When asked why they were patting themselves on the back with a festival celebrating their collective rosters of punk and garage rock back in November 2008, the owners behind Atlanta labels Douchemaster, Rob's House and Die Slaughterhaus unanimously barked, "Why the hell not?" No one else would do it for them, so the Mess-Around was born as a reason to get a bunch of bands together for one big blowout. All three labels had built up a lot of steam within the local music scene, and they were striking while the iron was hot. But things have changed since then. Rob's House moved to New York and Die Slaughterhaus releases have become as elusive as Sasquatch sightings. Atlanta's indie music scene has changed, and as the second Mess-Around draws near, it feels less like a victory lap than it does a drunken family reunion.
"When you operate a small label, you're proud of everything and you never stop being flattered when people give a damn about what you're doing," says Douchemaster Records owner Bryan Rackley. "You develop a patriarchal attitude about the people that let you release their records, and Mess-Around is a chance for us to get our 'kids' together so we can gloat and be proud."
This year, the usual suspects, Gentleman Jesse, GG King and Predator, are performing at 529 and the Earl along with Paul Collins' Beat, Reigning Sound, Bad Sports and several newer acts. Although late '70s L.A. punk legends Urinals were originally slated to headline, they've opted to go on before Puerto Rican punk spitfires Davila 666, likely because they're such a hard act to follow.
With so many rowdy bands coming together, fun and debauchery are the mantra for the Mess-Around, as Rob's House co-owner Travis Flagel sums up best: "It's all about turning East Atlanta into a theme park for adults, where you can get wasted, see awesome bands and hopefully fuck someone you wouldn't normally get to fuck; but only at the Mess-Around."