Rock your way into 2009

Despite the current shortage of music venues and the ongoing pressure to find socially acceptable ways to welcome Baby 2009, Charlottesville's musical community pulls out all the stops with this year's round of New Year's Eve concerts. Whether you're aging, a whipper-snapper, or just looking for some human bowling to round off 2008, here are plenty of ways to rock out.

Alligator at Bel Rio, 9:30pm: Yes, the rockers of Alligator are still kicking it and plan to bring their combined goods into 2009. The varied members of this Grateful Dead cover band hail from the great Charlottesville rock corps of the '80sIndecision, Skip Castro, the Casuals– and have all been involved in the Charlottesville music scene for decades. Don't count them out yet, however: 2009 will be as big a jamfest as ever.

"We specialize in a time when Grateful Dead was a serious live act," says Charlie Pastorfield, a founding member. "It'll be a dance party, definitely."

Fresh off back-to-back Fridays After Five and Live from the Hook shows in July, Alligator comes to the newly opened Bel Rio after playing a similar New Years Eve show in 2007 at Live Arts. Worried about a repeat of the past? This year's performance will continue to prove the irresistibility of the Grateful Dead, according to Pastorfield.

"We'll fumble around for a while, then things will catch fire. When Aaron Evans gets on guitar, cool stuff happens," he says.

The Falsies at Is, 9:30pm: "Captivating insanity" is how one Charlottesville music critic pegged The Falsies, and the band has done little to debunk the description. While their music celebrates the joy and meaninglessness of life, their antics do much to promote mayhem. For their New Year's Eve performance at the still-burgeoning Is, expect nothing less from this twist on the indie-pop genre.

"It'll be pretty wild– we don't even have our plans in order yet," says lead singer Peter Markush. "We love scheduling shows at the holidays– we like to party and dance and celebrate the occasion."

Expect the night to get pretty wild, as Markush hints at some new performance techniques: 30 seconds each from 30 different songs mashed together, for example. Or perhaps they'll take a hint from the following act, Peelander-Z, and practice some audience-participation moves.

As for 2009? "There'll be more mayhem– we're thinking of recording a Christmas album, and we'll keep plugging away at our new record. Definitely more mayhem and craziness," Markush says.

Peelander-Z at Is, following the Falsies at 9:30pm: "We're so excited to be in Charlottesville!" exclaims Peelander-Yellow, explaining that the Peelanders are from the planet Peelander, which makes them neither Japanese nor American– not even human. Just Peelander. And the colored Power Rangers getups? They're not costumes– it's skin.

Instead of a traditional band– they have all that, with drums, base, and guitar – Peelander-Z is more of an audience participation-fest. "We're like a play, like entertainment," says Peelander-Yellow. "We're Japanese action comic entertainment."

So expect their New Year's Eve show at Is to be just as intense as the band's identity. Look for their traditional human bowling and expect the show to become an audience-melding dance. "We'll give everyone cowbells so they can come on stage and dance with us. We'll do the limbo dance, an '80s disco dance," says Peelander-Yellow. If your punk-indie participation craving isn't completely satisfied, look for the trio to release a new album come spring– and make a stop in Charlottesville as a part of a 10-week tour.

Devon Sproule and Paul Curreri at Gravity Lounge, 7pm: While they may not often share the stage, the husband-and-wife folk duo have this New Year's Eve thing down. Opening Gravity's New Year's Eve performances for the fourth year, Devon Sproule and Paul Curreri round out 2008 with a lot on their collective plate for 2009.

"I just finished producing Devon's new record– we recorded the bass tracks in England– so that will be out in the spring," Curreri says. "For me, I've had a record for over a year, and that'll finally look to come out in late spring as well."

As the powerhouse couple in Charlottesville's folk niche, Sproule and Curreri know how to give and take. Curreri expects equal time to each performer individually before they take the stage as a duet. After touring overseas with their separate bands, New Year's Eve will be the first solo performance either Sproule or Curreri has had in a while.

"It's been brilliant the past few years; we get to go to our hometown cave of Gravity Lounge, where everyone knows our name, the pressure is removed, and we're finished by 10pm," Curreri says. Rather than acquiescing to the pressure of otherworldly New Year's Eve plans (paging Peelander Yellow), Curreri says a low-key show at Gravity is just the way to wind down the year.

Baaba Seth at Gravity Lounge, 9pm: This "old school" worldbeat jam band from Charlottesville's '90s music scene is still drumming the beats out, much to the delight of fans. While their reunions are few and far between, Baaba Seth brings some new fans and some old for their New Year's Eve jam at Gravity.

"It'll be a reworking of all classic Baaba Seth tunes, and several new things Dirk has been working [on]," says percussionist Len Wishart. "We're coming out with a brand new disc in 2009, and we really wanted to do something in Charlottesville."
Founded in the late '90s, Baaba Seth now occasionally reunites to perform at summer festivals and private events. Their upcoming record is a compilation of live shows from 2007 and 2008, and the band looks to make more frequent returns to Charlottesville in the new year.

"After our 2005 Fridays After Five show, we've been wanting to get back to Charlottesville," says Wishart. "We want to sell Gravity out."

Hogwaller Ramblers at Fellini's #9, 10:30pm: What can be expected from Jamie Dyer and his Hogs? "The usual drivel," Dyer says. For a truly local way to ring in the new year, a performance by the Charlottesville music sage and his pure Americana band is a sure ticket to success.

With New Year's Eve shows becoming a tradition for Dyer– 15 years and still kicking– the Hogs look to drop not just one, but potentially two new records in 2009. While Fellini's may be more button-up than the mayhem of Is or Bel Rio, Dyer expects the show to be packed with drunk people. "But only legal drunk people," he says. "We'll send illegal drunk people home. We gotta have standards."

Sounds like tradition may be the way to go this New Year's. Let's just hope the Peelanders don't make it over there after their set, or we're all in trouble.