The Infamous Stringdusters – Live in Atlanta

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The ticket said 8:00.  I was there shortly after 7:00.  I’ve been to many music venues in Atlanta, but never to the Masquerade.  Doors usually open an hour before the announced time... but hey, just because I was half-exhausted from the day’s Warrior Dash didn’t mean I lacked enough energy to explore around the place, even if I couldn’t go inside. 

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At first glance, or second, The Masquerade doesn’t look like a likely music venue.  It looks like a worn out industrial site.  Which is exactly what it is, with parts believed to date back to the 1890’s when it was an excelsior manufacturer.  If you’re curious, you’ll click.

There’s a few industrial oddities lying about that I suppose were either deemed ornamental or too expensive to remove.

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Adjacent is the abutment for a bridge.  They just don’t make them like this anymore.

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It’s an old area.  And what’s better in an old area than... Graffiti!

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What a nice thought.  And this brought to you by...

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Surely, 99% will agree that 1+1=2.

But not everything points towards decay.  The Masquerade is located in Atlanta’s Historic Fourth Ward, home to (drumroll...) the Historic Fourth Ward Park.  I know this because there were people beginning to gather in the park for an outdoor movie with “bring canned food” admission.  And I asked.  My attention was drawn that direction by a guy playing acoustic guitar, and I did go to hear music...

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Whatever this area may have looked like before, it’s cleaning up nicely.

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Wait, this is a concert review.  So, ears open after wandering through the park, I head back to the venue drawn by the sound of a not-so-melodious trumpet.

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The Masquerade has three indoor stages, Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell.  I was (pre?)destined to Hell.  But that didn’t mean I couldn’t check out Purgatory... a pretty awesome place, with more old things just “et up with atmosphere” as the saying goes in these parts.

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And it has groovy old things in high places that speak of noise, sweat and lost fingers.

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Perfect for a concert, I say.  But there was no show that night.   I didn’t get to check out Heaven as St. Peter’s gate was closed.  But, no worries, admission to Hell was paid.  That’s $15 to hear a band that I hadn’t heard of before, with friends who threw an invitation to a venue that I’ve been wanting to check out.  Heck, I’ve got $15 value of exploration and photos, and I haven’t gotten to the concert.

First impression of Hell is that it’s not hot.  At all.  The room is more of a tomb, with various sizes of old stone making up the walls.  The bar?  A fine sight, brightly colored with hellish red and yellow.

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The stage?  Not so brightly covered, at least for opening acts, but certainly with suitable lighting for the small area.

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You might note that... there’s no one there.   Well, we were, on stools to the side in an elevated platform, and others were in seats directly to the sides of the stage – hardly good sightlines, but seats are seats.

The opening act was James Justin & Co.  Another band of whom I hadn’t heard, not that it’s surprising.  JJ & Co. are as their instruments might suggest... Americana, acoustic sounds that date well before George Beauchamp graced us with the first electric guitar.  The Good News:  acoustics in Hell are just fine.

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The band played a pretty lengthy set, the best of which, “Dark Country,” is said to have made the Americana Top 40, wherever and by whatever means such things are calculated.  But, it’s a fine song, with suitably dark tones and bass thumping low end.  Actually, all of their songs were pretty good, and I enjoyed them quite a bit.  They get extra credit for keeping their energy high while playing to a seemingly empty room, and for being from South Carolina.

The below was an intermission photograph (not staged), not an end of the evening commentary.

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With a capacity of possibly 400, I’d guess perhaps 200 would eventually show up for the headline act.  These would mostly be 20-somethings drawn by the low ticket prices, PBRs, and a desire to dance to what turned out to be an Americana jam band.

Cue the dry ice machine, and the band would shortly be underway.

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Infamous... let’s see.  Dictionary.com says “disreputable, ill-famed, notorious” or “disgraceful, scandalous, nefarious, odious, wicked, shocking, vile, base, heinous, villainous.”  Right, then.  They belong in Hell. 

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Only, the band isn’t infamous in that sense.   They were high energy, talented musicians who greatly enjoy performing on stage.  If the reader saw “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”, they’re basically the Soggy Bottom Boys, with infectious stage presence but playing songs without the benefit of clear melodic hooks.   As each seemed within a breadth of the same beat, the songs all began to sound the same, despite three lead singers and ample soloing space for each musician.

But!  That seemed to be what the fans wanted, a chance to drink, cavort, and otherwise hang out.  They were perfect for that.  And the price was right.

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2 of 5 STARS

The acoustic version is far better.

1 comment :

  1. I could be wrong, but I see some similarities (mostly around the edges) to The Restoration. tks!

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