The cliché “never a dull moment” may best describe the live show of The 54, an Atlanta hard rock band. The band played at the 5 Spot (http://www.fivespot-atl.com/) in Little Five Points recently, and there was barely breathing room in the venue. This band puts on a high energy show, replete with lights, smoke, and leaps into the crowd, reminiscent of eighties band Fishbone. Not only are they very talented musicians, but the 54 shatters many myths surrounding rock bands.
The 54 (http://www.myspace.com/the54) is comprised of Enye Willingham on lead vocals and guitar, Mercury Jackson, bass and vocals; Walter Chastang, lead guitar and vocals; and Mike Jones on drums. Pardon the second cliché, but this band is young, gifted, and black, quite rare in rock this hard. They are charismatic, entertaining, and serious about what they do. Rumor has it that when they’re not “head banging,” these young men attend Morehouse College.
The 54 does something else that few rocks bands do: They bring together people of different backgrounds and races. The crowd in the 5 Spot was fairly equally divided between black and white. The opening band, Parachute Musical (http://www.myspace.com/parachutemusical), is all white and hails from Nashville. While Parachute Musical’s sound is a bit “soft” to pair with The 54, the crowd seemed to appreciate them, especially when they covered a well known song. Watching these two bands and their fans in one venue harkens a vision of utopia, a view of the world as it should be. The crowd’s true excitement, however, became visible as the smoke began to rise, ushering The 54 to the stage.
The bulk of the crowd immediately surged forward. The MC earlier warned that if attendees had never been to a show for The 54, “newbies” should step away from the stage. That warning became clear once the music began. Several people near the front began jumping up and down, and suddenly, the crowd simultaneously raised their hands and passed a fan through the crowd, above their heads. In short order, the band members began being passed over the crowd as well. While this activity may not seem unusual to some, seeing an all black band do this certainly seems a novelty, as does Enye, the lead singer, performing in bare feet. The 54 is definitely not the average rock band.
Interestingly enough, no information can be found about the band, yet they managed to pack a room the size of 5 Spot, which is not a small room. Perhaps The 54 has discovered and perfected the art of “word-of-mouth” promotions. Maybe the band’s presence on a college campus have created the draw, again, by word of mouth, but it is certainly interesting that a simple Google search produces nothing more than the band’s MySpace and Facebook pages, yet they draw crowds in excess of 100. Pretty impressive for a band that has no presence. The band does not appear to have a regular play schedule, so to catch a show, stay peeled to the band’s MySpace. Next up for them is the Insomnia in Villa Rica, GA, on November 6. The band almost comes across as a “secret society;” however, should word reach a larger audience, there is little doubt that these guys will capture them. They have the look, the sound, and the following, all of which can make them a real force in the indie music market. Make no mistake: The 54’s music is not for the “faint at heart.” It is loud, grinding rock music. But, for what they do, The 54 is best bet.