SoCo Music Experience: Atlanta
The Southern Comfort Music Experience (SCMX)
is making its way around the country and Paste is on board to provide a firsthand account of the goings on. Centennial Olympic Park
in downtown Atlanta served as the kick-off venue for this year’s SCMX series. Other cities include: Denver, Colo., San Diego, Calif., Madison, Wis., Saratoga Springs, N.Y. and Tempe, Ariz.
First up for the afternoon was an interesting collective introduced as the ‘best rock band out of Boston
called Bang Camaro
. Bringing back the glory days of Dokken and Winger, the
band featured a chorus of seven singers and had a unique stage set-up -
three guitarists and a bass player front and center with seven singers
lined up behind their axemen.
With songs titled “Pleasure, Pleasure” and "Rock of Mages,"
these boys don’t disappoint if you’ve got an affinity for Schlock Rock. Their synchronized headbanging coupled with in-unision fist pumping would make any PBR guzzler proud.
If the following lyrics are any example, these metalheads from Beantown know how to rock.
You Must Live Tough!
You Must Love Tough!
You Must Die Tough!
You Must RRRock Tough!
Atlanta local (Decatur, Ga. native, home of Paste HQ, to be exact) Ryan Shaw took the stage next. Shaw made this special jet-setting appearance at SCMX in between dates opening amphitheater shows for Van Halen. While Shaw's soulful R&B may not be the best match for Van Halen's veteran hard rock, one can't help but think it's putting him in front of lots of new faces. And that can't be a bad thing for this immensely talented up-and-comer. Since his earliest days, Shaw cut his teeth singing in his church choir, and his gospel-tinged tunes filled with themes of love and hope unabashedly reflect that. But Shawn has the pipes to back it up. He left the crowd awestruck as he broke into his Grammy-nominated song "I'm Your Man," a tender ballad that left more than just one couple locking lips in front of the Paste booth.
Between sets, attendees wandered around Centennial Park checking out various vendor booths. One of the most popular destinations was the American Cornhole setup, where festival goers went head-to-head in a test of both athleticism and will - seeing who could toss the most beanbags onto a distant wooden target. The other hotspot was a neon green gaming tent in the center of the park where wannabe rock stars strapped on tiny plastic guitars to play Rock Band.
Next to hit the stage was veteran rock band Supersuckers. Not to be outdone by the best band in Boston, Supersuckers proclaimed themselves the best rock band in the world. (Note: Fact-checkers at Paste were unable to verify either of these claims by press time.) Frontman Eddie Spaghetti (sporting a handlebar mustache that would make a seasoned cattleman and seasoned hipster equally proud) and his bandmates Ron Heathman, Dan “Thunder” Bolton, Dancing Eagle and Eric Martin kept the crowd happy with a set of slightly silly, slightly raucous homages to sex, drugs, booze and rock ‘n’ roll. Beneath the giant, bouncing inflatable Southern Comfort bottles tossed throughout, the crowd proudly pumped devil’s horn hand gestures and sang along that “Rock ‘n Roll records, they ain’t sellin’ this year!” The most popular by far was “Pretty Fucked Up,” the tale of a woman who “used to be pretty, but now she’s just pretty fucked up.” A good laugh was had by all.
If Supersuckers were all brash and bawd, the next group, Austin’s electro-rock duo Ghostland Observatory brought snaking hip gyrations and howling vocals to a new level. A rather sunburned portly fellow laden with red and white Mardi Gras beads using the ATM beside the Paste table summed up nicely the effect the group had on the crowd. “I don’t know who the hell these guys are,” he slurred to his equally sunburned friend, “
but I kinda like ‘em!” People were dazed, confused
.but visibly impressed. Onstage, lead vocalist Aaron Kyle Behrens hypnotized the crowd with his seriously impressive pelvic motions and waist-length braids bringing impressive energy to the duo’s mix of electro, rock and funk.
Lastly, Against Me! took the stage and these Floridian rockers didn't disappoint with their blend of in your face hard-driving rock. You can see them on this summer's Warped Tour. They were a fitting end to an all together excellent line-up and a great way to kick-off this year's SCMX Music Series. Next stop - Denver on June 28th.