Distro has been a fixture in the Atlanta music scene for many years now. I remember first discovering Stickfigure in the late 90s, when owner and operator Gavin would bring boxes of CDs to set up at shows, operating a little store out of the corner of some club. He always had interesting stuff, and i learned about a lot of interesting bands from him. Since then, Stickfigure has grown into a successful internet merchandiser, as well as a small label. EvilSponge reviews a fair amount of Stickfigure releases and distribution
products, so i went to this show to offer my support and thanks.
The first act was a young African American lady in a flowery dress. She played electric guitar and sang. Her guitar work was light and delicate, and her voice was rich and flowing.
Bow before your Kween, Nerds!
She introduced herself as Nerdkween, a name i have heard around the Atlanta
scene for a few years now, and it was good to finally know what it was all
about. Most of her work was kind of folk-y, except for one rather long piece
she did that consisted of her slowly twisting the dials of several radios while
singing, practically a capella. It showcased her fine voice remarkably well,
and made her into something a little weirder than just a folk act. Overall,
i really enjoyed seeing her play. Nerdkween makes some pretty music, and i
would go see her again.
Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse after that. The next artist was also a solo performer, this time a heavily tattooed bearded guy playing an odd looking,
multi-stringed cello. He proceeded to play ... noise. He beat on the instrument, hit the strings with metal sticks, sawed at it a-rhythmically with a bow, and generally made a ruckus. He was grinning from ear to ear the whole time, apparently having a blast.
Killick: should you really do that to a custom cello?
After one 10 minute "song" he introduced himself as Killick, from Athens. He claimed to be an "abstractionist", which i will take to be a new term to mean "people who make irritating noise with a musical instrument." The
instrument was something he designed, and he said the name of the thing but
i was unable to catch what he said, as he had no vocal mic and so was sort
of yelling into the crowd.
Then he played another 10 minute-piece that was pretty much the same series of noises, although i guess they were in a different pattern. Finally he thanked us for indulging him, which was nice of him, and he indicated that he was selling his record at the show, which was a cover of Slayer's Reign In Blood album done on this instrument. How very odd. I am almost curious to see what he would do with Slayer.... not that curious though.
After he was done, yet another one person act set up. This was The Subliminator, a
long-haired guy all in black, with big boots, who has 4 of those synthesizer pod things.
He plays those, programs beats, and recites what is essentially beat poetry. Some of his wordplay is rather clever, and i have to admit that he makes some pretty cool synthpop with the pods. He was far more entertaining than the previous act, and really wasn't that bad on this evening, if you can take the poetry and synth pop thing.
The Subliminator, apparently subliminating live, in real time.
Gavin asked him to cut his set a little short, as the hour was already running towards midnight and 2 acts were left. After The Subliminator cleared out, EvilSponge favorites Envie took the stage. Envie have become kind of a local supergroup at this point. It is mostly the project of Renee Nelson, who was in American Dream way back when, but joining her are Rich from Black
Love, and the guitarist and drummer of Tenth
to the Moon. There is a lot of Atlanta indie scene history on the stage with Envie.
Renee Nelson in mid note grimace.
They rocked out tonight. I guess it was a relief to finally see real drumming. It seemed that the drummer, who i know was far less than impressed with Killick, played a little extra angrily. They kicked off their set with Still Room, and then played two new songs that i was not familiar with. Both of the new songs sounded great, the second of which being particularly epic, with some fine keyboard work from Nelson.
Finally, Envie ended their set with two more tunes off of their debut record, and despite some technical issues (something was wrong with the mic-ing of the keyboard) they persevered admirably. I thought the put on a fun, but short set. Envie are one of our more interesting bands, and i will continue to urge people to check them out.
Drummers are very hard to photograph, but i think that this image of
current drummer turned out rather well.
Finally, we got to the headliner, One Hand Loves The Other. This is an odd soul /
electronica / chamber music fusion band. I really enjoyed their debut CD form last year, mostly because the combinations of sounds that they are using comes across as very fresh and modern. I also enjoyed their set at The Other Sound Festival last year, so i was curious to see what they would do tonight.
One hand might love the other, but they both love the microphone.
Well, they played off of their CD. In fact, the songs as performed live are not all that different from what is on the
record. I guess this is due to the fact that the rhythm and many of the other sounds are programmed. That doesn't leave a lot of room for improvisation. Still, the crowd seems to get into them, and they are doing something that is both interesting and different, so i approve. I was disappointed to not hear any new songs, though. It's been a while, and i hope that they do not fall into the trap that so many Atlanta bands have of just coasting and not continuing to create. I guess time will tell.
Cello: serious business.
Overall, this was a decent night. Stickfigure promotes some forward thinking music, and i applaud Gavin for that. Heck, i think it was great that he gave a precious concert slot to Killick, knowing full well that very few people would ever get into it. Sometimes, you need the really weird stuff to help put everything into perspective.