New Year's @ R.T. Quinlan's 2011

RT Quinlan’s New Year’s Eve

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Cars & Trucks, The Acceleratti, and Coal Car Caboose rocked in 2011 at RT Quinlan’s on New Year’s Eve.

Cars & Trucks, the highly skilled rock trio, kicked off an evening of great energetic tunes. The poster for the show featured a devil that originally was made famous in a Who concert poster back in their heyday. Cars & Trucks usually make some great poster art for their shows and have excellent cover art for their Cds. Their tattoos carry that artistic expression to their overall look, and the band’s well-rooted sound is bigger than Lake Superior.

The venue was packed, and when The Acceleratti took the stage the show took a more comical turn. Many times the lead singer Chad Lyons would rip on Cars & Trucks’ band members in jest, making the crowd laugh several times. Even Mat Milinkovich, the drummer of Cars & Trucks, cracked a smile at a few of Lyons’ quips.

Lyons didn’t only take shots at Milinkovich’s band, he also had a funny joke about Coal Car Caboose. Before playing one of Acceleratti’s original numbers, Lyons’ said that the song they were about to play was so simple that even Coal Car Caboose could play it.

I’ve enjoyed many Acceleratti shows over the years, and this one continued to please. This one also had something loose and satirical about it, but the band was always dead on.

One change to Acceleratti is that their comical presentation of overalls and Pabst Blue Ribbon humor has evolved into fine-tuned entertainment. Gomez showed his continual mastery of the guitar, and the band was the highlight of the night.

The only thing annoying about New Year’s Eve shows is that the band usually plays past midnight and then does a token countdown at 3 minutes after. While this shouldn’t really matter, if you look around you will notice that the entire audience is focused on their phones, watches, and clocks on the wall as the hour approaches. The band was reminded by the soundman of the time, but they didn’t stop playing as the audience anxiously waited.

This has happened at nearly every show I have attended on New Year’s Eve, regardless of location or act. So it’s not to rip on the Acceleratti, but from an audience standpoint I couldn’t help but look around and notice that everyone was watching the time and seemed frustrated as midnight passed. There is the philosophical view of time where one should really not caring when the countdown occurs, but then there is the real world view where we all set our clocks to live by. The big celebration of New Year’s Eve is doing the countdown, so it should be the focal point.

What would be cool is if the bar put a giant clock above the stage and everyone did a cool countdown collectively. New York isn’t the only state to have its own smaller ball-drops, New Jersey even had a Snookie Drop… Maybe Duluth should drop something into the lake or have a Google-Fiber drop when they move their decision back another year?

Coal Car Caboose took the stage last and played for a slightly smaller crowd as people head out after midnight to celebrate elsewhere. CCC, a ska band with a lively brass section, always gives me mixed feelings when I watch them.

There was a show about two years ago when they played Fitger’s Brewhouse and I couldn’t stand them. Partly because Fitger’s isn’t really designed to have such a large and loud band, but mostly because the PA speakers upstairs had the vocals way too high. Being over the top of brass instruments and full-size amps made the singer's voice sound nasally and annoying.

On New Year’s Eve, the band redeemed themselves in my opinion. The rest of the group does much more singing now in a back up role, which does two things to make a vast improvement. The first is that CCC has an extra layer to their vocals, giving them much more depth to their sound. The second benefit is that the band members’ singing adds extra energy to the band. Coal Car Caboose has always had trumpets and trombones along with the basics, but now the other members play a larger role.

Personally I am usually mixed about ska music. Sublime in my mind came up with the innovative sound that No Doubt banked on, but the Mighty Mighty Bosstones were just slightly too commercial for my taste. If you are a fan of ska music, Coal Car Caboose is the best at their craft. One could argue that CCC has a better sound and energy than the Bosstones or other ska favs of the late 1990s. They’re truly a hidden gem of the area.

Happy New Year!