Like the city itself, the music scene in Atlanta often seems fragmented, in search of its identity. And like the city, it is made up of a host of players, and it can sometimes be difficult to find consistency in its frenzied output. That ain't all bad; smaller, more insular scenes tend to yield a homogeneous result, and the A is nothing if not all over the place. Below, five reasons to hold out hope for music in our fair metropolis.
1. Over in the trendier-by-the-second East Atlanta Village, the newish 529 has been hosting some of the best local and non-local shows in town for several months now with a decided focus on indie rock's grittier subgenres. The space is nice, too: it's tiny, but thanks to the outdoor patio, not claustrophobic, and the band area feels more like a house show basement than a rock club. Down the street, The Earl is still the de facto club in the Village, but 529 is quickly becoming a go-to spot.
2. In Grant Park, Eyedrum has brilliantly bridged the gap between D.I.Y. show space and legit music venue for years now. It has long been known as the place to go for experimental and noise; this past year has seen performances from Chicago avant-jazz hotshot Ken Vandermark and sample-driven duo The Books, among others. Earlier this year, they reportedly faced closure due to the high cost of maintaining the space, but it seems they've managed to remain solvent enough to continue for now. In addition to live music, the gallery exhibits some interesting stuff from local artists.
3. Down the street from Eyedrum is WonderRoot, which serves a similar purpose, but operates with a more populist bent. Not only does the space host a bevy of local and out-of-town musical acts, but it provides production facilities for artists, including a dark room for photographers. Much like Eyedrum, WonderRoot fills a void Atlanta didn't even know it had.
4. Over on the airwaves, both 88.5 WRAS and 91.1 WREK do a superb job of satisfying Atlanta's need for quality, non-commercial music-based programming. As might be expected, it's the specialty shows that shine, from Album 88's psych-focused "Jet Lag" and the instrumental hip-hop-driven "Hush Hush" to WREK's "Stonehenge" which plays "real" classic rock (that is, not the fourteen fucking Eagles tracks in a row you get from certain other area stations). Not to mention Clark Atlanta's 91.9 WCLK, which pretty much runs Atlanta's jazz scene by itself. As a part-time delivery driver, I spend way too many hours of my life stuck in Atlanta's awful traffic. Thank God for these folks. College radio is alive and well in the A.
5. Our city has long been known as a hip-hop mecca, and rightfully so, but with T.I. locked up and Outkast at odds, we can't rely on Soulja Boy to give us what we need. Instead, the underground has stepped it up, with performers like Hollyweerd and Grip Plyaz emerging as new faces in Atlanta rap. This is to say nothing of the Southwest Dekalb drum majors' famed "Bitch U Ride the MARTA Bus," which is still pretty funny.
Obviously this is not a comprehensive list. So then, what else?
(Photo courtesy Aaron Benoy)
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