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Britrockís little helper
Lansdowne Street pops the Pill; the Mission goes techno
BY DAVID DAY

"Get shitfaced, hit on a bird, dance to Pulp. Lather, rinse, repeat. Itís like an institution," says promoter MICHAEL MAROTTA of his club night the PILL, which is now holding court Fridays at Great Scott. In the annals of Boston clubbing, the Pill might hold the record for longest-running weekly night. Since its inception in 1997, itís gone from impossible lines at the Upstairs Lounge to being on life support and back again ó and now the scene is starting to infiltrate Lansdowne Street.

For those who donít know, the theme of the Pill is UK indie, with a crowd that gets its duds on and pogos under flickering disco lights with pints in hand. DJ KEN POWERS and promoter Marotta have been the Pillís constant pushers, with co-founder DJ JEN SULLIVAN guesting regularly and DJ TERENCE PRATT always at Powersís back. "We really just set out to have a great party every Friday," says Marotta. "Ken and I work for a living during the week, just like everyone else, so Friday really has that special feeling where you can get dressed up, look sharp, go out and have a few pints, and dance the night away. . . . The Pill is an escape." Leading the getaway is Powers: "Weíve always been good at knowing when to drop certain songs. When people scream and pump their fists . . . you know youíve done it. I take it personally when someone is having a bad time." In its eight years, the night has adapted just enough, surviving fads like electroclash and fending off competing indie-dance nights. "Itís kind of unnerving hearing Pill jams on the radio," says Marotta, "but Franz Ferdinand has widened our demographic a bit. Plus Ken is a hell of a DJ . . . he knows the crowd and knows how to cater to them."

Lately, the two have been bringing indie to BILLíS BAR, where Marotta is now general manager. On a block known for its big-room trance and raunchy hip-hop parties, their aim is to rock out. Both Ken and Terence have DJed at SORTED, the dance night hosted by íFNX DJ PAUL DRISCOLL, and Terence does a monthly Monday-night Lowdown soul party. "Billís was born to be a rock club," says Marotta. "Iím not setting out to re-create the Pill seven nights a week, but I want to capture the Pillís energy and passion through a myriad of musical styles all falling under the umbrella of the ĎDirty Rock Clubí vibe. And right now, there's no [other] forum for late-night live music on Lansdowne." Which leads to some interesting standoffs. "The end result is [that] when the slutty blonde bimbos and Abercrombie jocks wait on line at Tequila Rain, they see the sleazy rocker types smoking fags outside," says Marotta. "I hope it scares the shit out of them."

With Marotta at the helm, the Pill has been a haven for aspiring local bands who play in a Britrock style: the Bon Savants, Emergency Music, the Information, and the Good North have all had incubations in the weekly lovenest. "Now you'll see PROTOKOLL, the 8MM FUZZ, the CHAINLETTER," says Marotta, adding to the list. "And those bands are a part of the night because they all play it often. [Way] back when, bands just hung out with us; now they play the night. The local music scene has a great buzz right now." Tomorrow night, the earnest rock sound of ALOUD wraps up its busy year at Great Scott; December 30 gets a visit from the TOMMIES. Thereís also a New Yearís Eve blast with DJ Terence hosting a reunion by the SHEILA DEVINE.

In our almost weekly UNLOCKED GROOVE update: the MIT-centric crew have secured a weekly techno party on Saturdays at the Mission in Brigham Circle. (Formerly the Chopping Block, the bar has been given a slick update and a redesigned sound system to suit Bostonís premier electronic label.) Past guests have included Alan Manzi, "Bostonís only rockstar DJ," and Maya Amack of protonradio.com. The mix of college-age goofballs and techno purists is reason enough to people watch.

David Day spins Thursdays at Middlesex Lounge and Fridays at Enormous Room | circuits@squar3.com.


Issue Date: December 16 - 22, 2005
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