with Beautiful and Nillah
The Star Bar, Atlanta, GA February 3, 2000
by Mike Cuccaro
Weekdays at the Star Bar are a haven for some of Atlanta's best pop acts. Wednesday's "residence" format has become a way for local acts to network, talk, and experiment in the comfortable, low-stress PBR-fueled atmosphere that Atlanta scenesters have come to love over the years.
So it was that a few of the regular Wednesday bands took the stage on what was a quiet Thursday. The opening act was Nillah, a band that more and more folks are talking about. And with good reason. Their easy manner set the tone for the evening, and this three-piece powered their way through a catchy set of pop tunes. The trio showed some breadth too, moving from a cover of THAT Primitives song, through spacey, Boston-style blisspop, and then onto a rousing Replacements cover with a guest vocalist courtesy of the Young Antiques.
Beautiful swept onto the stage next. These boys are starting to hit the live circuit hard, and their building stage confidence is in lock step with their growing presence on stage. Melodic pop-rock and quirky songwriting come together -- ahem -- "beautifully," and they better copyright those songs before some arsehole pinches them. Most 99X clones would kill to record some of this material; but let's hope Beautiful follows up on their debut CD soon.
The surprise of the evening (at least to yours truly) was headliner Orange Hat. It was difficult to figure out how this "bunch of hippies" was going to blend in and finish off what had already been a fine bill. But with each and every song, Orange Hat dispelled any doubts. Their pop sensibility was firmly intact. No doubt they have heard this countless times, but EVERY fan of Difford and Tilbrook (Squeeze) MUST see Orange Hat. Just see them. Period. Not every song exuded such a strong echo of that famed band, but Orange Hat manages a wonderfully quirky take on the Squeeze sound and it's the closest we're ever going to get to the energy and excitement of Squeeze's heyday.
Oh, what a night! The comfort of a living room, great company (members of several of Atlanta's most promising acts in attendance), and some of the strangest cable television the world has ever seen set off a perfectly matched lineup of bands. With evenings like this popping up at Atlanta's venues, there's absolutely no reason to sit on yer ass at home. You snooze, you lose!