Vision guides Atlanta’s best and brightest. Whether it’s through Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher’s work on Ember City, the new rehearsal studio and practice facility he’s overseeing in Capitol View, or young artists such as ABRA pushing the aesthetics of bedroom pop, R&B, and hip-hop production to dark and inventive new places, Atlantans are never satisfied with the status quo.
New development shuffles the city’s people and cultures around the perimeter like pawns on a chessboard. It’s disruptive, but it only makes us more aware of the relationships Atlanta’s residents have with the urban landscape, and with each other. Experimental hip-hop producer and MC Keith William and modern classical pianist Alexa Lima reinvented their respective musical aesthetics by mashing them together and stripping them of traditional expectations. Lil Yachty rounded up a team of his hometown peers to form his own “yacht club” and push Atlanta hip-hop into artfully gritty new terrain. And Fantasy Guys transformed the city’s tried-and-true rock clubs into all-night beach parties.
Neighborhood-centric DIY music and arts scenes grew out of the Mammal Gallery’s incubator for musical experimentation in South Downtown. Elliott Street Deli & Pub in Castleberry Hill facilitated a thriving grassroots jazz community that’s connected by a scene of world-class musicians. Percussionist Rafael Pereira has built a network that led him all the way to a July Fourth gig at the White House. The festival circuit has boomed. The annual Shaky Knees Festival grows larger with each passing year, and the Wrecking Ball digs deep into punk, hardcore, and emo music to fill a much-needed niche.
In 2016, Atlantans looked thoughtfully at the city around them to find new potential, and plant new roots amid the changing scenery.
— Chad Radford