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  Other Sound 2007 - Day 4  


  The 11:11 Teahouse  

Inman Park, Atlanta, GA


Chickens and Pigs, Batata Doce, Tenth to the Moon, Untied States

Reviewed by:
  Tracers and PostLibyan  
Photographs by:



This was a weird night. It was more of a house party than a show.

In fact, it even took place at someone's house, apparently. The 11:11 Teahouse is a house that has the front few rooms vaguely converted into an establishment. By vaguely i mean that there are several couches and chairs strewn about, a small stage in one corner of the room, many shelves full of huge jars of types of tea, and an industrial sink for washing masses of dishes. There are many things this supposed establishment did not appear to have, such as any real staff (i guess the one girl who lives there sort of serves as such), a cash register (so how, exactly, does this place make money?), and, oddly enough, actual brewed tea. No, really -- i was there for 3 hours and asked twice before actual tea was made. At a Tea House no less! I honestly have no idea how this place expects to function as a business. But that's somebody else's problem, really.


This was my first excursion to the 11:11 Teahouse, which was an awkward establishment for music. First off, it was a more than a little stuffy, and little crowded with furniture and art. I felt like I was in someone's house and shouldn't touch anything, which makes it hard to relax and enjoy a show. Of course, I believe some of this discomfort came when several people actually bumped into walls, touching the art, and the artist immediately appeared and removed the paintings from the premises. Certainly, that made me feel like keeping my elbows in.


There was no real organization tonight. At 7 PM Chickens and Pigs, the first act of the evening, were not even all in attendance yet. But that's okay, because no one had brought microphones either, so we were forced to sit there and wait. Fortunately lead Chicken and Pig Jeff Evans is a naturally goofy, friendly person. He sauntered around the stage, offering beer to friends, making jokes, telling silly stories. He made it a really relaxed time.


Apparently, based on Jeff Evans's commentary, strange acts of disorganization and Chickens and Pigs go hand in hand. And thinking back over the years I've seen him perform, I believe he's absolutely correct. Certainly, back when they played Sunday at Corndog, things got off to a late start. So, I probably shouldn't have been too surprised that it took a while to assemble the necessary ingredients for a PA at The Teahouse. And then, once they had the PA together, Evan's microphone kept cutting out whenever he tried to say the word "Douchebag". This was rather funny, even if it delayed the set a bit more.


Mics and C&P bassist Tracy Clark arrived and set up, and they started playing at 7:45. They were playing without a drummer tonight, and that made them seem sloppier than usual. Basically this is a comic blues act, with old fashioned chording, a general looseness to the song structures, and silly lyrics. They played the appropriate Sunday Beer, and got The Teahouse singing along. And they did a sad song told from the point of Evans dog, who was apparently lost for a few weeks.

Chicken and Pigs, in a teahouse!


One of my favorites Chickens and Pigs songs is called Burmese Mouth, and is apparently about a cat. Or at least that's what I gathered from the story Evans told before he began to sing it. When you add that one to the sad dog song (which was truly sad), it seems that a lot of his songs are about animals, which I guess is appropriate for a band called Chickens and Pigs. Nevertheless, I enjoy Evans's humor and song-writing. If anything he reminds me of a more laid back, less just plain weird Bill Taft in the way that he combines his songs and stories into one entertaining whole.


They played for about half an hour, and were generally enjoyable. Not challenging and certainly not an earth-shaking band by any stretch of the imagination, but fun.

However, it was the intermission that proved to be troublesome to me. So there we were, sitting in this house, not drinking tea, and watching a party happen. I don't fit in at parties, and this event only served to remind me of that. I felt like the impartial observer, watching mayhem and stupidity occur around me. For example, there was this artist there who calls himself Gutterpop, and he made all of these paintings that depict John Oates (of Hall and Oates fame) and say "John Oates Will Fucking Kill You". Okay. Well, in a sense i guess either of two things are occurring here: either he is a huge John Oates fan, or this is some elaborate joke that i don't quite get.


Oh yeah, Gutterpop. That was the guy who kept removing the art! Did I mention it was uncomfortable when he kept coming around to take the art away whenever anyone knocked something? I realize that the paintings were for sale, and he probably just didn't want them to get damaged. But, from what I could see (from a distance!), they were on wood, which isn't the most fragile of mediums. Trust me. My house is filled with paintings like that. And with my climbing cat, there are occasional scratches and falls, which haven't damaged anything. Besides, I at least want people to feel at home, and not like they're in a museum.


It gets weirder. At one point the drummer from Chickens and Pigs comes up to Gutterpop. (The drummer did not perform, but he was there.) And he starts going on and on about John Oates and how he was the underrated genius of the two. After all, Darryl Hall is just a soul singer from Philly. He delivered a detailed diatribe, even pointing out which album pics Gutterpop chose to paint from, and which of those Mr. Oates apparently disliked.

And so, after listening to this for a while, Gutterpop says, "I guess I don't know much about the man...." What? You make paintings mocking someone, and you are not even really familiar with that person's body of work? If i were John Oates, i would be more offended at the ignorance than the co-opting of my iconic status! But that's just me. Maybe John Oates is above all of this. Or maybe he will just try to f*cking kill Gutterpop. Who can tell? Anyway, The John Oates Fan was oblivious to Gutterpop's comment, and keeps going on and on.

This situation is weird to me for two reasons:

  1. Why make art involving some faded celebrity like this unless you either hate his work and want to mock him terribly, or are a huge fan and are doing this as a tribute?
  2. There is a guy who is a huge John Oates fan, enough to discuss the intricacies of his career.

It was this event in particular that reminded me that i do not understand human beings. Parties are full of these types of exchanges. I often listen to these events and think, "No one is really able to communicate at all, are they?" Obviously something important was NOT being said there, and i honestly have no clue what it might be. This is why i tend to drink too much at parties. However, i was at a Tea House that did not serve beer and, at this point, didn't even have tea!

Eventually, Gutterpop wandered outside, followed by John Oates' Number One Fan. I think Gutterpop was trying to free himself from the conversation by going to have a cigarette, but fanboy followed him outside, still gushing on his favorite topic.


While PostLibyan was having the existential party crisis above, I had plopped in a chair in the corner, near the open door. It was stuffy inside, and as we have mentioned there was no tea. So I spent the delay with the following mental conversation: "Should I go to the grocery store tomorrow? Or Target? I wonder if Target would have a step stool? Oh yeah, and I'm certain I'm out of light bulbs. And Toilet Paper! No, I have toilet paper, so I should be fine there. Hmmm…..why is PostLibyan looking that way? I bet he wants something to drink. I know I could use a soda. Is there time to go to the store? Nah…beside I'd have to give up this perfectly comfortable chair, and God only knows if I could get it back…." And so on.


And then an odd thing happened on stage: Justin Hughes (ex Rock-a-Teens) set up his guitar on one end of the stage and Justin Sias from Elevado set up his bass on the other end. Between them was another guitarist and a drummer, and, eventually, a petite frizzy-haired Brazillian girl. They started to play and did music that was loungey, then country, then tangoish, apparently mocking a Creative Loafing review that described them as Latin Appalachian Lounge music. (Huh? What the heck are the peeps at CL smoking these days?)

They started to play around 8:30, and people started to dance. I have to admit that the rather petite vocalist had a HUGE voice for such a small frame. She could really belt it out. And she sounded pretty good too. The band was decent, but to be honest what they were playing can easily be classified as Jam Rock. Batata Doce would go over well at a Ratdog Show. Or opening for Trey Anastasio. Or at Bonaroo. Etc

"Sweet Potato" is what Batata Doce means in Brazillian.

I hate that shit. I hate the meandering pointlessness of the tunes. I hate the irritating hippy swaying dance that the fans do. I hate the rhythms that statically move in place, just short of doing anything interesting, but moving along all the same. In all honesty this music makes me want to punch someone. To grab a (poorly utilized) guitar off of one of the unsuspecting jamming musicians and start beating people with it while screaming, "Ian Curtis did not die for you to do this CRAP! Use your imaginations you robots!"

That said, their music wasn't really that bad, and i can see how some people (i.e., stinking hippies) might enjoy it. Not me though. And kindly keep your patchouli to yourself, 'kay? I sat there for three songs that seemed like an eternity, silently wondering "Where the hell is Colin Newman when i need him?", and then i couldn't take it anymore. All of the dancing hippies made it stuffy inside, so i went to sit on the patio. Being muffled by the windows didn't help their songs to have any more structure, but it did make them quieter, and at least it wasn't stuffy.

They seemed to play a long time. I think it was really only 45 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. It shows like this that prove that Einstein was right: time truly is relative.


Batata Doce were one of those bands that I completely misread. Once they started to play, I was absolutely and completely certain that PostLibyan would love them. I mean their meandering wasn't really my thing, but the odd combination of country-esque guitar, Latin rhythms, and the amazingly funky basswork of Sias seemed just like something PostLibyan might enjoy. In my case, the sound mix (such as it was) was driving me insane. The guitar and bass kept feedback horrifically and occasionally one of the vocal parts would fall out of line. Fundamentally, it seemed like the band was simply playing too loud for the confined space and limited amplification provided by the home-grown PA. I wanted to say, "O.K., everyone. Let's all turn down by half, and then it might not keep feeding back." Instead, I gave up my coveted chair and went outside where not surprisingly, I could hear everything rather clearly without resorting to earplugs.

It was about this time that PostLibyan and I couldn't cope anymore and we decided to find some damn tea or at least, possibly, brew our own. Luckily, he located someone who may or may not have been in charge. With the promise of fresh tea soon, I located that comfy chair and waited…


Fortunately immediately after Batate Doce cleareed out, Tenth to the Moon were to play. I moved back inside to watch them set up. They have a lot of electronic gear and i am always curious to see how it gets wired. At one point Mitch Foy, the as-yet-unpainted vocalist, turned to Doug Hughes, the keyboardist and wiring expert of the band and asked, "Do you think we should sound check?" Hughes shrugged. "Couldn't hurt." So they started testing noise levels. All loud, but i wouldn't want it any other way.


Tenth to the Moon, being the professionals they are, brought part of their own vocal PA. This helped their set up tremendously, as they were able to control their volume (Loud) and their feedback (non-existent) in way that eluded every other band on this evening. Still, I had to laugh at the "Couldn't hurt" crack, as it pretty much summed up my feelings about the sound quality inside.


And then, after a few more minutes during which Foy painted his face with some kind of white paint, they started to play. Stripped down to bass, drums, vocals, and electronics, Tenth to the Moon are gothier. Not the cartoon goth of the modern world, but the angry, loud, dark goth of the early 80s: Bauhaus and Front 242 collaborating.

Hey Poor -- you don't have to be UNDEAD UNDEAD UNDEAD.

It was glorious: loud, fast, chaotic, screaming, clanging, clattering, bass riff heavy, keyboard melody driven, beautiful noise. Foy hurled pieces of metal around, jumped about screaming, and caused a ruckus. In the background the rhythm section tried desperately to destroy their instruments, while Hughes added electronic noodling on top of it all.


Tenth to the Moon made the entire evening worth, in my not so humble opinion. On the surface, their music seemed chaotic and dark, but underneath it was quite beautiful, like being stuck inside a musical maelstrom with the sounds swirling about you, buffeting you so that you have to struggle to withstand the waves. and, by this time, we had in fact acquired tea, which certainly helped my mood out. Definitely this was a first…standing inside a house, listening to this deeply intense music, with a little fragile china cup of hot herbal tea in my hand. Somehow, it seemed appropriate.


And yet ... somehow Tenth to the Moon came across as very melodic. Sure the bassist was trying very hard to sound like David J circa Burning From the Inside while the drummer channeled Animal (drummer in The Electric Mayhem), but there was an inescapable catchiness. I couldn't help but tap my feet and nod my head along with what they were doing. Brilliant!

Tenth to the Moon decided to end the set with a performance art piece guaranteed to get them banned from the Tea House forever. Foy lay on the ground twitching while the rest of the band thumped away, and someone else rolled over Foy with a paint roller soaked in red paint.

It's okay -- they brought their own carpeting for this performance.

Then he went and jumped around a bit, ran outside through the crowd gathered on the patio, and hurled himself at the bay windows of the Tea House, leaving a red body splotch on the outside of the building. Guaranteed to confuse everyone else, but silly nonetheless.

Water-soluable body smear on the outside of the teahouse.


Ah yes, I believe that "someone else" was in fact the near ubiquitous Gutterpop. When the "painting the lead singer" went down, I stood there with my mouth open, and then began to grin manically at just the sheer audacity and weirdness of the action. And I think I actually laughed when Foy ran outside and then back in, followed by someone else who explained to anyone in the way, "It's o.k.! The paint's water-soluble!" What other band in Atlanta would do that? And be considerate enough to make sure the paint would come off? Man, I love Tenth to the Moon.


I don't think that they played for more than 40 minutes, but damn that was a brilliant set. Sure, the red paint thing was funny, but musically the band was tight. Very enjoyable.

Tenth to the Moon tore down their electronics quickly, and Untied States hurriedly set up. You see, it was already after 10, which is when they were supposed to go on, and the parents of drummer Erin Sabatini (not sure if i heard that last name right!) had driven up from Mobile just to see her play at a reasonable hour. I got the impression they hoped to drive back to coastal Alabama after the show, and things running late was not helping.

The rest of Untied States seemed annoyed as well. Maybe they didn't think ahead and get Monday off of work, like EvilSponge did. (Brendan's First Rule of Covering Festivals: never expect things to run on time.)

At 10:45, one of the guitarists uttered a frustrated "Let's do it!", and suddenly the band tore into it. Unfortunately the guitarist in question was not, at that time, plugged in, so the first few songs seemed weird. The music of Untied States is really based on the dynamic interplay of the two guitars, so without one of them, it didn't really work at all. Eventually he figured that out, and they sounded better.


When Untied States finally shrugged and began, my first impression was they were loud tonight. Or rather, they were freaking LOUD. I had in earplugs and they were still loud. When a band is that loud, it becomes hard to actual enjoy the music, as the sound becomes a morass of volume in which you can't pick out any intricacies or nuance. In fact, they were so durn loud, I didn't even notice that one of the guitars wasn't plugged in until PostLibyan told me. Realizing I was fighting a losing battle, I quickly stepped outside, where the band was still rather audible, but at least it was cooler and my eardrums weren't in imminent danger of explosion.


I have seen Untied States many times over the past few years. I enjoy their math-rock a lot more than Tracers does. However, recently (as in, since March) the band has been rebuilt -- stripped down to the two guitarists, and then with all new members added in. They seem to be trying to write songs that have more emphasis on the Rock than on the Math, and some of them sounded okay. However, it was their older tunes that really sounded great tonight. The new band is tight, and i have to admit that Ms. Sabatini is a pretty good drummer, providing a metronomic beat that the guitars can duel over top of.

Untied States in the late darkness at the teahouse.

I think that their frustration at the delays made them a little edgier tonight, and i found this performance a lot more engaging than the one they did at Corndogorama a month back.


From my vantage point outside, I could actually appreciate what Untied States were trying to do. It was still a little muddy, and I couldn't hear the vocals at all. Yet I could hear the strong drumming and effected guitars, which seemed like they might be trying out something new and not as noodley. Still, I had a little bit of fear for the structural integrity of the teahouse at this point. From where I stood, I could see all the windows and supports of the building vibrate and groan under the pressure from those sound waves. And I wasn't entirely sure if building could stand too much more. But, by this time I was getting way tired, and it was way later than I had anticipated. So I was happy to go home when we did.


Untied States were a good end to the festival. On the whole i had a good time at The Other Sound. But after they were done, i was more than ready to go home and to bed.

Related Links:

Read the entire Other Sound 2007 review:
    Day 1 featuring: Envie, Mary O. Harrison, Pistolero, Moresight
    Day 2 featuring: Fernandina, Citified, The Yum Yum Tree, The Press, Lay Down Mains, All Night Drug Prowling Wolves
    Day 3 featuring: No Disassemble, Silent Kids, Novelift, Jupiter Watts, The Orphins, One Hand Loves the Other, Club Awesome, Luigi
    Day 4 featuring: Chickens and Pigs, Batata Doce, Tenth to the Moon, and Untied States

Band Links:
  Chickens and Pigs MySpace:
  Batata Doce MySpace:
  Tenth to the Moon MySpace:
  Untied States Website:
  Untied States MySpace:
  11:11 Teahouse MySpace:

In addition, some of these acts have been reviewed before. Links within the review point you to the appropriate places.


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