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March 19, 2000: Hoot Nite Fever Hole in the Wall

Given the way oil prices have shot up lately, ending South by Southwest 2000 with a nod to disco was a nice way of returning things to normal. "Normal," of course, would be shirtless table-dancing revelry, a packed stage, and a Chronicle writer shaking both his tailfeather and a maraca. Things snapped to attention around 9:30pm, as Joe West of the Sinners led some friends through an acoustic, loose-limbed cover of "Rubberband Man." Young bar belters Grand Champeen were next, saying "this is what disco means to us" and launching into a faithful reading of the Stones' great Summer of Sam crossover "Miss You." Aviator-clad Goldtooth stroked an Omnichord through a creepy trucker's tale of the "Acuff-Rose Skeleton," Subset hit home with a raunchy take on KC & the Sunshine Band's "Queen of Clubs," and Murphy siblings Trish & Darin got down with their bad selves on a falsetto-laced "Love So Right." "Are there any drunk chicks who wanna do 'I Will Survive' yet?" mustachioed ringmaster Paul Minor called from the stage as Graham Reynolds assembled his seven-strong Golden Arm Trio. Opening with classical gas "A Fifth of Beethoven," the Trio kept everyone's four on the floor through an instrumental "Stayin' Alive" and the booty-wagging funkentelechy of "Flash Light." Psychedelic cowpokes Lil' Cap'n Travis reconvened for a brief suite highlighted by a wooly "Ring My Bell," and Brit visitors Departure Lounge gave spare, reverent treatment to a deuce of early Bee Gees. More rock-star glitter came in the form of Guy Fantasy, a suspiciously Miles Zuniga-like entity who popped up for a "Miss You" reprise and an appropriately mawkish "To Love Somebody," officially commencing the jam portion of the evening. A lengthy tryptich of "Kung Fu Fightin'," "Stayin' Alive," and "Love to Love You Baby," soon followed, and the last lingering strands of SXSW stress melted away like so much fondue -- cheesy to the extreme. Spoon's Britt Daniel had the sensitive-guy thing down pat on "How Do You Mend a Broken Heart," but it was already half past a party. As the Argyles boogied through curtain calls "Play That Funky Music," "Get Down Tonight," "Super Freak," and "Le Freak," even the palest Anglo in the room (me) had a groove on. The lights were long since up, but it took a paisley "Magic Carpet Ride" to break the mirrorball spell. "Gotta move on," echoed the Lipps, Inc. classic from the stage. "Won't you take me to Funkytown?" Some of us live there.

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