I miss The Echo Lounge. I saw so many good shows here, from the first time i wandered in to see The Dismemberment Plan, to local acts galore (Myssouri, American Dream, Sharks and Minnows), to that first revelatory Wire show. This place holds a lot of memories for me, so i was very curious to finally see a show in the re-opened space.
The East Atlanta Ice House is more of a heavy metal venue, while The Echo Lounge was a great indie rock club. Now the space is far cleaner than i remember it, meaning either that metal heads are cleaner than indie rockers or that the space just hasn't had the time to get graffitied and dirtied up. Also, they laid hardwood flooring (looks like bamboo planking) over the harsh floor of yesteryear, and painted the club walls a pale bluish gray color. The Echo Lounge had concrete floors and black painted walls, and we indie rockers liked it! Not like your wussy metalheads who need delicate hard wood, and soft wall colors…
Okay, i kid. The new owners did a fine job of cleaning up the space. The new wall colors and light flooring make the space feel smaller, and cozier. The bar is still in the same place though, meaning that it is still a hassle to get to the restrooms. I wish they had somehow re-designed that… Oh well.
Anyway, i was here to see The Sun and the Moon, yet another ex-Chameleons project from Mark Burgess. He sure does seem to play Atlanta a lot. This is the third time i have seen him in the past 6 years, while friends i have in New Jersey complain about him never playing up there. Score one for being a Delta hub!
I have never heard The Sun and The Moon, an act which released one EP and one LP in the late 1980s. These two releases are out of print, and i stood chatting with other fans before the show, we realized that among the four of us, only one of us had heard anything by the band, and that was on a burned CD of the EP. None of us owned the originals, and we were fans and collector geeks! Therefore, it is very strange that this act should perform.
There was a small crowd, but they were enthusiastic. Some of the people seemed to be Chameleons fans (many Chameleons 2002 reunion tour t-shirts were dusted off for this night), and a few even knew the songs that were played.
But i'm getting ahead of myself. There were two opening acts.
The first of these took the stage just before 10. They were a four-piece, with hair and outfits that didn’t make it out of the 1980s alive. Where do people with these retro hairstyles work during the day? Why don't i even run into such people?
You can tell they play 80s style music because of the scarf!
The band was called Misfortune500, which is a clever enough name. They said they were from Athens and seemed to play moody guitar based post-punk. However, the mix on this band was atrocious! I could barely hear the guitars, and the bass was so loud that it overpowered everything, including the vocals. And, to be honest, i think the bassist was chosen more for the tight pants she wears on stage than for her skill with the bass guitar, so her loudness was not exactly welcomed.
I think the problem is that the two guitarists had rather smallish amps. The East Atlanta Ice House is a heavy metal club, and metal dudes play through HUGE amplifiers. I think that the sound guy just mixed the band expecting that the crowd would hear the guitar amps. Only, we couldn't because they weren't massive. I think that this poor mix pretty much ruined what might otherwise have been an enjoyable performance. The band seemed to know what they were doing, and if i strained to listen under the overpowering bass, what they were doing sounded interesting.
The Misfortunate drummer.
They played a 40-minute set that included a surprisingly good "sensitive ballad", which shined because the bass was minimal, and i could hear the delicate guitar interplay better. They also covered the old Chameleons song Paper Tigers, and this really got the crowd going.
Still, i think they could have sounded better. Maybe they will make the trek down from Athens again sometime, and i can see them in a place that mixes them right.
Misfortune500 geared out rather quickly and the next band took the stage. They are Averkiou, pronounced "av-er-QUE". This is a Gainesville, Florida act that has just released a debut CD on Clairecords. They are a four-piece band, and they played a short (35 minute) set of sunshiney Floridian shoegaze.
Averkiou in action.
The guitars chimed in layers, with the lead guitar emulating J. Mascis, while the other guitar was echoed and chorused like something from my favorite Floridian shoegaze act, Isobella. The bass was loud here too, but the guitarists had significant amps, so the sound mix was adequate. The bass really drove the band along.
Averkiou is apparenlty Floridian for "rubber ducky on a drum stand."
They weren't exactly breaking any new ground, but i really enjoyed what i heard. The band has fine skills, and if you enjoy loud distorted guitar rock, then you should check them out. Hopefully they will make it back here sometime soon.
Finally, just before midnight, The Sun and the Moon took the stage. Mr. Burgess perched on a stool at stage right and played bass while singing, while ex-Chameleons drummer John Lever kept the time, and two guitarists both named Andy created a respectable wall of guitar sound.
Mark Burgess doesn't have a brassneck...
Tonight, Mr. Burgess's vocals reminded me a lot of the singing of David Gedge. Granted, i had seen the Gedge just a few weeks before, so maybe it was just the recentness that caused this comparison to jump to mind, or perhaps it is just that they are both mature Englishmen with a penchant for clever wordplay. I guess that their accents are kind of similar, at least to a Southern transplant like myself.
Mr. Burgess in profile.
They played for over an hour, touching, i suppose, the highlights off of their brief recorded output. Several people in the crowd seemed to react favorably to the song selection, while the rest of us just reveled in the lovely voice and chiming guitars. I thought the show was fun.
The shorter of the two Andys.
Tall Andy glares at me as i photograph him.
One song that stood out to me was where the taller of the two Andys picked up an acoustic guitar, and they played a song that can only be described as Felt-like. It had that chiming, cascading sound that Maurice Deebank era Felt had. Really lovely.
John Lever on drums.
The final song of their set build an impressive groove, Burgess really hammering at the bass while the Andys built up an massive drone with their guitars.
The band left the stage just long enough to use the restroom and grab a quick drink of water. And for Burgess to grab a cigarette. He came back on holding it and asked for people to not film him smoking as "My wife will kill me if she sees this". Too funny.
The first song of the encore was called Dead and was composed by drummer John Lever for his project, Black Swan Lane. They were actually handing out free copies of the 2007 Black Swan Lane CD at the door tonight, so this was an interesting overlap. (Please remember that The Sun and the Moon's releases are still out of print and un-heard by the majority of people who were at the show.) This was an interesting enough tune.
Next Misfortune500 joined the band on stage for a cover of the old Chameleons tune Don't Fall. This was a messy affair, with lots of guitars on stage. Everyone seemed to have a blast playing it, and the crowd reacted very favorably as well.
Burgess and the Misfortunate scarf wearer duet.
All in all, this was a fun night. I continue to be impressed by Mr. Burgess's work. I wonder when he will be back in Atlanta next time. I suppose that i should make some effort to track down more of his releases. This is the third show that i have enjoyed by him, and yet i still only own one Chameleons CD. Well, the next time he comes back i will be better prepared!