Friday night can still rock 

If you choose your park carefully

After just a year of two free Friday-night concert series running alongside each other, downtown Atlanta is back to just one. In the interim, there's been a split with a booking agency, a new contract with the Clear Channel empire, various petty territorial squabblings, wrangling over city permits, noise complaints, sponsorship woes and, worst of all, an alcohol-related death.

The end result: Star 94's On the Bricks has Centennial Olympic Park all to itself, while the 99X event formerly known as Downtown Rocks has been renamed The Big Rock and relocated to Stone Mountain. But before you trek halfway to Athens or hop MARTA for downtown, make sure you know which show is right for you. Here's a guide:

On The Bricks

Location: Centennial Olympic Park -- walking distance from MARTA, Philips Arena, CNN Center, etc.

Radio affiliation: Star 94 (when this station starts playing your favorite song, you know it's played out)

Refreshment of choice: Coke.

Transportation: MARTA -- where Atlantans can mingle and (if it's crowded enough) invade one another's personal space. Low on emissions, high on B.O.

Cost: $3 (hidden cost: $1.75 each way on MARTA; parking $10)

Kick-ass act: Parliament/Funkadelic (Fri., Aug. 15). Even if George Clinton were senile and drooling all over himself (which he probably is), he'd still be cooler than most of the bands on this year's OTB schedule.

Go for the eye candy: Jennifer Love Hewitt (Fri., May 30). We prefer her in movies, but a sweet set of earplugs could make trekking out to see her a real treat for at least one of our five senses.

Give it up for ... : Hootie and the Blowfish (Fri., Aug. 8). Despite the regional genius in naming an album after Waffle House hash browns, we're pretty sure the nine years we've had to forget about their initial success have been sufficient.

Local band makes good: Drive-By Truckers. An obsessive fan stopped by the office the other day looking for old CL issues with any mention of his favorite band. Hope we didn't let him see the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly.

Bottom line: On The Bricks may have won the location war, but its lineup screams, "Where are they now?"

The Big Rock

Location: The Meadow at Stone Mountain Park -- walking distance from the entrance to Stone Mountain Park and the top o' the mountain.

Radio affiliation: 99X (the non-Clear Channel station with the Clear Channel-ish playlist)

Refreshment of choice: Budweiser.

Transportation: I-285 and Highway 78. High on emissions, low on B.O. (unless it's your own).

Cost: Free (hidden cost: $7 park entrance fee, plus gas to get there)

Kick-ass act: The White Stripes (Fri., June 20) -- probably one of the best bands in America. Catch 'em now before it costs you $30 bucks at the Tabernacle.

Go for the eye candy: Tie: the Donnas' Donna C (Fri., May 30) and the White Stripes' Meg White (Fri., June 20). It's all about the hot drummers at The Big Rock. We love the way they twirl the sticks.

Give it up for ... : Our Lady Peace. Once the embodiment of all that was good about Canadian music, the band lost its edge after the 2001 departure of guitarist Mike Turner.

Local band makes good: the Hiss (Fri., June 20). This foursome already converted the Brits. Now they've come home to see if any of the hype has made it across the Atlantic. Opening for the White Stripes should help.

Bottom line: Despite the out-of-the-way location, this one boasts the stronger talent pool.


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