In early March, I received a phone call from a friend asking if I and anyone else interested felt like packing themselves in a Volvo station wagon and driving down to Atlanta for the annual Mess-Around Fest, one of the wildest trash-rock fests going on six years. We cleared our schedules.
After driving 800 miles, I found myself in the East Atlanta downtown area. The shows were scattered between early afternoon shows at 529 and later at The Earl, a local bar/venue that seems like the kind of place you hear stories about. So cut the bullshit, right?
After spending the good part of Friday morning cramped in between my two buds, I found myself front and center with what looked like the entire East Atlanta punk scene. Brooklyn’s Ex-Humans were about to start. Now as a native New Yorker, I’ve always felt that certain sub-genres and sounds are frowned upon sometimes in NYC. Segregation among the kids runs high in the five boroughs, but not in Atlanta. The Ex-Humans started their set with what sounded like an explosion. I hadn’t felt that sense of relief and clarity from music in so long.
Games ripped through some solid power pop and the gospel trash of King Louie seemed like a sauced sermon. By nightfall I was doing my best to stay awake. I felt beaten, broken down from all the action-sound. When the Marked Men took the stage, it was as if the bar had erupted and began breathing life into itself. Men and women flying through the air like an invasion. There is nothing more redeeming then witnessing the return of a band that has been absent from our lives for almost a decade.
On Saturday, when Dinos Boys took the stage, it was if I had traveled back and was present at the incarnation of their sound. This all seemed to good to be true. Performances from the Coathangers and GG King slayed as well.
Finally, after much patient waiting, legendary garage goons the Spits took the stage. As I stood next to the stage I could feel tension in the crowd, as if everyone was wondering what was next, and how could all this fun end tonight? To witness a band like the Spits is like witnessing a war, if a humorous war. As I climbed atop some orphan bass cabs to get a better view of the carnage, I balanced myself by gripping the wall, in awe of the tidal wave of humans climbing on top of one antoher. To date, I can’t think of anything like what I saw.
As I write these words thinking about my journey back north, back to work, back to whatever, I’m filled with gratitude and thanks to Atlanta, and to rock ‘n’ roll.
Photos by Keith Marlowe; words by Marco Louison.