Here's a riddle: How do you tell the difference between a Seattle music industry crowd and a Los Angel-ass music industry crowd? I'll give you


EMP's first big party; Metallica's big payday.

Here's a riddle: How do you tell the difference between a Seattle music industry crowd and a Los Angel-ass music industry crowd? I'll give you the answer at the end. For now, let's just say that the first of what the Gnome is sure will be many invite-only Experience Music Project shindigs, last Thursday at I-Spy, featured the usual schmoozing-comes-first attitude that makes it difficult for the band to give anything but the most perfunctory performance. Ah, but not our beloved Neko Case, whose sassy attitude could cut through the din of a thousand ringing cell phones. The ex-Seattleite and her fellow Chicagoan Kelly Hogan flaunted their chill-inducing vocal skills throughout two sets at a fete for the relaunch of (party favors included a mouse pad—gee, thanks), to the delight of the few who decided to venture away from the host bar to the stage.

Case had to jet back to the Windy City (after a night at the posh Westin, on EMP's tab), but Hogan stuck around to play an unannounced show at the Tractor Friday night. Accompanied only by a drummer and her usual guitarist from the Pine Valley Cosmonauts—her band on the recent Bloodshot release Beneath the Country Underdog—Hogan was even more impressive than at the EMP gig. She even broke out her cover of the Magnetic Fields' "Papa Was a Rodeo," prefacing it by saying it's by the man she most wishes wasn't gay. Said man, Stephen Merritt, is a decidedly downcast New York boho, so the congenial and countryish Hogan probably would not want him as a lover. Besides, she sings his song better. By the way, Merritt brought the Magnetic Fields all the way to San Francisco last weekend for one of their two-night stands playing 69 Love Songs, but did they come to Seattle? Noooooo.

Fuck 'em. We've got the next rising star in Modest Mouse. With The Moon & Antarctica finally hitting the shelves with a buzz, the boyz return from a month-long tour for two big nights at the Showbox this weekend. The Gnome hears that Isaac Brock & Co. had a chance to upgrade to the spacier Moore, but opted to stay in the smaller venue for intimacy's sake (if you count the 1000-capacity Showbox as intimate). The Friday night 21-and-over show is already sold out, and Saturday's all-ages affair may be as well; call ahead.

So when's the next EMP extravaganza? Well, duh. Everybody knows it's June 23-25 at Seattle Center. The big rumor? Metallica supposedly will rake in a million bucks. Guess they really need the dough because of all that Napster piracy.Whatta bunch of crap. Maybe they'll at least lend Eminem some cash to help pay his lawyers.

The answer to the riddle: In LA, the musicians don't count as celebrities. You betcha!

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