Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, December 28, 2001


Better strike at new club events early, while they're still hot, as this trio did when the Spy Bar opened in May at John Dominis restaraunt. From left are Malia Song, Judy Seyler and Tammy Strickland. The Spy Bar is history.

Catatonic club
scene dials 911

The year in entertainment brought
a few bright spots - go, KTUH! --
but left many of us feeling jet-lagged
without the jet. Got elixir?

By Shawn 'Speedy' Lopes

If 2000 was the year everyone looked forward to, this was the year the bubble burst." That's how local promoter G-Spot of Double-O-Spot Productions summed up the Honolulu nightlife in 2001. While this past year saw the emergence of several major nightspots (Maze and Blue Tropix chief among them), 2001 seemed more like millennium fallout than a landmark year in nightclubbing.

"This was not a real good year, especially the second half," announced the tireless promoter, citing the events of Sept. 11 for a precipitous drop following what was already a downturn in door receipts. "What it did do though -- and even people on the mainland I've been in contact with feel this way -- was it weeded out a lot of the people who figured they could make a quick buck after the boom of 2000. 2001 was a filter year."

But alas, how could 2001 possibly top the preceding 12 months, which began with the colossal Phuture 2000, that once-in-a-lifetime, state-sanctioned, BBC-broadcast millennium eve event at Kakaako Waterfront Park? It couldn't, so G-Spot didn't dare try. As he explains, talent fees soared and promoters took bigger financial hits in 2001. "I'd like to do more intimate parties with smaller, more knowledgeable crowds," he declared. "I think I'm going back to my roots."

If you can't remember where you were, here's what happened:

Local bands like Go Jimmy Go satisfied cravings for live music in a year in which big-name bands were either no shows or canceled in the wake of the East Coast terrorist attacks. Band members, from left, are: Eric White (sax, manager), Shon Gregory (drums, back vocals), Jason "Bison" Friedmann (lead singer), Fernando Pacheco (trombone), Cameron Wright (bass) and Ian Ashly (guitar/backing vocals).

>> The Friday Night Wars: We watched with intrigue as the Virtual Experience and Indigo get-togethers begat Friday nights at Pango Pango, then the W, which paved the way for the Spy Bar, and led to the Maze and Le Bar Du Roi, and a mad, mad scramble for the once-neglected upscale crowd. I still have my doubts as to whether an upscale crowd really exists; my guess is the aging barhopper in all of us is just looking to graduate from raves, booty fests and underground warehouse parties.

>> News outlets finally made the connection between the -- ahem -- "club drug" (their words, not mine) called Ecstasy and raves: All this comes more than a decade after the first rave was held in the islands and 87 years since MDMA (its medical name) was first synthesized by German scientists. Eighty-seven years! Maybe next year we'll hear about the new swing revival or that hot new fad called breakdancing on the 6 o'clock broadcast. Golly gee, I can't wait.

>> Whoah parents, before you overreact to this news, take a chill pill: It seems grinding your teeth all night and downing several gallons of orange juice after a hit of the "hug drug" just doesn't hold the same appeal for a lot of young adults anymore. Veteran clubgoers, long past their rebellious years, now yawn at the very thought of ingesting controlled substances and are happily shelling out a few bills for a quick "legal" high. While not the least bit psychoactive, energy cocktails (a concoction of energy drinks and assorted spirits) don't impair your ability to drive and don't fry your brain, either. Just ask Renee Jojola, a representative of Merlin's Energy Source, a cure-all elixir which made its debut here a year and a half ago and is taking root at nightclubs around Honolulu. "It gives you a real uppity buzz and keeps you alert and social," she claims. "It even helps you fight jet lag, headaches and it's great for hangovers."

>> Aside from marketing energy drinks, Jojola began co-hosting the only electronica-based show on commercial radio not broadcast during those ungodly after-hours. "The Vibe," which airs 8 to 10 p.m. Friday nights on Lava Rock 105.9 FM, also features Honolulu house music maven Scottie Soul and makes the perfect soundtrack to get dressed to on your way to a Friday all-nighter.

>> Best radio news flash in 2001: The University of Hawaii's KTUH finally got a well-deserved power increase, and that only took 30 years!

>> While 2000 saw a handful of commercial radio stations here delving into pop-trance fare (i.e., chartbusters by Alice Deejay, Darude and ATB), much of that music seemed to peter out by the summer of 2001, and it was back to the same old jiggy fluff. Big sigh. We had such high hopes.

>> This year should also be remembered as one in which Hawaii made its mark on the hip-hop world, with homegrown turntablist outfit Nocturnal Sound Crew winning the ITF World Team title and NSC's DJ Deception reaching the USA semifinals before losing to the renowned Klever. Internet message boards are still ablaze with wrathful postings by attendees who feel Deception got straight screwed out of a national championship.

>> Generally speaking, concerts were down in 2001 and numerous shows were either rescheduled or canceled due to the events of 9/11. Still, Honolulu's steadfast vanguards of live music -- Go Jimmy Go, Quadraphonix, Ooklah the Moc and Kamakazi Kong, to name a few -- kept the lost art of stage performance alive. Judging by the number of all ages shows popping up around town, the punk scene is alive and well, too.

"The Maze" played host to the beautiful people when it opened in in the Waikiki Trade Center in August.

"Overall, I think this last year was kind of a standstill year," ventures Soho Promotions' Jerry Yamenfeld. "But 2002's gonna put Hawaii on the map. There are things I'm working on now that are helping to ensure it."

OK, we've all heard that one before, right? Well, check it: Yamenfeld and partner Kevin Williams are poised to take over promotional duties at the Waterfront Cafe and Cabaret, which is scheduled to open at Aloha Tower Marketplace in late January. In addition, as local tourism authorities are giddy over the arrival of the new Norwegian Star to local ports, Yamenfeld and Williams are licking their chops in anticipation of turning the docked luxury vessel into the biggest party in Honolulu's recent history.

"Each deck is the size of three football fields, and people partying on one deck wouldn't even know the others exists," reveals Yamenfeld. "This is something that can easily be marketed internationally. We've already got plans for spring break, summer and next New Year's; I'm 80 to 85 percent sure this will happen."

Like I said, I can't wait.

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