Growing Pangs

The Atlanta scene's searchlights

While everyone may have made it through Y2K compliant, the heavily touted "new millenium" really didn't turn out to be all that different, at least not for "future music." While there were a few highlights, for the most part the status quo prevailed.
Media was still seen as a scourge, with Time running a cover story on the latest bane of our times, the latest threat to children, the latest thing that's been around for 10 years before Time caught on: Ecstasy. Even "Club To Death" saw it's share of criticism, being accused of selling Atlanta's kids' scene (I have yet to receive the check).
One debate carried over from 1999, the year of the founding of the Atlanta Alliance, who you didn't hear as much from in 2000, was age limits. Several promoters, particularly Mirage, decided to go the path of least resistance, gearing a lot of events towards older, more responsible, patrons, including bringing Patrick Scott, who released a well-received four-song EP on Ultra Records, to the Riviera from Cobalt after it closed after one fitful year.
Nowhere near as many clubs opened in 2000 as the year prior (the most notable being ten27 and eleven50, the later still struggling with an identify crisis in my opinion), but some of the better ones from 1999, such as the Crescent Room, are still going strong.
No, for the most part, 2000 was not a year of action, more of questioning, but as for some of the year's high (and low) points, here's your answers:
Two thousand, zero, zero, FutureFest's over, oops, out of time.
After April any question that Atlanta's kids preferred progressive trance, funky breaks and drum 'n' bass was erased 8,000 times over, as Liquid Groove filled the North Atlanta Trade Center for what would be the most attended event of the year, proving (more so than any silly little column in Creative Loafing) that dance music culture was no longer an underground phenomenon. While return visits by "next big thing"-three-years-running DJs Sasha and Digweed separately did well, no other event broke even half the attendance of April's momentous achievement, say for maybe "big thing"-three-years-running Paul Oakenfold's appearance.
But, sadly, Atlanta was forced to think more about its failures than it's success. FutureFest called into question commercialization, community respect, the party scene's relationship with law enforcement. What didn't it call into question? And were there any easy answers?
The year saw several other, much smoother, one-offs of varying success. LTJ Bukem at the Masquerade was a squirming mass of hot bodies, while Timo Maas was a small crowd that took a while to warm up.
For the most part the clubs dug deep for new sounds: they dug deep house, from San Francisco tribal-style to flighty French. Yes, even house music made it under the microscope, splintering into hard, tech and several other only slightly tweaked strains. The best of these sounds infected warehouse parties and afterhours parties held erratically throughout the year.
Power music, electric revival
While major arenas may have reverberated with the barely varying sounds of perfectly beat-mixed "progressive" trance and tech-step jungle, Atlanta home recording artists such as Scott Herren, OutKast and Chris Brann more quietly put out tracks that flowed against the current towards the future, constantly changing course, ignoring cultural boundaries, asking us to reevaluate the relationship between genres.
Scott Herren (Savath + Savalas, Delarosa + Asora, prefuse73), the more organic side of Atlanta's growing glitch scene (along with Warp recording artist Richard Devine), produced a series of tracks under his prefuse73 moniker that sounded like an MC freestyling through a mic with a short in its wire, the jagged vocals intermittently cutting through a bed of beats like a broken mirror, all over the place, but you could still see the bigger picture for all the pieces. Herren's destruction of the sacred institution of hip-hop flow forced you to think about the MC not as a messenger but just another part of the music.
But when OutKast dropped "Bombs Over Baghdad" on the radio, they forced you to think of the music as part of the message — that hip-hop was what you make of it, and OutKast made some of the most forward-thinking, fucked up hip-hop of them all. A lot of hip-hop artists had played with drum 'n' bass on the b-side, but this was a track of drum 'n' Miami bass on the wild side. If you heard "B.O.B.," you felt it.
Finally, Chris Brann, most well-known as producer of several international hits for Wamdue Kids, released several albums that pulled from Latin-percussion and an unpronounceable longing. Brann's production under Ananda Project showcased the native Atlanta talent, and showed the man's potential, which extends far outside of house music.
A New Year's Resolution
In an interview, Chris Brann, made a good point about the fleeting support Atlantans exhibit for the most part. The older generation's "back in the day" grumbling isn't fueled because things in Atlanta were actually better back in the day. No, things were probably about the same, sounding just like the latest mix-CD by Aphrodite or Chris Fortier. And that's the problem.
The grumbling is because, back in the day, no one had seen what was going on around the world. The more educated someone gets about a genre, the more innovations they read about from around the world, the more dissatisfied they get with the same old thing.
Now that everyone is a DJ, you'd think there'd be more, not less, diversity. But most cats are content to grab the hip new tracks from Satellite and try to impress their friends, who probably spun some of those same tracks right before then at some open tables.
The most innovative DJ scene in Atlanta continues to be hip-hop, with DJs like Klever, the current DMC US champion, and Faust & Shortee garnering deserved praise as some of the country's, not the world's, best turntablists, while DJs of all other genres are satisfied to match a beat but not beat the competition by trying anything new.
DJs like Bobble got hip to the stagnation, switching styles, trying to introduce something new to the city. Maybe it's time for both sides of the round tables to try something similar. Folks should try to support new things if and when they see them, bringing a rejuvenated sense of pride back to the city's nightlife.
That's a scene I'm willing to help sell, because a good show should always sell out, every last ticket.