I'm not really sure when I first became aware
Records and Distribution. I seem to recall going to
an intown warehouse probably 7 years ago and buying vinyl
on a dreary Saturday afternoon in a room filled with teenagers.
But either way, Stickfigure is something of an Atlanta institution
and, to this end, they were responsible for the first three
acts on this evening's bill. Rounding it out were two local
bands who I was eager to see, so it looked like a worthwhile
We got to Lenny's relatively early for a Saturday night,
so I was a bit surprised to find the first act already on the
stage. This was The
Subliminator, who consisted of a single
individual vocalizing over noisy loops and throbbing semi-ambient
sounds. PostLibyan immediately classified the act as "aggressively
weird", and I can't say that I disagree. The Subliminator
recalled to me a more claustrophobic Butthole Surfers (in their
later years), with a healthy dose of techno-noise to boot.
Not really my sort of thing, but I think it was well done for
the genre, such as it is.
After that, I wasn't sure what to expect from Locks, a duo from Chicago that was up next. They set up with one guy doing drums/keys/samples/vocals and the other doing guitar/keys/samples/vocals. Something of strange line-up, I thought, yet when they began to play I liked them. They certainly had a Chicago-esque sound, with a little bit of math/post-rock combining with a fairly strong melodic sensibility. Kinda cool, kinda of noisy, like a somewhat fractured Taking
Pictures or a more acoustic Midstates. In other words, nicely appealing, and a band that I would like to hear more of.
Next up were The
Graboids, a Virginia based band who again were unknown to me previously.
Based on their name, I was thinking they would be punk/post-punk with lots
of screaming vocals; instead I got instrumental drone with a nicely spacey
sound. And it was quite well done. The Graboids successfully managed to create
soundscapes that soared and echoed through Lenny's (I think the low ceiling
helps!), using layers of distortion and pedals to create a distinct mood.
I suspect these guys are relatively young from looking at them, but the music
they create showed lots of skill and texture. And I don't think I was the
only one who was impressed; PostLibyan enjoyed them enough to pick up an
After The Graboids left the stage, the touring portion of the show was over.
The next two bands, Tora Tora Tora and Sleep
Therapy, are local Atlanta acts
who I haven't seen in a good long time, so I was eager to see how they had
fared. Tora Tora Tora was up first, and I have to say I enjoyed them every
bit as much as I had the last time I saw
a partial set by them. They play nice,
early 80s influenced music that is both upbeat and danceable. I know that other
people have compared them to Joy
Division, but I'm not hearing it (outside
of the basswork). Instead, their music is more open and generally lighter than
that; if any thing I think Tora Tora Tora is a less angular brother to Atlanta
band Snowden, who they compliment nicely in a sound sense. Either way, they
are a lot of fun, and watching the crowd bounce and dance around me, I think
the patrons of Lenny's would agree.
The final band of the evening were Sleep Therapy. They are a good, young
band, who I saw numerous times in late 2005. Then due to some work changes
on my part, and a tendency to play weeknights on theirs, I had not seem them
in probably 6 or so months. When they took the stage, though, it was clear
that Sleep Therapy has become a tighter and more cohesive unit in this intervening
time. The guitar interplay has become a little tighter and more intricate,
while the basswork has become more a little more dominant. I still hear the
soaring vocals of John Lally and his lovely tremoloed guitar, but it less central
to the proceedings than it had been in the past. This is a good thing. All
in all, I really like Sleep Therapy's indie pop with a nice side helping of
shoegaze, and I'm glad that their collective voice has become overall stronger.
So, in the end, the combination of Stickfigure Records and local artists did not serve us badly. While The Subliminator was a bit on the odd side, the other two touring bands, despite their wildly varying sounds, were quite good. And it was truly nice to hear a couple of local bands which had improved from their already impressive starting points.