Editing everyone else’s Athfest coverage made me want to write about my own experience, especially since there are a lot of bands we haven’t covered yet. So here you are, stories from the Athfest trenches as told by Music Director, Brett Bennett.
To me, Athfest is a time where you can roam around downtown all day and run into your friends, run from venue to venue seeing bands, and tell yourself that you deserve one weekend where you aren’t stressed out about work stuff, that 30 page paper you need to finish for summer research, or that you don’t have enough money to buy that new Morrissey album coming out. It’s staying up all night, waking up at friends’ houses and probably making bad decisions. What happens at Athfest stays at Athfest, I say.
Well, I saw some bands:
The most memorable performance I saw on Friday night was the Coathangers. I regret missing the supposedly insane Muuy Biien show that packed out Go Bar and featured lead singer Josh Evens rocking the wheelchair like early Jarvis Cocker/ Jean-Luc Godard, but I had never seen the Coathangers before and couldn’t miss them. They are a trio of totally rocknroll girls, one with Steve Stephens hair, the other two with tattoo sleeves. They often ran around switching instruments, each one able to rock on out the other’s instrument of choice. They had so much energy and insanity and at one point the lead singer had the microphone wrapped around her neck, choking herself. The moshpit got a little crazy, a few people thought it was a good idea to mosh with a beer in one hand, but I’m proud of all the bruises I accumulated trying to stay afloat. There was even a lull where I found and hugged an old friend from high school. Their show was so much fun I ended buying a shirt and their newest album on vinyl.
I got to see a couple more bands on Saturday. I saw Muuy Biien on the outdoor stage at Caledonia. Josh has been rocking a tie and suspenders look that looks nothing but cool on him, especially before they started and he was sitting down, wearing sunglasses and surveying the crowd. Their set was different from what I’ve seen in the past, they felt more like The Fall than ever, probably because Josh’s injury means he can’t thrash around the stage as usual. But despite breaking his hip he is still an intense, commanding frontman. At one memorable moment he sat back down, the epitome of cool while his band was still slamming away behind him. As always, they manage to balance a wild intensity with a musical tightness, making them a stand out act.
Caledonia was too packed to venture inside so I sat down and waited for T. Hardy Morris to come out. I can’t claim to be the biggest Dead Confederate fan, but Morris’ solo stuff never fails to make me happy. There’s a darkness lurking in the lyrics, but it is the musical equivalent of relaxing on a nice day. It was the perfect act to see sitting down, trying to peek through the crowd to catch a glimpse of the band.
Afterwards I went to the Georgia Theatre rooftop. I remember last year finding the rooftop an annoying venue because a lot of people are just there to drink and talk to their friends, making it a pretty weird venue for the lineup of ambient, experimental and well, Ginko, that landed that spot. But I was crammed on a booth behind a bunch of people, it was that sort of location and that sort of hour of night where ambient music like Gyps really worked for me. The claustrophobic setting I had landed in is probably the perfect place to listen, rather than the openness of most of the rooftop. Also the transition into Kids was weirdly memorable and impressive.
Finally, I ended up at the Go Bar where I saw Dip
When given the opportunity to see Dip I really can’t turn it down, because I never have more fun at a show than at Dip shows. And of course, they went all out for Athfest. Dip is hard to explain to someone who’s never seen them, and they are hard to enjoy the very first time you do. They are a joke rap duo who calls their genre “dip” and they mainly chant the same words and the crowd bounces around singing along. Part of their schtick is that they are completely absurd, but the crowd is so earnest and seemingly unironic in loving them. People go crazy for them and for a first time seeing them, that’s alarming. At Athfest their show had a complete storyline, putting David Jernigan in a “life-sized dip decryptor” causing him to die. After the boys panic and advertise Tlaloc they realise they can save him with the power of butts. Queue people dancing on stage, David Jernigan coming back to life, the boys dancing around in tiny underwear. Dip shows are surprisingly ambitious ventures and the crowd is always a weird sweaty mess.
So I had a great Athfest. Saw some great bands. My only qualm is that I forgot to turn the flash on my disposable camera.