The music portion of the Atlanta-based Atlantis
Music Conference provides showcases for unknown and/or unsigned
bands. In the past, I haven't been too interested in attending
any of these events, mainly because I haven't cared for the
bands playing. However, this year, other Minions and I thought
some of the lineups looked good and were worth checking out.
Unfortunately, the two most promising showcases occurred on the same night
at two different venues. So, in the interest of seeing the most
bands, some Minions went off to The
Masquerade while I wandered down to The Star Bar. And, despite
the intervention of a very heavy thunderstorm, I got to the
venue just about the time the first band, Team Emu, began to
From the first, I liked the three piece Team Emu. At times,
they sounded like a mid-90s punk band such as Green
Day; on other songs, they ran a bit closer to punkabilly
in the vein of the late, lamented Blue
Flame Combo, and on still other songs, the guitar and bass
played off each other in a way that sounded vaguely like a post-punk
band. Sure, one of the songs was a little on the cutesy side,
with its chorus of "We got spirit, yes we do…" And occasionally
it seemed like the drummer played the same drumbeat over and
over again. Yet, on the whole, they seemed like a good band,
and I'd definitely like to see them again in the future.
After a short break (which meant that The Star Bar was running
on time!), The Shut Ups' band leader Don Condescending walked
up to his keyboard in pajamas and began to play a very accurate
representation of an 80s power ballad. Shortly thereafter, the
other four members of the band came on stage - also in pajamas
- and started through a short set of slightly wry, off beat,
new wave influenced music. While the music itself was a ton
of fun and induced the crowd to dance, the clear focal point
of the set was Don Condescending himself, who mugged for the
audience, posed for the crowd, and generally proved that not
only is he a good musician, he's also a particularly charismatic
showman. Still, the highlight of their oh-too-brief set was
the final, non-vocal number: a rock/disco version of Beethoven's
Next up were Bishop Don, an apparently Atlanta-based trio of whom I've never heard. For me, this was the hardest band to classify, although that's mainly due to a lack of knowledge on my part. Although I liked their bass-heavy sound, I couldn't quite place the influence. At times, their music had a vaguely pop-ska feel, like early popular No Doubt, albeit with male vocals. At other times, they seemed like more of a jangly southern rock band. And still at other times, I thought I could catch a whiff of a mid-90s alternative band, like Stone Temple Pilots. Yet, truly, the crowd really seemed to get into their music. It struck me that perhaps, of all of the bands I'd seen in the evening, Bishop Don were the most commercially viable.
After Bishop Don came Hot Young Priest, the only band of the
evening which I've seen multiple times. From my vantage point,
I could see that they were playing their usual tight, rocked
out set. However, on this evening, I was more focused on the
sound mix, and I have to say I found it somewhat wanting. Previously
when I've seen Hot Young Priest, the sound has balanced out
the heavier bass and drums with the guitar and the higher-pitched
vocals. This time around, even though I watched the soundguy
turn up the low end, the vocals and cymbals overwhelmed everything.
In retrospect, I suspect that, with a low ceiling and a metal
background, the stage at the Star Bar indirectly amplifies the
treble of every band which plays on it. Therefore, it's hard
to maintain a balanced sound, which is so critical to the ebb
and flow Hot Young Priest's music.
By the time Hot Young Priest finished, the Star Bar was still running on time, and the last band, Bitch, was ready to set up. Or so I thought. Instead, it turned out that one member was missing in action, and I was left to stand around for about an hour while that person was rounded up. And as I continued to wait, the growing lateness of the evening started to dawn on me, and I began to notice my exhaustion. So, when Bitch finally took the stage, I made it through only a couple of their songs (including a blisteringly fun version of Blitzkrieg Bop) before I had to go home. I was disappointed because I'd heard great things about them, and I'd like to see them again at some point.
All in all, even for a showcase it seemed like a bit of an odd lineup. However, all of the bands that I saw had something going for them. Team Emu had the energy while The Shut Ups had the showmanship. Bishop Don had the accessibility while Hot Young Priest had the music. And Bitch? Well, based on my limited experience, Bitch had the silliness (in a good way). Not too bad for a line up that varied so widely in their musical interpretation of "rock music."