Every year, Creative Loafing, Atlanta’s only alternative weekly, sends out a survey to determine the top readers’ choice in many categories, from the best Vine account, to the best work around and to injustice. All the winners, along with Critics’ Picks, are published in the Best of Atlanta issue.
This year’s Best of Atlanta event brings that issue to life, putting the city’s best restaurants, entertainment and art under one roof — the Georgia Freight Depot. Hosted by the experienced design and creative agency, On Point Creative, the party showcased the best of this city.
As the sun was setting on the glistening downtown skyline, Wolfpack ATL kicked off a satisfying night of both surprises and classics. Voted the best local jazz act, they took their performance from the stage to the crowd, dancing around while concluding their soulful show. Automatic Improv, the lone comedy act of the night, also involved the audience as the source of inspiration for composing angry letters and as the enforcers in an elimination game.
Inside the Freight Depot, restaurant tables with samples lined the perimeter, and a stage was centered in the back of the dark, brick interior. The star of this stage was Okcello, an Atlanta Symphony Orchestra cellist, whose performance attendees enjoyed while nibbling at samples from many different restaurants. One of the most popular restaurants was Mango’s Caribbean, which offered rice and beans that was worth going back for seconds.
Many of the food samples were desserts and coffee. Near and dear to many Tech students’ hearts; Sublime Donuts offered mini doughnuts, while Octane made drinks to order. Banjo Cold Brew also provided caffeine in the form of their regular cold brew and nitro cold brew.
Cult Carts gave out unique cotton candy flavors, like carrot cake and passion fruit. With the award-winning flavor Nekkid Espresso and Orange Dream that revives memories of Dreamsicles, Revolution Gelato won over ice cream fanatics with their dairy-free versions.
Throughout the event, performances by the Imperial OPA Circus delighted viewers. From a contortionist on stage and an acrobat twirling from a cloth hung from the ceiling inside, to fire-twirling outside, the performers kept the event exciting.
The event’s art was curated by noted muralist and local art community leader Peter Ferrari. An art gallery, featuring Yoyo Ferro, Fahamu Pecou, Niki Zarrabi and more local artists, was displayed on the walls of the Freight Depot.
A black light corridor full of timely work by Fabian Williams of Occasional Superstar was a highlight of the night, especially the pieces critiquing Trump and police brutality. Some parts of the exhibit were interactive, with mirrors, hanging streamers to walk through and a small flashlight that changed how a box-shaped painting appeared.
Three acts stood out throughout the night as showcasing the unique character of Atlanta. Candybox Revue, which tied to win Best Dance Performance, performed their burlesque show. Spoken word poets Tawny Powell and Nate Mask shared their mature, relatable and comedic poetry. Winner for best progressive pop, CLAVVS entertained with a sound reminiscent of Banks, and with the outline of the capitol building behind them, reminded the audience of local-grown musical talent.
Though the fortune teller looked intriguing, lines were long and slow for that booth. The point of having food trucks at an event with so many food samples was unclear. While the schedule was posted in the Facebook event, it would have been helpful to provide it on site.
Since the event was on a Thursday night, turn out could be better if it was held on a weekend in the future. Additionally, the event was at the same time as the Tech football game, so bad traffic could be avoided by better scheduling.
Overall, this year’s iteration of the event was a successful slice of all that Atlanta offers, from entertainment to food to art, and delighted both new transplants and life-long citizens. With tickets starting at $20, the event offered Atlanta specialities to a wide demographic. This sampler of crowd-approved culture made it hard to doubt that Atlanta is a “world-class city.” The “Best of Atlanta” issue can be read on the Creative Loafing website.