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  Corndogorama 2008 - Day 2  


  Lenny's Bar  

Old Fourth Ward, Atlanta, GA


Volcanizm, Twin Tigers, Graboids, Spy for Hire, Antic Clay and the Last Holy Train, Magnapop, Chump, Hollyfaith, and James Hall

Reviewed by:
  PostLibyan and Tracers  
Photographs by:



Day 2 of Corndog, Friday, is when things really get rolling. We showed up at 5:30, but bands had been playing for a few hours at that point. There were not a lot of people there, but things were slowly building.

When we got inside there was a power rock trio performing on the side stage. They had a beefy black guy on guitar and voice, a stick thin girl thumping the bass, and a long haired drummer dude. According to the schedule they were called Volcanizm. I can only presume that this is correct, as the band never introducedthemselves to the crowd.

The highly talented guitarist in Volcanizm.

Volcanizm had some good songs, but their tendency was toshow off virtuoso skill rather than songwriting cohesion. That said, their guitarist is very talented, and it was a pleasure to watch him play. On the whole though, i want something more than just raw skill from a band. I like artists to be trying to say something, and sadly all that Volcanizm were saying was, "I know how to play guitar". Still, there are worse bands.

At 6 PM Up on the main stage was one of the bands i was interested in, Twin Tigers, who were recommended by Inspector Jason. This is an Athenian 4-piece that maintains gender parity by having a female rhythm section. The two male guitarist played with a lot of pedals, which is a big plus in my book.

The female bassist of Twin Tigers looks askance at the guitarist/vocalist. 
I wonder what line he sang wrong?

The band played a sort of shoegazer meets new wave kind of rock, heavy on the distorted guitar riffs and the rhythms. The drummer, a tiny swarthy girl, really pounded that kit. Why is it that small women often make good drummers? Is it that they feel they have more to prove, so they try harder? This is something i wonder about, but here the effect was lovely. The pounding drums drove the songs along, and the bass added a nice deep riffing under the soaring, echoing guitars. In a way, they reminded me of I Love You But I Have Chosen Darkness, perhaps not as moody and dark new wave as that Austinian act, but similar in general tone.

Twin Tigers guitarist/vocalist.


Like PostLibyan, I was interested in seeing Twin Tigers, albeit for a different reason. You see, Twin Tigers were formed by the one of the guys in Psychic Hearts, a band which I really enjoyed live. Twin Tigers weren't as sheerly loud or frenetic as that earlier band, but in the end that didn't matter. Instead, I really liked the layered guitars whose effects invoked musical claustrophobia which reminded me a bit of The Jesus and Mary Chain. I could definitely see why folks had recommended them, and I was quite happy with their set.

Twin Tigers in action.


Once again, Inspector Jason has provided a good recommendation. I would love to see these kids make the long drive down 316 to play a full set sometime. Hopefully they will.

After the short Twin Tigers set, another band i was interested in took the main stage, EvilSponge favorites, the Charlottesville-based post-rock meets metal band Graboids. We reviewed them back in January when they played Lenny's, and it was good to get to see them twice within one year. This time they had a different lineup. The bassist and second guitarist are gone, to be replaced by a tobacco-chewing bassist in a Soviet military hat a t-shirt that had "What Would Jesus Do About The Graboids?" written on it in Sharpie. The principal guitarist and drummer were the same.

The new bassist in Graboids.

The drummer of Graboids.  (Not new.)

This new stripped down Graboids is more post-rock than metal. I guess that without the two guitar interplay their songs are, naturally, more minimal. They did two songs tonight, starting with Weapons of Mass Distraction, their epic tune off of their debut full-length, Infinite Delay. This is a great song that builds slowly to guitar fury, but without the second guitarist the guitar buildup was more ponderous.

I am not surprised to see the Graboids guitarist in a Spaceman 3 shirt!

Graboids got pedals.

I thought that they came across very well on stage, but now they sound less heavy metal and more like the dozens of other post-rock acts crossing this country at any given time. I admit to being slightly disappointed. Graboids with 2 guitars was something special and different. Graboids with one guitar is like so many other bands.

  PostLibyan hit this one dead on: Graboids have changed their sound with the reduction of members. I, however, really enjoyed the relatively minimalism of their set. I know it is reminiscent of any number of post-rocks acts, but the things is most of those acts have branched out and become more eclectic in their tunes. Therefore, it was nice to hear a group strip it down and get back to their musical roots with slowly built musical tension that breaks like a wave in appropriate points. Honestly, I think this set by Graboids was one of the most enjoyable I've ever heard, even if their music wasn't as unique as before. Finally, it was only at this show that I realized they were from Virginia; for some reason, I always though of them as being from Alabama. Who knew?  

Still, they put on an interesting set, and i was very pleased to see them. I wonder what the future will hold for Graboids? I guess i will have to wait and see.

Up next on the main stage was Spy For Hire. I was not familiar with this band before, for the simple reason that they are from Columbus, GA and so are not truly local. This is a 4-piece band that plays radio-friendly pop rock a la Gin Blossoms, or perhaps Coldplay. Their singer has a very good voice that is nicely rich and rather expressive, but i felt that he hammed it up a bit too much on stage. I guess that people like to see the unnecessary facial contortions of a singer, but i find it distracting. Then again, the vocalist was the only one with any stage presence -- the other band members stood there unenergetically performing. Overall, i guess they were a mixed bag.

One of the nicer guitars at the 'Rama.  This one was played by Soy For Hire's vocalist.


We saw Spy for Hire at last year's Cornodog; they played between Judi Chicago and The Winter Sounds, which is probably why they didn't register as they ought. On this night, it was a bit easier to determine that the band was very listener friendly, as was the lead vocalist. To my ears, he had a particularly resonant sound, one that had more in common with certain new wave vocalists (think Rick Astley, or that guy from ABC) than anything heard in recent times. Some of this impression may have been due to the vocalist's gestures and actions, which seemed a bit stagy for such a small venue.

The dramatic vocalist of Spy for Hire.

Still, it was clear that had brought out their fans, who were definitely cheering the group on, whilst singing and dancing at every turn.


Our attention now turned to the side stage, for Antic Clay and the Long Holy Train. This is the latest project of Michael Bradley, here reunited with original Myssouri drummer Chris Jensen. Since the breakup of Myssouri (Atlanta's premiere gothic western band) Michael Bradley has been something of a disappointment in my book. He does have a lovely, deep voice, but his music has faltered in the country and/or folk veins for several years now. What was this new act to sound like?

Antic Clay and the Long Holy Train.

Bradley and Jensen are joined by a guitarist and a bassist, and Bradley plays a lot of harmonica, picking out a different one for each song. The sound though, was glorious. This band is loud, with Jensen providing a thundering backdrop for Bradley's deep voice and the soaring guitars and bass. Honestly, it was almost like the Myssouri of old (who i realized i missed greatly), and i kept expecting (hoping?) that they would pull out an old Myssouri song, say The Floorless Jig.


I have to confess that it's good to see Bradley and Jensen playing together again, as I think each brings out the best of the other. As an example, Jensen's powerful beats draw Bradley et al away from the more introspective material they've played recently. Likewise, Bradley's melodocism allows Jensen to shown more expressiveness in his drumming. Those two are simply a great combination. And, in this incarnation, the additional two musicians added a level of nuance which expanded the palette and added a tonal vista to the overall sound.

Michael Bradley in action.


Alas, they did not do any old tunes, instead focusing on work from this current band (which has a 2CD set out now). The set was very worthwhile, and i am pleased to see Bradley back to his gothic western roots. The crowd seemed to respond really well to it, and i know that i was bouncing along, grinning like a fool. If his current band plays this type of stuff, then i will definitely look forward to seeing them again.

There was a bit of a break in the schedule, so we wandered outside to see what was happening in the Midway of the 'Rama, and by "midway" i mean "the booths and stuff set up in the parking lot of Lenny's". There was a pile of sand for the beach DJ events to be happening on Saturday and Sunday; a corndog booth (obviously); a catering truck and an ice cream truck; and, wonder of wonders, a table by some restaurant called TOP FLR that had satay and iced coffee. My goodness, it's like Dave Railey knows me and my needs. The lack of a sufficient coffee supply was the only dark spot on the last Corndogorama, and i was truly excited to see that i could get a nice cup of joe without having to leave. Their coffee was pretty good to. It was organic, which is always slightly sweeter than normal coffee, but it was dark roasted and brewed rather thick, just as i like it.

Armed with a nice cup of coffee, i can put up with most anything. So we stood outside and watched the people milling around for a while. Chris Jensen came to talk with us after gearing out, and we all stood around sipping coffee and eating a corndog.

  I kept joking to folks that I intended to spend most of Corndogorama with a beer in one hand and a corndog in the other, which is a bit ironic, considering I hate corndogs. However, with it being the 'Rama, I took the plunge and had my single corndog, which was excellent as always, along with a large cup of coffee. O.K., it wasn't a beer, but I have to say the coffee was much more immediately satisfying, as both PostLibyan and I are, in old-fashioned terms, coffee addicts.  

What are you talking about?  I can quite anytime i want ...  want to sleep for a month that is!

Anyway, We headed back inside at 8:30 to catch Magnapop. I have long loved this band, as i have ranted about many times on this site, so this time i will cut to the chase. Linda Hopper kept joking about being filmed and how this made her "unfunny", and they played 3 songs. That's it -- a 15 minute set due to the event being behind schedule. Normally i approve of the Stage Manager cutting bands short to keep things on schedule, but did you have to cut Magnapop? I get so few chances to see Ruthie Morris play anymore, and here was time stolen from me! Oh well.

Linda Hopper can't be funny while being filmed.

  It was little after 8:30 when we wandered back inside to Magnapop already in mid-set, or so I thought. As usual, they were really good, although perhaps not as tight as I would have liked. Anyway, due to our slight delay, I wasn't too surprised to hear them end early. It was only later that I realized they only played 3 or 4 songs.  

All three of the songs they played were newish ones from their last few albums, including an excellent version of Satellite off of 2005's Mouthfeel. Hopper really shined on this one, grinning dancing and wailing the words to great effect. And then that was it.

Ruthie Morris in action.

I do feel slightly cheated at such a short set, but at festivals you never get to see enough of the bands you really want to see. Oh well. Hopefully they will play out again soon.

  Magnapop seemed to draw out a crowd on this evening. Or, rather, I suspect the combination of Magnapop, Hollyfaith, and James Hall really drew out a crowd. Looking around me, I saw an interesting mix of the usual hipsters combined with folks who looked as if they hadn't seen the inside of Lennys before. It's rare in Atlanta to get this combination of the "usuals" and the "tourists", but I guess this line-up was enough to draw out everyone. So I have to give props to Mr. Railey and staff for having the vision to put these bands on the same bill.  

Magnapop was cut short so that a power trio could take the side stage. They were called Chump, and they made utterly generic rock music. I think it was the blandness of this act that made me so upset at Magnapop being cut short. I kept thinking, "They made Linda and Ruthie cut it short for this crap?" Chump did nothing to dissuade me that they deserved the time that i felt had rightfully be stolen from Magnapop. Oh well, at least they played for only 15 minutes.

By 9:30 the club was getting full, mostly of older rockers. No doubt many babysitters earned their keep tonight, as two older Atlanta bands were to play next, and their family-oriented fan bases were there in force.

Up first was Hollyfaith. I was vaguely aware of them as a local rock band when i was in college, and i knew people who were fans, but i never saw them. They are a 5-piece band that is slightly balding but still pretty tight. In fact, from watching to night's set you would never have known that the band hasn't performed live in over 10 years. They obviously rehearsed a lot for tonight, and it really showed.

Hollyfaith's vocalist.

  I remember Hollyfaith from back in the day, although they only really hit their stride after I left Atlanta the first time. So I had never really seen them, nor was I too familiar with any of their tunes. But, everyone around me seemed really revved up to hear this group, so I was ready to go along for the ride.  

Hollyfaith includes two guitarists with a fair amount of pedals and a lead vocalist. I wasn't familiar with their songs, but lots of people around me were singing along and dancing up a storm. I have to admit that their energy was infectious. They were obviously happy to be playing, and their broad smiles and the enthusiasm of the crowd fed off each other to make this a really fun set. Musically Hollyfaith are an early-90s indie rock band, not doing anything out of the ordinary and playing a rocking version of keyboard-less new wave music.

One of Hollyfaith's guitarists, who still has it after all these years.

  Who knew Hollyfaith was a proto-indie band? Think more of The Rave Ups and less of Superchunk. Now, I like this stuff, but for some reason, I thought Hollyfaith ran to the harder side the spectrum, probably because I mentally associated them with the punk clubs of the early 90s. But, it was clear they were having a grand on time on the stage, and it was equally apparent that the crowd around me was just eating it up. In this interaction, it was clear that this was a true reunion, based on both the solid musician ship of the band as a whole as well as the memories of times gone by. And, it was truly well done enough to draw in the folks who weren't as familiar with their catalogue.  

One interesting thing did happen. Upon being told by the Stage Manager that they only had one more song in their allotted time, they were able to get the whole crowd chanting "Two More!" in order to eek out one more tune. The poor Stage Manager looked uncomfortably at suddenly being in the spotlight, and soon relented. The crowd was ecstatic, but i feel that Hollyfaith squandered their extra time in playing a mediocre ballad that really didn't seem to go anywhere.

Overall though, this was a fun set.

After Holly Faith we had another older Atlanta musician, James Hall. I was a big fan of Mary My Hope, the band Mr. Hall got his start in. In fact, prior to tonight the only other time i had seen him was in 1989, when Mary My Hope opened for Love and Rockets at The Fox Theatre. What had he been doing since then?


Mary My Hope? Were they an Atlanta band? I swear, until relatively recently, I didn't realize Mary My Hope were from here. I just thought James Hall migrated here.


Sigh. Yes, Mary My Hope were from here.  After leaving that band, Hall emigrated to New Orleans for a while.  It's "a goth thing" i suppose.  He returned to Atlanta as a Katrina refugee.

At any rate, his band consisted of 3 goth kids, and he himself was all in black with curly slicked back hair and his face painted pale. I was honestly expecting a show of moody dark rock.

However, with the first note struck on the guitar the morose looking Hall was transformed into a screaming, dancing fury. He bounced around, bellowed his lyrics, and danced furiously, never standing still.

James Hall, in a typical high motion pose.

The music was old fashioned rock and roll -- more Chuck Berry than Peter Murphy. His band did a fine job of tearing it up behind him, and it was exciting to watch him thrash around in front of the obviously adoring fans.


Announcer Rodney introduced James Hall as being "Iggy Pop from the Trailer Park", and I think that description got stuck in my head for the rest of the evening. Then funny thing was: it was a totally apt portrayal in some ways. The back band was playing a sort of rock that you think of with regards to the early early punk bands, filled with straight up rhythm and straight forward guitar. This allowed the focus to be on Hall throughout, which was a good thing, as his vocals and style took over the stage.

A rare shot of James Hall standing still.


I was up front trying to get photos (not easy given his "never stand still" mentality), and i overheard this amusing exchange.

FAN: Please play Song Title. (I didn't hear the title that was requested.)
HALL (barely paying attention as he tunes his guitar): I didn't write that. (pause) Wait, i did write that. (thoughtful pause) But i don't think this band knows it, sorry.

I found this extremely amusing.

Overall, i really enjoyed his set. Not what i thought it would be, but very enjoyable. He is a heck of a performer.

By this time it was late, and so we headed to our respective homes. Half of Corndogorama 2008 was finished, and so far it had been pretty good. What would tomorrow, Saturday -- the traditional day of mayhem, hold for us?

Related Links:

Read the entire Corndogorama 08 review:
     Day 1 featuring Special Olympiad, Trial by Fire, Loose Screws, The Holland Dutch, Attractive Eighties Women, Tenth to the Moon, Thee Crucials, Heinous Bienfang
     Day 2 featuring Volcanizm, Twin Tigers, Graboids, Spy for Hire, Antic Clay and the Last Holy Train, Magnapop, Chump, Hollyfaith, and James Hall
     Day 3 featuring Thy Mighty Contract, Handsome Jack, Rock City Dropouts, A.Armada, The N.E.C., 5-8, It's Elephant, Grinder Nova, All Night Drug Prowling Wolves, The Orphins, Gringo Star, Snowden
     Day 4 featuring The Reverend God and the Jesus Squad, Club Awesome, Light Pupil Dilate, Battle Cat, Rizzudo, Summerbirds in the Cellar, Cassavetes, Cinemechanica, Maserati
Band links for today:
   The Twin Tigers:
   Spy For Hire:
   James Hall:


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