A Judi Chicago concert is a spectacle of sweat, booty-tight shorts and pasty-white legs. Ben Coleman and Travis Thatcher jump around and thrust their pelvises while shouting garbled lyrics into their microphones.
"The whole point is to have fun," Thatcher says. He and Coleman talked in the parking lot at the Starlight Six Drive-In, as the annual Soap Box Derby unfurled around them. Minutes later, the two would join their other band, the psych-garage outfit Early Modern Witch Trials, for a late-afternoon set, seeming to confirm suspicions that Judi Chicago is just a hipster joke.
But the duo says it's serious about dance music. Originally from London, Coleman is a product of the early '90s rave era. His inspirations range from Farley "Jackmaster" Funk to the Fall. He moved to Atlanta a few years ago when he married Katherine Schweigert, former general manager at Georgia Tech's WREK-FM (91.1). She introduced him to Thatcher, a local musician who records experimental electronics under the guise Recompas.
The two first teamed up as DJs, and spun records at local bars such as Slice. "People didn't seem that responsive to the kind of stuff we wanted to play," Coleman says. "We were like, 'Look, instead of bashing our heads against a brick wall, we can write the stuff ourselves and take it out to a stage, which is the environment people are more used to here." The multi-instrumentalists prepped a self-titled album in a matter of months, crafting surprisingly sophisticated tracks to accompany their onstage pranks.
The duo has since landed a following among the rock 'n' roll set, which seems to only like dance music if it's packaged in kitschy posturing and punky energy. "That's basically what we do – disco music," Coleman says. "It's fun, it's repetitive and it links to the house music. It's about jacking, going crazy and having a good time."
Judi Chicago's CD release party takes place Mon., July 23, at Drunken Unicorn.