Sunday, January 31, 2010
Atlanta: Liverhearts, Preakness, RIP
Everything is good these days
But all my friends' bands are dying
The last two Friday nights, I have dropped by my favorite Atlanta watering hole (The Earl) to witness the final shows of two fine Atlanta bands, The Liverhearts and The Preakness.
On January 22, I met up with Hutch, Genesee and other Zone 6 Pedalers at the Midway Pub in East Atlanta for a couple fine high-gravity beers (Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA and Sweetwater Happy Ending), after which the crew and I sojourned to The Earl for the grand finale of the The Liverhearts, an ATL band that has been going since the early 2000s.
The core of The Liverhearts consisted of two Matts: Weaver (guitar/vocals) and Glagola (drums). Matt W. specialized in slicing and shredding damaged chords from his Fender Telecaster while simultaneously barking lyrics in a near monotone. Matt G. consistently found new and compelling ways to punctuate space with his primal, inventive drumming that somehow seemed to pull against and mesh with Matt W.'s guitar all at the same time. They were an exciting band to watch and hear. One criticism that I used to hear about them -- and which I shared at one time -- was that all their songs sort of sounded the same. I came, however, to regard this as a virtue. Every song was a slight variation on the same theme of fierce but precise punk rock, each song an exercise in chiseling and sculpting, getting closer and closer to some version of perfection. You can listen to them work their magic here
The Liverhearts went through a series of bassists, their last one being Brandon Arnold. Brandon had his own band, The Preakness, who played their last show on January 29 after several years as mainstays on the local scene. In contrast to The Liverhearts, who were all sharp angles and pointy edges, The Preakness made charming, intimate pop songs that sounded as though they were written and played after waking from a mid-afternoon slumber. Brandon (who played guitar in The Preakness) and bassist Tracy Clark harmonized in an easy, effortless way that always made me feel as though I was listening to friends playing songs over beers in the living room
In the band's final incarnation, the aforementioned Matt G. played drums in The Preakness, offering a solid core to the casual, shambling feel of the band's songs. Their final set was a rousing affair, ripping through their entire repertoire, plus covers of songs by Smog, The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Undertones, among others. As with The Liverhearts, I am sorry to see them hang it up; I thought they had plenty more good songs in them. Hopefully, those songs will find the bright light of day (or, more accurately, the dim light of a dark club) through some other band at some other time. Click here for a taste of The Preakness. And here's one more shot of Brandon and Tracy at their final show:
Both these bands will be missed.
By the way, the opening quote of this post is a slight adaptation of a lyric from the song "Open the Door" by the Atlanta group Magnapop, who got their start in the early 1990s. (The original goes: "Everything is good these days/But all of my friends are dying.") Magnapop is alive and well and still playing shows.