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  THE ROCK*A*TEENS w/ The Woggles and A Fir Ju Welll  
  The Earl  
  East Atlanta, GA  
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I have a history of having a lousy time on New Years Eve. Last year, I was sick in bed with Strep Throat. The year before I hosted a large party (which involved way too much stress). I could go on, but you probably get the idea. Anyway, for the last night of 2001, I decided to venture out to The Earl and see a concert performed by some of my musical "usual suspects", although I had my doubts as to whether my history would come into play.

When the first band, A Fir Ju Welll, came onto the stage carrying a giant rain stick, I was immediately afraid that perhaps my New Years Eve curse had kicked in and I was doomed to watch some Elephant 6-damaged jam rock band for the next hour or so. Fortunately, they almost immediately put down the hippie accoutrements and began this harder-edged almost punk sounding song. Unfortunately, within a minute of this style change, the band immediately changed tempos, rhythms, and melodies (without changing songs). In and of itself such changes aren't bad; however when a band is so mercurial in style, the overall effect isn't one of skill, but rather one of an inability to write music coherently. The rest of their set proceeded along the same lines: band members switching instruments, "songs" comprised of at least 3-4 different and apparently unrelated segments, and the occasionally catchy riff overwhelmed by all the chaos occurring on the stage. In other words, not a very promising beginning to a much anticipated show.

Luckily, the evening quickly rebounded with the next band: The Woggles. As I've stated before, I like The Woggles more or less, but I don't think their music is particularly substantial or lasting (nor do I suspect that the band members want it to be). However, without a doubt, they are the perfect New Years Eve band: good 60s-esque songs performed energetically and entertainingly, a band rocking hard enough to keep everyone's energy levels up, and a crowd that wanted to dance. As they sailed through a lengthy set (I think I counted 17 songs), I would look around me and it seemed like almost everyone in the nearly capacity crowd was having a good time. Likewise, the band themselves looked to be having fun -- jumping into the audience, including the crowd in its songs, and generally putting so much energy into the evening that the time seemed to sail by. It was very enjoyable and impressive and a great way to ring in the New Year (since they were the ones actually playing at midnight).

Afterwards, the crowd seemed to thin out a bit before the last band, The Rock*a*Teens. These days I rarely review this band: pretty much across the board, I always enjoy their shows and find them interesting. Nevertheless, I can truthfully say that they really fit into the mood of the evening. Yeah, they weren't as tight or together as The Woggles. But then again, considering the time of the night, most of the crowd wasn't particularly together either. And despite the sloppiness of some of the set (which, truth be told, is a Rock*a*Teens trademark), the music barreled ahead, propelled by their particularly strong rhythm section, reverbed guitars, and sing-along-with-band song choices. From beginning (Black Ice) to end (Car and Driver) of their regular set, they played a cross section of their best songs, and the crowd responded, dancing and cheering like the mostly drunken bunch that they were.

When it all ended, I have to admit I wasn't ready to finish. I wanted The Woggles to come back and play some more. I wanted The Rock*a*Teens to do another encore. It had been an almost perfect evening, and I didn't want it to end. Finally, at long last, I'd had a lot of fun on New Year's Eve, and I was completely happy at this close of 2001. I can't wait to see what happens in the future.

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