We sent field reporter/wuog staffer/all around Athens cool kid, Zac Turner out to report on THREE days of Athfest. He is very tired now and never wants to listen to music again. Honor his hard work and listen to what he thought about Dead Confederate, The Rodney Kings, Never and MORE…..
As a whole, Athfest was a fantastic experience. So much to do, everything to see, there is simply no way to be disappointed. Walking around the classic city with music in your ears is a feeling that can’t be beat. The collective spirit of Athens is embodied in the people and music during Athfest.
The Rodney Kings
This was the first show at Athfest that I made it to. This trio is defined by fast, gritty punk music. Grooving bass lines and mathematical drumming support the wailing guitar and incomprehensibly reverbed vocals. Demonic howls regularly gave way to heavy, rhythmic breaks. The energy of this show was tangible as everyone in attendance banged and thrashed along every step of the way.
Gosh, I’ve definitely seen Four Eyes perform an embarrassing amount of times, but this year’s Athfest performance rates among her most intimate. As the sounds of Reptar outside faded away, Four Eyes began her quiet set inside of Flicker. She prefaced all her songs, as usual, with awkward, almost self-deprecating humor that personalizes her music. Focusing mostly on newer releases, she comfortably strolled through song after song like a slow romantic dance. We could only sit quietly, completely entranced in her musicial spell for the entire duration.
Dead Confederate blew me away at last year’s festival, so naturally I had to do everything in my power to see them again. Their unique blend of southern rock and grunge always commands attention. They certainly have an experienced swagger about them, as they confidently deliver the largest sound they can muster. The band demonstrates a mastery of dynamics as they easily switch between tender, angsty ballad sections and terrifyingly heavy breakdowns. Their sound is certainly carnal, and they always deliver with bombast.
Sehrmann began the set off interestingly by changing their band name to “Oakhouse.” The band then quickly launched into a mesmerizing 3 or 4 song set that left everyone impressed. It’s certainly difficult to characterize their music, though they are self-described as “melodic, experimental rock.” Psychedelic textures and up-paced progressive tendencies interweaved throughout their set. Impassioned stage presence culminated in the lead singer breaking a string in the final song. Without missing a beat they reached their climax on the track “Hated Her” which exploded out of the stage.
This girl-fronted hardcore punk band started off their set at Flicker with Minutemen-like funky grooves. Just as everyone was starting to bop around, the lead singer began to systematically destroy our sanity with a voice that one fellow festival goer described as “an expression that could shatter planets”. Her piercing, deathcore-like screams demanded everyone’s attention and left no prisoners.
On Sunday I caught several outdoor shows at both the Hull and Pulaski stage. The first of which was Ed Roland and The Sweet Tea Project. They heavily featured a talented trumpet player that smartly accentuated their fast paced rock music. With a strongly nostalgic vibe, the group practically forced all those in attendance to hum along. Next I was able to catch Timi Conley and Friends, the newest incarnation of an Athens staple. They alternated between slower groove rock and a few fast, surfy-rockabilly tunes. Highlights included the new song “Good Person with a Bad Heart.” Back at the Pulaski stage, Five Eight with Jack Logan took off with an unstoppable, childlike energy and enthusiasm. They bounced through track after track with impressive guitar solos and trendy overalls, never losing their sense of fun. I closed out my Athfest experience with Don Chambers, who casually performed a very endearing set of southern rock. His personable voice and lyrics easily imbued hot and sweaty listeners with the oomph needed to finish out the festival.
Athfest 2014 brought all the different residents of this weird city together in a beautiful harmony. I can hardly wait an entire year for it to happen again.