You might have noticed that EvilSponge has not been doing too many live reviews lately, and when we do we often complain about the ongoing drought in live music. Well, wouldn’t you know it that two great shows got scheduled on the same day.
The Octopus Project announced a tour with a date in Atlanta, and that was exciting. Then Purkinje Shift, a favorite local act, got added to the bill making the show seem even more enticing. So we were all set to head to The Drunken Unicorn… Then Landing announced a tour with an Atlanta data ON THE SAME DAY! Really? What are the odds?
Landing have been one of my favorite acts for a few years now, and so after a brief consideration I decided that I would forgo the group outing to see The Octopus Project and instead head out to see Landing. I knew that if I skipped the Landing show due to a previous commitment, I would regret it.
So after having dinner with Tracers and some others, we parted ways and I headed to Eyedrum.
Except that they have moved. I had no idea. The new Eyedrum location is down MLK from their old location. It is, sadly, in that maze of one way streets with little parking that makes up the blocks just south of Five Points MARTA Station. I hate the one way streets, how they herd you in inconvenient directions. I ended up circling the place three times in half an hour until I found a parking space. Just so you know, the new Eyedrum location is inconvenient in our extremely car-centric city.
And then when you get to the building, it is secured by a locked door. Someone from Eyedrum had to spend the evening outside buzzing people in when they arrived. That seems like a hassle for them.
But the actual space, on the second floor, is pretty nice. When you walk in, there is a large lobby/gallery area, then to the right is a long room with a bar and a stage area near the windows looking out over MLK. To the left is a huge work space, with meeting rooms and tables and a little kitchen area. As a space for artists, I bet it works really well.
Plus, they have space still available....
When I walked in the first act was already "on stage". I put that term in quotes because the “stage” was really just the part of the room defined by the placement of speakers. The "stage" could really have been anywhere – there were no risers or anything that normally delineates such things.
I asked the guy taking money at the door, and he said that this was first act Brainworlds. This was one guy with one of those guitars that doesn’t have a pegboard at the end of the neck. I guess the strings just screw into the top of the neck or something. Is there a name for that type of guitar?
Well, he had one of those as well as a little table full of electronics. He fed the guitar through the electronics, making ambient drone music a la Yellow6, Manual, or Robin Guthrie. This type of thing is right up my alley, and I enjoyed what he was doing. His music was very mellow, the guitar so heavily treated that it was just a faint drone drifting in the air of the gallery. I enjoyed listening for a half hour or so. Most of the people there stood around chatting.
After Brainworlds finished, the lights came up and someone put Fugazi’s Steady Diet of Nothing on the stereo. I thought that was a really weird choice for such a mellow show, but whatever.
I wandered around looking at the art room and just generally checking the place out. Brainworlds was able to take down his gear pretty quickly, and the next act set up. This was Magicicada, a local band who has been around for a few years. I knew nothing about them, only that I had been seeing the name for a while.
Well, tonight they were a three piece. There was a guy with a violin – who tuned by playing along with Fugazi, which was pretty awesome.
How do you play Nice New Outfit on the violin?
There was also a guy with a huge table of electronics and another guy with a saxophone and a cello. Their music, when they started, could best be described as electro string jazz noise.
And yelling, don't forget the yelling!
I remember thinking, “Ugh, when will this end?” So I wandered around looking at art and exploring the space some more. They did a nice job of renovating the building.
I spent most of their set standing at the merch table talking with Adrienne and Aaron Snow while their daughter, who was on tour with them, played a game on her mom’s smart phone.
Magicicada only played for half an hour or so, but with that type of atonal unfocused music, time gets distorted, and it seemed like they played forever.
The next act was playing within fifteen minutes of the end of Magicicada’s set. This was one guy with a keyboard and some electronics.
He called his act Twins, and he created a sort of mellowish electro dance pop. There were interesting drones fading in and out while layered over some fun beats. The music sounded like something that BadOrb would have released last decade. It wasn’t challenging music, but it was very well done. I enjoyed his brief set, and the crowd stood around nodding appreciatively.
Landing's Daron Gardner, as art, during Twins set.
And then, at 12:14, all lights went off and Landing took the stage.
Landing are a three piece these days, the band stripped down to Aaron Snow on guitar and vocals, his wife Adrienne on electronics and vocals, and Daron Gardner on bass. The beats were sequenced and mellow, and this sequencing is what contributes to the 1980s synthpop feel that much of their recent work has had.
But oh, the drones! Aaron kicked things off with distorted guitar echoing, to be joined by Adrienne making electronic noodling sounds, and then Daron’s bass underneath. They meandered for a while, vocal duties traded back and forth between the Snows, although Adrienne’s mic was not loud enough and often her vocals could not be heard.
Adrienne Snow, barely visible in the background there.
As 12:30 the song(s) they were playing shifted, and Daron started thumping away at one of those great slippery bass riffs off of their latest, self-titled LP. The band tore into it, just riffing away. Wonderful.
The shadow of Daron Gardner making a great bass riff.
A few minutes later Aaron stepped on the overdrive and the laptop beats got faster, more spastic, and for a few minutes there Landing played an energetic, almost post-punk, tune.
At 10 minutes to 1 AM (yes, I was keeping track of all of this on my phone) the guitar and bass and electronics all hit a synchronized drone that reminded me a lot of what Auburn Lull used to do. It seemed as if Eyedrum was simply full of this thick, dense sound reverbing off of everything, like I was swimming in it. A beautiful experience.
And then, at just after 1 AM, they started an energetic song of off the last record. I think it was We Lie In Fields, but I am bad at recognizing songs live. It was Aaron singing, his voice lost in a haze of thick beats and Gardner’s bass turned all the way up and fuzzy. The guitar came in, and Landing grooved along to a finish.
They played for about an hour, just playing straight through. But it was wonderful. The music was so dense and rich that I just lost myself in it. And even though it was after 1 AM on a work day (meaning that I had been up for 19 hours by the time the set ended), I was thoroughly happy. I am glad that I went to see Landing, even if it meant forgoing social time.
Since Landing played in total darkness, it was hard to photograph them. Here are the shots i got that i liked.