We don't remember if we were at Ohnpark Fest 1 or not, or even when it was held, but last night we had a blast at Ohmpark Fest 2. The evening was curated by Davy Minor, the founder of the now-defunct Ohmpark.com, and as Brock Scott of Little Tybee said at one point form the stage, if you were new to Atlanta and unfamiliar with the local music scene, you couldn't have devised a better introduction to the cream of the crop of Atlanta music. While some luminaries were conspicuously absent (The Coathangers, Dog Bite, and Women's Work, and were was Del Venicci?), we have to agree with Scott's assessment.
The event was held at both the redoubtable Earl and the nearby 529, and one $10 cover got you into both venues all night. The bouncer even readmitted us to 529 late at night after our wrist stamp had somehow worn off. We didn't get there until nearly 10:00 and missed several bands, but we were still reminded by what we did see how the Atlanta cup runneth over.
SPIRITS AND THE MELCHIZEDEK CHILDREN
It was our first time hearing SATMC, and although we've liked the videos and what we've heard so far, live they were even better than we dared to have hoped. Fronted by a three-guitar attack, they occupy a psychedelic middle ground somewhere between hard rock and metal, and kick-started the evening off in a great way, although we still don't know what Melchizedek Children are.
We've seen Sealions several times before, and to be honest, it's been a hit-or-miss affair. After some performances, we walked away convinced that they were next-level electro-pop geniuses, and other times we left wondering what we had been so excited about (although, to be fair, they've never sounded bad). Last night, though, was the best I can ever recall hearing them sound, and they had the normally inattentive Earl audience dancing.
Deja vu all over again - we just saw Little Tybee last month on the very same stage, but it was a pleasure hearing them again. If anything, the sound mix was better than last time, although it may have been that last time we were just standing right in front of Josh Martin's guitar amp, as it seemed to drown everything else out. No such problem this time, and on second listen, we think we like Little Tybee's cover of Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes even better than the original.
One of the pleasures of living in Atlanta is getting to hear the neo-bossa nova of Adron pretty much as often as you could want, and last night's set was as warm and tropical as ever. Adron is certainly a unique artist guided by her own muse, and deserving of far wider recognition, and last night's set included a cover of a song by Brazil's Os Mutantes.
Hello Ocho did not take the 529 stage until 1:20 Sunday morning, but the crowd was as boisterous and excited as for any band all evening. The tiny club was packed, and as soon as the band started playing, everyone was dancing, jumping, and rushing the stage in joyous appreciation of the music. But how to describe that music? Prog? Math rock? Mutant jazz fusion? All of these labels could apply to parts of all their songs and not to others, and last night the label finally came to us - Zappaesque. With their quirky song structures, abrupt meter changes, vibraphone and trumpet solos, and humorous lyrics ("I want to take you grocery shopping, I want to spend all of my food stamps on you"), they are certainly rooted in Roxy and Elsewhere-era Zappa, but they are equally informed by everything else that's followed since. Between the energetic music, the energetic crowd, and the sweaty ambiance of the intimate club, their set was probably the most fun we had all night. We didn't get home until well after 2:00 a.m. and were certainly dragging butt the next morning, but it was well worth it.
So, there's your basic primer of Atlanta indie music - the heavy rock of SATMC, the dance-friendly electro-pop of Sealions, the folk rock of Little Tybee, the tropicalia of Adron, and the WTF of Hello Ocho. If you throw in last night's country-pop of Lily & the Tigers and the orchestral looping of Takenobu, you'll get a pretty good idea of the diversity of the scene here.
We hope to bring more of this to you right here in this blog this coming year.