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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 electronic act BOA Award Winner

Mayhem
In the last year, Anthony Rotella, aka MAYHEM, accomplished more than seems humanly possible. Between long bouts of European touring, the Atlanta-based DJ and producer collaborated with Atlanta trap star Waka Flocka Flame and classic crunk mastermind Mr. Collipark to release the song “Bust” for Pornmore...
In the last year, Anthony Rotella, aka MAYHEM, accomplished more than seems humanly possible. Between long bouts of European touring, the Atlanta-based DJ and producer collaborated with Atlanta trap star Waka Flocka Flame and classic crunk mastermind Mr. Collipark to release the song “Bust” for Porn Hub Records. He also remixed Barely Alive’s “Scoop” alongside EDM icon Antiserum and set dance floors ablaze with his remix of Rich Homie Quan’s “Type of Way.” In the midst of it all he played more than 30 North American dates on the massive Seven Deadly Sins Tour. We could run down a laundry list checking off the dozens of other EDM, trap, drum-and-bass, and hip-hop artists he’s shared the stage with, collaborated with, and remixed in 2016. But there just isn’t enough room in this short blurb to do the man’s track record justice. Just check him out the next time he plays another hometown gig, if it isn’t sold out. www.soundcloud.com/mayhem. less...

Best hip-hop hangout BOA Award Winner

Since 1978, BULLDOGS has served as Peachtree Street’s premier hot spot for gay African-American men. After 38 years in the game, the club still fosters a thriving scene, rich with hip-hop beats and a smoking dance floor. It’s also one of the more intimate clubs in town. So be prepared to get a littlemore...
Since 1978, BULLDOGS has served as Peachtree Street’s premier hot spot for gay African-American men. After 38 years in the game, the club still fosters a thriving scene, rich with hip-hop beats and a smoking dance floor. It’s also one of the more intimate clubs in town. So be prepared to get a little closer. And when the DJ blends a NOLA bounce track with a straight-up Dirty South beat, the joint is lit. Be prepared for a bouncing, bumping, and grinding good time. less...

Best homegrown music festival BOA Award Winner

One Musicfest
When ONE MUSICFEST announced a Dungeon Family and Organized Noize reunion as part of 2016’s lineup, a collective cheer rang out across the Perimeter. Sure, packing out the daylong festival’s seventh year with headliners such as Ice Cube, Big Boi, Gary Clark Jr., Erykah Badu, A$AP Ferg, and more ismore...
When ONE MUSICFEST announced a Dungeon Family and Organized Noize reunion as part of 2016’s lineup, a collective cheer rang out across the Perimeter. Sure, packing out the daylong festival’s seventh year with headliners such as Ice Cube, Big Boi, Gary Clark Jr., Erykah Badu, A$AP Ferg, and more is plenty enough to draw accolades from far and wide. But reuniting the old-school Dungeon Family and Organized Noise crews — Killer Mike, CeeLo, Sleepy Brown, Goodie Mob, Cool Breeze, Backbone, Big Rube, Rico Wade, Ray Murray, Slimm Calhoun, and the almighty Witchdoctor — is unprecedented. It’s the party we’ve all been awaiting for decades but never thought would actually happen. One Musicfest made Atlanta hip-hop history in 2016. www.onemusicfest.com. less...

Best indie pop princess BOA Award Winner

ABRA
ABRA’s successes this year have made her 2016’s flagship act for Atlanta’s misfit art hip-hop collective Awful Records. She’s grown from the self-proclaimed “darkwave duchess” to darkwave Princess, the title of her July 15 EP released by True Panther Sounds. She has a natural ability to risemore...
ABRA’s successes this year have made her 2016’s flagship act for Atlanta’s misfit art hip-hop collective Awful Records. She’s grown from the self-proclaimed “darkwave duchess” to darkwave Princess, the title of her July 15 EP released by True Panther Sounds. She has a natural ability to rise above indie hip-hop and bedroom production by creating an atmosphere of dark, sultry ruminations about life in the Dirty South. She’s a young, savvy, and empowered artist breaking free from musical clichés, and forging her own path. “If you wanna roll the dice on me, OK/If you think you can afford it/Come play, come play,” she sings in the song “Vegas.” Judging by the media blitz surrounding the Princess EP, she has no plans for chilling out or slowing her prowess as one of the defining artists navigating the underground music scene. www.soundcloud.com/darkwaveduchess. less...

Best jazz act BOA Award Winner

Monkier
Innovative groups such as MONKIER are changing the face of modern jazz by fearlessly blending sounds and reshaping the character of the music. Since starting in 2013, Monkier has expanded into an eight-piece ensemble featuring Zac Evans (sax and vocals), Andrew Lastrapes (guitar), Robert Boone Jr. (drums),more...
Innovative groups such as MONKIER are changing the face of modern jazz by fearlessly blending sounds and reshaping the character of the music. Since starting in 2013, Monkier has expanded into an eight-piece ensemble featuring Zac Evans (sax and vocals), Andrew Lastrapes (guitar), Robert Boone Jr. (drums), Brandon Boone (bass), Umcolisi Terrell (sax), Justin Powell (trumpet), Will Hollifield (sax), and Richard Sherrington (trombone). With ambitious compositions such as “Cold Open/Closure” from this year’s Highs/Lows full length, the group straddles the fringes of hip-hop and jazz, flowing from intimate rap verses into sprawling fusion breakdowns. With each new song Monkier revels in musical spontaneity and adventure, and raises the bar for Atlanta music. www.whoismonkier.com. less...

Best legacy for a local composer BOA Award Winner

Jeff Crompton
For nearly four decades Atlanta native and saxophonist JEFF CROMPTON has stood among the city’s finest jazz musicians. The 56-year-old retired Fulton County High School band teacher conjures his mojo as a composer and leader of his own groups large (Edgewood Big Band) and small (Edgewood Saxophonemore...
For nearly four decades Atlanta native and saxophonist JEFF CROMPTON has stood among the city’s finest jazz musicians. The 56-year-old retired Fulton County High School band teacher conjures his mojo as a composer and leader of his own groups large (Edgewood Big Band) and small (Edgewood Saxophone Trio). In 2016, Crompton’s legacy was encapsulated on a 7-inch disk. “Tutwiler Depot,” originally penned in the early ’80s, features a glorious collision of baritone, tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones that re-creates the Mississippi train station where W.C. Handy first heard the blues. The B-side, “King Oliver in Savannah,” a relentlessly boogying piece of music written in the late ’90s, is a buzzing hive of reeds, rendering a portrait of the once-great leader of one of the world’s finest jazz ensembles. Like everything else Crompton writes and plays, both songs prod the intellect with a balance of reverential blues and avant-garde jazz that swings like the devil’s juke joint. Crompton has long been viewed as one of Atlanta’s most accomplished players and composers. Now the proof is available for listening. www.jeffcrompton.com. less...

Best local blues act BOA Award Winner

Barrel House

Best local music video BOA Award Winner

New Perfume (Chelsea Shag)

Best new punk band BOA Award Winner

Mutual Jerk
Even in the bleak, death-afflicted world of Atlanta punk in 2016, MUTUAL JERK’s eponymous demo cassette stands out as an original. The Atlanta quartet celebrates the darkest aspects of modern punk — minimal structures, razor-sharp guitar fuzz, and lo-fi tape hiss — with a skewed fusion of gothicmore...
Even in the bleak, death-afflicted world of Atlanta punk in 2016, MUTUAL JERK’s eponymous demo cassette stands out as an original. The Atlanta quartet celebrates the darkest aspects of modern punk — minimal structures, razor-sharp guitar fuzz, and lo-fi tape hiss — with a skewed fusion of gothic and amateurish punk melodies. The group’s got a warped vibe — all of the musicians are learning their way around new instruments as they go. Guitarist Bobby Michaud (Uniform) and drummer Rob Sarabia (Rapturous Grief, Strategic Warheads) hadn’t played their respective instruments live before Mutual Jerk’s 2015 debut. It’s also bass player Sam Camirand and singer Tyler Roberts’ first band since settling into Atlanta’s punk scene. Songs such as “4 Door Sedan” and “Midtown Set” build around Roberts’ off-center singing style. His vocal delivery takes shape like short stories. Each word is fueled by genuine emotion, a welcome departure from the macho bravado that often dominates abrasive punk music. Mutual Jerk’s demo tape has made the rounds over the last year, earning the group credibility. Roberts’ on-a-dime transformation from an amicable introvert off stage to a bounding frontman on stage makes for a hell of a fun show. www.mutualjerk.bandcamp.com/releases. less...

Best old-school punk band BOA Award Winner

Antagonizers ATL
The street punk stalwarts in ANTAGONIZERS ATL aren’t chasing trends. Not in Atlanta, at least. Working-class punk rock went out of style here right as the garage-punk boom took hold in the early aughts. Fortunately, those who really felt it then, such as longtime Atlanta musicians Richard Hendersonmore...
The street punk stalwarts in ANTAGONIZERS ATL aren’t chasing trends. Not in Atlanta, at least. Working-class punk rock went out of style here right as the garage-punk boom took hold in the early aughts. Fortunately, those who really felt it then, such as longtime Atlanta musicians Richard Henderson (guitar), Eric Antell (drums), and Billy Fields (bass) never lost their zeal for old-school punk. That’s why all three got the call in 2012 for singer Bohdan Zacharyj’s local relaunch of Antagonizers, a band he originally founded in North Carolina. The band’s universal messages of self-reliance and self-respect continues impressing the old guard and winning over new fans, both here and on the road with famous tourmates the Queers and Gang Green. The May release of the band’s debut full-length, Working Class Street Punk (Pirates Press), unleashed the band’s catchy, tough, and memorable songs that are ripe for circle pit sing-alongs. www.antagonizersatl.com. less...

Best progressive dance club BOA Award Winner

THE SOUND TABLE is the cornerstone of Edgewood Avenue, where the current epicenter of Atlanta’s weekend nightlife developed its sense of style. Since opening its doors in 2010, the Sound Table has served as an essential spot for delicious dining and making moves on the dance floor. The club’s DJsmore...
THE SOUND TABLE is the cornerstone of Edgewood Avenue, where the current epicenter of Atlanta’s weekend nightlife developed its sense of style. Since opening its doors in 2010, the Sound Table has served as an essential spot for delicious dining and making moves on the dance floor. The club’s DJs spin a sophisticated set of funk, soul, R&B, and hip-hop. This year, the addition of Drums On Fire on the first Thursday of every month, added of bit of old-school Atlanta flare by exploring underground beat culture through the lens of DJs Ryan Rasheed (LebLaze, Prefuse 73), Chris Devoe, and Gnosis. less...

Best trivia night BOA Award Winner

Hip Hop Trivia ATL
Bar trivia got bigger and deffer in 2016, thanks to HIP HOP TRIVIA ATL. Though not the first in Atlanta, it’s quickly become the best. Case in point: Name another hip-hop trivia night where the answer to your question is liable to be found rubbing shoulders with you at the bar? Since taking over Wednesdaymore...
Bar trivia got bigger and deffer in 2016, thanks to HIP HOP TRIVIA ATL. Though not the first in Atlanta, it’s quickly become the best. Case in point: Name another hip-hop trivia night where the answer to your question is liable to be found rubbing shoulders with you at the bar? Since taking over Wednesday nights at Slice on Piedmont last May, the notable guests just keep rolling in — from iconic names in the game (Andre 3000, Diamond D, Killer Mike) to tastemaker artists/DJs (Trendsetter DJ Sense, Sean Falyon, DJ Dibiase, Wally Sparks, DJ Kerosene, DJ Hourglass), from hip-hop journalists (Benjamin Meadows-Ingram) to industry heavyweights (Kawan Prather). When noted culture and lifestyle writer Branden Peters got the idea to mix two of his favorite things — hip-hop and bar trivia — it was only natural that he huddle up with his Day 1 Radio homie and co-host Maurice Garland, as well as Need My Music’s own Crystal Thomas. And Hip Hop Trivia ATL was born, with Peters and Garland as co-hosts. But it’s the regulars with their ironic team names (Brew Tang Clan, Shug Lite) and theme nights (Pimp Trick Gangsta Clique, #1 Hit Wonders) that make it a good time. Forget that pretentious, see-and-be-seen vibe. This is where real heads go head-to-head in dance/karaoke drink challenges. With $5 drink specials for all and $50 bar tabs for the winning team, ain’t nothing to lose. Wednesdays. 8-11 p.m. Slice, 75 Piedmont Ave. N.E. Suite 150. www.instagram.com/hiphoptriviaatl. less...

Best way to give gentrification the finger BOA Award Winner

Wrecking Ball ATL
New development continued displacing Atlanta’s cherished cultural institutions in 2016. None, however, received such a raucous send-off as the Masquerade thanks to WRECKING BALL ATL. The venue’s decades-long tenure as a staple for Atlanta nightlife came to a close with a two-day punk, hardcore, andmore...
New development continued displacing Atlanta’s cherished cultural institutions in 2016. None, however, received such a raucous send-off as the Masquerade thanks to WRECKING BALL ATL. The venue’s decades-long tenure as a staple for Atlanta nightlife came to a close with a two-day punk, hardcore, and emo blowout that brought everyone from Gorilla Biscuits to the Julie Ruin to the Masquerade and Historic Fourth Ward Park. Music lovers young and old bonded over the role the Masquerade’s Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory rooms have played in their lives. The vibe was warm, the sun was hot, and the music was loud. But the festival symbolized the closing of one chapter and the opening of another for Atlanta music, with Atlantans coming out in full force to raise a drink to the Masquerade’s legacy and a middle finger at the looming luxury apartments moving in. www.masq.com. www.wreckingballatl.com. less...

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