Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dinosaurs, Trashcans, and lots of grown-up music at The Star Bar

While soul aficionados were dancing upstairs, The Trashcans were debuting and Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction were making their return to Atlanta last night in the sweltering downstairs area of The Star Bar.

The downstairs festivities were in honor of Kenny Crucial, as the Atlanta mainstay shares a birthday with Paul McCartney and Igor Stravinsky.

Kenny's party did not start until fairly late, so everyone who got there at a decent hour was treated to the funk and soul sounds of The East Ponce Soul Faction. Seeing professional musicians at The Star Bar was very odd, as hearing their mellow if not boring music at a place I associate with local bands like the ones headlining downstairs made it feel like I was in a coffee shop. As a funk/soul novice/ignoramus, I had to tell myself the songs sounded like the musical numbers from The Mighty Boosh minus the comical lyrics just to find the silver lining.

Jeffrey Butzer and his band opened the party downstairs, and they played a more exciting brand of music for grown-ups than the Family Funk did upstairs. The group played an exciting mix of surf rock and songs that sound like they were lifted from old Hollywood Western films. An electric stand-up bass on a tripod and a guitarist who faintly resembled Elvis Costello added to Butzer's visual presentation. Everyone who was sweating it up downstairs seemed to enjoy the set, especially this one guy with a Tom Skerritt mustache who was dancing like a madman during the last couple of songs.

Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction were next, as they played a fun though disappointingly brief set to end their two-month break from playing locally. One notable difference came during "Playa Hermosa," as Mark played bass on the song instead of dancing with Morgan. I said in jest after yet another strong performace of "Coke Dick" that the band had made up for the absence of dancing Mark Naumann. All kidding aside, it's great to have a 7 Inch Atlanta favorite playing local shows again after a short hiatus.

Mack Messiah, Crucial's alter-ego and band, played next and exceeded my expectations. Crucial wore a Garth Brooks microphone and was seemingly close to whamming his head on the low-lying ceiling every time he leaped during a song. In one of these songs, Crucial sang about wanting someone to pass him the joint. It was like a mid-tempo Derek Lyn Plastic song (though it was not as good as the real thing).


Rabbit (formerly known as Verlaine) played their loud, three-piece artsy rock next, but it was overshadowed by what was going on upstairs. The lovely Ruby Velle and The Soulphonics headlined the soul party upstairs. Few things are more Southern than soul, and no one in town tackles this reviving genre as well as Ms. Velle and The Soulphonics. They did a lot of covers of soul standards, but they also performed a few Velle originals.

The final band of the night, downstairs or upstairs, was The Trashcans, featuring Nate from Cars Can Be Blue on drums, Jack and Alex from The Barberries playing guitar and doing most of the singing, and their friend Ryan on bass. They play the sloppy, fun garage rock you'd expect from what's pretty much the new Barberries. Several originals and one Barberries tune, "Witch's Titty," made up the set, and each song kept the crowd who had stuck around well past 1 a.m. dancing. Jessica Juggz and Morgan even provided vocals on one tune.

By the end of the long night, $5 had gotten attendees a chance to hear everything from classic soul to Trashcan-style garage-punk.

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