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For day three of our Corndogorama experience, Tracers and i showed up at one in the afternoon, walked in, and grabbed a beer. This was going to be a long day….
We walked in to see the last few songs by Charm School. This is a strange band – two very white girls who sing and play guitar with an offshored rhythm section. I don't mean to be racist or anything, but i find it interesting that, out of all of the Indians who live in Atlanta (and there are lots here these days), the drummer and bassist in Charm School are the only ones to be integrated into the local indie rock scene. Why is that? And while i'm at it, why is Atlanta indie rock so massively white? This is a pretty diverse city, really, but you wouldn't know it by going to The EARL. I wonder about these things...
Anyway, Charm School play happy guitar pop. I often think that they should do School House Rock covers, as the clear vocal interplay between the two singers would work well at something like that. At any rate, they are an enjoyable, if not particularly challenging, pop act.
Next was the band we were here to see: Ruvolo, born from the ashes of Envie! (That would be a good album title, now that i think about it...) I've reviewed them just recently, so i won't go into too much detail here. However, this time i could actually hear the keyboards (which i couldn't at their last show), and they ended with that lovely droning, space rock song. When the saxophonist hit his solo in the middle, they really reminded me of Spiritualized, and that's a good thing. In fact, this set was an auspicious start to our day.
After Ruvolo finished a band called Brainbox took the side stage. This band featured Eric Young, late of American Dream, on drums (the first of three times i was to see him play today), a bassist, and a singer/guitarist. In general their music was unremarkable indie pop, but they did cover the old Devo tune Freedom of Choice, which was fun.
It was at this point that the assembled Minions decided that food and caffeination was in order, so we collectively retired to La Casita, just down the street. This is a pretty good little Mexican food place in East Atlanta . We had some tea, lots of water, and a few tacos. Oh, and if you go there, i highly recommend the cheese dip, which is made from not just queso but three types of cheeses, and which has a fascinating, strong cheese taste. La Casita a fun little place.
By the time we returned to The EARL, a band called No River City was playing. This was an alt.country act featuring a lead singer/guitarist whose beard was out of control. Either that or a long-haired kitten was stuck to his chin! All jesting aside, this man obviously takes his beard very seriously, as he does his music. I must say that, although i do not enjoy alt.country in any sense, No River City were very personable on stage, and obviously seemed to be having a great time playing. That's always good to watch, even if the music is not particularly to your liking. We must have walked in towards the beginning of their set, because it seemed to me that they played forever. Then again, it was country….
Anyway, after they were done a local band called Legend of the Giant Squid took the stage. I thought i had seen these people before, but maybe i am just getting confused because our erstwhile film critic goes by the moniker Squid. Anyway, this band is a 4-piece hard rock act. My bet is that they listened to a lot of Black Sabbath as teenagers, because that certainly shows in their music. Not bad, but again not anything that i would go out of my way to see again. The most enjoyable portion of their set, to me at least, was the heavy metal version of Space Truckin' that they ended their set with. That was fun.
Next we go to the side stage to see … one of our EARL bartenders setting up behind a drum kit. Yes, it's true, one of the regular bartenders at The EARL is a drummer in a newish local band called Jetty. This might have been their first performance (he said something later, but due to noise and drunkenness, i didn't quite catch it). In addition to our drummer/bartender, the band featured a female bassist/vocalist and a male guitarist/vocalist. The two vocalists traded lines in an almost call and response fashion on a few of the songs, which i found interesting. In general they were a catchy band, and not bad at all. I particularly like one track they played near the end of their set, in which the guitarist really sounded like he was playing the power chords from the chorus of Hum's hit tune Counting Stars. Very enjoyable on the whole.
After Jetty were done it was time for The Corndog Eating Contest. Rather than stand outside in the heat watching fools stuff corndogs into their mouths (i get heartburn just thinking about that), we opted to take the time to sit in the mostly empty EARL and enjoy the air-conditioning. A much needed relaxation break. I must point out that the festival was running remarkably on time so far today.
At 5:30, right on schedule, The Licentious 5 took the stage. Again, i have reviewed this band just recently, so all i am going to say is that i really enjoyed them today. They were catchy, and the organ sounded better than i remember before.
Up next was another band i happen to really like, but who only play out rarely. They are called Tenth to the Moon, and are an avant-garde industrial electronic band. No, really. It took them a long time to set up their complex gear, so we got a slightly shorter set tonight. That's disappointing as i was looking forward to them, but i applaud Patrick Hill for moving the night along nonetheless.
Anyway, Tenth to the Moon started out with a piece that consisted of a throbbing ravish industrial beat and the vocalist crawling around on the floor of The EARL screaming into a microphone. Yeah! Really cool, and boy did it confuse the indie rockers who wandered in... Anyway, Tenth to the Moon are usually a two-piece, but tonight they played with a guitarist, and with Eric Young (set number 2 from him today) on drums. They were on, tearing through an abbreviated set of powerful industrial dance music with teutonic screaming, throbbing beats, strange electronic noises, and squealing guitar. Their set was very noisy and completely different from everything else at the festival. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and noted that even Tracers (who is not into industrial music or electronic music for that matter) found them to be fun. I guess the difference is that most bands who do this type of music are slightly gothy and seem very serious as they scowl from the stage, while Tenth to the Moon look like your average indie rockers (the main keyboardist actually looks like the father of your average indie rocker, but that's beside the point), and they are dancing around on stage smiling and having fun. They don't seem as pompously serious as most bands in their genre, and i applaud them for that. A very fun set.
After Tenth to the Moon tore down their complex electronic set-up, local heroes Magnapop took the stage. I have been into Magnapop for a long time – i bought their first self-titled album after seeing them in 1991 (i was still in college!), and i am very pleased to see that they are performing again. Magnapop are a rock band with a really great guitarist in Ruthie Morris. The current lineup of the band includes the bassist from Luigi, and that makes total sense when you realize that there is a direct causal link between the bands, in that Luigi were influenced by Magnapop.
Anyway, what i like about seeing Magnapop perform is that vocalist Linda Hopper dances around on stage grinning from ear to ear, as if singing in front of people is the most fun she can possibly have. It's infectious, really. And they were really on tonight, even more so than when i saw them a few months back. They played a great set, including a fuzzed out version of Merry from their first album. The crowd really got into this, which is somewhat confusing as most of the people in the audience would have been in grade school in 1991… Oh well, i guess that Magnapop are bigger in the local scene than i had thought. I personally really enjoyed their set tonight, and seeing them do Merry was a personal highlight of the festival for me.
After Magnapop were done, a band called Brass Castle took the side stage. I had never heard of these people before, but they were a three piece playing loud, bluesy rock. Many of their tunes sounded kind of like Led Zeppelin, and although their set dragged a bit in the middle due to sameness, they were not awful.
Meanwhile, the main stage was being re-set for the next batch of bands. Up first was The Sudden Rays, who were called National Dust when they played at last year's Corndogorama. This band is basically 3D5SPD version 2, featuring that band's vocalist/guitarist and bassist, with the afore-mentioned addition of Kevin Wallace on drums. The Sudden Rays play catchy indie pop, and at their best moments play fast and happy like mid-era Superchunk. Enjoyable.
But then it got weird. Local scenester Bill Taft (now calling himself Bile Aft) took the stage with his current project, Hubcap City. Hubcap City have been playing out for many years now, and Bill/Bile never fails to put on a fun show. Basically, he sings strange stories while playing an acoustic guitar through many effects pedals while drummer Will Fratesi clatters away at a wide array of percussion-y things, like chains, pieces of metal, and a drum sitting on the floor. Hubcap City have added an additional guitarist, just to flesh out their sound a little bit. Their music is a celebration of the weirdness in life, and it always seems joyous to me, even though it often makes no sense. Anyway, tonight Bill/Bile and co. were on, putting in a great performance to the bewildered indie rock masses. I hope that Mr. Taft keeps doing this for years to come, he is truly one of the treasures of the Atlanta music scene.
After Hubcap City gathered up their assortment of percussion things on the stage, Day Mars Ray took the stage. I think this band debuted at last years Corndogorama, which is appropriate since band leader Dave Railey is also the person who thought up the idea of having a music festival based on the consumption of fried, battered hot dogs. Anyway, last year, the band was unfocused and quite simply did not live up to their potential. The act consists of Mr. Railey on vocals and guitar along with Eric Young on drums (both of them formerly of American Dream) and the bassist from 3D5SPD/The Sudden Rays. I know that all three are talented, but last year the songs failed to gel for me. Well, apparently since then they have practiced lots, for their set tonight was full of good, rocking pop music. Day Mars Ray now sounds like a stripped down version of American Dream, and that's a good thing really. It's good to have Mr. Railey back in action…
Day Mars Ray ended another group of bands on the main stage, so my attention was diverted to the side stage where local noise makers Deerhunter were performing. Last time i saw them, they were a guitar-laden Spaceman 3 drone/noise rock act. Tonight they performed as a three piece, with a lead vocalist singing through a ton of effects, and two other guys manipulating electronics. This new sound was excellent: catchy and droney. It reminded me a lot of the work of British act A.M.P., or perhaps Beat-era Bowery Electric. Anyway, this was avant-garde trip-hop, and i really like that stuff. I think that they did it well enough, and am excited to see them branch out in a new direction. It will be interesting to see where they go with this.
Meanwhile, the mainstage was set up for two hard rock bands. I guess you might call them emo acts, i'm not quite sure. Anyway, the two bands were The Liverhearts, who rocked out and really got The EARL moving, and Jet By Day, who did likewise. In all honesty, at this point of the evening i had been standing for so long, and had consumed so many beers, that neither band really did anything for me. Neither act really adds anything to the genre, although both do it well enough. The only notable part of either set was when Jet By Day announced that they were going to do a Misfits cover (that will perk me up at pretty much any time). However, they then proceeded to play Your Misery in Hell too slow, so that, rather than sounding like the Misfits' trademark rage, they sounded sludgy. A highly disappointing cover, at least to this Misfits fan.
After they were done, local post-punk heroes The Orphins took the side stage. I love this band, but have not seen them too much lately. Well, tonight they were on, playing a fun version of the crowd pleaser Camp Cryotop, and several new songs that are pretty much in the vein of what they do. This is angular post-punk with a danceable beat supplied by the slippery basslines of Jen Wyrick. A very fun set.
And the perfect end to a long, beer-soaked day. It was just after midnight when i climbed into my car, sobered up but exhausted, for a long drive home. And to bed... What a fun, but long, day.