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Sharp Notes February 12 2004

Smoke and Mirrors: On Tuesday, Feb. 3, seminal L.A. hardcore band Fear was at the Echo Lounge, and the old-school punks were out in force.

The scene was a collection of all the unused leather and metal in Atlanta. There were middle-aged punks who had two expressions: scowl and scowl-lite. The younger generation included chain-smoking, neo-hardcore fans looking as if they put out cigarettes on their tongues. The only band in East Atlanta hard enough to satiate these paying guests are the Black Lips, and their Iggy-gone-bananas show opened things up.

The Lips are a must-see as far as Atlanta bands go. Live, there isn't a noticeable iota of talent between the foursome, but there isn't any way you could possibly ignore them, either: Clanging, disparate, early punk riffs meet a rhythm(ically challenged) section of purely primeval drumming and fractured basslines. When guitarist Jack Hines broke a string, there wasn't a need for a quick halt to the song or a guitar switch.

The beauty of the Black Lips' music is that whether the guitar is tuned or not, it can still get across their point: total chaos and instinctual fun.

Singer/guitarist Cole Alexander could be heard berating his bandmates when they weren't ready to start on his count. Bassist Jared Swilley took a sip of his beer and flung it at Hines.

About six songs into the set, the band, who seemed to be entertaining some and annoying others, got a present from the audience: a flying projectile that, in mid-air, looked like a lit cigar. But when smoke began emanating from the landing site (right beside drummer Joe Bradley), things looked a bit more serious.

Smoke was readily breathable in the back of the place within a few short minutes, and the stage appeared completely enshrouded in gray clouds. The Black Lips continued undeterred, but once they finished the song that inspired the fireball launch, Alexander and Co. started hurling insults at the crowd: "That was kindergarten shit!" "My boy's got asthma and he can't breathe."

According to club manager Alex Weiss, the projectile was a smoke bomb thrown from the front of the club. It's possible that the hurlers were Black Lips fans/co-conspirators — the band is known for antics along those lines. A couple of fans were ejected from the club for trying to light firecrackers shortly after the incident, though they denied having any involvement with the smoke bomb.

Nevertheless, the abundance of smoke and a quick survey of the surrounding area (the Echo is almost entirely kindling) had me heading for the exit. Too punk for my blood.

Hardly outcasts: When the Grammys were given out Sunday, Feb. 8, hip-hop outfit and apple of Atlanta's collective eye OutKast found its name to be a misnomer. Nominated in six categories, the duo took home three gold gramophones: Best Urban/Alternative performance for Andre 3000's ubiquitous "Hey Ya!" and Best Rap Album and Album of the Year for their separate-but-together Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.

Giving two of the most memorable acceptance speeches of the night, Big Boi was quick to credit recently deposed music mogul Antonio "L.A." Reid — after God, of course — for Reid's part in the group's success. Meanwhile, Dre's futuristic Native American performance of "Hey Ya!" could be easy fodder for PC protest, if anyone could get the snapshot of Janet Jackson's right breast out of their mind's eye.

Valentine's Day Mass: Delta Moon has come up with a stunt to play the blues for fans on their happiest day. If you are looking to get hitched quickly and painlessly — and have the proper paperwork filed with Fulton County — head down to Blind Willie's on Valentine's Day, Saturday, Feb. 14.

Rev. Charles Wolff, minister for the Church of the Future and former Delta Moon drummer, will conduct a mass wedding between sets. Singer Gina Leigh will happily serve as your flower girl — after all, it was all her idea.

Local Show(s) of the Week: Former Arrested Development member Dionne Farris will bring her booming voice honed in the churches of Atlanta to the stage at Apache Cafe on Feb. 13-14.

Over at The Earl on Feb 14, indie rockers the Close and Luigi will share the stage for those who don't want to make a big deal out of the Hallmark holiday. Luigi is the new project of former Ultrababyfat singer/guitarist Michelle DuBois.