Atlanta's Mess-Around Fest is reason enough to rock out

Atlanta's Mess-Around Fest

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The rabbit-masked, Ramones-esque crooner known as NOBUNNY prefers to conceal his true identity in order to maintain a sense of "fun and secrecy," he says.

He gave birth to his twisted stage persona in a trailer located in the desert about an hour outside of Tucson, Ariz. "I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life," the Bay Area performer explains. "I wanted to love what I was doing, while making money. I came up with the idea to be an animal Elvis impersonator.

"There's already fat Elvis, skinny Elvis, extreme Elvis, female Elvis, midget Elvis, etc., so I figured that being a rabbit could fill the gap of novelty Elvises," he says. "I was living in the trailer, practicing my guitar and Elvis stance, and pretty soon I started writing my own songs...."

NOBUNNY's point of conception sounds about as random as the impetus behind the fine mess happening in Atlanta this weekend. "We wanted to throw a party for ourselves because we deserve one," boasts Travis Flagel, who co-owns Rob's House Records with temporary New Yorker Trey Lindsay. "This is pretty much a party for us and a chance to get wasted with a lot of bands."

Indeed, the fraternal triad of Atlanta's punk and garage rock labels Die Slaughterhaus, Rob's House and Douche Master Records are throwing a party – just for the hell of it. Between Nov. 14--16, the local bastion of indie rock will host the Atlanta Mess-Around at the Earl and Danger House (formerly Rob's House) that serves as little more than a glorified excuse for all involved to pat themselves on the back.

"Between the three labels, we have released over 100 records, and have accumulated some pretty kick-ass rosters," says Douche Master Records owner Bryan Rackley. "We figured it was time for a homecoming."

The Mess-Around brings 16 bands together from as far away as California, Texas and New York. "There are a lot of bands out there who represent us but wouldn't normally be in the same room together, so we wanted to make that happen," says Rackley. The lineup covers everything from the straight-forward rock of Oxford, Miss.'s Black and Whites to the deranged, garage-rock comedy of NOBUNNY, the irrefutable star of the show.

NOBUNNY's mostly original set of songs came to fruition with the jittery, amphetamine strum of his vinyl-only debut, Love Visions. Throughout the album, songs like "NOBUNNY Loves You," "Chuck Berry Holiday" and "Hippy Witch" take shape with a fuzzy, gutter-pop plod and a gruff sense of Muppet-rock humor.

But it's not all fun and games at the Mess-Around. The labels had to cough up a lot of money to fly in such bands as the Wax Museums (San Francisco) and the Hex Dispensers (Austin, Texas). If they can break even on expenses, they may do it again next year.

Drummer David Rahn faces a different test throughout the three-day fest. He plays shows with the Carbonas, Gentleman Jesse, Baby Shakes and Blade 2 – an updated version of the Gaye Blades that features Jared Swilley of the Black Lips, Bobby Ubangi and Jesse Smith. "I'll probably just sleep really late the day before and the day after," says Rahn.

The one act that Rahn narrowly avoided being roped into for the fest is NOBUNNY. Instead, members of the Wax Museums will step in to back the rabbit during his set.

Though he rarely dips into his animal Elvis repertoire nowadays, the bunny isn't ruling anything out. "I may go back to the original NOBUNNY idea some day," he says. "It may not be a million dollar idea, but at least it's a living wage."

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