Downtown Music

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April 5, 2004 // UPDATED 1:07 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Holly Day
Holly Day

'Jesus Christ Superstar'

In Unitarian Church winter camp, we teens used to blast Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic "Jesus Christ Superstar" on the church speakers -- often, after the camp counselors had toddled off to bed.

As the night went on, we imbibed in various smuggled-in elicit substances and cranked it up louder and louder, dancing and singing along with Tim Rice's campy lyrics at the top of our lungs until one of the grown-ups would storm into the room, pissed off at being woken up yet again by our shenanigans.

The very last time I got together with my church friends was probably my favorite memory of Webber's wonderful score. Pretty much everyone in my youth group was turning 18, and to celebrate our last winter camp, we got stinking drunk.

Of course, we soon realized how hard it is to get drunk in high altitudes (we were in Redlands, Calif., a couple hours from where I grew up), especially in the wintertime, so we got through the first 12-pack quickly and pretty ineffectually. Then a counselor bent on revenge decided we'd better drive down to the little redneck liquor store a mile away from camp for more beer, so we all piled into his car.

"Check this out," said the counselor as we started down the winding mountain road. He popped in a "Jesus Christ Superstar" cassette and the moment the music started, he switched off the headlights and turned the volume way up.

"It's freaky, isn't it?" he shouted over the speakers. "If we keep going straight, we'll drive straight down over the side of the mountain. I think it's about a hundred feet straight down from here."

Sisters and brothers, it was so black out we couldn't see past the hood of the car, much less the road ahead of us.

"Father, forgive them, they don't know what they're doing," rasped "Superstar's" narrator, Ted Neeley, from the speakers. We took it as a sign -- somehow, we made it all the way to the liquor store and back with the headlights off.

I have never felt so sober in my life -- sitting in that car, surrounded by blackness and my own scared sweat, convinced I was going to die at any minute.

But you don't have to be sober when you head to First Avenue to check out their annual "Jesus Christ Superstar" production.

Their faithful reproduction of the rock opera (musically faithful anyway, the costumes can be a little ragtag) is something truly special and not at all frightening. It's a tradition I hope they continue for years to come.

Friday, April 9, 6 p.m. First Avenue, 701 1st Ave. N. $5 in advance, $10 at the door. 332-1775.

Through a square hole

Tom "Squarepusher" Jenkinson is the man behind some of the craziest drum 'n' bass tracks on the air today. Heavily influenced by old school jazz, video games and technology in general, Jenkinson's music is a dizzying, quixotic blend of ultra-fast jungle breaks with ambient synth washes, goofy, offbeat melodies, and orchestral synth samples that bring to mind such jazz pioneers Weather Report and Miles Davis.

Saturday, April 10, 8 p.m. The Quest, 110 N. 5th St. $15. 338-3383.

Holly Day can be reached at