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[whitespace] Year in Review

Dylan vs. Blackstar; Ralph Nader bustin' a move; the Big Bang Hype Y2K--WHAT?

By David Espinoza

TRADITION DICTATES that I give ya a Top 10 Best-of list in this column, well balanced with a little bit of everything. Let the L.A. Times do that--here are my Top 8 favorite albums of the year: Mama's Gun, Eryka Badu; In Name and Blood, Murder City Devils; Revolver II, The Lowdown; Nia, Blackalicious; You think It's Like This but It's Really Like This, Mirah; The Platform, Dilated Peoples; Relationship of Command, At the Drive In; Inside the Computer Are All of My Feelings (four-song EP), Ten in the Swear Jar.

The overhyped show of the year had to be Bob Dylan's two-night stand at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, where fans practically rioted after tickets sold out in under 10 minutes due to over-the-hill and local Internet and phone sales. Let it be known that even in a politically radical town like Santa Cruz, people get more publicly upset over Bob Dylan tickets than, oh, say, someone stealing an election.

The Indigo Girls would have brought the roof down if there had been one during KPIG's Summertime Fat Fry out at Aptos Park. Despite a chilly cloud cover, the duo had just about everyone on their feet singing along--maybe the fried chicken tossed into the crowd by Southern Culture on the Skids earlier in the day helped re-energize things.

The Revolution Will Be Live

Blackstar's sold-out Civic Auditorium show, along with Ozomatli, to benefit the fight against Prop. 21, marked a definitive moment in the resurgence of student activism. It was also a shining point for underground hip-hop as a powerful medium of resistance--especially considering that Mos Def and Talib Kweli get very little mainstream recognition.

Speaking of hip-hop, Palookaville basically had a monopoly on all the best shows. L.A.'s Jurassic 5 and Dilated Peoples again proved to be a explosive combination, though Latryx and Blackalicious delivered equally dynamic if not more thrilling performances. Also, a shout-out to beat-box champ Rahzel.

Swedish Marxist garage rockers the International Noise Conspiracy unleashed a spry Mod-era set to a small crowd at the Santa Cruz Vets Hall basement that advocated being a subversive while staying fashionable. Other notable revolutionary rocker shows included the much-adored Michael Franti and Spearhead, who gigged at least twice in town this year, and the Zapatista-inspired fury of Aztlan Underground.

Oh yeah, and let's not forget Ralph Nader bustin' a move onstage at the Civic later in the year--it was rumored he was going to do some B-boy breakdancing but changed his mind at the last minute.

Greatest and Worst Shows on Earth

If you take into account the glory of past performances, Sunny Day Real Estate at the Catalyst and Ani Di Franco at the Civic Auditorium were the biggest disappointments of the year--then again, it's hard to always meet expectations. Can't say the same for the one-time local Camper Van Beethoven (now Cracker), which sunk into the depths of suckage and never returned barely three songs into their set.

Oliver Brown is clearly the man-of-the-year for organizing and pulling off the 11-day Big Bang low-fi indie festival. As far as spectacles go, Estradasphere blew everyone out of the water with its CD-release party at P-ville. Not only did the show involve human puppets, yoga, a unicyclist, fire dancers and a spiritual healing, as a bonus the band also dressed up like the Backstreet Boys and proceeded to dance in sync.

Taking the Reins

A moment of silence for local indie rockers What-Nots and Subtle Oak Complexity, who both called it quits at various points in the year--their reins are no doubt being taken up by Sin in Space. Lastly, best punk-rock shows in no particular order: AFI, the Dropkick Murphys, Jetlag and the Lonely Kings.

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From the December 27, 2000-January 3, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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