Sunday, November 22, 2009


Over the decades, I've been to all types of themed clubs: '60s underground garage rock, '70s disco, the obligatory '80s new wave, '20s speakeasy, Brit-pop, goth, industrial (lame), soul and hip-hop. But I do not recall ever attending a '60s psychedelic-themed club. I'm very much into the British whimsical style of psychedelia that the likes of Donovan and Syd Barrett mastered, anything about gnomes or butterflies (if you can write songs about those subjects, then you are a great songwriter), though I've never been so crazy for the generally American version that's more about wanky guitars.

Anyhow, I was excited about The Fringe Factory, Atlanta's monthly club that was previously held at the Highland Ballroom (where we checked out the Peachtree Soul Club last week), but which has recently moved to a much larger space, the Spring4th Center in Midtown. Upon arrival last night, I was immediately impressed with the attention to detail in the club's decoration: the little mushroom statues (I saw a guy try to put a drink on one), the beaded curtain style door in the space and time machine chill lounge (where there was an Asian gal DJ playing some out-there, mostly ambient music), the 45s strung together in the Peacock Lounge, the kaleidoscopic art on the walls and the '60s movies playing in several rooms. There were only a couple of bearded fellows in attendance who looked as if they had actually experienced the '60s, but in general the crowd skewed pretty old, near my age (38), and it was not so dominated by hipsters. A decent amount of people were dressed up. My tie-dye and various velour shirts no longer fit. The smoking jacket didn't really make sense. My blue velvet jacket is a little too warm for a club. So, the wife (who only wears black and purple) and I were dressed as if it were any odd night out.

In the main room, the music blasting was obscure psych and I couldn't name even one of the bands they played. Psychedelic music doesn't necessarily lend itself to dancing, except for that spacey hippy dance one can really only do in an ironic fashion. So the main room was more of a band room, while the Peacock Lounge around back was where the majority of the dancing was going on to a '60s soul soundtrack. I wasn't nuts about either of the two main stage acts, the New Orleans organ/puppet show, Quintron and Miss Pussycat, whom I saw over a decade ago play in the LAX Theme Building's Encounter Bar in L.A., or the Electric Cycles, a local garage band with floppy hair and suits. But in the Peacock Lounge, there were two terrific sets by Spencer Garn's Psychedelic Organ. This local gentleman can play the organ and he and his all-instrumental band grooved frenetically for two sets, including a late night one that packed a small enthusiastic crowd 'til 2:30 am. What was with the one couple dirty dancing? They were so wild that people had to clear out somewhat when the girl flipped around with her heels in the air. I thought it neat that this club went to 4 am, though I didn't last to that hour. I haven't checked out Atlanta's nightlife scene extensively, but compared to elsewhere, I'd say it's very much lively and groovy with plenty of gigantic, fairly unique club spaces and no shortage of swell ideas and themes. And drinks are so cheap, $5 for a cocktail in many places, as if it was 1992.

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