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Variac: Footing the bill 

Big break by way of the B-52's

Athens band the B-52's aren't exactly young guns anymore. So it's good to have Atlanta hard rockers Variac joining them at Chastain Park Amphitheater Aug. 1 to help shoo in the hipsters. Not that the 1970s new-wave band needs ticket-boosters. It does, however, need an opening act, and Variac is more than happy to oblige.

Influenced by bad boys of rock the Rolling Stones, this five-piece turns out gritty riff-rock with balls. But will it provide an appropriate asterisk to the Love Shackers who dominated MTV when these young'uns had hardly hit puberty?

Variac thinks so. "Finally we're playing with a band that our parents won't [ask], 'Who?' when we call home," says bassist James Pinkstone. And parental approval is rare.

Variac didn't score the gig by accident. Chastain's booking agent contacted guitarist Kris Sampson, who has engineered numerous demos for the B-52's at Nickel & Dime Studios, and offered the band the opportunity. Despite Sampson and fellow N&D engineer Pinkstone having an established rapport with the new-wavers, it was the boys' fiery live show that earned them their slot.

But Variac members aren't kidding themselves about who the audience will really be there to see. They're just pleased to gather with fellow Georgians – from an equally infamous city – for an evening that will attract more well-deserved attention to Atlanta's music scene. Given the acts' generation gap, Variac is preparing for a diverse audience ranging from baby boomers and ex-punk rockers to the suburbs' foxiest. Age differences also account for different lifestyles; since the B-52's make healthy choices these days, the "self-destructive heathens" of Variac don't expect the grown-ups "to be huffing gas backstage or anything," Pinkstone jests.

Fans should certainly prepare for a shindig. Juxtaposing the South's most notorious party band ever with one of the youngest and most tenacious of the same caliber is no snore-jam.

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