English, a veteran of several local groups including Toenut, a band once signed to large independent label Mute, says the Atlantis approach doesn't appeal to the Plastic Plan because "it's so business oriented. We are more concerned with the music side of things."
Longtime local scenester David Railey, a musician and talent booker, agrees. "Atlanta needs a showcase motivated by the music first and business second," he says. "Atlanta is becoming stronger in the national scope. We need a better overall showcase for talent. Atlantis has always catered to those with the best connections and not necessarily the best talents."
Besides, says Lara Kiang, 6X singer/guitarist and former booker for the Point, "Anything you have to submit material for is not worth doing. If you are good, generally people come to you."
Michael Wheeler, bandleader for locally based country-rocker Cindy Lou Harrington, as well as a manager and label operator, echoes Kiang's sentiment. "There are no overnight discoveries," he says. "I've been to many such conferences around the country, including the big one, South By Southwest, and Atlantis is actually one of the very best in terms of marketing and execution. It's a stepping stone to other gigs, maybe, but I've found that true connections can't occur in a conference situation. It's too hectic. Real networking can only occur in more intimate settings. It's such a circus atmosphere that it's very hard to get anyone's attention for very long."
For Rip Thrillby, lead guitarist for local surf-rock favorites the Penetrators, the prospect of encountering music biz types was enough to sour the conference. "Picture a person who would like to be a rock star, but who never had the discipline to learn to play an instrument, the nerve to go on stage or the creativity to write a song anyone would listen to. They still enter the music business. Now, drop several hundred of them in one town, with free food and drinks. These things are employment-fairs for label lizards, and nothing else. Music conferences are of no interest to us."
To KC/DC of local DIY-punk band the Trash Candys, Atlantis just doesn't adhere to her idea of what rock is all about. "With all respect to the bands that are playing, it ain't our thing," she says. "I just looked at the Atlantis website and saw that not only is golf a scheduled event -- at 9 a.m. no less -- but they have luncheons. While I like hitting shit with a long piece of metal as much as the next person, golf and luncheons and are not rock 'n' roll."
Bassist Tim Nielsen, who got a taste of the major-label world while in drivin' n cryin', says his current band, the recently reunited Kathleen Turner Overdrive, discussed attending Atlantis, "But it never quite made it up our priority list." K.T.O., he adds, are busy recording an album and just aren't interested in trying to get signed at a conference.
While popular Atlanta band Truckadelic took part in an Atlantis showcase at the Star Bar last year, they also decided not to apply this year. "I think music festivals, showcases and conferences are a wonderful thing," says Truckadelic's John Dunn. "But last year we played a venue in town that is typically an $800-$1200 gig for us. We didn't make a dime -- actually it was pay-to-play because of the cost of the Atlantis entry fee. This venue was packed by people who would come see us play regardless. We are local here in Atlanta, so it didn't really cost anything in gas, hotels or food, but those who travel long distances have more to lose. For some bands it may be a great way to get exposure and meet the right people, but sometimes you have to opt for the gig that will help make the next van payment."
As it happens, Truckadelic has a gig during Atlantis with another prominent no-show, the Drive-By Truckers, Saturday at non-conference venue Smith's Olde Bar. The Drive-By Truckers were asked to play the conference this year, says manager Sara Kelly, but they opted to go on tour instead. Only by coincidence did their tour end up in Atlanta during the conference.
Mindseye, another local band gigging elsewhere in town during Atlantis, decided to make the most of being rejected this year by taking advantage of the conference's crowds. The group arranged its own Friday night gig, complete with free food and drink, at East Atlanta music store Earthshaking Music. Located across the street from the Echo Lounge, an Atlantis venue, the group hopes to attract conference-goers as they pass by. Plus, says Mindseye's Kenneth Lovell of his non-Atlantis "showcase," "I figured this is probably the only way we would be able to get a soundcheck."
Killin it. So damn sexy
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
come on man you know you got a bromance. you probably still rock that OutKast…