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  Drive Invasion 2004  
  Saturday.4.September.2004 and Sunday.5.September.2004  
  Starlight Six Drive In  
  Atlanta, GA  
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If you like your wheels flashy, your cult movies so large and tacky John Waters would squeal with delight and your music drenched with rockabilly attitude, then the Drive Invasion was the place to spend the Labor Day weekend in Atlanta. Held at the historic, yet charmingly dilapidated, Starlight Drive-In on Moreland Avenue, this festival pays homage to all that is truly BADASSS! There were plenty of tricked-out hot rods, beefy bikes, dainty vintage Vespa scooters, and of course, vast quantities of PBR.

Now in its fifth year, the Drive Invasion was a triumph over last year with a greater focus on diverse music and themes for each day of the festival. Plus, the addition of overnight camping made this festival more likely to attract people outside the Atlanta metro area. And hey-what's more romantic than tent sex on hot, sticky asphalt? Furthermore, trash-movie baron Joe (von) Bob Briggs was the MC for the weekend, introducing bands and flicks while still chatting with fans about films of all sorts, and spinning yarns about celebrity-hobnobbing and his early reporting days back in East Texas. Great stuff!

After a kick-off party at The Echo Lounge on Friday, the events went into full-swing on Saturday afternoon. Band highlights included The Bo-Keys, a funk/R & B fusion group featuring the gravely lead vocals of Scott Bomar, who shook things up with their neo-Soul revival in the vein of The Dirtbombs from Detroit. While less garage and more like Stax/Booker T. & the MG's, they created a great vibe and friendly atmosphere in which to mingle and share a drink with new-found friends. Many of the other bands like Jimmy & The Teasers and Rock City Dropouts focused on the heavy side. But closers Deke Dickerson & the Ecco-Fonics energized the crowd with a Gene Vincent spirit.

The Bo-Keys

The Cogburns

Rocket 350

Sunday was truly the best day of music. Local bands like The Cogburns and Rocket 350 took things from rock to raucous. The Cogburns put on a great set, but Rocket 350's true-to-form rockabilly stylings in a Buddy Holly-vein and stand-up bass string-slapping foreplay really drove 'em wild. Tiger! Tiger!, (not a tribute band to poet William Blake as I found out) was a nice addition, reminiscent of local favs The Close. The Doll Girls spiced things up with between set burlesque shows, stirring hoots and howls from the most depraved of men (AND women) as they peeled off furry bikinis.
In contrast, Artimus Pyledriver drove me first to the car, then to Kroger for a beer and chicken re-fuel. And either my muffler was dragging behind me…or I could still hear the band all the way down Moreland Avenue. But the highlight was Tijuana Hercules, who came all the way from Chicago. They literally tore things up with grinding guitar and pulsing percussion from both skins and coffee cans. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then check them out next time they're in your neck of the woods.
Tijuana Hercules
      Music aside, devoting a day each to hot rods and cool bikes really helped show the unique aspects of each culture. On Saturday, hot rod car club The Atlanta Road Kings handed out awards for cars which attendees picked as their favorites. The Best Custom award went to the Re-Animator, a big pink…well, I don't know what kind of car it was…but it was old and pink! According to Josh of the ARKs, the selection of cars at this year's festival was the most diverse so far. "In the beginning, we mostly got newer cars-from the 60s and 70s," he commented. "But each year we see more truly classic and vintage cars showing up." The ARKs' goal is to keep getting cars from further and further away to add to the diversity (the farthest car I know of came from South Carolina). The highlight of that day was the Burn-Out Contest. Drivers flexed their mechanical johnsons by tearing-ass up the inclined exit ramp to see who could melt their Goodyears' the quickest. Smoke was everywhere, and it was a sight to behold.  
      The Re-animator  

Things were more low-key with the bike and scooter crowds on Sunday. People on hogs, as well as restored Vespa and Lambretta scooters (my favorite) were more about chatting and exchanging numbers for spare parts than machismo. But, it was still fun.

On the cinema scene, Saturday's eclectic choice of movies was less than stellar. After seeing true cult classics like Blood Feast and 2000 Maniacs last year which were based around a common theme of banned, early controversial horror, this year's picks like Repo Man, and 13 Ghosts were an ill-prepared and boring laundry list of "what's trashy AND cult." An aimless teenage stoner sent into the video store could've picked better.

Still, Repo Man was good as always, and 13 Ghosts with its cute Illusion-O 3D glasses were great fun-for those under 12. But despite this harsh criticism, Sunday night's focus on classic cinema of the young, wild and rebellious (The Wild Angels, The Wild Ones, Easy Rider, and Knightriders) more than made up for Saturday. Continuity works. I hope they keep this in mind next year.

All in all, my second visit to Drive Invasion exceeded my expectations. And while the focus is shifting more towards promoting and celebrating a culture and a way of life with a great, diverse soundtrack, the movies may just have to lag behind as a consequence. It's still always a great way to relax and hear some great sounds over Labor Day Weekend. Can't wait till next year!

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