The thing about New Year's Eve in general — and New Year's Eve '99 in particular — is that you only get one shot at the fabled Big Party.
According to legend, this is where everyone heads in search of the mythical bacchanalian frenzy seemingly promised by the end of each year. And who doesn't want to throw down with close personal friends and close personal strangers, high on life (or substances) and, like the man said, party like it's 1999? Everyone wants to be able to say they were there — even if they don't remember it very clearly — in the heart of the orgy.
Thousands of people converging always make for more and better options when it comes to midnight snogging. With the multitudes around you, it's easier to maintain the buzz that inevitably begins to fade after the climactic countdown. So we seek throngs that help us forget tomorrow (should the world survive).
Luckily for the less enterprising among us, music promoters are more willing than ever to foist a bevy of year-end options upon us. It says a lot about the resiliency of humanity's sanity that many of the more outrageously idiotic or overblown / overhyped New Year's Eve concerts — such as Jewel's proposed megabuck shindig in Alaska, Streisand's Las Vegas gig and others — have been canceled thanks to poor ticket sales. It seems as though the marketing folks hadn't counted on people's desire to stick close to home on this, the potentially most disastrous New Year's Eve. Ask the suffering travel agents about that one.
So, if you want to get together with like-minded party hooligans close to home, there are a handful of choices next week, each catered to a particular demographic / musical need. The Big Shows this year may be few, but they're appropriately hyped and the artists on the bills are enough to, perhaps, tantalize you into showing up early and rocking well into 2000.
So, you want to move into the double-naught future but still believe that good, old-fashioned rock ain't obsolete yet, eh? Ring in the new year in appropriate fashion, then, with your ears a-ringin' at the soon-to-be-obsolete Pontiac Silverdome. What better way to celebrate the culture of four white guys with guitars, drums and Marshall stacks than in this memorial to the bygone era when Led Zeppelin and its arena-rock brethren reigned?
And what a cast has been assembled! Headliner Metallica has adopted Detroit as a sort of second hometown (much like KISS did in the 1970s) and provide enough artistic and commercial clout to make this extravaganza a sort of meeting of the tribes. Lars and the boys have asked some actual Michigan homeboys to help ring in the cash register, er, New Year, with 'em. 1999 was, quite simply, the year of Kid Rock. So, who better to bring the noise (and the profitable teenage male demographic) than Romeo's favorite son?
Metallica's wisest maneuver, though, was adding hunter / rocker / local folk hero Ted Nugent to the bill. Nugent's annual Whiplash Bash is a New Year's Eve institution round these parts. The images of Tedley rappelling into Cobo Arena, shooting a flaming arrow across the venue or riding onto the stage atop a buffalo are the stuff of local legend. So, it'd be damned near a slap in the face for Metallica not to ask Nuge to whip it out at this year's free-for-all.
Oh, yeah, and Tommy Lee's new musical insult, Methods of Mayhem, will be there, too, if you're into that kinda thing.
In case you can't get into the Silverdome and you're in the neighborhood (or in case you're a bit more inclined toward the senior class of the rock 'n' roll high school), check into the Palace of Auburn Hills. Another musical institution that lists Detroit as its second hometown, the J.Geils Band, will be holding court. Better still, native sons the Romantics will be getting back together (surely with at least one or two original member holdouts, but never you mind that) for the occasion.
Come to think of it, this ain't such a bad first option.
If the Silverdome is home to a celebration of music's past, Hamtramck's Motor will play host to an epic throwdown featuring music's present and, if you believe the hype, future.
Who better to entrust with your party dollar than Richie Hawtin aka Plastikman aka the man who has consistently set the standard for electronic / dance party aesthetics, event planning and execution, and, of course, music.
Hawtin got the pacifier people all giddy with anticipation over the past coupla months before unveiling that his New Year's Eve event, "Epok" will happen in the malleable confines of Motor. Hawtin will headline the soiree with the decks, efx and 909 set that has been his sweat- and trance-inducing, dance floor-filling calling card of late. But he's assembled a cast of Detroit's finest to get the crowd riled up, too: His Plus 8 cohort, Clark Warner, the first lady of Detroit house Magda and Matthew Hawtin will be spinning sets in Motor's main, side and lounge rooms.
As with most Hawtin-thrown parties, this 'un promises to be talked about inside and outside of the Detroit's BPM world well into the wee decades.
If you arrive too fashionably late for "Epok," and still have the urge to getcher groove on, steer your horseless carriage downtown to St. Andrew's Hall where the breakbeats will be flying fast and furious and the flavor will be distinctly hip hop. New Year's Eve is a Friday, after all, and that means one thing: Three Floors of Fun. Detroit's longest-running club night will feature DJ sets by Houseshoes, Slymfas, Phyzyx, Quig and Scott plus, no doubt, surprises they couldn't unveil before press time.
Remember, if you're going to go out among the masses, and you plan on kissing a stranger, bring the breath mints no matter where you land. No one wants to kiss a stranger with beer breath, not even at the Big Party.Chris Handyside is a freelance writer for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org