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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Local rock scene makes Atlanta magazine the butt of its joke

Posted By on Thu, Jan 10, 2008 at 4:45 PM

I don’t want to be a snitch, so I won’t name any names, but it requires no stretch of the imagination to figure who the guilty party is here.

For at least two weeks, talk has spread through text messages, MySpace, e-mails and word of mouth. Atlanta magazine is going to run a story about Atlanta’s music scene, and the unofficial sequel to Tony Gayton’s 1987 documentary Athens, Ga.: Inside/Out, titled We Fun. The film examines the present-day Atlanta rock scene and the various enclaves of debauchery and society that bind the many scenes of the city where every day is opening day.

Time and place: 2:30 p.m. at Variety Playhouse. Come one, come all. Alcohol and food will be provided.

Being the punctual journalist, I was there at 2:15; fashionably early right alongside Tommy Chung of the Selmanaires. First words upon entry, “Sorry guys, no alcohol.”

It didn’t seem like a big deal at first. There were easily 20 pizzas from Savage lined up next to a cooler of Coca-Cola and water. But as the scattered trickle of musicians began to arrive, the absence of alcohol sent a hushed echo of disappointment around the room. These are musicians we are dealing with here, so no one really showed up until after 3 p.m., and with a lack of any official intoxicants in the room, one should have expected the worst. After all, this is an open invitation to Atlanta’s rock scene. These people need to be sedated — which we all learned the hard way.

Everyone was there: the Coathangers, the Baby Shakes, the Carbonas, Knife and the Fourth Ward Daggers, the Black Lips, some folks from Chopper, Deerhunter, One Hand Loves the Other, Snowden, Beat Beat Beat, West End Motel, Gringo Star, All Night Drug Prowling Wolves, the Gaye Blades, the Selmanaires. Representatives from Rob’s House Records, Douche Master and Die Slaughterhouse were also on hand, along with the Nashville-based We Fun documentary filmmakers Christopher Dortch, Matt Robison and producer Bill Cody.

The call came and everyone crowded onto the stage for the shoot. The rig was impressive and a pasty photographer climbed to the top of a tall ladder and began yelling at everyone to move forward. It was an impressive endeavor, but the camera clicked maybe three times before an alarming hiss sounded and the entire mob was engulfed in a cloud of white carcinogenic fog. Someone — I won’t say who — unleashed a fire extinguisher and turned the entire scene into a clusterfuck. At first people laughed, then they realized that they couldn’t breath. A film of white dust coated everyone and the taste of salt and latex was on everyone’s tongue.

The Atlanta magazine photographers and the Variety Playhouse staff were not pleased, to say the least. Someone who looked exceptionally pissed off demanded to know who was taking responsibility for the fiasco.

This is all part of the Faulknerian dilemma I was talking about when I wrote the year-end piece about Atlanta’s music scene. Everyone who mattered was there. The folks from Gringo Star were dressed up in bandito costumes, and Tommy Chung looked like a red army expatriate. Not to mention that it is quite an ambitious task to wrangle so many hell-raisers under the same roof during daylight hours. But the efforts were all for naught because of one moment of chaos, buffoonery and a fire extinguisher.

Alas, there was solidarity in the music scene here in Atlanta. No one was talking. The crowd congregated outside in hopes of maybe snapping some pictures, but the joy was gone. Inside, tension filled the air as the photographers broke down their equipment and bitched about the thousands of dollars they just lost. Outside a new plan was circulating, “Let’s go next door to El Myr and gets some drinks!”

Which was what these people needed and were denied in the first place.

Read more Chad Radford blogs at

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