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Text by Emily Maxwell, photos by Frederick Noble
Now in its 75th year, Degenerate Press has churned out legendary live music
reviews beloved by air breathers and food eaters alike. I, degenerate EM,
graciously accepted the made-up position of Head Music Reviewer in the hopes of
satisfying the needs of veteran readers, as well as broadening Degenerate
Press’s readership. May my music criticism conform to the zine’s scholarly
standards while delighting and entertaining for centuries to come. That being
said, let’s do this thing.
Degenerates FN, CD, and myself attended the Star Bar’s Fringe Binge throwdown for a slightly cynical, mostly drunken night of live local music and socializing. We arrived as mod-pop act the Booze was beginning their set. Being my third experience seeing the Booze perform, I felt confident that I knew what to expect: straight shooting, early-Stones-tinged dance rock delivered by a pint sized, albeit earnest, lead singer. And, as is almost always the case, I was right. As I studied the stage’s backdrop (red and glittering letters reading “Fringe Binge”) and the immaculate 60’s style garb of the band, I began to have the distinct sensation that I was not in fact at the Star Bar, but rather a high school dance.
|Now, if you have ever in your life attended the Star Bar, you know that its dark, cavernous interior hardly lends itself to sugary fantasies of pristine teenage fun (unless you’re a creep). In that respect, I must commend the Booze for momentarily suspending time. Aesthetics aside, while the Booze are neither challenging nor unique, they do possess a certain charm and their ditties are undeniably catchy. Try as I might, I find it difficult to hate this band. I do fantasize about beating up the lead singer, but that’s only because I could.|
Should you have the opportunity to see the Booze, see them. Should you have the opportunity to see the Booze again, go see a movie. Because though they may be honing their craft well, the Booze is, as far as I can tell, a one trick pony.
Make that a one trick Shetland pony.
|Next on the bill were Gentleman Jesse and His Men. Gentleman Jesse was the act I came to see and, as usual, they did not disappoint. A band founded on a deep appreciation for power pop and classic punk seems fairly obvious, but no local act pulls it off with as much finesse as G.J. and His Men. As he plowed through a set of energetic pop punk, singer and guitarist Jesse Smith seemed not only pleased to be there, but also immensely pleased with his band, remarking on how great it is to be “the best local act in Atlanta.”|
|Doubling as bassist for the Carbonas and former member of the now defunct Some Soviet Station, Smith’s half-drunk declaration is certainly open to interpretation, but not without some validity. Gentleman Jesse and His Men consistently bring vigor and sincerity to their snappy songs, and their Fringe Binge performance was no exception. Appreciative of their fans, band members encouraged show-goers to sing along if they knew the words, turning the set into something that felt more like a house party among friends than a Saturday night at a dive bar. The band closed out their set with a favorite from their most recent 7’’ single, “I Don’t Wanna Know”, a poppy foot-stomper about infidelity. By the end of their set, Gentleman Jesse and His Men had again temporarily eradicated my cynicism about music and left me something of a blithering, grinning fan girl.|
Between and during sets, FN and I had been poking constant fun of a troupe of young men whom it seemed had not gotten the memo that metal is over and that it is no longer 1986.
All donning super tight jeans and identical shoulder length mullets, these guys milled around the bar as though all dressed up with no place to go. Until they had a place to go. The stage - as the Heart Attacks.
|Having never seen the Heart Attacks, I had no idea that the scuds I’d been mocking all night belonged to one of the acts on the bill and that they had the intention of rocking my face off. I wholly expected a barrage of overblown sludge rock. Perhaps I assumed that any group of guys with such a calculated and clichéd look would have difficulty making time to learn how to play their instruments. Between sewing the inseams of their pants and tracking down vintage rock tank tops, how could great music be a priority, right?|
Well, the Heart Attacks were by no means great, but their set was certainly better than I’d anticipated. Loud? Yes. Stage presence? They’ve got it. Rock n’ roll infused male posturing? You bet.
|A metal-esque approach to live music with classic rock licks and a punk attitude, the Heart Attacks proved to be a pretty entertaining act. While no specific moments from the set stick out in my mind, I found the performance fun and refreshing.|
|Maybe seeing the Heart Attacks not suck has taught me not to judge people based on their appearance. Maybe they taught me to never again make assumptions and to love this big human family without first evaluating its exterior.|
Or maybe not.
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