Tennessee's Those Darlins on Friday kicked off 7 Inch Atlanta's 2010 concert calendar in grand style, performing in front of a surprisingly large crowd at The Earl.
Opening the festivities was local act Chickens and Pigs. Based on their name, I always figured this act was some silly hot rods and sailor tattoos rockabilly band with talent in spades but little to no originality. I was way wrong, as this is a folk singer with a very Southern sense of humor performing with a couple of ladies. This act I misjudged was more than just good. They turned out to be the second best band on the bill.
Up next was Those Darlins' tour mates, Alabama's Pine Hill Haints, who gave me an opportunity to cruelly and wrongfully misjudge another act. When I first saw this unit hit the stage with one washtub bass and two styled pompadours, I figured Dollywood must have a hiring freeze or something. By the third song, I was tapping my feet to lightning-fast, well-played Appalachian music.
The main event was worth the wait, as Those Darlins brought it live. They also brought a large, and older, crowd. As you can see, I could not get close enough to take decent pictures of Kelley Darlin and her Fraggle-like headdress that didn't show the backs of people's heads.
All three ladies are talented, as is their drummer, who helped sing one song I hadn't heard before.
A raucous set strengthened by the crowd singing along to album tracks and Nikki Darlin spitting beer in a girl's mouth and crowd-surfing during a cover of "Shakin' All Over" inspired an equally intense encore.
I would call Those Darlins the South's best-kept secret, but since I heard one stranger tell another that he was there because he heard about them on NPR, I'd say the word is out.