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Turn Out The Lights 

The party's over (at least in print)

Saturday night, local octet Pyramid finally released their full-length debut, The First American, at the Neighborhood Theatre. It's always equal parts shocking and gratifying when a local band can pack people in to a place this large, but Pyramid, like another local band, The Avett Brothers, seem to have hit on the right idea(s): Make good music. Put thought into your presentation. Make your show an event. Don't act like a drunken dick to folks the other six days of the week and expect them to check out your show. Sell your CDs on the cheap, the better to get them in people's hands (and iPods, and CD players). Above all, however, kick some ass and make your music an oasis of originality for those who might seek it. Pyramid pulled it off, and then some. Behind the stage played a short film, which blended nicely with the textured, jazz-inflected atmospherics the band purveys so well. Disco balls would occasionally transform the darkened theatre into a mini-planetarium, and at other times lights shot out at the audience from stage-side stanchions like laser fire from robot eyes. (Then again, it could have been the PBR tallboys talking.)

And then, inexplicably, there was a guy standing stage left with an easel, some small brushes, and, no shit, a beret. I was reasonably impressed, thinking the guy was going to create some Pyramid-inspired artworks, his creative ebb and flow determined by the glow of the band's collective moon. I then saw that he had three or four drawings already near completion, which he would dab at or erase or touch with a flourish of his brush (always with the canvas turned towards the audience). I later learned the artist's presence wasn't exactly the band's idea, which made me feel better about the seeming incongruity. After all, The Great Mystery of the Pyramid is that you're never sure where they're taking you next. In that context, Milli-Vanilling some charcoal drawings just ain't gonna cut it.

Ah, March Madness. (Yes, I'm breaking my self-inflicted gag order on writing about sports in this column. That said, I've got a good reason, which I'll mention in just a bit.) Now, where was I?Ah, March Madness. As tournament games usually begin on my birthday, this is an especially charged time of the year for me. This year, I've noticed its charms working on others — especially women — that I wouldn't expect, and I think I'm starting to figure out why. I call it the Idol Mentality. Whether or not they can tell Nikko Smith from a Nekot cracker, or Fairleigh Dickinson from Angie Dickinson, people like win-or-go-home competitions.

I'm no different. I know little about Milwaukee other than their apparent love of beer, cheese and sausages (which is more than enough), but I admire the pluck with which their basketball team plays. When the game's on the line, they step it up.

By the round of 16, underdog teams like the Panthers have their own identity, and almost instantaneously create a fan base. Teams like Milwaukee are to the NCAA tournament what the Clay Aikens and Scott Savols of the world are to Idol. They are David attempting to take on Goliath, armed only with their belief in themselves and their ability, and most people, underdogs themselves, want to see them win. That, my friends, is the real reality television: un-scripted, unedited, and utterly watchable.

Coda: Writing this column over the past couple of years has been a hell of a lot of fun. It's created a goodly amount of letters, ruffled more than a few feathers, shined a light in some dark corners, and, earlier this year, even won a North Carolina Press Association award.It's also meant that I've gone to many an event that bored the tits off of me. I meant that I was constantly asked if I was going to write about a given event, even if I was just there to have a drink or relax and watch the show. Most notably, it meant that my weekends were planned out in advance for damn near two years running.

And so (sound the trumpets and heraldry!) I take my leave of Scene and Herd, to better use what talents I have elsewhere in Creative Loafing, and to focus on some new ideas to help make this newspaper continue to be, as CL contributor Frye Gaillard once put it, "pound-for-pound the best paper in town." G'night, everybody. You've been wonderful.

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