Memories of ’99

When the year’s about to end, the Gnome becomes downright sentimental, weepy even. Hell, even thinking about last week’s spate of holiday parties brings back fond memories of drunken revelry—especially at Loosegroove Records‘ fete with a “premium host bar” at, where the hipster elite was sweatin’ to the oldies (Michael Jackson, Billy Idol, etc.) as they danced the night away. The Gnome sampled many fine liqueurs, but stayed sober enough to take names in the hot upstairs dance floor, so none of youze can be dissin’ the regulars at Polly Esther’s from now on.

What a year, huh? All the club closings (R.I.P. Colourbox, RKCNDY, and Velvet Elvis), the hubbub around the Teen Dance Ordinance and the noise ordinance and the added-activities ordinance—whew!–and then the shows, events, gossip items, comings and goings, all of it contributing to the greater whole, the Seattle music scene, the greatest music scene in the entire world. There, now the Gnome’s all choked up again.

Like thinking about Built To Spill, which your gnarly correspondent hereby decrees the Local Band of the Year. What’s that? They’re not local. Well, drummer Scott Plouf lives here. And Doug Martsch used to live here. And what other band could have played more than a dozen sold-out shows at some pretty big clubs—the Breakroom, the Croc, the Showbox, RKCNDY? None. Still, a spate of reliable draws emerged, like Death Cab for Cutie, the Murder City Devils, Zeke, the Supersuckers, Modest Mouse, Maktub, and Pedro the Lion.

Which gets the Gnome’s noggin abuzz about all the nifty things that happened in ’99. Bumbershoot brought amazing performances from previously iffy entities like Cat Power, Pavement, and Cibo Matto. The event spread out from Seattle Center and invaded the clubs: Emmylou Harris showed up at the Tractor to jam with her pal Buddy Miller; Robyn Hitchcock and Grant Lee Phillips played an acoustic, unmiked set at Belltown’s Two Bells.

Speaking of spreading, locals trekked all over the country for festival appearances, with Sub Pop showing off its new rawk roster at legendary New York punk club CBGB’s, and Death Cab and the now-defunct Western State Hurricanes leading a contingent to Austin’s South by Southwest. Then electronic whiz kid Plastiq Phantom wowed a late-night crowd at the Weekly‘s own North by Northwest party in Portland.

So much more: Moby appearing at the listening party for his album Play, then getting behind the decks for two hours; Sleater-Kinney, the Ex, and Fugazi blowing minds at DV8; the Latin Playboys playing their first gig ever at Well, time’s up. Next week it’s the best local record round-up, then it’s off to the Gnome’s bunker in Montana for the apocalypse. You betcha!

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