Corndogorama founder David Railey is surprisingly calm when talking about the 55 bands he has lined up to play this year's festival. But why should he stress out over the four-day indie-rock event of the summer? This is the 10th installment of what has become a local institution with an atmosphere he likens to that of a summer fair, complete with music, games and, of course, corndogs. The festival operates like a well-oiled machine after so many successful runs, and after all, having fun is the name of the game. "You don't have to convince people to come out and have a good time," Railey says. "Just give them a reason to and they'll show up."
As the legend goes, Railey thought it would be funny to hand out corndogs at his October birthday show 10 years ago. The corndogs were a prop that referenced a joke song he had written long before Corndogorama was even a glimmer in his eye. Railey fully expected that the corndogs would get tossed around, ground into the floor and smeared on the walls during the show. But instead of manhandling the weapons of mass indigestion, the crowd quickly ate them all and demanded more. "It was an accidental discovery that came to symbolize all of the madness that has ensued," he adds.
A lot has changed since that fateful day. Only one band was on the bill for that show, Railey's now long-defunct three-piece, Ancient Chinese Secret. Less than 100 people attended that night, and most were there to ring in Railey's birthday. The venue was Atlanta's staple punk/indie-rock dive Dottie's -- now Lenny's, but soon to be either a Publix or more God-forsaken lofts.
But just as the city that's too busy to hate has morphed dramatically while growing exponentially larger, so has Corndogorama.
In keeping with the summer-fair motif, the event moved to August, and after four years at Dottie's, the corndogs were packed up and hauled over to the Earl in East Atlanta in 2000.
Dozens of extracurricular activities worked their way into the itinerary. This year's events include a corndog-eating contest, which has become an old standby. There will also be a 40-yard flip-flop dash, beer-factor olympics and a cricket-crunch contest, in which contestants win prizes for the number of crickets they crunch.
Other less competitive activities include an ass-kissing booth, where a $1 ticket allows you to go into a booth and tell surprise guests how talented, smart and beautiful they really are. There's also a heavy-metal petting zoo (stuffed animals dressed up like Ronnie James Dio) and a dunk tank set up in the parking lot.
Music is always the main attraction. In previous years, Corndogoramas have been lauded as a local music event. But over time, select out-of-town artists have been added to the bill. This year, Seattle's aching Americana rockers Band of Horses headline the opening party Thurs., June 22. On Sat., June 24, Greenville, N.C.'s "bluegrass on speed" outfit the Avett Brothers perform.
Local acts, however, still make up the majority of the bill. And while the roster reads like a who's who of Atlanta bands, many go out of their way to make their performances a little different. This year, for example, Atlanta rockers League of Evil will perform Prince's '84 pop opus Purple Rain in its entirety. And former A Fir-Ju Well collaborators Numerica Films return from Chicago to present Corndogorama the Movie. The film is a minute-and-a-half short that traces the event's "history" all the way back to the early 1900s.
"It's things like this that are so cool to me," Railey adds. "The festival brings out so much creativity and shows what many of these artists do all year, which many people wouldn't see otherwise."
Many of these events may not seem appropriate for all members of the family, but many of the festival's most loyal and longtime patrons are now becoming parents. Is Corndogorama a good place to bring the kids?
"Yes, it is a family-friendly event," Railey explains. "There are lots of things for kids to do, [the outdoor stage], the dunk tank, heavy-metal petting zoo. Baby pools are set up for the beer-factor olympics event, 'Bobbing for Sea Life.' It's your hipper and more open-minded parents that generally bring their children. My parents used to take me to see live music when I was a child and I turned out OK, which may explain my obsession with music and festivals. I like to see everyone having fun no matter what age."
Thurs., June 22
Don't miss: The Corndogorama opening party is headlined with a set by Seattle's Band of Horses. The group's Sub Pop Records debut, Everything All the Time, blends breathtaking melodies with loud, raw Americana pop in the vein of Neil Young, the Flaming Lips and Destroyer. The group features former Carissa's Wierd members Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke. But whereas their former group relied on hushed slowcore carved out by heartbreak and love lost, Band of Horses drifts toward a ramped-up, though no less dense indie-rock terrain.
Also playing: Mt. Egypt, the Can't See
Fri., June 23
Don't miss: League of Evil is built around the lifetime of musical intuition developed by brothers Christopher (guitar/vocals) and Devin Simony (keyboards) of Athens/Atlanta's now defunct post-hardcore outfit Sharks and Minnows. With League of Evil, the brothers Simony, joined by Chris Parizo (bass) and Adam Young (drums), craft a dark and politically twisted take on melodic pop and hardcore stylings. But tonight, the artists formerly known as League of Evil perform Prince's 1984 pop masterpiece Purple Rain in its entirety at 12:45 a.m.
Also playing the main stage: Elevado (6 p.m.), Cassavetes (6:45 p.m.), the Orphins (7:45 p.m.), Psychic Hearts (8:30 p.m.), Luigi (9:15 p.m.), the Close (10:15 p.m.), I Am the World Trade Center (11 p.m.), Snowden (11:45 p.m.)
On the side stage: The Blue Hour (7:20 p.m.), Morishi Dolls (9:50 p.m.), Shock Cinema (12:20 p.m.)
On the outdoor stage: DIRGA (8 p.m.), Cadillac Jones (9 p.m.)
DJ support: Rob D (8 p.m.), Osore (9 p.m.), DJ Magiq (10 p.m.), Chris Case (11 p.m.), DJ Reacharound (midnight)
Sat., June 24
Don't miss: Recent Kranky Records signees Deerhunter plays a set of surreal pop drones from its forthcoming second full-length, Cryptograms. The group crafts long, drawn-out tones that resonate with angelic harmonies and sensory-shocking distortion. Coherent pop structures bleed into bouts of noise and feedback that blur the lines between song into one unified sonic atmosphere. Combining the rhythmic prowess of Can with the mammoth guitar harmonics of Rhys Chatham, Deerhunter rattles the foundations of art galleries and downtown rock dives alike with seismic tension. (10:30 p.m.)
Also playing the main stage: Jetty (noon), Moresight (12:45 p.m.), Brain Box (1:30 p.m.), the Silent Kids (2:30 p.m.), the Preakness (3:15 p.m.), Hot Young Priest (4 p.m.), corndog-eating contest (5 p.m.), Casionova (5:30 p.m.), Human Television (6:15 p.m.), Tiger! Tiger! (7 p.m.), Day Mars Ray (8 p.m.), the Hiss (8:45 p.m.), Dropsonic (9:30 p.m.), Man Man (11:20 p.m.), Anna Kramer (12:30 a.m.), the Dickens (1:30 a.m.)
On the side stage: Ghost Tour (2:05 p.m.), Hubcap City (4:35 p.m.), the Lovely Feathers (7:35 p.m.), the Sweet Loves (10:05 p.m.), Thee Crucials (12:05 a.m.)
On the outdoor stage: Blake Rainey & His Demons (2 p.m.), National Grain (3 p.m.), Tim Easton (4 p.m.), corndog-eating contest (5 p.m.), the Avett Brothers (6:30 p.m.), Johnny Knox & Hi-Test (8:30 p.m.)
DJ support: Cherry & Corvette, Scooter (2 p.m.), DJ Lamarous Shirley (3 p.m.), Anna Santana (4 p.m.), Suzy Q & Vicki V. (5 p.m.), Jazz Space + Bass w/ Jeff Myers and guests (8 p.m.)
Sun., June 25
Don't miss: Featuring former members of the Rent Boys and Kid Boom Boom, the All Night Drug Prowling Wolves play a bedraggled mix of white funk and party punk tunes at 10:45 p.m. With a name that references the Clash in a way that only true devotees will recognize on sight and the slurred drunk-punk swagger of the Pogues, the Drug Wolves embrace a timeless lineage. Expect nothing short of gratuitous debauchery and irreverent rock.
Also playing the main stage: Hell Mach 4 (4 p.m.), the Jupiter Watts (4:45 p.m.), Lust (5:30 p.m.), Heir Apparent (6:30 p.m.), the Liverhearts (7:15 p.m.), Rizzudo (8 p.m.), Gentleman Jesse & His Men (9 p.m.), the Carbonas (9:45 p.m.)
On the side stage: Untied States (6:05 p.m.), Brass Castle (8:35 p.m.), Lay Down Mains (10:20 p.m.)
Super Dunch: Deering & Down (noon), Anctic Clay (1 p.m.), Brodie Stove (2 p.m.), Day Mars Ray (3 p.m.), the Slackey Family (4 p.m.), Bouldercrest Singing Group (5 p.m.), Oscar Rhea (6 p.m.), Dave Cross (6:45 p.m.)
DJ support: DJ Ria (8 p.m.), DJ Sars (10 p.m.)
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