Posted by Liz Attaway, 11/4/20

There is a buzz that lifts through the air as the lights dim on stage, you hear several voices raise in excitement, several clap with enthusiasm, while others stand quietly in anticipation. A small group shuffles through the dark to their instruments as the lights go up and blaze into a prism of blues, greens, and reds. The crowd cannot contain itself and erupts in applause, singing, and joy. The future of live music hangs in the balance on this weekend of performances, because if done right, this could be the norm until we “get back to normal.” And Big Night Out is the path forward. With acts like Moon Taxi, Big Boi and his friends, as well as Futurebirds, and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, we can proudly announce that live music is back AND SAFE.

Everything was done to ensure the best concert experience, while keeping the attendees safe. Starting with the mask requirement for public spaces and to maintain a 6-foot distance was key. You can say that they’re required all day long, but without constant reinforcement, some people will have a few drinks and forget. We literally saw a group of people employed to tell people to put their masks back on in public spaces. Second key is the way they handle the crowd. With pods that separated the crowd into 2, 3, 4, and 6 into groups that were socially distanced 6 feet, this is how you keep people safe, yet can enjoy a great show. We wouldn’t be surprised if these “rage cages” caught on and started a trend. Yes, rage cage, write it down, it’s the future of enjoying music safely! Every time I heard this term, Smashing Pumpkins Bullet With Butterfly Wings lyrics pop into my head, “Despite all my rage, I’m still just a rat in a cage.” Insert rage in front of cage! Genius. But, back to pods themselves, this was a great experience in tandem with the mask requirements! We were VERY pleased with the whole experience. Good job, Big Night Out!

On Friday, we saw two fun bands perform, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and Moon Taxi. Here’s a little bit about them and some photos!

Reminiscent of semi-local greats like Here Come the Mummies, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong kicked-off Big Night Out Atlanta. From the funky beats, to 70s grooves, to big band tunes, they’re a high-energy band that loves what they do! Maybe it’s the lack of live shows they get to do, but the enthusiasm permeates all their music and gets the audience excited. It culminates in long guitar solos, jams to island sounds, and fun sing-alongs like the Lion King Cover.

What struck us about Moon Taxi is that this is the product of all those years of rock-n-roll rolled up into one good band! The sounds of the 80s, electronica, indie rock, fast/slow rock of the early aughts, 90s reverb all permeate each song. This well-produced, smooth sounding, indie/alt rock group, has a great guitarist, fantastic singer, and a ton of energy. They mentioned that they hadn’t toured in 240+ days and you could feel every minute of the happiness of both the crowd and the band. Turn it up to 11!

Saturday night was delayed due to a huge rainstorm that dumped a boatload of water on the audience. Here’s some photos from that night, courtesy of Drew Dinwiddie.

Futurebirds are touted as an indie rock band with country rock elements, Wiki calls it, ‘Psychedelic Country.” Also according to Wiki, they have toured with Drivin’ & Cryin’, Grace Potter, and performed at big music festivals, like Bonoroo.

The Marcus King Band is a southern rock band out of South Carolina that mixes its sound with blues and big band.

Sunday night was all-in for the local former-Outkast great, Big Boi and boy, did he bring the crew to play!

Mixing in DJs, rock-rap of Kneel’n Rey, Killer Mike, Goodie Mob with CeeLo Green, Sleepy Brown, it was an all-out bass fest.  You could feel it right in the chest, and it was GLORIOUS. Performing OutKast favorites like Rosa Parks, Bombs over Baghdad, to Goodie Mob’s Cell Therapy, there wasn’t a lack of grooving and singing along. Big Boi and his pose always bring so much energy to their performances and this one was the same! I am a little partial to OutKast as they were popular when I was in college back in the day, and I love how much they mix sounds of the late 90s and early aughts with up tempo samples and maybe even a little hint of cotton-eyed Joe mixed in for fun. It was a fun time dancing, singing, and feeling the energy from each performance.

Did we mention we love the term rage cage? That’s really want the pods are and we hope to see more concerts and big festivals go this way. Getting live music back will help our souls and if it’s done this way, we’ll all feel safer for it. Welcome, back live music!

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