First, a note: I'm not providing ratings for this festival, because that would be too much…. There was too much variety.
Corndogorama is a big to-do in Atlanta. It's a music festival started in 1994 by Dave Railey, whom alert EvilSponge readers will know as the vocalist in local act American Dream. This annual event first came to EvilSponge's attention when it relocated from Lenny's (the doublewide with a view) to The EARL in the heart of East Atlanta. We look forward to this festival for the chance to, well, basically stand around all weekend drinking beer, eating corndogs, and listening to tons of local music.
The 2005 festival was great fun, and The Minions as a whole enjoyed it, although it did leave them somewhat exhausted on Monday morning.
Kudos must be handed out to Patrick Hill, the booking guy at The EARL and the person who ran the schedule. Between him and sound guys Blake Long and Curt Wells, the whole thing flowed smoothly. They really kept the bands organized so that the event was not plagued with the scheduling lags that had happened in the past. Well done guys.
That said, let me go into a rather lengthy discussion of the festival itself.
Thursday night was "Baby Corndog Burlesque" at The EARL, the opening party for the entire shindig. We went there to see two great bands, Atlanta 's own Envie, and Nashvillians Emery Reel.
Envie went on first, and were visibly flustered. Vocalist Renee Nelson apologized to the crowd and informed us that she had just been in a non-injurious car crash, so any sloppiness on this night was forgiven. And the band did play a little sloppy, but their strong songwriting and musicianship showed through. I could go into great length about what they played and how they sounded, but this was the final performance from this incarnation of Envie. Guitarist Chris Hoke and drummer Kevin Wallace now have a new project called The Sudden Rays (who we were to see on Saturday), and Mr. Wallace along with bassist Jared Welsh are also involved in Ruvolo (also playing on Saturday). Heck, even Ms. Nelson has a side-project, as she is the touring keyboardist for The Living Jarboe.
So this was the end of Envie, and that makes me really sad. I have enjoyed this band's infrequent performances, and think that they are truly trying to do something new and different. I will miss them, but Ms. Nelson has informed me that she will re-build the band (stronger … faster …. ) and that Envie will be back. So my advice to you is this: watch the "What's Coming" list on our front page for an announcement of the next Envie performance, and when you see it, plan to go. They make lovely, beautiful, unique music, and you won't regret paying attention to whatever Ms. Nelson comes up with.
Now, also occurring this evening were screenings of a TV serial starring Sasparilla the Singing Gorilla. Basically this is some guy in a blue gorilla costume (which must be sweltering in this heat) and, in his serial, he fights other guys in funny costumes, kind of like Ultra Man, or any of those old Japanese movie monsters. The episodes are weird and kind of silly, and one was shown before Envie went on (Sasparilla vs. MechaSasparilla -- no kidding!), one after Envie finished, one after the next band was done, and maybe even later. Very silly stuff.
Also wandering around were The Suicide Girls, which apparently is some Internet pornography thing and not merely a bunch of women committing seppuku. Apparently they were the Burlesque part of the evening, but all they did was stand on stage between bands and yell something into the microphones that interfered with my enjoyment of the Sasparilla the Singing Gorilla experience. Maybe they got naked later. I dunno because we didn't stay too late this evening.
So, after watching the second episode of StSG, Emery Reel took the stage. We saw these guys play last year at Corndogorama, and thoroughly enjoyed them then. Tonight they played a lovely set of tight, instrumental post-rock. There sound can pretty much be summer up by imagining Do Make Say Think with the addition of keyboards (and vibraphone!). I have to admit that they are not the most innovative band in the post-rock scene, but they do what they do remarkably well. The band is very professional, and they craft complex melodies and rhythms. If you like Godspeed, Explosions in the Sky, etc, then look out for this band. You'll enjoy them.
Then there was another episode of Sasparilla the Singing Gorilla, and the Suicide Girls shouting on stage again. And then the night, which had so far featured lovely delicate complex music and general silliness, took a turn for the strange when a wannabe hardcore punk band took the stage. They were called Fantaj and they played pretty rote and unimaginative hardcore. Apparently, someone (i am guessing the mohawked lead vocalist) liked The Germs a bit too much… Overall i wasn't that impressed, but i like my hardcore much louder, faster, and angrier than what they were doing.
And anyway, it was late and we had three more days to go, so the Minions headed home to catch a full night's sleep and be back the next day.