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Welshly Arms rock Vinyl Jan 19

Vinyl was the host on a chilly night in Atlanta for the return of Welshly Arms, with support from SCR and The Unlikely Candidates.

Fans who arrived early were treated to a highly energetic and fun set from SCR (Sir Cadian Rhythm), a five piece band out of New York. With a pop-rock sound reminiscent of early Fall Out Boy, and just a hint of ska/funk to make it stand out from the crowd, SCR held the crowd’s attention throughout the set, which began around 7pm—not an easy feat in the age of cell phones. The band was having the time of their lives, with each other and with the crowd, and the set, including the popular “Not Quite Done Yet,” was over much too soon. The song recently surpassed one million streams on Spotify, which keyboardist/trombonist Matt Carlin acknowledged with a huge smile.

Another band that is steadily on the rise, The Unlikely Candidates, took the stage next, with frontman Kyle Morris commanding the stage and giving his all to the music. The band, out of Fort Worth, Texas, has had recent radio success with the 2019 single “Novocaine,” which is a great song, but the performance of “Violence,” from 2017’s EP Danger To Myself, stole the show with it’s distorted vocals and sing-along chorus. “Celebrate,” on which the band collaborated with Dirty Heads in 2017, was another crowd favorite.

Then it was onto the band everyone was waiting for, Welshly Arms. A bit hard to say (it comes from a Saturday Night Live sketch), but a name you should definitely know. There really aren’t enough bands out there who still play the blues, and fewer who do it with a power-punch of soul and rock-n-roll, as this band does so well. From the gritty vocals of frontman Sam Getz, to the enormously fun to watch singing, dancing back-up duo of Bri and Jon Bryant, Welshly Arms is a band that commands attention, and gives so much back to the audience while performing. The set included songs from the 2018 album No Place Is Home, such as “Sanctuary,” an ode to leaning on each other to get through life, “Down to the River,” and the fun, dance-able track “Indestructible.” A beautiful cover of The Beatles “Something in the Way” was the highlight of the set, giving each vocalist a chance to sing a verse, while the crowd sang every word back. Other highlights were “Hoochie Coo,” “Love of the Game,” and of course, “Legendary,” the song that propelled Welshly Arms up the charts after being featured in numerous advertising campaigns.

If you know this song, please sing along,” Getz said beforehand. The crowd obliged, singing back the words that are beginning to come true for this talented band: “We’re gonna be legends!”

SCR Gallery
The Unlikely Candidates Gallery
Welshly Arms Gallery

Afternoon Comedy in Atlanta? 4:20 p.m. at 529 in EAV!

The open mic comedy phenomena in Atlanta is real. On any evening, you can find at least two venues offering a place for upcoming or Atlanta comedy regulars to practice their craft for five to seven minutes.  The 4:20 Comedy Show, Saturdays at 529, is an interesting aberration in the late comedy scene because it takes place in the afternoon.  Each comedian gets four minutes to make the audience laugh. Using a showcase space in the 529 bar in the heart of East Atlanta Village, I have seen some truly hilarious acts on stage at the 4:20 Comedy Show.  Both locals and out-of-town visitors try their hand at comedy, often with great results.

Like any open mic, the 4:20 show (pun intended) is bound to have some acts that don’t quite sell it on stage. But, like any open mic, that is part of the charm. You are sitting there on an Atlanta afternoon watching people working on new material, people who are honing their “tight five,” and people who just figure, “I will try this.” It’s a mish-mash and the mish-mash is the point. Open mics are supposed to be experimental, and even if the jokes land flat, the performance itself is theater.

We talked this week with Peter Akeley, the man who runs the 4:20 show, and an accomplished comedian in his own right.

What is the 4:20 Comedy Show?

I host a open mic in East Atlanta Village on Saturday afternoons at 529. Sign up is at 3 p.m. and the show starts at 4 p.m. Anyone’s welcome to come by and sign up. It’s a true open mic and whoever comes out gets about 4 minutes of stage time.

It’s a work-out room  (for comedy) with a relaxed atmosphere and very little judgment. We get a lot of newer comics just starting out, but it’s also great for more experienced comics to have a chance to work on newer bits and further hone their existing material.

It is an afternoon open mic, the only one in town, how did you decide to do it then?

The mic was started up about nine years ago by Joe Pettis and I’m the third generation of hosts. The show has always been in the afternoon on Saturdays at 529 because it’s a time slot that works for the comics and the venue. Saturday afternoon is a chill time and a lot of folks come to hang out with their friends and catch the show.

How many comedians do you get on an average week? 

We usually get about 20 comics each week. The max we can have is 30 because we wrap up the show at 6 p.m. Again, sign up is at 3 p.m. and the show is at 4 p.m.

Is this an open mic just for young comedians or will the audience get a diverse set of comics?

We have comics of all gender, race, age and whatever else you can think of. It really is an open mic in that way, and I try to keep it a friendly environment for comics to get to know one another. It really depends on who’s at the show that day.

How did you get into comedy?

I did a lot of comedy in school, mostly in theater. I was in a handful of plays and did musicals in high school, often as comedic characters, but really I just started doing comedy when I could. I’ve been “serious” about stand-up for the last six and a half years. I realized there were a ton of shows in town and started going to all the shows I could find. Eventually, I worked out an act and signed up.

What is great about the Atlanta Comedy Scene?

Atlanta is probably my favorite thing about comedy. There’s a tight-knit group of comics in this city that produce great shows. The sheer density of comedy shows per night is daunting. There are more good shows in Atlanta than most entire states. I think part of that is the audience but a lot of it comes from the work people put into producing the funniest show they can.

What would you tell a person who has never done an open mic about trying it?

I think I’d start by saying: Do you really want to do it?

If so I’d tell them about 529’s open mic on Saturday afternoon in EAV (sign up at 3 p.m.)

Or, I might just nod and say “oh cool” depending on how the mood is. It’s not hard to get on a stage, but after that it’s a lot of work. Most people don’t want to talk at a group of people in a dark room. Anyone who wants to try stand-up out should go for it, but it won’t be applause breaks every time.

Anything special coming up for 529?

We have a couple extra special shows coming up soon! On September 28th as part of the East Atlanta Strut we will be having a booked showcase featuring some of Atlanta’s best comics. It’s a great time to cool down from the heat and foot traffic and see some live comedy.

Then on October 5th we will be teaming up with the Red Clay comedy festival! They are sending over eight comics that got into the festival and I’ll be hand selecting a group of 529 regulars that did not get into the festival this year.

You are not only running a comedy show, you are a comedian. Anything special coming up?

Also on October 11th, 10:30 p.m. at Relapse Theater I’m co-producing the second installment of COS-WARS. I get eight comics to cosplay as characters from all over pop culture and then have them do a roast battle tournament. I’m proud to announce the character lineup:

  • Aqua Man
  • Dora the Explorer
  • Velma of the mystery gang
  • Buffy the vampire slayer
  • John Wick
  • Draco Malfoy
  • Wolverine
  • Winnie the Pooh

It’s going to be a silly smash up and tickets will be on sale on Relapsecomedy.com.  We will have a costume contest for the audience at this show! October 11th, 10:30 p.m., Relapse Theater!!!

Any closing notes?

Give me a holler if you end up coming through 529 as a result of the article and I’ll give you one of my best high fives!

 

Find out more about the 4:30 Comedy Show at 529:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1957036874604043/

Where: 529 Flat Shoals Ave SE, Atlanta, Georgia 30316

When: 4:00 p.m. Every Saturday

Wrath of Con 2: Into the the Dorkness Exceeds Expectations!

Dad’s Garage Theater Company Premieres the Godfather II of Convention-Themed Plays

The sequel to 2012’s Wrath of Con blends comedy with raw emotion to recast the story of convention goers as a tale of generational shift and succeeds on every level.

Photo Courtesy of Dad’s Garage

Dad’s Garage Theater Company, arguably Atlanta’s leader in comedy theatrics, has changed a bit since 2012. So has the convention scene in Atlanta.  The original 2012 Wrath of Con represented a world where “The Con,” a fictional analog to Dragon Con, was a place for outsiders to find common ground and escape the world. “The Con” of Wrath of Con: Into Dorkness is a place where those who have been attending for decades are confronted by the changing younger demographic. The younger characters are there for immersive gaming, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Anime; while the older characters are there to recapture memories of The Greatest American Hero and Deep Space 9. This generational clash is a theme through the play and offers the best laughs and the most touching moments.

This is a play for adults, by adults.  The language is rough, the situations can be sexual. It is clearly intended, as most shows at Dad’s, for those old enough to vote. 

Writing on the play was begun by John Carr, Ed Morgan, and Z Gillispie in early January. The three produced a tight and hilarious script. The locale is a convention, but the story is universal enough that a theater goer would not need to see the original production or even be a convention veteran to appreciate the play.  It draws specifically on events and convention situations that were not addressed in the first play, makes subtle changes to the characters that are returning to address the passing of years, and introduces new characters organically into the situations.

After the show I heard one of the actors credit Dan Triandiflou’s direction for bringing out his character’s pathos without stopping the comedy.  And, from the audience we saw the effect of solid directing all night.  Each character is given a chance to bring out a purpose in their action, and an authenticity in their performance that never hits buffoonery, except in the character of Eric, where the buffoonery is the message.

The cast includes two actors returning from the summer production of the 2012 play: Taylor Roy as the aging Hank and Ronnie Johnson-Lopez as the unstoppable party-animal Eric.  Hank’s neice, who is attending The Con for the first time, is played by Hannah Morris.  A new African-American family is introduced with Avery Sharp as father Tim, an eternal member who had been coming longer than Hank, and Anthony Nash as his son, who wishes to go by his online name of “Switch-Knight.”  Rounding out the cast are Justin “4th ” Geer, and Karen Cassady playing mulitple characters.

Before discussing the action of the show, a special note must be made about Dad’s longtime performer Karen Cassady. Playing multiple roles she excelled as the Sipowicz-like character who works for the hotel while pursuing a secret cabal who controls the convention.  She had the audience in raucous laughter with each of her characters. If any complaint could be made about the show, it is this, her other main character, April, was not fully developed and ended up seeming like a trophy or “MacGuffin.” But, the real praise is for how easily she switched between characters.

To the left of the stage, the audience’s left, not stage left, was a monitor that displayed everything from the opening Star Wars-based scroll to various scene change notes, to fake commercials in the style of  Dragon Con’s DCTV and finally, to the closing credits.  The credits are important, remember them.

After the Star Wars scroll tells everyone to watch the play, the cast came out for a song we can assume was called “It’s the Con, Say what?” with each of the leads singing a few versus and with a hilarious line about what is most important at a con for an adult: “disposible income.”  We then are re-aquainted with Hank and introduced to his niece Sara.  Hank wants to show Sara “his” convention, while Sara wants to create new memories. This starts the struggle between them, and is a pre-cursor to Hank’s eventual decline into despair that the things he loves most about the convention are fading memories of favorite shows and experiences, which are also becoming fading memories. Sara is also here to meet a gaming-chat crush.

Tim and Switch reveal their own generational struggle.  For Tim the convention was a place of inclusion and a place of friendship and extended family. He wishes to bring his son to the convention to give it to him as a legacy, and to give his son the chance to find his own way in the con. But, Switch is here for gaming and not Battlestar Galactica.  Switch is a hardcore gamer who struggles with discomfort  in the real world. He is also here to meet his gaming-crush who, to no one’s surprise, is Sara.

Then there is Eric. Eric was introduced in the original Wrath of Con as clueless and wasted.  Eric is reintroduced as wasted and clueless, but this time he carries a secret.

To find out how each of the characters resolves their burning questions, one must attend the play.  This is a review not a spoiler. But, all actors bring their own vision to the characters and bring out the laughs and the feelings in the audience from the opening song to the curtain call.

But, there are some set pieces that bear calling out:

  • Young Sara finding the freedom to curse in front of her uncle, finally ending with “Turtle Dick” had the audience cheering
  • A brief image of Doctor Who’s Tardis with a Lyft sign combined reality and fantasy and showed how attendees arrive
  • Hank’s viral video of his breakdown at the masquerade
  • Young Sara asking who William Shatner was
  • Switch and Sara discovering their true relationship
  • J.K. Rowling re-writing the world
  • Tim’s first costume

There is a brilliant longer segment where Switch is stuck in an elevator due to his choice to “go up to go down” while Sara is moving towards him through a sky bridge traffic jam.  The entire scene is done in the motif of Ken Burn’s Civil War. All of the dialogue is done via texts such as, “My dearest Switch, I long to find respite in your arms again.”  (Note: that might be the wrong verb, but that certainly captures the feel.)

And finally, remember when closing credits were mentioned?  This is where they fit into the review. This is a play with a post-credit scene. The post-credit scene was one of the funniest things I have ever seen on stage.  It was a sendup of the MCU, the Matrix, Kill Bill Part I, and so many other action movies carefully choreographed by Kevin Stilwell. There is nothing more that I can say that would not be a spoiler except that Eric’s secret is revealed.

In summary, if you are a nerd who has attended conventions, you will love Wrath of Con 2. If you are not a nerd who attends conventions and likes a good story about generational shift and love to laugh, you will love Wrath of Con 2.


Wrath of Con 2: Into Dorkness runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. from September 6 to October 5.

Where:

Dad’s Garage and Theater Company
569 Ezzard St. SE
Atlanta,GA 30312
PHONE (404) 523-3141


Disclaimer: Dan Carroll is the Spokesperson and Media Engagement Director for Dragon Con, but he has also been writing theater and comedy reviews since 2011 and keeps a wall between his Dragon Con responsibilities and his reviews. He loves both Dragon Con and live performances.

 

 

Live Photos: The Smashing Pumpkins with Noel Gallagher in Alpharetta August 21, 2019

On August 21 , The Smashing Pumpkins and Noel Gallagher played Ameris Bank Amphitheater.

TAM Photographer Chuck Holloway was on hand to capture the evening.

For more tour dates, visit Noel Gallagher and The Smashing Pumpkins websites.

Smashing Pumpkins – Cadence Bank Amphitheatre – 2019

Noel Gallagher – Cadence Bank Amphitheatre – 2019