Shotgunning beers in the parking lot
The Atlanta Mess-Around isn’t the kind of fest you want to read a detailed play-by-play of. What you want is an excellent collection of photos that captures the eagerness of the fans, the desperation of the players and the bewildering extent to which everyone partied—you know, literal displays of the excuses as to why a writer who’s actually enjoying themselves absolutely cannot report back every minute detail. We’ve got that gallery for you, plus some tidbits from the lineup in chronological order—but no in-depth critique of anything. That’s not what the Mess-Around is about. It’s about watching the bands you love and the ones you just found out you love, hanging with out-of-town friends and getting good and smashed in the process.
Adam Bruneau of Black Lodge
I missed the kickoff, which was awarded this year to a local goth-leaning group called Black Lodge. I was late because I had two out-of-towners at my apartment, and one of them decided to make an art project of a T-shirt. I’d also fallen prey to a drunken “Mess-Around pregame” show at a bar the night before. (Thanks a lot, Turf War.) Don’t get me wrong, Black Lodge is great. Douchemaster Records is even putting out their debut LP this summer. But I’ve seen them a ton—even at the bar I’d gotten shitfaced at the night before. I kind of let it happen.
WYMYNS PRYSYN, another Atlanta band, was ripping through their set as I walked into 529, where the fest’s daytime shows take place. Maybe it’s because the Mess-Around put this into context for me, but frontman Andrew Wiggins sounded a lot like Orville Neeley of OBN III’s. It was a fleeting feeling and definitely a harsher brand of Neeley, but still an interesting comparison.
Indianapolis’ TV Ghost were absolutely paralyzing. Tim Gick is a genuine weirdo—the singer never broke character, not for a second. Verisimilitude was never threatened, no matter how badly his mic betrayed him. I’d never seen them before, and I’m still fearful that Gick put a creepy curse on the entire crowd.
Closing out the daytime shows was GG King, another Atlanta one band I’ve seen countless times—but this one never, ever gets old. I can watch Greg King’s intimidating pacing endlessly and not be bored. They were fully engaged despite probably only being able to see familiar faces. Rest assured, behind the first couple rows of people, the room was packed with both locals and visitors alike. An amp blew only minutes into the set, but Will Greene mostly compensated for the awkward silence with terrible jokes. I don’t think they lost a single crowd member while the amp was being replaced.
After all is said and done—by that I mean you close your tab and figure out what the hell you’re doing—you get about an hour between 529 and the night lineup at the EARL, a venue in the same cluster of business. Luckily, I live a couple blocks away. But unluckily, there were a bunch of out-of-towners already hanging at my house, as well as Adrian Barrera and a bottle of Fireball. Oops.
Gentleman Jesse Smith
Jesse Smith’s other project, COPS, opened up at the EARL. It’s not a Gentlemanly endeavor, mind you. There’s no talk of hand-holding and other notions of love involved in COPS. Instead, you get a different selection of cuts to the gut—everything’s raw and ruthless, quick-hitting and sometimes even intentionally cacophonous.
Acid Baby Jesus
Acid Baby Jesus was great, I’m pretty sure, but I can’t remember much beyond “I’m a Baby”. That song is adorable and wiped out every other tune for me, unfortunately.
I’d been waiting to see Video since first hearing Leather Leather, the Austin band’s debut LP, last fall. Daniel Fried was maniacal frontman, wearing a black fringe jacket (and all black everything else). That’s when the typical festival bruising began for me. I couldn’t stand to hang back in the safe zone—I had to be up front, which meant my kneecaps were slammed against the stage repeatedly. Nice.
Quintron and Miss Pussycat
Persuaders were rad, complete with Louie’s showy mastery of his Flying V. He got silly when Quintron & Miss Pussycat played—he hopped onstage with maracas. He might love them or he might have been helping out—they weren’t getting the best reception, really. I think nestling them between the Persuaders and Zero Boys may not have been ideal. They could have played alongside Peach Kelli Pop and gotten a better response, I bet.
After the EARL booted its drunken patrons, I reluctantly headed to a house show. I said no probably 10 times then found myself in Fletcher C. Johnson’s van with some Puerto Ricans, two Spanish girls and two Atlantans. Some local acts played, but GHB, a new band featuring Mike (GG King, Dino’s Boys, Carbonas) was all I was able to catch by the time I arrived. Then, all of the sudden, TV Ghost started playing. What? Yes, TV Ghost. Somehow they’d made it to the show—and decided to play a set. Needless to say, it was awesome. I felt really proud of Atlanta. Not only did we host an unofficial after-fest show, but we also had an out-of-town band play. Hell yeah! People were throwing couch cushions and my friends and I were playing involuntary Slip ‘n’ Slide on the beer-glazed hardwood floor. It was a blast.
Day two: Here’s where things get super sloppy. I missed Gentleman Jesse and His Men and Dino’s Boys. (Don’t be sad for me, I’ll see them again soon. They’re both local. I heard they were awesome, by the way.) I stumbled into 529 in time for Fletcher C. Johnson, however, and it was appropriately mellow for a group of hung-over folks. He played a song he said he wrote for Atlanta. Yay, I thought! And then he said it was an anti-hate song, penned for the petulance he’s seen between Atlanta girls. Damn. (He’s right, though.) He faked a closer with “Thanksgiving (We’re All a Part of It),” then covered “Spirit in the Sky”—everyone sang, or shouted, rather, along to both.
Fletcher C. Johnson
Charlotte, NC’s Paint Fumes played a pretty rowdy set, but that’s likely in part to having played Atlanta twice in the recent months. I missed the most recent show because I was at an engagement party. (Seriously, who throws an engagement party when Paint Fumes is playing?) I think I caught their best Atlanta set yet, though: This one had titties! Bare titties! In the middle of the damn day, a girl with the band (I think she’s engaged to one of them) hopped onstage and took her top off and jumped around for an entire song. Whoa. I didn’t expect that. Raucousness even reached the back of the room: An acquaintance in town from Puerto Rico got smacked in the face with a beer—hard enough to cut his nose, even!
Acid Baby Jesus, Los Vigilantes, and co.
I didn’t watch Vincas. They’re from Athens, Ga., and although Jesse Smith and Bryan Rackley of Douchemaster appear to approve, I don’t. Sorry.
Sorry again to Jesse: Barreracudas are my favorite Atlanta band, and I made sure I was front-and-center for their set, which marked the end of this year’s shows at 529. Tuk and Joey from the Biters, a local ‘80s rock ‘n’ roll tinged band, played with them this go ‘round. Needless to say, those two were visibly stoked when the band played Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” for their final song.
Puerto Ricans party harder than any other group of people. I swear. Los Vigilantes proved that onstage—it was only minutes before frontman Javier Garrote was shirtless and guitarist Pepe Carballido had gotten more clothed, donning a poncho and a sombrero. All I really remember is dancing around in circles.
Peach Kelli Pop
I’d seen the Canadian sweethearts Peach Kelli Pop recently, but that didn’t assuage my excitement about dancing around in circles some more. They were cute, as usual. It’s always surprising to my how much fuller they sound live than on recording—though both mediums are equally endearing.
Like Video, I’d been waiting to see OBN III’s for a while. I caught them at Gonerfest last year, but I’m a much bigger fan now. (Cue more bruising at the front of the stage.) Orville Neeley took the mic offstage for half the set, wandering around the EARL and climbing poles and such. I was pretty drunk and he was making me dizzy—I took a break.
I missed a lot of Timmy’s Organism. (I’m more of a Human Eye girl, honestly.)
I adore the Wax Museums. Like Video and OBN III’s, they’re lumped into that Denton/Austin, Texas pile of awesome that I’m so fond of lately. Paul Museum is a nut-job onstage—a friend compared his mannerisms to Jello Biafra’s. The songs are catchy and typically not jarring, but Paul’s presence coupled with silly lyrics make for a pretty weird brand of pop.
I was spent after that—I’d been up front for Wax Museums, and my body was begging me to chill out. I watched the Carbonas from the back, but it was a good thing. I got to see all the locals go insane while they reveled in the band’s reunion. I watched people crowd-surf instead of dodging them. I got to see it all, not just Jesse Smith’s feet while an onslaught of people accidentally rammed me into the stage. After the show, I bet a lot of people were wishing they’d reform permanently—and likely lamented they’d ever called it quits. But if they hadn’t, would Gentleman Jesse be where he is now? Would we have GG King? What else would be different? I’m not one to daydream about the past—I’m happy about where things are now. Anyway, if they’d been together all along, there’s no way that would have been so charged. And the crowd wouldn’t have been, either.
Dave Rahn, Greg King, Todd Martin
I was covered in bruises the next day, and it took me a week before I could revisit this hellishly fun weekend to write about it. This is my first Mess-Around recap for GET BENT, but I’ve done it before for other publications. Actually, this is the third year in a row, but I still can’t do it professionally. And I don’t want to.
Photos By Tim Song