Downtown Music

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April 19, 2004 // UPDATED 1:17 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Holly Day
Holly Day

Dancin' music

It took me a long time to warm up to dance music.

The whole L.A. rave scene of the late '80s/early '90s was such a turn-off. For most of 1990, I lived with a wild assortment of club kids, most of whom manifested themselves through the body of my roommate, Leigha.

It didn't take me long to figure out this wasn't my scene. In one month, I made six trips to the emergency room. I was the levelheaded one who had to talk to the doctors. I even watched as one guy's face got sutured back together after he tried to drink out of a broken beer bottle.

I had to talk another friend out of making himself puke for the pure joy of seeing what color his excesses of the night would turn his vomit. And on those occasions when the party made it back to my apartment (thanks to Leigha), I'd spend the evening rescuing my cats from being stuffed in the toilet or keeping people from peeing in the cat box.

Yep, that whole ecstasy/club kid thing was not for me.

Unfortunately, all of this really prejudiced me towards the budding DJ culture of that period. Not to mention that so much dance music sounded exactly the same -- the thumping drum line, a few silly samples tossed in for good measure. This stuff just didn't sound good without the flashing lights and a couple hundred stinky bodies packed into the room with you.

By the time really innovative DJs started manning the turntables at LA clubs, raves were effectively dead, and most thought the music was going to die with them.

Electronic duo Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland, a.k.a. The Crystal Method, were one of those acts that came after the end of that first wave of American rave music. They not only showed that the genre wasn't dead, they helped turn dance music into an actual art form.

The duo creates complicated dance music with a definite rock band feel, along with distinctive base in American hip-hop, rock, soul and pop. They were one of the first DJ-based groups that had a distinctive style; they were immediately recognizable through their techno mixes. This led many to consider them actual musicians instead of turntable babysitters.

Their newest release, "Legion of Boom," further entrenches The CM as America's finest producers of dance music made for rock 'n' roll people.

Thursday, April 22, 7 p.m., The Quest, 110 N. 5th St. $18.50. 338-3383.

1, 2, 3 -- rock!

Aging rock critics and vintage clothiers must be thanking their lucky stars The Strokes came onto the scene.

Not only does the New York quintet dress like the Ramones, they draw on that whole crusty-sounding, static-charged, blistered raw rock sound pioneered by bands like Television and The Velvet Underground.

However, unlike most of the members of the truly garage bands the quintet pays homage to, singer/songwriter Julian Casablancas; guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond, Jr.; bassist Nikolai Fraiture; and drummer Fabrizio Moretti come from well-off families. In fact, they first started playing together in private prep school.

But in the end, it doesn't really matter where the music comes from, so long as it rocks.

Sunday, April 25, 6 p.m., First Avenue, 701 1st Ave. N. $25. 332-1775.

Doors reopen

For one night only, you get to see not one, but two surviving members of the original Doors playing on the same stage and playing the same music that made the Morrison-fronted bands famous. Filling in the massive shoes that Jim Morrison left behind is Ian Astbury, the former lead singer of The Cult. It's not quite a Doors reunion, but I suppose it's as close as you're going to get without bringing a spiritual medium with a good set of pipes into the fold.

Friday, April 23, 8 p.m., The Historic Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Ave. S. $58-$103. 339-7007.

Holly Day can be reached at lalena@bitsream.net.

Holly's Picks

Women of distinction

Before the whole riot grrl-thing hit, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers made a quieter stance as fiercely independent women in the folk music tradition.

The Indigo Girls sweetly sang a revolution about women's changing roles, general disgruntlement and the importance of taking charge of one's life. The combination of Ray and Saliers' distinct personalities and songwriting styles have made for a strange balance in their decade-plus of recording, with Saliers providing the softer, folkier sound and Ray drawing heavily from the singer/songwriter aspects of punk rock.

Thursday, April 22, 8 p.m. The Historic Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Ave. S. $35-$39. 339-7007.

Everybody needs Air

If not for all the people who've remixed Air's music for the dance floor, this beautiful, ethereal duo might have flown under most of their fan base's radar.

Their classic disco/New Age sound mix makes for stand-out tracks on the dance floor and easy listening for candlelit dinners at home.

French duo Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoet Dunckel's equipment list includes dozens of instruments (they even play tuba). With this vast array of sounds to play with and smooth female vocalists, Air conspires to make their music the stuff of pleasant dreams.

Wednesday, April 21, 7:30 p.m. The State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave. S. $26.50. (651) 989-5151.