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Moving on down 

From the east side to the west side

We at Creative Loafing respect the meaning and importance of the Memorial Day holiday. Therefore the content of this newspaper was written before the weekend so that CL's staff could properly honor the holiday by getting our collective Memorial Day freaks on. Please note that the AJC's staff not only had to work on the weekend, but on the Memorial Day holiday itself. How disrespectful! That just proves what educated readers have known all along -- Creative Loafing is Atlanta's patriotic choice for news.

This column is also important for me personally because it's the last one that I'll write living in East Atlanta. Astute readers and CL editors have noted that East Atlanta music venues like The Earl and the Echo Lounge are disproportionately featured in this column. Although both places frequently feature musicians that I like, the fact that they're both walking distance from my house has been an undeniable factor in my heavy coverage of their events. The sad fact is that I'm so lazy that if I lived near Philips Arena, I'd probably cover Thrashers and Hawks games in this column every other week.

So here's my last heavily East Atlanta column written as a local. Don't cry, it'll be OK.

Funny strange: Thursday night was Omaha night at the Echo Lounge. Corn wasn't husked and Warren Buffett didn't offer stock tips, but instead, Mayday, The Good Life and Bright Eyes, three bands from Omaha's trendy rock scene, performed. It appears that Omaha is to 2002 what Seattle was to 1992. Time or Newsweek, I can't remember which, even wrote a big article about Omaha bands, so they must be cool.

Giving new meaning to the expression "painfully hip," I was greeted at the entrance of the club by a young man who was virtually in tears about a wound that someone inflicted on his lip-piercing. So shrill was his complaint, that a stranger turned to him and said, "You're being a baby."

Inside, The Good Life was about to start. Naming themselves The Good Life is kind of like naming your three-legged, one-eyed dog Lucky. They were the most miserably depressed sounding band I've ever heard perform. Lots of dreary, numbing, slow rhythms and lyrics about apologizing to mother about how he's not good enough. It's a good thing that my serotonin reuptake is selectively inhibited, or else I'd have killed myself. I'm guessing that the Nebraska Tourism board will not be contacting them for a commercial jingle anytime soon.

After The Good Life's set, a cover of Bill Wither's classic "Ain't No Sunshine" played over the sound system. Normally, a sad soul song, it sounded like "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" after The Good Life.

When I commented to a female patron about how depressing The Good Life was, she responded with the non sequitur, "You'll like Bright Eyes, he's backed by six chicks." She was right though, both about the number of chicks and that I'd like him. The chicks in question formed a mini-orchestra of strings, woodwind and keyboards. Singer/songwriter Conor Oberst, to his credit, offers up lovely tunes along with his misery. And the crowd adored him/them. One guy even recorded the show on microcassette. And for the record, Oberst does have bright eyes.

Funny Ha Ha: My Omaha death march was the perfect primer for my next stop, The Earl, where I saw comedian Todd Barry perform his stand-up routine. Barry was advertised as being friends with David Cross of HBO's now legendary "Mr. Show." It's usually a bad sign when someone is advertised for their association with someone else (Hey, do you see that red Ferrari in the parking lot? That's my car right next to it.), but Barry was funny. It's hard to relate in this column because so much of his humor relied on tone and delivery. The high points included when he berated a patron for taking a cell phone call in the middle of his show and his joke about another patron's tattoo. Asking her why she had a tattoo of Tinkerbell, she explained that when she was a child, she thought she was a fairy. He responded with, "When I was a kid, I used to pee in my pants. I don't have a tattoo of yellow stained shorts."

Easily the most entertaining thing that happened all evening though was when, near the end of Barry's performance, a drunken audience member named Margaret turned to her right and loudly asked, "Where are we?" and then paused before answering herself, "Oh yeah, The Earl."

Partying Ken Burns-style: The big event of the Memorial Day weekend and the week that preceded it was the Atlanta Jazz Festival. I managed to venture downtown last Wednesday to see World Mambo Mission perform a late afternoon set at Centennial Olympic Park. The nook where they played was semi-fenced so that anyone going in had to pass through police, who were checking -- not for weapons, but for alcohol. Let's hear it for Homeland Security.

The band, as their name and sponsor indicated, played Latin Jazz with a Cuban flair. They even played a song from the Buena Vista Social Club (track 1 from the CD). Seeing the upscale middle-aged crowd, it's interesting to ponder how jazz and jazz fans have changed. Instead of sketchy clubs and smack- addled musicians, it's decidedly upscale. World Mambo Mission's sax player clipped his sheet music down with a keychain that also had a Kroger Plus Card dangling from it. I can't imagine Coltrane with Kroger Plus Card.

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