Saturday, March 31, 2012

Meanwhile, Back At The Goat Farm

The iconic archway at The Goat Farm, with various rock paraphernalia and accouterments in the foreground.  Last Thursday night, March 29, the Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFilmFest) held its "Music Experience" event at The Goat Farm, a mere five minutes from my house.  

The event offered a total of nine bands on two stages.  In addition, it featured a multi-portal video installation projected on courtyard walls, video screenings, food trucks, and a large Tesla Coil that never got fired up for some reason.


The first band up was Athens' Easter Island.  The crowd was still sparse at that early hour (7 pm), but they played a nice set of intelligent rock, their singer sounding at times a little like Hayden Thorpe of Wild Beasts.  Unfortunately, their set was marred by a faulty mic that kept dropping out at random times during the performance.  Despite the technical difficulties, I still liked their set.


Atlanta's Today the Sun, Tomorrow the Moon followed local hip-hop act Grand Prize Winners From Last Year on the indoors stage inside Goodson Yard, where Thurston Moore performed earlier this year. TTMTTS play a high-energy dance-rock that got their enthusiastic audience quite excited.


The always-spooky Sexual Side Effects played the outdoors stage, although after the sun had set, it was getting harder to see anything on stage.  I saw SSE play last year at the East Atlanta Strut, where they wore more flamboyant outfits and featured fire-eaters in their act.  At The Goat Farm, they still played over-the-top rock 'n' roll, but were a little less theatrical than their performance at the Strut.


Atlanta's Sealions, whom I saw open for Metric back in Rocktober 2010, played a loud and satisfying set of dream-pop at the Goodson Yard stage.   One of  the coolest aspects of this show, in addition to the 19th Century industrial architecture of The Goat Farm (a perfect set for a steam-punk movie if ever there were one), was that the Film Festival folks had brought their video cameras and projectors along with them, and displayed real-time, larger-than-life images of the performances behind the bands, creating some interesting trompe l'oeil effects of giant musicians overtaking the performers on stage.


The event promoters tried to create some buzz by announcing that one act, billed as "Harvey Kartel," was actually a band who's name for some reason they were not allowed to announce.  I was expecting Atlas Sound, a major-label musician originally from Atlanta and a surprise guest at a small Goat Farm festival last year, but instead it turned out to be Atlanta's The Constellations, whom I saw last year at Music Midtown.

The band could be a living museum of 70's hairstyles.  Above you have the mullet-head lead singer and the guitarist sporting what we affectionately called a "Jew-fro" back in the day.  Below is a classic example of the West Coast, shoulder-length rock star hairstyle.

Their keyboard sported a flamboyant Village People mustache.  He had replaced their previous keyboardist, the hot young woman who played with them at Music Midtown last year - she was one of the best things about the band back then.

The Constellations play a funked-up brand of roadhouse rock and R&B.  The Film Festival organizers, just like the promoters of Music Midtown last year, apparently wanted to offer something for all musical tastes, but The Constellations' music sounded to me out-of-place on the same stage that had just hosted TTMTTS and Sealions.  By the time they launched into their cover of Donovan's Atlantis, which was well past 11 anyway, I knew it was time for me to leave.  

All music without exception is a direct expression of the buddha-dharma, but that doesn't mean that I can't pick and choose the dharmas with which I'm going to get my groove on.

Update:  For those of you keeping score at home, my azaleas are now blooming in purple, pink and white.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Once there was a king. After having established his government, he inquired of his ministers, “I have governed this country well. Am I a wise king?” 

His ministers said, “Your Majesty, you have governed very well. You are very wise.” 

One of the ministers, however, said, “You are not wise.” 

The king asked, “Why not?” 

The minister replied, “After establishing your government, you handed it over to your son, instead of to your younger brother.” The king was offended and expelled the minister. 

Later, the king asked another minister, “Am I a benevolent king?” 

The minister replied, “Yes, you are very benevolent.” 

The king asked, “Why?” 

The minister replied, “Benevolent rulers all have loyal ministers, and loyal ministers offer straightforward remarks. That minister’s opinion was very straightforward. He was a loyal minister. If you were not a benevolent king, you would not have had such a minister.” 

The king was impressed by this and called the minister back.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dogen also said, 
During the time of the the first emperor of Shin, the crown prince wanted to enlarge his flower garden.  A minister said, “Wonderful! If you enlarge the flower garden and many birds and animals gather there, we will be able to defend our country against the troops of the neighboring country with the birds and animals.”   Because of this remark, the crown prince gave up the project.  
At another time, the prince wanted to build a palace with lacquered pillars. A minister said, “It really should be done. If you lacquer the pillars, the enemy will not invade.” So, this was also stopped.  
The essence of Confucianism is to stop doing wrong and encourage doing good by using skillful words. Monks also should have this kind of skillfulness when teaching others.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

More March Madness

The azaleas - both the pinks and the whites - are now almost in full bloom.  Meanwhile, some more catch-up pictures from March Madness.


Brooklyn's Miracles of Modern Science opened Thursday night's show at The Drunken Unicorn.  The band's name is ironic, as it suggests cutting-edge electronics and synthesizers and they actually play an acoustic, stand-up bass, fiddle, mandolin, and drums.  

The band was the discovery of the week.  Despite their traditional instrumentation, they play very entertaining music in a variety of genres, and had the full attention of the sell-out crowd there to see Youth Lagoon, despite the complete absence of keyboards and guitars.  


Oh look.  It's our old friend Dana Buoy, who played drums with Akron/Family in this very same venue back in January.  

I don't know if Mr. Buoy (and it's "Dana," not "Dan" like the retarded poster I made up for the event) pronounces his last name boy or boowie.  My guess is it's boy, which would make the name is a slight play on the traditional Irish ballad Danny Boy.

Mr. Buoy's music is a reasonably similar to the Akron/Family style of rock, but delivered by bass, guitar and electronics only rather than a full band.  He presented his lyrics earnestly and with much gesturing and arm-waving, although I couldn't make out a word of what he was saying in the bass-heavy mix.  In any event, it was a fun, enjoyable set.


Boise's Youth Lagoon was Thursday night's headliner.  If there's any doubt that he's from Boise, Trevor Powers, the man behind the brand, has a big outline of the state of Idaho tattooed to his arm.  In fact, he must have been keeping his tattoo artist busy, as he had far more tattoos, including a really cool-looking octopus, inspirational mottoes ("Freedom on my mind"), and dates, than can be seen in a August 2011 photo of him over on Pitchfork.

Youth Lagoon's sound is laid back and reflective, bringing to mind memories of nearly forgotten summers and friends.  But rather than simply meandering, Mr. Powers frequently brings the repeating motifs of his songs to a dramatic climax, as if one were waking up from a deep reverie.  


Friday night's show at Athens, Georgia's 40-Watt Club also was opened by an ironically named band, as Black Girls are four white men playing music somewhere between garage rock and roadhouse R&B.  They're a perfect opening act, as their barrel-house music gets the attention of everyone in the club (a feat which usually requires a horn section) and keeps them moving to the beat.


The middle act, Portland's Drew Grow and the Pastors' Wives, was another major discovery.  I hadn't heard them (or heard of them) before, although Mr. Grow, their front man, apparently has ties to the Athens music scene.  They played a truly terrific set of quirky original songs that are hard to classify, with a sound that ranged from new-wave revival to slightly countrified gospel blues.  

Mr. Grow is an entertaining and charismatic bandleader, and although he was apparently in a pretty serious automobile accident a year or so ago, he seems to have recovered from his injuries just fine.  

Towards the end of their set, Mr. Grow brought on stage the talented singer-songwriter Kelli Schaefer, who apparently just got married to the band's drummer.


Friday night's headliners were Seattle's The Head and the Heart, whom we saw last at the Variety Playhouse back last September.  Their popularity has apparently only increased since then, as the capacity crowd (like the previous evening's show at The Drunken Unicorn, this one was also sold out) greeted the band as they took the stage with thunderous applause, and sang the lyrics along with the band on as many songs as they knew from the  first number on.

There's always been a gospel element to The Head and the Heart's sound, but this show felt all the more like a revival due to the audience's enthusiastic adoration.  The applause and cheering after each song was among the loudest I've heard from an audience in a long time.

The band played all the songs that the audience obviously wanted to hear, and introduced a number of new songs as well.  Towards the end of the set, during Feels Like Hallelujah, The Head and the Heart brought Drew Grow's band, Kelli Schaefer, and the members of Black Girls on stage with them for an ecstatic climax.  Despite the number of musicians, the audience's singing still managed to be louder than the music from the stage.

I don't know how anyone could have left Friday night's show feeling anything other than elated.  Outside the 40 Watt, the streets of Athens were filled with smiling young people, which might be the usual for this college town for all I know, but seemed to have that extra something from the joyousness of the evening's music.