Metroplex/688 at Masquerade ATL 10/4/08 (part 2)

…from the brilliant show that was Dead Elvis, we move to a performance from Mary My Hope fronted by James Hall, who still continues to gig regularly with the soul and charisma of a young, living Elvis.

As the crowd swayed along to the driving rock of "Wildman Childman" and blissed out to "Suicide King", the scent of clove cigarettes and roses swept through the air. This evening Mary My Hope was the band that truly embodied the mingled purity, sinful delights, and the rush of youth that people came out to remember.

Oh, and there happened to be some hot chicks in the crowd too!

(Pictured on the left is "sultry friend" and Denise, right…thanks for the smoke!)

After the set, I noticed Bauhaus music playing somewhere above our ears and realized that the DJ had been providing a timely soundtrack for us between all the live performances. Unfortunately I’m not sure who the DJ was, but it just goes to show that every detail was looked after in contributing to the atmosphere.

Ok, so I searched Purgatory twice for Vietnam (which probably sounds ridiculous to veterans) and figured I missed them. Instead, I sat down with a shirtless and very friendly Soren, who tells me that he began working in the early scene at the age of 14…and also toured with Dead Elvis. We chatted about Metroplex for a bit, and then compared the speed of modern seacraft with that of Roman warships. Great boots also, that Soren.

With Latin and a few vodkas swirling my brain, I was treated to the arrival of Vietnam!


Each offering was an energetic mix of art-school, post-punk and Roxy Music flair…my favorite was the synth-heavy "Snake Charmer" song. Started looking around for their record to pick up on my way out the door, then remembered what decade this was…got to search for some MP3s instead. Bleegh. You’d imagine a band like this would have some really cool album cover art!

Next up were The Swimming Pool Q’s…whose name I kept forgetting until I learned the story behind it. Once onstage, they whipped us out of our progressively more drunken haze with a barrage of eccentric new wave rock. Their set sounded professional and polished, but fresh and fun at the same time. Pogoing along to "Rat Bait" made for a bit of a blurry photo here…

When the night could not seem to become more colorful, we were delivered the psychedelic explosion of Phreddy Vomit & Plastic Jesus:

With a bit of rockabilly swagger and a dash of glam glam swish, the boys launched into a most energetic romp featuring Sharon Tate, a fine tribute to Upchuck, and an impromptu go-go dancer. This was the see-and-be-seen performance of the evening…and if all these pretty things are going to hell, make room in the handbasket for me!

Next, The Rays brought the maturity factor up a bit. Not sure if this band still tours regularly or not, but they are super-tight and move easily from harmonious Southern rock, to engaging percussion arrangements that originally hooked you into bands like Gang of Four. The band members appear to truly enjoy the night with genuine grace…as does the crowd. You see no crossed arms or posing here…just smiles all around from watching these relaxed and capable fellows:

In true punk form, the evening ends with an assault on the eardrums from Hallow’s Eve. Their death/thrash metal performance was sure to send everyone off remembering that if it’s too late or too loud, you’re too old…and no one wanted to hear that!

All in all, the Metroplex/688 reunion likely reflected the same mix of people who came round 25 years ago: punks, hippies, rastas, mods, freaks, and pansies. Anyone who used to be on the outside looking in probably looked out the doors of the Masquerade on 10/4/08 and just laughed. (And by the way, where were the 20 and 30-something Atlanta indie kids and punks of our current "scene"? Those who claim to hold the key to the hippest happenings now…were not to be found. Comrades, put down the PBR and visit cause it’s your history, too!)

The bands, fans, and staff of these early Atlanta clubs were one and the same…this fluid environment created a sense of camraderie that has held friends together for 25, 30 years. They supported each other very much like a family…some had great success, some failed, some are gone. But united in spirit, they’ve given this city a gift of music that we are truly grateful for. Now go break stuff!

–Stephanie Roman

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