Early Bird's eye view

Five years in, the Earl is coming up Rosebuds, celebrating the venue's birthday with a three-day bill including Triangle area, N.C.'s Merge Records dance-pop band the Rosebuds, three-time veterans at playing the Earl's stage this year. Other featured artists include Kevn Kenny's STAR and Delta Moon (Thurs., July 8), Lucero (Fri., July 9), and Grupo Fantasma and the High Strung (Sat., July 10), among others. So, given the opportunity, CL offers ruminations on an essential cog of the "Atlanta scene" — a passionate interdependent network of indie-music fans spread between the Earl, the Echo Lounge, Lenny's and MJQ's Drunken Unicorn.

Since 1999, the East Atlanta Restaurant and Lounge, or Earl, has been peddling eye candy, ear candy, food for thought or just for body to those who venture into East Atlanta Village for a laid-back meal, an indie-rock show or to find a drinking buddy from a spectrum of choices.

Earl booker Patrick Hill has selected underground, experimental and idiosyncratic local talent several times weekly to put out their message, feelings and fire. Bands like gypsy rockers A Fir-Ju Well (who debuted at the Earl, and will debut new material during the band's umpteenth appearance Fri., July 9), electrified Tenth to the Moon, stridently indie the Close and the churning, hardcore Hex Error have kept things shaking to a slightly different groove each night.

But the Earl's intimate concert area is additionally filled by out-of-town acts. Hipster, college and indie-rock giants like Ted Leo, Les Savy Fav and Spoon — even comedian David Cross — have all graced the tight corner stage, and many more will.

Trying to quantify the role of select Atlanta venues on the local level, but also on a national touring schedule, Hill sat down to talk with CL about how he gauges the Earl's first five years of accomplishments. Additionally, he let CL in on a conversation with the Rosebuds' Kelly Crisp to discuss the insides of the East Atlanta scene (and the Earl's homey backroom) from an outsider's perspective.

Patrick Hill: This is your fourth appearance at the Earl. Why do you enjoy coming back?

Kelly Crisp: Really? That's more times than we've played in our town. [Laughs] We just get such a great reception in Atlanta, and it feels important that if we're going to be touring that we should prioritize and go to the cities where we know people come out and hang out.

I don't know if the Earl was ever designed with a specific purpose other than a fun place to feel comfortable hanging out and seeing rock shows. But my goal is for the scene to be relatively famous. I want my friends to be able to quit their day jobs and do music for a living. What do you get out of playing rooms like the Earl, in terms of career development?

I think plenty more successful people than us have continued to play rooms like that. I don't see it so much like a stepping-stone. Cultivating audiences is something you love to do in smaller venues. We've played bigger crowds, but there's a level of intimacy we can enjoy now.

From a purely human relations-observational point of view ... music communities in every town are sort of like church communities. We all revolve around a central place or two, like the Earl, where you know you're going to run in to your friends and with people who have the same sort of ideals.

Oftentimes the scene in Atlanta is maligned because not that many people [outside of hip-hop] get outside the city, making an impression nationally. Still, there's a lot beginning to crop up. Not being local, how do you view the Atlanta scene?

In Atlanta, you can still be happy that you still have the opportunity to be new on the scene, make a mark that's not already made. You don't get judged as much by what other people have done; have people assuming you sound like other bands from the scene.

I think a venue with a size and location like the Earl gives bands a sense of what's happening in a town, that they can come to a place and play shows to good people alongside good bands. In terms of coming to a town like Atlanta, have you had examples of band kinships you've made through a venue?

An example would be our split single with the Close [to be released on Atlanta label International Hits]. We get lucky because we go through places with a certain type of folks who like the music we like and believe what we believe. It's great when you can make a great opportunity happen from it.

The Rosebuds play the Earl Sat., July 10, 9 p.m. $5. The Earl, 488 Flat Shoals Road. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.