We Minions are feeling "experimental" these
days. That is, for the past two weekends we have avoided the
familiar safety of our Holy Trinity of Clubs (Echo, Earl, and
Star) and ventured to other small venues outside of our range.
The results have been... well, quite frankly i look forward
to returning "home" to The Earl and Echo. Returning to the safety
of familiar faces in our Indie Rock Crowd.
But it was interesting getting out to other locations. This
particular night we ventured into The Virginia Highlands area,
to 10-High, which is the current name of the basement of The
Dark Horse Tavern. I had seen some bands there ages ago, and
i remember it as small and cramped with over-priced beer.
Well, i still had to pay $5 for a Bass, which is a little higher
than i am used to, but the basement was actually kind of spacious,
with plenty of room even when the crowd got dense during the
5-8 set. And as a basement, it was not stuffy or hot.
The crowd was wierd though. Given the circumstances i guess
that it was to be expected. Vai-High has always seemed to me
to be the place that the "cooler" people go when they get bored
of Buckhead. It has the feel of a giant fraternity party, that
whole "enjoy yourself now, because in 4 years you have to settle
down into a job with a tie" attitude. That's not what i am used
to. The East Atlanta crowd is full fo outsiders: tatooed freaks,
diehard serious music geeks (like us), and general wierdos.
It never has the feel of enforced celebration that i sense in
The Highlands, but more has the sense that life inherently involves
standing in a dark club drinking beer with friends while watching
loud bands. It's just a differnet attitude.
So, the crowd at this show seemed to consist of a large number
of Dark Horse "regulars" who seemed to just be there because
that's where they go. These people stood aroudn talking and
seemed to not really pay attention to the music. Then there
were a bunch of really drunk Frat types, a smattering of curious
Indie Scenesters, and the diehard 5-8 fans. A strange mix.
The sound at the club was very nice, so that when people were
talking i could still hear the bands. 10-High also has a rather
large stage dominating one corner of the room. They did a good
job of mixing the sound, so that everything sounded clear. The
only complaint i have is that the vocals were somewhat louder
than i am used to, but that might have been because i was standing
right next to the amps.
At any rate, we arrived shortly before 10 PM, and had about
15 minutes to get our feel of the place before the first band
went on. They were called Motorway and were on tour from New
Orleans. I don't know much about the New Orleans scene, but
i hope that this act are not typical.
Their sound was very radio-friendly pop. I swear, they reminded
me of The Gin Blossoms. I got burned out on The Gin Blossoms
in 1994, so hearing their sound re-hashed was not exactly something
i was looking for.
Nonetheless, the band was energetic, and the music was competent
if un-original. Not the worst band i have seen, but not somebody
i would actively seek out again.
After they were done several employees and the members of the
next act helped Motorway clear the stage quickly. It was a remarkably
efficient set change. It seems that 10-High runs a really tihgt
schedule, with no time for "goofing around". At first, this
seemed like a pleasant change to the "sometime in the next hour
-- or two" attitude that dominates club workers in East Atlanta.
The next act was called RS5, and they billed themselves as
"the band Atlanta loves to hate". By appearance, i would have
thought them to be a part of the local Redneck Underground --
unshaven guys with tatoos, and the bassist was wearing a bowling
shirt and was bald.
However, musically they were another average pop band. The
music wasn't particularly innovative, but the band members themselves
were very silly and self-deprecating. Their between song banter
was the best part of their set, and really lightened the mood.
One strange thing to note: they must either be moderately successful
or have high-paying day jobs, because they had NICE gear. The
drummer had one of those rack-mouted kits with all of the drums
hanging off of some assembled bars. The guitarist and the bassist
both played "wireless", the guitarist having a small reciever
unit hooked up to his pedals. I think that i have never actually
seen one of those in use. Well, except for in the movie Spinal
Tap, and i doubt that counts. At any rate, it all looked
expensive. And nice. So they must be doing good.
Because they were so funny, i would not avoid them if they
were opening at another show i wanted to go to. Silly is a good
trait to have.
After RS5 were done, they quickly cleared the stage for 5-8.
I have loved 5-8 since their first album, I Learned, Shut
Up came out in 1992. I lost touch with the band for
a while there, but now it seems as if they play Atlanta every
3 months or so. And their shows are always long and silly.
Tonight started off as a typical 5-8 show, with Square Pegs.
I can never figure out if this is a cover of the old Waitresses
tune, or if it is an original compostion of similar nature.
At any rate, 10-High was filled with dozens of 5-8 fans chanting
the chorus of "Never gonna fit in, fit in, never gonna fit in!"
Ah yes, geek rock. The music of those nerds at the back of the
cafeteria in college. No wonder i love this band.
They played lots of stuff from all of their releases, and joked
around and told silly stories. Bassist Dan Horowitz even spent
some time chatting with/teasing a bride and groom who showed
up at the show. (Who gets married and says, "Let's go to Vai-High
for our honeymoon!"?)
However, well, that tight schedule that 10-High was enforcing
earlier came back to haunt us now. At 1 AM the sound guy told
5-8 to wrap it up. They played 2 more songs, and seemed as bewildered
as the crowd at the sudden end to the show. Heck, they had at
least an hour and a half worth of material still to go.
However, the concert-goers seemed to be herded upstairs, to
the regular bar portion of The Dark Horse. Perhaps they make
more money up there? Who knows, but ending a show at 1 AM on
a Saturday is unfair, not to mention unheard of in Atlanta!
So, overall, it was an okay night. The abbreviated 5-8 set
was a major annoyance.
My verdict: go see 5-8 play somewhere else if you like silly
punk-pop. Otherwise, its probably best to avoid 10-High.