Atlanta Mess Around 2016 - Friday April 29
As always, I didn't get to everything or see everyone (emergency bass repair held us up on Friday), but what I did see was all a blast and this festival was very well organized and everyone involved were ultra cool! Really glad that the Gizmos were able to play - with Melanie Coffee's debut with us on bass! - and we were able to dig the Southern hospitality in Georgia!
The festival was set up with daytime and evening shows both Friday and Saturday and with the afore-mentioned emergency, we got to the Friday day-time show at the 529 just in time to see Wreckless Eric setting up for his solo set. Eric was by himself this time (the Gizmos playing with him and the Len Bright Combo a couple of years ago at Gonerfest) and simply played acoustic and electric guitar, told super funny stories, got a little political and played some terrific tunes. Opening with the fabulous "Reconnez Cherie", he played a few more on his acoustic that went through his amp along with an effects box that he used for some echo and occasional ambient noise. He had a song about the producer Joe Meek, an autobiographical number, "Days of My Life" (after switching to his Telecaster), of course, "Whole Wide World", "Semaphore Signals", and a few more before telling the crowd - in his inimitable, very British way - not to vote for "Donald Cunt" - and closing with a political song, "What's That Sound". His new tunes seem more "serious" than his old work, but were still quality songs and tons of fun.
We walked up the street to the Earl for the evening show and had enough time to enjoy some excellent, cheap food (seriously, eat here if you have a chance - amazing Catfish Po' Boy!) before catching Indiana's Thee Tsunamis. I had met lead singer/guitarist BeBop Bets previously at Gizmos shows in Indiana but kept missing the band, so was super happy that they appeared here. They are in between bass players at the moment and had a token male sitting in (sorry, didn't get his name - he kept a good low end though!) and Sharlene kept the dance groove boppin' while adding cool harmonies and even singing lead on one number. The set was wild'n'energetic, with sassy 60's girl group sounds, garage numbers, staccato guitar lines, different guitar tones on the Mustang that Betsy wielded wild dancin'n'rollin' around on the floor while playin' quality riffs and just general hipness. Had to grab a CD and will fill ya in on that as soon as I have a minute.
The somewhat oddly named Mama followed, with hard partying, Motorhead-esque thrash rock/boogie with garage/hard rock long-hairs (one cat reminded me of LA's Dave James and another of a cross between Mark The Animal Mendoza and Magic Dick!) and a Jonathan Richman clean cut guitarist! Wild stuff!
Death Index was a change of pace with a mix of punk and goth - I thought Ian Curtis fronting the Dead Kennedys! Early punk/hardcore sounds combined with Joy Division/Bauhaus sounds and lots of echo and effects on the guitars. High points for closing with Vox Pop's fantastic "Cab Driver"!
The sound was a bit off for the Tough Shits - way too much bass - but they had a poppy 70's punk sound with some tremelo'd guitar garage influences, as well. Good sounds marred by the overall acoustics.
The Barreracudas (I can only assume the unusual spelling is so that they are not confused with the British 60's revival band from the 80's) were a glam-ish/pop band in the vein of 80's LA groups like the purple-haired Zeroes and Celebrity Skin. Good pop numbers but a bit too much bravado/insulting for my tastes, though I know a lot of folks dig that kinda thing. Good show too, with an energetic singer.
For the Friday night finale we got the legendary Real Kids - old pals of the Gizmos' Kenne Highland - I even saw them at his wedding reception/party back in 1979! Now it's all up to John Felice to lead the way with Dickie Oakes on bass, Billy Cole on second guitar and Judd Williams on the drums. They're older and a bit slower, but still quite rockin', from the opener - one of my faves - "Better Be Good" to "My Baby's Book", "Common at Noon", "Million Miles Away", "All Kindsa Girls", Reggae Reggae" and some comparatively newer ones that I didn't know offhand. Bitchin' Kinks-ian guitar riffs and chord progressions, piercing Tele leads, sing-along melodies and harmonies and fine old-fashioned rock'n'roll! The Earl was pretty damn jam packed for them and the crowd loved 'em!