Friday, December 7, 2007

One Night In Atlanta: Vincent Gallo, Cock Rock & Maritime Tunes.

I was in the ATL on a rare business excursion this week, and I thought I must seek out some local sounds. At a dusty-crates record store on Peachtree, I quizzed the clerk on the clubs, and he wrote some ideas on a notepad. I was off to Little Five Points, the adopted spot for Atlanta hipsters.

The first stop of the night was the Star Bar, where some meaty cock-rock bands were gearing up for a go at awesomedom. A fellow named Johnny La Rocha worked the bar, striking a fine Vietnam vet or Jesus, depending on one’s perspective. He told me the real show was over at Eyedrum, where some of his friends were seeing Vincent Gallo’s new music-art project. He said it was only 10 minutes down the road and that I could probably make it.

Abstaining not from serendipity, I drove over and dropped $15 at the door of a rugged concrete-and-I-beam structure, which featured installations and exhibitions by local artists. Eyedrum is the kind of place I’ll own when I’m independently wealthy. Beyond the gallery, a hushed crowd stared intently at a quartet making loose jangles of sonic atmosphere. Gallo sat hunched over a mirror-plated guitar, sporting a thick blonde wig bound with a headband, A thin brunette in a blue jumpsuit touched a keyboard. A long, red nightshirt hung from a tall blonde dude playing guitar with his back to the audience. The fourth wore only tiny gym shorts and tapped cautiously on a drumset bearing their name, RRIICCEE.

Signs reading “There should be no photographs taken during the performance” plastered the walls, so I did a quick study of the show on my hand with a V7. Two small fluorescents lit the stage. The sight dripped with pretension, much like that of Gallo’s controversial movie, “The Brown Bunny.” I liked that film, awash with self-indulgence, and I liked RRIICCEE.

The overt communication of the group was limited to a slight nod from Gallo to the drummer as they felt their way through a tuneless landscape. After about 15 minutes, Gallo mumbled something and they left the stage to uncertain applause. A girl behind me asked if she had missed that much by coming late. People began to filter out quietly, some griping. Someone said the idea was that they never rehearsed. A dreadlocked white guy complained that the drummer never even touched the hi-hat.

I headed back to the Star Bar, where a thick foursome belabored some power chords. I talked with John some more, having traded CDs and listened to some of his band, Ocha La Rocha, in the car. He writes songs with a fiery weave of acoustic/electric distortion, to pleasing effect reminiscent of The Black Crowes and others I couldn’t put my finger on. He told me he was really into the psychadelia sound and gave me names of LA acts to check out.

John asked, “You wanna go to the real party?” The final act was sound-checking angry pentatonics. Amidst the Goths and punks, someone asked me if I was reviewing the show. “Yeah… you don’t wanna be here tonight,” John said. He told me the real spot was an unlabeled club over on Ponce De Leon, behind the Chipotle, called MJQ. MJQ was celebrating its tenth anniversary with some local bands and DJs. I listened to the final band’s first song and decided to head to my third club in as many hours.

Behind the Chipotle, a gray clapboard shack drew down to a crazy space beneath the parking lot. Blue-tinged and strung about with shiny streamers and stuffed fish, the theme was the proverbial “Fish Under The Sea” dance (if Back To The Future is a proverb). The crowd was thick and smoky around the bar, but fairly sparse on the dance floor, where a five-piece called Tongo Hiti played “maritime songs” on ukelele, theramin, guitar, drums, and rubber chicken. They had a convincing sound for their chosen niche.


I caught only two songs before they wrapped up their set. House music came on and people flooded the dance floor, breakdancing and shaking about.
I discovered a back stairway up to the parking lot. The doorway at the top fumed like the chimney of a greasy barbeque, venting all the cigarette and club sweat manufactured below into the crisp night air. It’s been awhile since I’ve had the pleasure of smelling like ass after a night of music. As most of the cities I’ve lived in have banned smoking in clubs, I’ve become spoiled with the smoke-free experience. But it’s a fair price to pay for a nice little triangulation around Atlanta’s indie scene. If that’s a typical Wednesday, a proper weekend is highly anticipated.

1 comment:

oyl miller said...

Righteous palmistration.

Animated gif request!