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UnMasqing New Year's Eve 

In an ever-budding and flushed city of nearly 5 million people, there are seemingly infinite ways to ring in the new year. Myself? I chose a ringing in my ears by catching heavy metal behemoth Mastodon, on a locals' bill with Artimus Pyledriver and Gonzalez at the Masquerade.

How better to celebrate another year in Atlanta than at a long-standing, even if sometimes ostensibly shakily standing, institution like the Masquerade? Plus, at one point or another, someone in each of the club's three complementary rooms of black T-shirts, fishnets and pleather was quick to point out this was the last New Year's celebration the Masquerade will ever host. Whether this means the venue is actually closing or everyone knows something that I don't about the world ending has me a little worried.

Of course, if the world ended while I was in Heaven's tinnitus-inducing tinderbox, it wouldn't have been the first time I played best two-out-of-three "Battleship with Death" at the Masquerade. There was the Bad Religion show in 1996 when, a full capacity crowd pogoing, I felt the floor noticeably bow beneath my feet. And at the 1997 Crystal Method show when, on two microdots, I dodged strobe lights as if they were concussion grenades and almost dodged my way backward off some bleachers. Ah, the near-death memories.

But less of the "Oh, shit" and more of the '06. While Mastodon's nimble riff assailment was as exemplary as the sound was assaultive, I knew I was a year of 10 older when the volume became too punishing for me to weather. So I actually saw out with the old and in with the nearly nude in Hell, where featured an "Aeon Fuxxx" theme for its "SIN Night." What this meant were copious abuses of PVC strips passed off (and cast off) as clothing. Forget kissing under the mistletoe, here you could try the camel toe. For the official countdown, 10 balloons were ceremoniously popped from the body and booty of a woman proudly gyrating a champagne-sheened thong for the throng before a pounding EBM cover of U2's "New Year's Day" burst forth.

Over in Purgatory during the 180 Degrees and dropbombz-curated hip-hop/drum 'n' bass showcase a fellow attendee remarked it was like "Saturday Night Live's" recently Internet-circulated "Lazy Sunday -- Chronic(les) of Narnia" MC skit. Whether that was meant to insinuate the room was packed with crackers humorously aggressive about "keeping it real," it was a dream world of magic or simply so crazy delicious it was time for a snack attack, motherfucker, I'm not sure. DRES tha Beatnik dropped White Stripes beatbox as local DNB producers Evol Intent and Ewun waited in the wings to rinse the crowd in rampaging beats -- instead of bubbly.

All in all it was a satisfying New Year's, but I'm constantly left wondering how many more of those there will be. In the coming few weeks we will explore the opening of Fever, The House, BED, the Royal and more even as new parking regulations and regular unannounced visits from the Fire Marshall (spotted at the Masq on NYE) challenge venues. Here's to partying in the '06 even if city government continues a campaign to 86 nightlife.

RedEye celebrates going out and going off. Send comments to, but hand-scrawled hate mail is preferred.

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