Live Review: Judi Chicago, Noot d' Noot @ Lenny's 7/26/08

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Live Review: Judi Chicago, Noot d' Noot @ Lenny's 7/26/08

I should've known something was up when people started driving the wrong way in the emergency lanes up GA-400 South. When I finally saw the truly epic traffic jam that awaited me and thousands of my fellow Saturday night revelers on the Connector, I assumed I was having an unlucky night. I was both right and wrong.

An hour and a half later (on a drive that usually takes 15 minutes), I reached Lenny's Bar to attend an edition of Judi Chicago and Noot d' Noot's summertime monthly collaboration they're calling Worming the Starhole (whatever that means). After fretting for an hour about getting there too late, I arrived just before Atlanta's favorite half-British electro dance pop duo started their set. I hadn't missed anything. Maybe my luck was changing.

Judi Chicago exercises a sort of gloriously played-out irony to its extreme benefit. The group deals in style as much as music; on this night Travis Thatcher wore a sweatband and cut-off sleeves, while Ben Coleman sported a full suit from which he would remove pieces throughout the performance. (Most Judi shows end in near-nudity.) Thatcher played a keyboard strapped around his neck, as much of an accessory to his aesthetic as an actual instrument. Coleman plays guitar and works the mic, inserting plenty of commentary into the Judies' sets. He informed the small but enthusiastic crowd that the band is working on its second LP (the follow-up to last year's x 1,000,000), and hitting on the collective audience as if it was one person he was trying to seduce. As always, the songs from x 1,000,000 inspired feverish movement and a kind of shiny/gritty euphoria—the half-filled room responded accordingly.

When a vital piece of audio equipment failed halfway through the set, however, Thatcher and Coleman were forced to fill the gaps with a guest rhythm section (three members of Noot d' Noot), guitars, saxophones, keys and charisma. Though it was obvious their pre-recorded backing tracks were gone, the dancing was able to continue. "To me you guys are a gorgeous girl," Coleman told the crowd apologetically, "and tonight this just isn't happening." After the set concluded rather admirably, considering the situation, he added, "Thanks guys. That was weird."

nootdnoot1.jpgNoot d' Noot is quickly becoming one of Atlanta's busiest bands and, surprisingly, a personal favorite. When they took the stage after Judi Chicago, half the crowd went with them, as they have tons of members to fill out their salsa/jazz/funk/afro-beat/miscellaneous psychadelic arrangements. Their two female vocalists (billed as "Electro Siren" and "Circuit Diva" on the band's MySpace) have miles of attitude and just oozed fun into the already festive room. The collective released its first full-length, Goofer Dust, in July. It serves as fans' first opportunity to experience an evening's worth of the surreal, cheerful charm Noot d' Noot brings to its live performances. As far as I could tell, the set went off without a hitch, a fortuitous end to a roller coaster of an evening.

nootdnoot2.jpgYou can catch the next (and final) edition of Worming the Starhole August 16 at Lenny's.