the back pockets
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the back pockets

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | SELF

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | SELF
Band Pop Avant-garde

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MINT gallery hosted a fundraiser show at WonderRoot on Saturday, and the scene at the end of the night felt like something lifted straight out of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Several bands including Social Studies, Roman Photos, Buffalo Bangers and more were on the bill. The Back Pockets brought it all to a close with a performance that was tied together by a strange S&M funeral theme. Theatrics are par for the course when it comes to the Back Pockets' merger of performance art and derelict indie rock. But this show felt different. The room seemed poised for something epic to go down, and the tension was palpable, like some sort of psychic mousetrap was just about to snap.

The group pushed their way to the front of the crowd in a lumbering procession, marching to the boom and scrape of microphone stands banging against the concrete floor, and aluminum baseball bats clanging together. It was already hot when the drums started. ...Easily over 100 degrees in that cramped basement. The band fired up and kids were packed in like sardines loosing their minds and dancing their asses off.

The creepiest photo Ive ever shot with an iPhone

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* The creepiest photo I've ever taken with my iPhone

To the right of the band a body — some young kid playing the part of the guest of honor — was laid out while a priest sprinkled him with holy water, made out with a girl dressed as a widow, and drooled gobs of fake blood down his chin. At some point a very menacing cow-headed dominatrix guy emerged from the darkness behind the priest, holding a whip.

I didn't mind the holy water or the fake blood splashing on me during the show. But the crowd was surging so wildly that I was pushed against and then pretty much over the body, placing me between the cow tormentor's whip and it's intended destination. The tips of the tassels from his leather whip grazed past my face and arms and then I got the hell out of the way.

...and the band played on. It was difficult to pay close attention to the music while dodging the whip, and being caught up in the maelstrom. But the Back Pockets sound that night was a clatter of horns, keyboards and rickety percussion. Emily Kempf fronted the ragtag group, singing and strumming a banjo as they dredged through what had every appearance of a particularly heretical performance.

Philip Frobos from Carnivores hovered in the background, clanging baseballs bats, and even came to the front to sing one song before the whole scene collapsed into a post-industrial drum circle in which the group merged seamlessly with the drunken and elated mob. It was hairy, humid as hell by the end, and anyone left standing looked slightly damaged by what they had witnessed. - Creative Loafing


It's easy to mistake the THE BACK POCKETS' ragged display of noise-folk and performance art for an urban art-hippie thing. But there's not a lot of peace and love going on within this marriage of broken banjo strumming, keyboards, industrial rhythms and theatrics. Frontwoman and mastermind Emily Kempf leads a revolving cast of players in an all-encompassing cabaret that stands apart from Atlanta's rock 'n' roll bar scene. The sound is Of Montreal mixed with Marquis de Sade, with ramshackle musical elements unfolding alongside actors' exaggerated vignettes. The audience is armed with drumsticks, tearing down the wall between spectator and performer. Through it all, band members don face paint of jeweled shapes, clouds and flowers, taking on a feral presence that, despite its anti-pop connotations, results in songs and scenes that are compelling and catchy. - Creative Loafing


"The Back Pockets are an extremely hard band to introduce. If I had to label them, I’d say “interactive gypsy punk-folk.” They’re like the Merry Pranksters but more eclectic. They have the power to adapt to context, forming their performances in real time and pulling it off with a cheerful cheekiness that sucks the crowd into their trippy world of wide-eyed wonderment. Basically, The Merry Pranksters wish they were The Back Pockets. They play songs that make everyone want to bounce, stomp and carpe diem. They make you think anything can happen in an almost manic sort of way. It’s probably dangerous. " -Kristen Fox (Performer Magazine) - Performer Magazine


Discography

"Beautiful Crappy Demo" released Aug. 2009

"Blissters and Basements" - released Aug. 2010 (God's Room Records)

"Hello Dandelion" - released Feb. 2011 (God's Room Records & Double Phantom Digital)

"Fast Cloud Slow Cloud" - released Aug. 2011 (God's Room Records & Criminal Records)

Photos

Bio

Back Pockets are a female fronted indie art rock gaggle of musicians & performance artists. Instruments include trombone, violin, bass, guitar, drums, keys & banjo. Artist Emily Kempf started the band in August 2008 by accident in an attempt to create & direct a weird play.
The Back Pockets have released 4 albums & a slew of music videos, toured the south east & east coast extensively, and have played upwards of 200-300 shows over the past 3 years. They are extremely diy, extremely creative, and extremely driven. Back Pockets live shows are very energetic, musically tight, and visual works of art. They make all our own merch & album packaging themselves, each cd is hand drawn & painted personally, each lyric book hand sewn, each tee-shirt spray painted as well as hand embellished with thread work.