini is actually a cover for a mafia ring. This is because Pink Martini doesn't seem to play that much, but they are always, always selling albums. Almost any chart of best-selling local albums will have them in the first or second position, and the members of the group seem to be at every swank arty function in Portland. Not to say that they're not good or anything, just that they've reached a ubiquitous status in people's minds. It's a phenomenon that makes it so anytime anyone is having any kind of function, they automatically say to themselves, "Geez, I sure do wish we could book Pink Martini for this gig. Hmmm. Maybe I'll go buy one of their albums now." It's as if they send out subconscious magnetic control waves. Anyway, if you don't know them, they are lounge-ville, USA, and great for dancing and swaying. KD


SUNDAY 12/30

BLAK SCIENZ TRIBE, SICK MEDIKS, DJ BIGGZ, DJ AUDIO, LUCKY 1 CONSCIOUS, EMENENCE, ITRANS, K.C.

(Paris) See Music pg 17, My What a Busy Week pg 14


MONDAY 12/31

JESUS PRESLEY

(Gemini) Last weekend, I went to see both the Oldominion crew and Jesus Presley. You wouldn't think that these two acts would have anything in common, but strangely, they did. The Oldominon crew had about 300 people on stage, and they kept demanding that the 20 audience members put their hands in the air and come closer to the stage and buy them Coronas (whatever!?!). Jesus was not quite as shameless, but similarly, had about 104 people on stage and demanded that go-go dancers come up and dance. I cringe thinking about it, but two girls went up and did some pseudo-erotic pander-to-the-men dancing that was certainly not Go-Go. Jesus' music, on the other hand, was fun, old-timey, danceable lounge with two female singers. This will be a fun time for the swing-dancing set. KS

THE SOUL STEW DJS, HUNGRY MOB

(Berbati's) This is my pick for most fun New Year's Eve event. The Soul Stew DJs will be spinning the super soul dancing music all night long, with everything from James Brown to the most obscure '45s you've never heard. In addition, the seen-too-seldom hiphop crew Hungry Mob, which includes the awesome Toni Hill and Mike Crenshaw, will be making a rare performance. It's one of those shows that's not for the NYE amateur, but not pretentious at all--just a guaranteed good time. JS

COZY'S NEW YEARS EVE PARTY

(It's a Beautiful Pizza) Judging from their single, "Elvis Sex Again," Cozy's music is a festive blend of drum 'n' bass with a little jungle thrown in, and it often sounds as if they've recruited some Storm Troopers to shoot their guns for effects. It's totally sweet and danceable, and there is no trace of the hippieness that plagues modern techno music. JS

NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY FROM HELL: ROGER NUSIC, CAMARO HAIR, KARAOKE FROM HELL

(Dante's) I've always loved gathering around the fire pit at Ye Olde Dante's. Maybe this New Year's, I'll listen to the fanciful, pixie-like stylings of the electro-bard himself, Roger Nusic (hopefully singing gems like "Lovers Loving Lovers Loving Love"). Then, I'll probably stay for "Karaoke From Hell," where I can sing with a real band, because I'll never get around to starting one myself. Oh hell, I might as well stay and top off the night with the kings of indie crotch rock Camaro Hair. M. LON FREE

DJS RETROGRADE, RETROVIRUS

(Blackbird) Because holidays are so loaded with expectations and forced cheer, they inevitably turn out crappily, especially for the cynics, recovering-Christians-turned-atheists, and existentialists among us. New Year's is the worst of all these nights, because it has the most baggage, including but not limited to the following reasons: 1. It's the most blow-out night of the year and 2. You're supposed to have a lover to make out with at midnight. That's why this show is good for those of you who go out every night and really could care less that it's a stupid holiday. First, it only costs three bucks, so if you have a shitty time, you're not out $20. (Also, if you spill a drink down your dress, you will have money left over for Woolite.) Second, DJs Retrograde and Retrovirus play all the good, obscure stuff from the '80s (and tonight they'll throw in the '70s), and this is their regular gig, but a little more fancy. So you can pretend it's a normal Monday. Finally, I'm almost positive Retrograde and Retrovirus would object to any and all requests to put Times Square/Dick Clark on the TV at midnight. Why live vicariously, when you can just live? JS

TUESDAY 1/1

Congratulations to Josh Hooten for winning the Mercury "Employee of the Month" award for the first month of the year 2002. Josh writes for the Mercury and various other publications, and has been known to grace the art department now and again, because he has studied art in an actual school, unlike any of the permanent employees in our production department. (He also does a website called mixtapewebzine.com.) Josh enjoys vegan cooking, animals, and moonlit walks on the beach; he's been "subverting the man" since approximately 1990. For all his hard work, Josh will receive the keys to the company's lovely four-door sedan and a special cubicle in the Mercury office tower. Also, we will be delivering fresh baskets of fruit to his penthouse five days a week, and he gets to park next to Mercury CEO/millionaire Rob Crocker's bulletproof HumVee. Go Josh! -arts ed.


WEDNESDAY 1/2

RALLY BOY, THE GLEANERS, QUAGMIRE EXPEDITION

(Blackbird) Start out the New Year on a positive tip, with the rocking pop and soda-shop harmonies of Rally Boy. It's going to be good, because ideally you're coming out of the crappy winter introspection now, and if you hear music this carefree, it might remind you of what is innocent about summer. If not, well, you can always just get totally drunk. Drown the sorrows, it's cool! Besides, spring is a GREAT time to join AA, so if you can ride it out until March or April, you'll be just fine. JS

KNIVES OUT, INKED IN BLOOD

(It's a Beautiful Pizza) See My What a Busy Week pg 14


GOING TO SEATTLE?

Thurs 12/20: 31knots, Sharks Keep Moving, Dilute (Graceland)

Fri 12/21: Death Cab for Cutie, Damien Jurado, Seldom (Graceland); Barry Manilow (Paramount)

Sat 12/22: Cheb I Sabbah (Baltic Room); Swollen Members, DJ J-Rocc, Boom Bap Project, Onry Ozzborn, Pale Soul, Sleep, Oldominion, DJ B-Mello (I-Spy); Helio Sequence, Melody Unit (I-Spy)

Mon 12/31: IQU, Kinski, Gun St. Girls, DJ Suspense, Plastiq Phantom, more (Consolidated Works); The Shins, The Standard, Minus the Bear (Graceland)

For more info, visit www.thestranger.com

New Releases Dec. 25: Cabaret Voltaire, Waxwing