Under the bridge
In between and underneath Atlanta's rapidly gentrifying cityscape lies the withering remains of a much older Southern city. In this sagging post-urban panorama is where local trio Hubcap City (From Belgium) finds refuge. Since 2000, the rickety outfit has drawn inspiration from its surroundings, fashioning desolate and deranged junkyard folk songs. Made up of singer/guitarist Bill Taft (formerly of Smoke, the Jody Grind), guitarist Matthew Proctor, and drummer Will Fratesi (Cat Power, Smoke), the group makes music that is a cluttered and verdant anomaly. Taft's unwavering voice mixes with a percussive rattle pounded out on large bits of found metal debris from loosely tuned steel strings to a metal I-beam. All of these elements add force to Taft's apocalyptically Dylan-esque laments.
An array of battery-powered recording devices, including a Walkman cassette recorder, a mini-disc recorder and a cell phone bring textures to the group's recordings. This is a technique Taft compares to juxtaposing photos from a 35 mm lens next to Polaroid pictures. The most striking examples of these textures come to light with A Tour of Southern Homes, a patchwork of poetry interspersed with field recordings.
As for performing live, the group is less inclined to book a show at a traditional music venue than to set up and play in a half-demolished building or a drainage tunnel underneath Moreland Avenue. Playing and recording in such unorthodox locations forms an intense link between Hubcap City's sound and its surroundings, translating to an uncanny character in the music. "We don't fit into the rock club world," says Taft. "The less electricity we use, the better we sound."
Hubcap City (From Belgium) plays underneath a bridge on Bern Street in Grant Park, a few blocks east of Park Street next to the Cement Factory. Sat., Nov. 13, 9 p.m. Free. Bring a flashlight.