Welcome to Atlanta Where the Players Play
I had more fun in Atlanta in 3 days than in most of the other US cities I’ve been too. My friends and I have a habit of planning a trip around a music event. A concert or a music festival to anchor the trip. That way we have set plans for one of the days of the vacation and get a chance to see music venues and show cultures around the country.
Most recently we tripped out to see The Sound of Animals Fighting play the Masquerade in Atlanta. The crowd culture in every city we’ve has been different in subtle ways and the music venues all seemed to reflect the local culture and lifestyle. This article will dive deep into our recent trip to Atlanta, Georgia, what we did and what we saw.
As a Texas native, the first thing I noticed leaving the airport in Atlanta was how different the Highways were. Georgia and Atlanta have more hills and difficult geography than Texas. Restricted by the natural landscape the highways are much restricted. They turn, bend and curve with the terrain. The trees are different. Tall and thin, with light bark; birch, dogwood, and maple line the highways. That’s right, trees right up on the highways. No access roads, no fast food joints or hotels right off the highway. They have less space so they fit what they can where they can. Aesthetically, it’s magnificent.
As you make your way into town you will cross under bridges, train tracks, as the highway carves through hills. Then you see it, downtown. Dominated by a handful of modern and post-modern skyscrapers and the Mercedes Benz football stadium. Right away you notice everything looks kind of the same. Compared to San Antonio where we have a mix of new and old architecture, Atlanta seemed more one-note; at least in the daylight. While SA juxtaposes the modern and historic architecture, ATL puts the wealthy and poor, religious and irreverent side-by-side.
Our first stop was a brunch spot called Folk Art. The atmosphere inside is definitely laid back and the decor leans towards artsy-funk. Reading the menu you can’t help but see the place was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I ordered the foul play chicken and waffles with the whiskey peach compote; Sean got his ATL drip on with the BLT w/ a fried egg; Stevie P got patty melt, a diner classic. Gus opted for the folk southern fired, which was fried chicken on biscuits with fried eggs & sausage gravy. As Guy Fieri would say, the food was “out of bounds”. My chicken and waffles took me to Flavortown and the coffee was great.
From there we hopped on some e scooters and went off exploring. First, we headed towards what looked like a large park in front of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library but soon went off the main street onto a side road. We took a random turn down a wide walking path and stumbled upon a really cool skate park and adjacent outdoor art space. We rode the scooters past a half mile of graffiti and Godzilla statues when we came upon the Krog St Tunnel.
Krog Street Tunnel
The Krog Street Tunnel is known for its artwork. You might have seen it featured in the marketing for the FX show Atlanta. The entirety of the tunnel is covered top to bottom in art and graffiti. It’s great on foot or for cyclists. Atlanta allows artists to paint the walls, pillars, and sidewalks. Krog St Tunnel is a great place to take some pictures.
The tunnel is a short walk away from the Krog St Market. The market is a high-end food hall and retail space. I’d compare it to something between Market Square and the Pearl area here in San Antonio. It’s a nice place to stop and have some snacks. We picked up some local beer from Hop City. Try the Tropicalia from Creature Comforts brewing based out of Athens, Ga.
Famous for their ‘lemon pepper wet’ style chicken wings, Jr Crickets was a must for our trip and let me tell you, the wings lived up to the hype. Fresh off a nap at the Airbnb, we hopped in an Uber and made it out to the original location for dinner before the concert. The place is a bit of a dive, so it was just my style. We sat out on the patio and took in the night air.
The wings themselves are small and crispy, so order plenty. The real star of the show here is the sauce. Lemon pepper wet is a mix of two classic wing sauces; Lemon Pepper and Medium Hot. Jr Crickets has other sauce combo options, Dirty Bird – Buffalo BBQ with Lemon Pepper and Sanchez style – Teriyaki with Lemon Pepper
The Sound of Animals Fighting
Finding the venue was an adventure in and of itself. The Masquerade is at the bottom of a 3 story indoor-outdoor mix-use development space with 3 stages named after the afterlife: Purgatory, Heaven, and Hell. We were wondering around street level when an observational homeless man saw an opportunity to make a couple of bucks and pointed us in the right direction. We headed down 3 flights of stairs and turned the corner to see the first outdoor stage. TSOAF was playing inside to the right in the Purgatory venue. We decided to skip the openers and show up just in time for the headliners; we timed it perfectly.
If you don’t know, The Sound of Animals Fighting is a rock supergroup made up of members of RX Bandits, Circa Survive, Good Old War, Chiodos, Finch, and The Autumns among others. They had only played a handful of shows since forming in 2006. They had only toured once before in 2014 playing only 7 shows. We missed our chance to see them then and jumped on the opportunity to see them this year when the announced a string of only 8 shows in 2019. In our college days we would take unsaid illicit substances and trip out to the DVD they released in 2007, this was one show for the bucket list. The show was everything we wanted and more. We might write a full review sometime soon.
Atlanta and strip clubs are inseparable. Strip joints have been essential to the rap scene in Atlanta and Magic City claims partial responsibility for launching the careers of Migos and Future. I think you can see the club featured in a T.I. music video. The club has been visited by 2Pac, Biggie, and Michael Jordan; so in a way, we were just following in their footsteps. If you have time check out the GQ documentary Magic City about the place. The cover was only $20 and dances were only $10 which is a straight-up value anywhere in the country and these girls hold nothing back. There was a good mix of men and women there for the show and as a group of mixed nationality guys, we fit right in. It’s definitely worth the stop if you are ever in town. If you’re up to it take a peek at their website to see how seriously they take stripping in Atlanta.
What We Missed
One thing we tried to do this first day was to check out a speakeasy bar called The Red Phone Booth. You need to enter the code into the rotary phone in the booth out front to gain entry. You can ask around to find out what the code is, but we’ve heard rumors that the phone number for the bar works. The Red Phone Booth is a prohibition era style speakeasy with a cigar bar. We were really excited to check this place out, but they have a strict dress code and we hadn’t planned ahead. I think its definitely something to check out if I ever go back.