Sunday, March 13, 2011

the drunken unicorn

Last night was my second trip to the Drunken Unicorn, a literal hole in the wall music venue in Atlanta. It's part of the MJQ Concourse, variously described as part of the Virginia Highlands or Old Fourth Ward. You wouldn't know the Unicorn was there just by looking for it. Thankfully I ran into some guys on the way to the No Age show who could escort to the front door. From the outside, it's just a little shack in the middle of a parking lot. You descend down a broad concrete staircase to the front door.

Inside, it's quite small. The bar is a separate room to your right passed the front door. Merch is sold from a table in a room at the back of the venue. Performances seem intimate owing to the limited capacity and relatively low stage. I like this venue. The walls are adorned with a mural of flying-wing type UFOs and giant robots that remind me of the Iron Giant.

Cloud Nothings were interesting power pop. I enjoyed the set but didn't feel like I was hearing or seeing anything too remarkable. There's a lot of internet buzz about the band. Who knows, maybe Cloud Nothings are more catchy recorded than live.

Toro y Moi, on the other hand, were fantastic. This was the second time I've seen them. The first was back in Austin at Emo's as the opener for Caribou last year. Chazwick Bundick, the man behind Toro y Moi, is often linked to the contested subgenre of chillwave, consisting bands such as Neon Indian and Washed Out. He plays a highly infectious brand of electronic dance with not so faint echos of 80s electropop.

In Austin, it was a raucous dance party with just about every single body packed into the space swaying, bopping, and shaking. Atlanta was much more sedate. Only a handful of people, including yours truly, managed anything that could be considered close to dancing. Several others in the crowd managed nods but for the most part the crowd seemed rooted to the floor, unmoved by the beat. Lots of people took pictures. Sometimes it feels like the scene here is more important to be seen than to enjoy, like music is a second job and the people show up with all the enthusiasm for a cubicle maze for the sake of being at the right place on the right night.

I dunno. Something about the live music scene here in Atlanta just doesn't feel right. It's like the city has no soul, at least not for "indie" rock acts. Even notorious gurus of making your body move Ghostland Obervatory barely stirred the kids with their glo sticks to cut loose, shake their hips, and have a good time when they came through last year. Ain't no party in a sad, sad city. I hear that dancing is good for the soul. And as a benefit, it also gets you smiling.

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