For several years now, independent comic books stores have been hosting "Free Comic Book Day", which is the first Saturday in May. This is an event designed to get people out of the "big box stores" and into the independent retailers, where variety actually happens, and the names that will be famous and featured at your local Barnes and Noble in 10 years are just starting out. Independent stores foster creativity and diversity by carrying a wide range of products, not just a handful of the mass marketed items.
The music industry, which claims to have been dying for at least 10 years now, has decided to embrace this notion as well. And i, for one, welcome it. Independent record stores are one of my true loves in life. I enjoy spending hours pouring through stacks of records and CDs, talking with various employees about obscure bands, and seeing what all is out there. There is a visceral experience to shopping in a store that one cannot get from an online retailer, no matter how much that retailers wares suit your own tastes.
Saturday 19 April 2008 was the first Record Store Day, and in order to celebrate it Atlanta's own Criminal Records threw a big shindig with bands, local labels, and a sidewalk clearance sale. Tracers and i headed out into the mayhem to catch Club Awesome play.
The band was set up at the back of the store, among the comic books. They looked a little cramped, as Criminal is not the most spacious of places. As people stuffed into the store, it got a little warm, which was especially bad for lead Club Awesomer Errol Crane, dressed in his mint green tiger costume.
I swear: the tiger costume looks greener in person!
The band sounded good today, playing fun versions of Trainwreck, "Whyte Tiger, and BBs Go Out Into the Night. I was glad to look back at the crowd and see quite a few people standing around, bouncing along to the music. Club Awesome play catchy indie pop with lots hooks and chanted vocals. The rhythms are great, and the band really moves along at a fun pace.
Club Awesome crammed into the comis book section of Criminal Records.
They are releasing an album, and EvilSponge was able to obtain a pre-release copy. Let me just say that fans of catchy music that makes you want to dance need to go see this band.
There really wasn't any one else that we wanted to see at Record Store Day, but we headed outside to see what was happening on the stage there. Well, it was Judi Chicago, with their screaming over rave beats chaos. I find them moderately amusing at times, but Tracers is not so impressed, so we decided to head out.
After dinner and coffee, we headed to The EARL to catch some local punk bands play. This was billed as a dual album-release show, but that was something of a scam, as we shall see later.
First up tonight was the re-formed Rizzudo. I just saw them a few months back, and tonight they played a similar set of tight, proggy punk. They keyboards and moog flowed thick and heavy, and brothers Gill and Donald Durant sang/screamed in harmony quite well.
Gill Durant on voice and keyboards.
They did, however, play some new tunes. Goodness -- a local band actually being productive? Do people still write songs? It seems that in this town most acts play the same songs over and over for years, and here is Rizzudo, fresh off a hiatus and already debuting new material! And the new songs sounded good, not that the band is branching out in any new direction. In fact, the two new songs sounded, if anything, poppier than the usual Rizzudo fare. In fact, one of them featured drumming brother Seth Durant playing what was practically a dance beat! Dance dance Rizzudo! Very fun.
Donald "Tall Don" Durant on moog and voice.
Once again this was another energetic and enjoyable set from these brothers. I hope that they stick at it, and keep playing out.
After a short intermission, Lay Down Mains took the stage. This was supposed to be the release show for their new album, but there was no album to be found. One of their friends in the crowd asked why, to which vocalist/guitarist Rick Moore responded, "There is no new CD. That was a scam so that we could play after Rizzudo!" Ha. Good one.
Rick Moore: scamming people and playing guitar.
They proceeded to play a short set that sounded, lord help me, like heavy metal. Huh. I have only seen this band once before, at The Other Sound Festival last year, and there they came across as a hardcore punk band. Well, that style always was awfully close to metal, and something in the bass heavy mix tonight made things lean more to the metal side. The songs were fast, and the vocals shouted, but when you up the bass levels and minimize the treble, hardcore punk becomes metal, as bands such as D.R.I. showed us all those years ago.
I can't explain why such a minor difference has such a huge effect. I enjoyed seeing them as a punk band, but tonight i found them to be a real joy killer. The songs, even though short, seemed to drag on forever, and the band seemed to take three minutes between every three minute song to re-tune, or de-tune, i could not be sure which.
I was not the only one who was disappointed. Lay Down Mains effectively drove off the crowd. The EARL had been somewhat crowded when Rizzudo were playing, but after 15 minutes of Lay Down Mains (the half way point of their set) the room was almost empty as people retreated to the front room for drinks, and to escape the noise.
A real shame. I don't know what to expect from this band -- was that first performance i saw a fluke, or is this what they are all about? I can't tell. Well, they were over in half an hour, so that's something.
And then The Liverhearts started to set up. And then they continued to set up. It seems as if lead Liverheart Matt Weaver was a little on the drunk side, so it took him a while to get organized. It was after midnight before the band started to play. To be honest, i was practically exhausted at this point. What with Record Store Day festivities and all, i had pretty much be on my feet and going for 12 hours by then. Why oh why can't shows at The EARL run at some sort of human schedule? Why does The EARL run everything on a time frame for vampires?
Liverheart bassist Jason Beebe: could he really be a vampire?
Well, anyway, The Liverhearts proceeded to play the material from their new CD, which did come out tonight. This was much the same set they played back in February, which is to be expected as they are showcasing their latest material. However, the band seemed off. Weaver's playing was sloppy, and towards the end when they realized they had no encore to do and their friends were shouting for old songs, Weaver was too drunk to remember them.
You can't tell how drunk Matt Weaver is in this photo.
They played for only 45 minutes, and it was okay, but not spectacular. I know that they can do better, and i have to admit with being a little disappointed here. What is it with Atlanta bands that they have to get too drunk to really play at their album release shows? Disappointing. I will look forward to seeing them at a time when they are not so festive, and can actually focus on their music.
The Liverhearts in action.
So Record Store Day was kind of a mixed bag, from my perspective. Things started off promising, but as the night got later, and i got less patient, things degenerated. Oh well.