Scene & Herd - Nothing succeeds like excess
Fun with soccer, beer and corndogs
Last Tuesday, I visited Carroll Street Cafe in Cabbagetown to cool down after a long, hot commute, and spotted John Dirga hanging paintings. I reported on John's music and video show a few papers ago, but I didn't know he's also a painter. It's no coincidence that he's showing his work at Carroll Street — he works there, and lives in the art-covered house next door. His paintings are semi-abstract with lots of geometric patterns and shapes. The smokestacks of the neighborhood mill-cum-lofts are featured prominently in many of his works. He also produces prints of the paintings for those who can't afford the originals ... or don't have the wall space. So swing by Atlanta's most European cafe and check them out, or see his work at www.dirgart.com.
SPEAKING OF EUROPEAN, Thursday I called in sick with the same disease affecting much of the world: soccer fever. The U.S. team had to win against Ghana, and Italy had to beat the Czechs for America to advance to the next round.</
The games played simultaneously at 10 a.m., by which time the Brewhouse in L5P, voted best soccer bar in the Southeast by ussoccer.com, was already packed. A small contingent of Ghanaian fans took over a couple of tables, leaping up and dancing when Ghana scored. The U.S. fans (not surprisingly) chanted "U-S-A" when we scored.</
But in the end, it was Ghana that got to celebrate. The joy of victory is fleeting, but losers get to enjoy the agony of World Cup defeat for four long years. Just wait until 2010!</
I SPENT THE REST of the weekend at the Earl for Corndogorama. Sure, this column is supposed to be about variety, but after all that faux-Euro experience, I needed some genuine Americana. And nothing says America like deep-fried processed food, lousy beer and excess — four days, 55 bands, thousands of corndogs, and millions of calories. I don't have space to list everything I saw at the festival, so here are the highlights and lowlifes.</
Perhaps the youngest faces on stage belonged to the Morishi Dolls, aka Moorish Idols, who do odd, sort of '60s-influenced rock. The lead singer isn't much to listen to, but the music is still compelling.
I Am the World Trade Center took its name just before 9/11, but the band performs music that reminds me of the '80s synth-pop act Berlin. Two songs later, the duo threw in a few verses from Berlin's "Sex." It wrapped up with a New Order tune. With music like this, the group doesn't need more than its two members and a keyboard.</
My vote for band Most Likely to Succeed? Snowden. It sounds like 99 percent of the stuff you hear on 99X but can't seem to name because it's all so forgettable. But Snowden packed the room with fans so somebody likes them.</
Friday night wrapped up with the Artist Formerly Known as League of Evil doing Prince's Purple Rain album in its entirety. The band did a near-perfect job with the classic record that mixes danceable pop with blistering guitar and lighter-lighting-inducing ballads. Saturday I arrived as Hot Young Priest rolled out audio thunder, an appropriate soundtrack to the storm approaching town. The group's punchy rock won it new fans among my friends who were catching the Priest for the first time.</
In the outdoor area, the yard filled with hundreds of folks intent on watching the corndog-eating contest. Twenty participants gathered around a table heaped in corndogs and shoved the tasty bundles down as fast as (in)humanly possible. Five minutes later, they held the sticks of their consumed dogs aloft for the final tally. The winner, Dale Boone, had eaten 10. Impressive, but even more so after he took the mic and announced that he had just come from the local round of Nathan's hot dog eating competition — where he'd eaten 20 hot dogs. So the guy ate a total of 30 dogs in a space of four hours. But for next year, he swore to forgo the Nathan's competition and beat the world record at Corndogorama.
Also out back, the Swinks Brothers randomly performed stunts of a different sort, such as using a minibike and a ramp to jump eight prone friends. The crowded conditions made watching the show almost as dangerous as participating.</
The most popular music act outside was the Avett Brothers, who drew a large crowd of slinky, stinky neo-hippies. The trio plays acoustic alt-country that builds to a frenzy of screams and super-fast strumming. Apparently, their fans want to rock but won't leave the acoustic farm and visit their city cousins who listen to AC/DC. Look ... either whip it out or leave it in my pants, but don't dry hump it.</
Inside, the music only stopped for a few minutes at a time thanks to two stages. The side-stage bands sometimes outshined those on the main stage. A prime example is Sweetlove, five faces familiar to the local music scene who pumped out Faces-influenced (or the Black Crowes, for you younger readers) swaggering rock that got the crowded corner shaking and sweating from beginning to end.</
The storms finally arrived, chasing the outside folks in. When the live music didn't hold my attention, I sat in the front room watching the crowds pile in, many folks soaked to the skin. The DJs added audio to the voyeuristic entertainment until I was motivated to push my way back into the auditorium.</
The festival's organizer, Dave Railey, played in several acts over the course of the weekend. He appeared on stage something like eight times, including Saturday's night-capper the Dickens, who finished the festival with a cover of "Freebird" — complete with the required triple guitar attack.</
Although I'd skipped Thursday, I couldn't have survived a return for Sunday's festivities. Five jalapeño corndogs in two days and a dozen or so beers was enough excess for even this American.</