This event, coupled with the demise of the monthly parties led to a quiet time in Chattanooga for electronic music. The scene as it existed before had essentially been destroyed. No promoter wanted to do shows at Fathom anymore, nor did Fathom want any part of hosting those shows. With nowhere else to go in town, and the prevalence of large festivals and great acts consistently coming through Nashville and Atlanta, the scene in Chattanooga was on life support, but only for a little while.
It’s hard to pinpoint where to place credit for the slow and steady revival of the electronic music scene in Chattanooga, but two things really stand out when you look closely. The first is the evolution of venues in Chattanooga. In 2011, Track 29 opened as a non-smoking venue and around the same time Rhythm & Brews decided to go fully non-smoking as well. In a non-smoking venue in Tennessee, you are free to have 18+ shows if you want. These venues really deserve credit for adapting to the changing demographics and working hard to appeal to the kids who club owners and promoters want to see come out and attend shows.
The second watershed moment came with Zoogma and Arpetrio. Zoogma hails from Memphis, Arpetrio from Nashville, and for three to four years now, they have been playing shows in Chattanooga, slowly building their following and their performances organically. They are not the only bands to have done this, but they have done it better than just about everyone else.
Both bands have gone out of their way to consistently play shows in Chattanooga and, in turn, build a solid fan base. Those early shows didn’t always sell out, but they do now, demonstrating proof that there is still an audience to be had for great electronic music if you are willing to put in the work to earn those fans.
Electronic music has exploded into the public consciousness over the last few years, and as a result that scene will never again have the luxury of flying under the radar. These days, there is just too much attention for the electronic music scene to ever go back to where it was. Bands now have to earn a following organically, just like everyone else.
A situation like Fathom will probably never occur again in this town, where promoters were given basically free reign over a venue of that size, with very little supervision (until something actually went wrong.) Track 29 and Rhythm & Brews are certainly big enough to accommodate parties of that size, but they are also run by professionals who have a stake in a well run business.
Several local bars, JJs and The Social most notably, have begun to host electronic music monthlies. In fact, The Social hosts DJs every Friday and Saturday night, the only venue downtown to do so. There is renewed interest from venue owners in attracting local talent and the audiences that come out to those shows. The growth has been slow, but encouraging; it’s a sign that after doing so many things wrong, the electronic scene is town is starting to get it right.