Scene & Herd - Spring broke

Seasons change but some things stay the same

Last Thursday, I hit up the Woodruff Arts Center where a huge crowd was gathered to meet famed photographer Chuck Close. I, however, slipped past the crowd of folks in suits and dresses to take the elevator to the fourth floor, where the Atlanta College of Art was throwing its final student art sale. The school has been gobbled up by the growing Savannah College of Art and Design. ACA staffers, students and patrons perused several studios full of student works while talking in somber tones about what SCAD may do with various ACA efforts. As with any large collection of art, there were a few standout pieces that caught my eye and a whole lot of stuff that didn't. On my way out, I noticed a pair of ladies who had purchased one of the many abstract works I had breezed past. They were staring at it, turning it this way and that way and saying, "Wait, which way is up?" Ladies, if you can't figure it out, hang it however you like. You bought it.

One sure sign of spring is when my sinus passages are as clogged as the Downtown Connector at rush hour. Yeah, the flowers and newly green trees are lovely, but they're also a curse on those of us with seasonal allergies.</
Other signs of spring? MTV airs spring break specials with scantily clad bimbos and himbos in heat. Even a degenerate curmudgeon like myself can catch the eye of a pretty woman across a crowded bar. And Atlanta gets eaten up by festivals.</
Despite all these indicators, it didn't feel much like spring for the Cabbagetown Spring Festival, held in the parking lot of 97 Estoria on Saturday. The Slacky Family, ex-punks gone bluegrass, appeared on the deck shortly after I arrived, playing to a parking lot half-full of shivering Cabbageheads, local musicians and fans. The Slacky Family added little personality to their bluegrass standards, but it was something new for much of the indie-rock crowd. Between bands, people would cram inside the already crowded Estoria trying to keep the cold at bay with cold beer. Fortunately, the bar also had the heat cranked up.

Day Mars Ray followed with soft, electric tunes that could easily be the soundtrack to melancholy daydreams. But as the sun dropped behind the tractor-trailer loading compound, the temperature dipped even lower. I joined the huddled masses inside, peeking out the open door to catch the music.</
Soon we were forced back outside to watch John Dirga, the multitalented artist leading John & the Dirgas. John played guitar to a pile of televisions displaying, among other incongruous images, him playing everything from drums to keyboard to guitar to a ceiling fan with a pair of spatulas. The mostly instrumental sound was a bit off-kilter, sometimes intentionally but sometimes due to the difficulty of getting four DVD players in synch. At one point, I wondered why we even needed John playing live — he could've been just another DVD. But his presence transformed the work from video/installation piece to performance art.</
Pardon me while I get incestuous. Saturday night, the Masquerade's cavernous spaces were filled by Creative Loafing with Sensory Overload, a hodgepodge of live music, food, psychics, video games, rollergirls, DJs and more.</
Upstairs, Five Eight was on stage cranking out rock music with punk energy. Somehow I've missed the band, despite its 15 years on the local scene. But there was so much to see and do, I didn't pay much attention this time, either.

Downstairs in Purgatory, the guys from 10 High's Metal-Some Mondays performed classic heavy/hard/metal tunes while members of the audience got up and sang the vocals, karaoke-style. I was impressed with the band's ability to play a vast number of tunes, even some not-so-metal numbers such as Pat Benetar and Styx. Personally, I think karaoke belongs in hell. No, not the downstairs dance area of the Masquerade complex — I mean actual hell. There is a reason not everyone can be America's Next Top Idol. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware they can't carry a tune, stay in tune or hit a single note. Sure, it takes guts to get up there and try regardless, but I don't have the guts to listen to it and was forced from the room repeatedly.</
The Styx cover was the perfect transition to the headline act upstairs, Boy Hits Car. The group blends acoustic guitar sounds with heavy/hard/metal energy. Imagine your favorite metal band doing its lone acoustic ballad that made the Top 40. You know that moment when the song transitions from heartfelt singer/songwriter sound to full-on guitars-blazing rock? Imagine making an entire career of that one moment. Boy Hits Car somehow makes it work. The younger folks in the audience ate it up, sporadically spawning a mosh pit.

In the Hell dance room — where pounding beats often seep through the floor into the live-music venue upstairs — a handful of people moved around the floor while a massive screen showed a video game in progress. Things never seemed to get going down there. But the best part of Sensory Overload was if you didn't like one thing, there was always something else to chose from. Palm reading, Thai food, incense vendors, freaks and geeks from Netherworld Haunted House, lurid promotions for the Hedonism resorts in Jamaica — you couldn't get bored if you tried.</

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