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Redeye January 08 2004

The Score on '04: Nationwide, the era of manhandling martinis is ending. Anchored by the emergence of white trash crunk, the year 2004 should celebrate nightlife excess. Here in Atlanta, however, two different mottos seemingly ring true: "Less is More" and "More for Less."

Fear not. RedEye won't cover less but will scrutinize more.

The first stop on the 2003/2004 clubbing cusp this past New Year's Eve was MJQ, where local quartet the Close played the inaugural show in the Drunken Unicorn Room. Recognizing the "more for less" notion, MJQ has excavated even further under Rico's, carving a full-featured live venue for the club's wallet-friendly weekly showcases. Like The Earl's backroom, the Drunken Unicorn adds a welcoming upgrade with upfront sound to a venue whose main room was always a little buggy for live bands.

Next up were two parties promising excess. Eleven50 featured a circus of sin: Live painters, stilt walkers and kingly drag queens shared limited elbowroom with cheerleaders, hoop twirlers and a percussionist army.

The champagne flowed, club manager Bill Kaelin literally swung above the capacity crowd and the drum corps played along to OutKast's "Hey Ya!" Eleven50's "10 Minutes of Madness" truly was an appropriate ringing in of the new year in the city where once the playa's played.

Meanwhile, over at the Georgian Terrace, hip-hop again greeted the New Year (in the form of Digital Underground). You've probably heard "The Humpty Dance" or "Kiss You Back," but did you know DU has several albums of material? Neither did the crowd, which was crawling to whatever corners had liquor before the show was even over. For the event's admission price, I'd have to be peeled from the bar as well.

Finally, it was to a friend's Luckie Street loft, just in time to witness the patchwork and patchouli of Widespread Panic's show letting out. But as Panic and other events were winding down due to the new 2:30 a.m. last call law, the loftily ambitious, creatively carved dirty robot disco was gearing up, going till early morning — one of two major afterhours proving that, even in prohibition, there will not be submission.

On a less optimistic "less is more" note: At the "24-hour private" clubs (Backstreet, Club 112, the Riviera), where once your greatest fear was emerging to the harsh light of morning, now it seems clubbers are facing the harsh light of reality. As of New Year's Day, the 24-hour clubs have been holding to the same new laws. We'll just have to see what effect proposed peaceful protests have on the City Council's viewpoint.

I tip my glass to those willing to fight for their right to dance.

Keep one RedEye open. And send all comments, questions, observations and invitations to redeye@creativeloafing.com.