Metroplex/688 at Masquerade ATL 10/4/08: “The best high school reunion ever!”

…is scrawled on a giant wall poster commemorating the Metroplex–the club/compound that continued on where 688 left off. Its walls contained all manner of teenage angst, sex, drugs, drama, and cliques thrust together at a time when young people are vulnerable, confused, and arrogant.

Kind of like high school, eh?

Inside you could also find the bands, performers, and characters that gave birth to, and later defined Atlanta’s punk and alternative rock scene. Only twelve of these bands were on hand Saturday night to represent that era…and I say "only twelve" because seeing them makes one realize the depth and variety that was contained in the years of live acts at Metroplex & 688. As I’m still in my 20’s, I did not see this reunion show through the eyes of one who was there "back in the day," but that only makes listening to and learning about Atlanta’s early scene more exciting! And to see local concert-goers SMILING? Reward enough.

Okay, so I dawdled at the door too long and missed the first act, Rotten Gimmick. Sorry guys! Will try to make up for this by plugging your website: Everyone go and give them a listen…their influences include everything from Rancid to Television to Iggy and also the Chameleons. Sounds great to me! Fans who heard them on 10/04 posted the comment: "nice to hear some good old school punk again"–FOXFIRE.

Next up were The Nightporters. They played in Hell–ironically the most cozy (crowd-wise) of the three levels at Masquerade, which worked well for this band. Warm golden lights complimented the soulful quartet with a decidedly rough edge to their vocals. Imagine a fast drive through the desert with a Beat-era poet at the wheel. Rick Richards joined them onstage for a couple songs…

As I’m snapping shots of the band, who should come up to tap me on the shoulder but Paul Cornwell–the event’s organizer and sponsor of the Atlanta Music Museum. Hallo Paul! Can’t thank him enough for giving me a crash course and most gracious welcome to this treasure trove. Please continue to help him build a record of Atlanta’s music history by visiting:

Chances are, if you’re reading this article…you’re part of it already!

Liers In Wait emerged in a dark velvety atmosphere with enough punch of, say, Black Flag to keep things smart and tough. Having visited the Batcave reunion this past July, I caught a bit of that fantastic drama from London in their back pocket as well. The band’s own young Lier in Wait (a boy enjoying his first taste of pre-tween rebellion front and center on air guitar) will surely be ready for the baton to be passed.

Next everyone headed up to Heaven for Dead Elvis, so I was happily swept along with the crowd behind this gentleman…

…and rewarded with piratey spunk, even more camp, and a shower from the on-stage water fight! YEAH! This was straighforward, non-apologetic rock from some folks whose high-profile stage show barely hid the fact that they happened to be talented enough to make the playing part look easy. What if the New York Dolls started off in Atlanta? Songs like "Elvis Had a Big Dick", "Don’t Be Cruel", and "Sonic Reducer" proved that you don’t have to be young, loud, and snotty to rock. Just loud and snotty and lots of fun…

Seeing The Restraints next gave me a sense that this was a truly dangerous band…something dark and real crept out of their music. In the sense that real suffering lends itself to the torture behind blues music…you have the blues influence here and maybe the occasional ska ghost, but for the most part this is classic punk at the root. Their original singer, Chris Wood, was on the cover of Creative Loafing last week…see the article inside CL for more. Incidentally, Jeff Clark has a fantastic first-hand account in October’s Stomp & Stammer that details the history of 688 if you want more info on the club that preceded Metroplex in spirit.

A few pertinent quotes from the autographed wall:

"I can’t believe you thought Pere Ubu was a reggae band!"

"The best thing about skinheads is they’re biodegradeable."

Stay tuned…the second half of the evening with pretty girls, more pics, olfactory delights, and Vomit is yet to come!

–Stephanie Roman

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