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Can't Let It Go 

Thursday, Jan 6 2005
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Photos by Wild Don Lewis

DANZIG

Key Club, December 29

A prime Danzig experience can be biblically elemental, violent, contradictory, poetic. Absurd to some, Glenn Danzig’s brow-knit hardness and grievous sensuality are really about survival: You can’t fight through the dark unless you notice that the light went out.

So he’s strong, and he lifts you. Never one to wallow in past glories, Danzig paraded muscular armaments from recent years, including a fearsome "SkinCarver" ("All the world must die!"), a corpse-prodding "Black Mass," the burdened dirge "Skull Forest" and a blindingly inspirational "Black Angel, White Angel," confident in the sanded resilience his versatile voice has acquired with time. Bevan Davies and Jerry Montano were worthy punishers on drums and bass; Tommy Victor’s jigsaw/noise solo on "1,000 Devils Reign" was typical of his knightly axmanship. Of course, when Danzig polled the hell-bent crowd (younger than you’d expect) on whether they craved new stuff or old, the response was predictable. "Could you let it go?" he crooned on a dynamic "How the Gods Kill" (1992). No, and the stallionlike unmanageability of the classic sing-along "Her Black Wings" was further reason to cling.

Metal is big now, but since punk is bigger, the loudest huzzahs arose for the entry of Doyle, Danzig’s ’80s sidekick in the Misfits. Apollonian of stature and blank of visage, the near-naked and dog-collared guitar chopper wheeled blindly around the stage to the rampaging rhythms of "Die Die My Darling," "Hate Breeders" and a satisfying selection of other Misfits nuggets before Danzig "put him back in his coffin." The mob went nuts.

Overamped run-throughs of the turn-of-the-’90s howlers "Twist of Cain" and "Mother," plus a Doyle reprise, merely gilded the funeral lily of the best Danzig show I’ve seen. It wasn’t just the clarion club sound, it was the energy and (dare I say) the warmth and even joy. Don’t expect Danzig’s "retirement" to be permanent.

JOHN DIGWEED, THE KILLERS, JASON BENTLEY

Wilshire Boulevard, downtown, December 31

Nearly foiled by torrential rains earlier in the day, the "Giant Village" event saw skies clear just enough so thousands of New Year’s revelers could invade the pavement of downtown L.A. Men in black, accompanied by girls who ditched the bunny ears of Halloween for New Year’s crowns, experienced electronic music pouring from three stages located off three major streets. The sound was phenomenal, managing not to intersect between simultaneously playing artists, of which there were several; unfortunately, most of the planned visuals appeared to be inoperative due to the weather.

L.A.’s own star DJ, Jason Bentley, laid down his usual blissed-out grooves and flawless house under the Hope Stage tent, where the audience was a mix of club kids dancing like Shivas and random partygoers engaging in public affection. Bentley’s mix was so good, you might have had to reach out and touch someone even if you weren’t on E.

An hour before midnight, electro-poppers the Killers took the Grand Stage with commanding fury, storming through half a set of energetic originals before giving the massive crowd their big single, "Somebody Told Me." The quartet’s songs were intriguing in an early-Bowie-meets-Fad-Gadget sort of way — though aren’t lyrics about androgyny a bit clichéd these days, boys? The Killers delivered a stellar performance; it’s incredibly hard to believe this sound came out of Las Vegas. As the set wound down, the crowd assembled around the countdown screen, hoisted cell phones and hollered under fireworks as the New Year was ushered in.

Aside from controlled substances and fantastic people-watching opportunities, a clear highlight of Giant Village was DJ legend John Digweed. Oh, how the lightsticks came out when Digweed slid onto the decks of the Flower Stage and illustrated, with a cool poker face, why he’s the king: He spins the lushest mixes, and knows when to drop a beat. It was virtually impossible to navigate the bodies packed tight to dance their brains out. As the crowd, stacked thousands deep, throbbed in time, one thing was certain: Although everyone may not remember just who or what they did that night, it was certainly a New Year’s done proper.

—Tatiana Simonian

AUTOLUX, 400 BLOWS, THEE OUTFIT

at Spaceland, December 31

Let’s face it, like no year in recent memory, 2004 truly

ate a bag of dicks. With 366 days of misery and death to consider, I approached Spaceland’s New Year’s Eve bash

in a particularly gloomy frame of mind. Honestly, ringing in 2005 with a rock show at this beloved bastion of bleakness seemed at first like one of the most impotent gestures imaginable. Soldiering on, I hoped the transcendent power of rock & roll would work some New Year’s magic on my woeful constitution.

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