Sharp Notes June 17 2004

Big Brother is watching: As the 10 o'clock hour struck Fri., June 11, members of the Lynn Haven, Fla., trio Whitelodge prepared to take the stage at the Echo Lounge, marking the group's first Atlanta appearance. The ethereal drone/folk-rock group was the opener for Netherlands-based experimental rockers the Legendary Pink Dots.

An audience of 150-200 concert-goers filled the venue, but trouble was brewing unbeknownst to those gathered. As Whitelodge vocalist Dustin Gilbert headed for the stage, a rush of what Gilbert describes as "very official-looking men blazing suits and badges" pushed their way through the door demanding to see the club's business permits.

"I knew something was wrong when they were shining flashlights at the certificates posted on the wall behind the bar and shaking their heads," says Gilbert with a cheerless laugh. He was right. Before the group could perform, the lights came on and police officers began ushering people out the door. Rumors flooded throughout the crowd as it spilled into the street: Everything from a theory of a Clear Channel conspiracy to talk of the club being shut down due to an expired business permit or liquor license circulated wildly, though nothing was substantiated. When pressed for answers, the club's staff remained tight-lipped.

Being shut down on a Friday night meant nothing would be resolved until Monday at the earliest, and the rest of the weekend's shows were canceled.

By Monday, nothing had changed. The Echo Lounge's doors remained shut and both Monday's Pedro the Lion show and Tuesday's Acid Mothers Temple show were relocated (to MJQ's Drunken Unicorn and the Earl, respectively), with no official word on why the Echo Lounge had been forced to close its doors.

At press time, both the Echo Lounge's owner Janet Ridgeway and the DeKalb County Police officer in charge of public information, Sgt. Pat White, were unavailable for comment, but a cryptic, late-night voicemail from Ridgeway stated that she has nothing to add at the present time.

"I'm not supposed to say much of anything," says Ridgeway. "There is so much I'd like to say, but I just can't."