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Best of Atlanta 2016 After Dark

After Dark BOA


After Dark

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

Best blues bar

Blind Willie's Blind Willie's
BLIND WILLIE’S has been a dependable destination for local and national blues acts since 1986. That’s three decades spent slinging out every style of blues music to dedicated audiences that expect a rollicking good time. Little has changed over the years: The T-shirts, menu, furnishings, sound, themore...
BLIND WILLIE’S has been a dependable destination for local and national blues acts since 1986. That’s three decades spent slinging out every style of blues music to dedicated audiences that expect a rollicking good time. Little has changed over the years: The T-shirts, menu, furnishings, sound, the bands, and even the reasonable cover charges are all about the same as the last time you were there. But you don’t go to a place like Willie’s looking for the shiny and new. You go for the friendly faces and to drink a few cold ones. Blind Willie’s is still one of the only joints to book up-and-coming as well as established talent in the roots field, and supports some of the best local blues artists. The monthly calendar boasts regular performances by such long-standing blues fixtures as “Steady Rollin’” Bob Margolin, Watermelon Slim, and Beverly “Guitar” Watkins as well as more contemporary acts like Mudcat, Joe McGuinness, and the Matt Wauchope Trio. Blind Willie’s has earned its stripes as an Atlanta institution and a go-to spot that any lover of the blues can call home. less...

Best dance floor collab

Speakfoxx & Bosco's Girls in the Yard
A-Town homegirls SPEAKERFOXX & BOSCO’s GIRLS IN THE YARD mixtape collaboration arrived this year as a bass-dropping, confetti cannon-popping summer jam with a lesson in self-esteem to boot. Released by Fool’s Gold Records, the project is full to the brim with anthemic girl power and party songs.more...
A-Town homegirls SPEAKERFOXX & BOSCO’s GIRLS IN THE YARD mixtape collaboration arrived this year as a bass-dropping, confetti cannon-popping summer jam with a lesson in self-esteem to boot. Released by Fool’s Gold Records, the project is full to the brim with anthemic girl power and party songs. Think of “Shooter” as the ride-or-die chick’s club-banger lament upon realizing her dude ain’t quite the hitter he hyped himself up to be, followed by the sense of empowerment that comes from being unafraid to fly solo. With individual grinds that have established them as noteworthy Atlanta-based artists and tastemakers for years, this collective effort is fueling a heightened level of success for both. You might say they’re on some grown woman shit. www.soundcloud.com/speakerfoxxx/bosco-speakerfoxxx-girls-in-the-yard. less...

Best dance music institution

MJQ Concourse MJQ Concourse
MJQ CONCOURSE is Atlanta’s staple spot for all flavors of old-school, new-school, and worldly hip-hop. Want proof? Look no further than the legendary Fantastic Friday nights, featuring D.R.E.S. tha BEATnik, DJ Fudge, Majestik, and DJ Lord (when he’s not on the road with Public Enemy) every first,more...
MJQ CONCOURSE is Atlanta’s staple spot for all flavors of old-school, new-school, and worldly hip-hop. Want proof? Look no further than the legendary Fantastic Friday nights, featuring D.R.E.S. tha BEATnik, DJ Fudge, Majestik, and DJ Lord (when he’s not on the road with Public Enemy) every first, third, and fourth Friday of the month. Come back for Face Off Fridays with DJ Rasta Root and Jah Prince every second Friday. Trap, that old-school, up top sound, Caribbean inflections, EDM, and ’90s classics are all on the playlist. less...
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