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  The 2006 Other Sound Music Festival- Day 2  



The EARL in East Atlanta, GA


Five Foot Flame, Engineering, The Preakness, Faith Kleppinger, Gentleman Caller, Ultrababyfat

Reviewed by:
  Tracers and PostLibyan  
Photographs by:



On Thursday John Graham from Two Sheds Records told us that Friday night was the money-maker for The Other Sound Festival. It features the Festival's biggest band, in one of Atlanta 's most respected indie rock venues. It promised to be an entertaining time, and we were looking forward to it.

A few months back, Tracers and i got to The Drunken Unicorn for some show only to find that a band was already playing at 9:30. We saw them do 2 really fine songs of deep new wave, and i thoroughly enjoyed what little i saw. Based on that brief view, we made a serious effort to be at The EARL at 8 PM on a Friday to catch Five Foot Flame. And they did not disappoint.

They are a four-piece band, with more than a few pedals. They bassist plays complicated new wave parts, and drummer Marco really beats his kit. I am most impressed with the voice of vocalist Michael Bentley. At times, he really nails the vocals in a way that reminds me of She Wants Revenge. I know that everyone disses that band as being retro new wave fluff, but i happen to really enjoy them. And yes, i think that Mr. Bentley does sing in that deep dramatic way that annoys some people, but i find that it really works with the loud distorted guitar and complex rhythms of the band. Overall, i enjoyed their set once again, and will continue to be on the look out for this band.

Five Foot Flame is vocal action.

  Five Foot Flame was lost to me. I spent much of their set doubled over in pain, suffering from the after-effects of an arm injury that happened long ago. However, in between sets, as I debated whether I should just call it an evening or not, the staff at The EARL came to the rescue with a bag of ice to numb my aching elbow. And they kept them coming throughout the evening, thereby allowing me to enjoy the rest of the show. So, with that in mind, I have to give out major thanks to the bartenders at The EARL: Brian, Brian, and Bill. And like an opening band, I have to say: tip your bartender! (This public service announcement brought to you by EvilSponge.)  

Up next was another unknown act, a three piece called Engineering. They began with the words, "This is the last time we will ever play Atlanta!", and then proceeded to play a half-hour of really great post-punk. The bass was slippery and complex, the vocals soared, the guitar was a whirring frenzy, and the drums thudded along mightily. The overall sound was halfway between The Selmanaires and The Liverhearts. Imagine post-punk angularity with a steady, foot shuffling beat. I was mightily impressed, and even picked up a posthumous EP while asking why they were breaking up. It turns out that some band members are emigrating to New York for employment reasons... Sad really. I had never heard of this band before, and i will never see them again, but i really thoroughly enjoyed the 30 minutes i saw of them. I hate it when i discover a band just in time for them to throw in the towel... Oh well.

2/3 of Enginnering.


Engineering were such an impressive band. Very mathematical in their approach, everything about them felt entirely right. I was so sad to hear they were breaking up, as this set made me want to listen to them again and again, as I suspect I couldn't grasp all of the complexity of their music on a single listen. On my first overview, I was struck by how overwhelming the music was, in that I couldn't pick out any single instrument or riff and go, "This is what the band is about." I think if I could see them again and again, I would still enjoy them, and find even more to rave about. Crap, I hate it when this happens.

Engineering drummer.


Up next was The Preakness. This is a supergroup of sorts, involving local busybody Tracy Clark and one of the vocalists from The Licentious Five. This is the third time i have seen them play, and they consistently get better. The two vocalists harmonize together amazingly well, and the music is toe-tappingly good.

Tracy Clark with The Preakness.


At this point, I've see The Preakness a couple of time, and each time I like them even more. I think it's because, underneath it all, they are a jangle pop band, and I happen to love jangle pop. But they also have this dreamy, almost shoe-gaze quality to them as well. It sorta reminds me of Butterglory, with great pop hooks and a classic Indie Rock jangle underneath. Either way, I think The Preakness just get tighter with every listen, and I look forward to seeing them again in the future.

Licentious Preakness.

As Faith Kleppinger was setting up, i went to the front bar at The EARL to pick us up a round of Sweetwater 420 on draft. As i was there, and old buddy of mine from a company i used to work at 2 years ago was at the bar, so i spent a long time catching up. I got back in time to catch a bit of the Kleppinger set. You see, i wasn't exactly rushing in to see her. I have seen Faith before, and last time she performed solo with an acoustic guitar. Now, i am all for folk music, but not at a rock club. I was expecting another "evening killer" in terms of mood, and i think a solo acoustic set might have done just that. However, tonight Ms. Kleppinger played with a full band including Mike Goldman (of The Indicators) on mandolin and Blake Rainey (of The Young Antiques) on guitar, in addition to a drummer, slide guitarist, and bassist whom i did not recognize. Backed with a full band, Ms. Kleppinger becomes a singer-songwriter, and not a bad one at that. I enjoyed what i saw of her set far more than i have ever enjoyed one of her performances before.
  Whilst PostLibyan was out in the front bar visiting with friends, I stayed in the back to watch Faith Kleppinger. Since the last time I saw her, ever so long ago, she has left Atlanta, so this was her first show in a good long while. Normally, she has played extremely introverted singer-songwriter confessional music, which is good in its own right. On this evening, she was joined by a full band, including the musicians listed above. This musicianship rounded out her songs, and made them into nice rocky songs. More importantly, the band allowed Kleppinger to show some confidence in her own work, so that she at least seemed more in control and more forceful than I remember from her previous sets. Like Postlibyan, I thought this was by far the best set I've ever seen perform, and is she were to keep this line-up, I'd definitely go see her again.  

An unknown band set up next. They were a 5-piece, including Faith Kleppinger's slide guitarist (now on regular guitar), an Italian-looking girl on Korg and backing vocals, a bassist, a drummer, and a guy playing a lovely vintage Gibson hollowbody, that he was playing upside down (he being a left-handed guitarist, and left-handed guitars being difficult to find, much less beautiful vintage ones!)

Gentleman Caller: inverted guitar and rocking bassist.

At any rate, the band introduced themselves as Gentleman Caller, and they played a nice set of light pop with delicate harmonies. One incongruity was that the bassist apparently needed decaf, because he was rocking out in a way that no one else in the band was. I mean that he was really thrashing away like mad over there, while every one was slightly sedate. Overall, their sound reminded me of Knife in the Water, although without that band's excellent organ work, and a slightly deeper, less rich, male voice. A pleasant surprise.


I really liked Gentleman Caller, although the vocalist sounded a bit familiar to me. Not quite like that guy from The Rave-Ups, or that person from The Bodeans but similar. Something from that time period, anyway. The music was definitely light, but they made a nice transition from Faith Kleppinger to Ultrababyfat. If anything, I'd like to hear them again, just to see if I can actually place the vocal style.

Gentleman Caller's chaotically dressed synthesist.


And finally, just after midnight, headliners Ultrababyfat took the stage. This was the first time that Ultrababyfat have performed as a unit since 2002, and bassist Jefferson Holt (currently of The Silent Kids) informed us that practices didn't start until Wednesday when Shonali Bhowmilk got down to Atlanta from her home in New York.

Ultrababyfat living the rock n roll lifestyle!


True Confession. I was never a huge Ultrababyfat fan back in the day. Yeah, I saw them plenty of times, but except for a couple of songs, they never really grabbed me. Now, with a little bit of time and introspection, I think it's more because I never appreciated the musician tension between guitarists Shonali Bhowmilk and Michelle Dubois. Watching them this evening, I was struck by the contrast between these two musicians' styles. Bhowmilk tends to play chorded almost heavy metal riffs while Dubois always has a little garage-pop in her guitar. This clash gives the band its energy, but it can also make them feel a bit schizophrenic at times. Still this division may be more pronounced due to the fact that they don't play together regularly. Nevertheless, watching this line-up, with Jeff Holt on bass (a little under-utilized, as he's such a good guitarist), I could begin to see why they've always had so many fans.

Jeff Holt on bass.


Anyway, this was an old school Ultrababyfat show. Shanali sang some harder numbers, while Michelle Dubois (currently of EvilSponge favorites Luigi) sang pop tunes. I had not noticed until this show how her songs from the Ultrababyfat catalog sound pretty much like Luigi tunes.

Michelle Dubois of Luigi / Ultrababyfat.

Oh, and the men in the crowd drooled over Ms. Bhowmilk.

Shonali = the object of their attention.

Overall this was a pleasant evening. Good bands all around.

Related Links:

Read the entire 2006 Other Sound review:
    Day 1: Parade, Venice Is Sinking, Hot Young Priest, No River City, Spectralux
    Day 2: Five Foot Flame, Engineering, The Preakness, Faith Kleppinger, Gentleman Caller, Ultrababyfat
    Day 3: Elevado, Dave Doobinin, Ferocious Bubbles, The Blue Hour, and Slushco

Added bonus material:
    Photo gallery: nice guitars at 2006 Other Sound
    Photo gallery: Pedal fetishism at 2006 Other Sound
    Photo gallery: The new Lenny's Bar

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

Band information:
    Faith Kleppinger:
    Gentleman Caller:
 See also: Two Sheds Records


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