Editor’s note: Here it is! Our coverage of Athfest 2013. From 7 of our best writers here’s a list of show reviews in alphabetical order for your reading pleasure. We had a lot of fun this year and hope you enjoy living vicariously through our words. Photo albums will be up this weekend.
Athens Tango Project
The Athens Tango Project is a group of 5 multi-instrumentalists who, as the name suggests, perform classic tango songs. The ensemble consists of upright bass, guitar, flute, clarinet, saxophone, drums and vocals arranged differently track by track. The musicians presented themselves very much in line with how the tango presents itself: cool, calculated, mature and passionate. Although there was no shouting, dancing, or other stereotypical signs of passion it could be read through the precision of their movements and deliberation in their playing. It was certainly a shock (though a pleasant one) waking up from the late night hardcore shows of the night before to this and the audience dancing the Argentine Tango. Throughout the show I was wondering where I could get a coffee and a cigarette and I am not even a regular consumer of either. In the end I was left with one thought over anything: I really need to learn how to tango. – Daniel DeSimone
Even though they were just sound-checking, Bambara had me frantically searching and emptying out my pockets in search of my ear plugs. After the show, a couple of friends told me that they achieved a comfortable volume level listening to the band out on the patio. Bambara seemed to poise their torrent of deafening, filthy haze at killing a man on Saturday night. Not with the blunt force of a hammer to the head like Manray but with a complete sonic immersion that keeps your head submerged in muddy waters till you drown. Harsh loops of feedback that cut through the thrashing skirmish of drummer Blaze Bateh. It seems unavoidable to apply the feeble descriptor “intensity” to Bambara. They have a ferocity that can only be encapsulated by the word DREAMVIOLENCE, the band’s most recent LP that conjures up strength of emotion that could only be found in the brain’s chasm from reality. Scary and painful like having your teeth drilled through, a spell cut slightly short when Reid Bateh’s calls for a replacement guitar went unanswered. – Will Guerin
Cars Can Be Blue
Missing a bass player, Cars Can Be Blue was the reverse of Eureka California, with a female front and a guy on drums. Before the show, a friend of mine asked what kind of music they were, and I instinctively said “they’re kinda like twee punk.” I said it without too much forethought, but it does seem to fit. Some of the lyrics are very straightforward, passionate, and VERY vulgar, but some are just downright cute and charming. The chorus in “I Am a Slut” was the former – filled with so much profanity that the shock value had the audience bursting out laughing that a voice so sweet would be saying them. I’ve had the chorus stuck in my head since then, but to my chagrin there’s not recording of it. If the band chose one direction for lyrics to stick with they may have come across as a novelty, but instead, they operate on multiple levels between innocently playful and the downright obscene, delivering a triumphantly fun show. – Lawson Chambers
The Athens’ Jam staple, Dank Sinatra, went on fairly early in the evening but that didn’t stop them from using an accompanying light show. As spinning colors danced across the ceiling of the tent, the members of Dank Sinatra danced across the stage. After throwing inflatable instruments into the crowd, the band led the audience on an ever-progressing rollercoaster of epic highs and groovy lows. As to be expected from a group of this nature, every member was a virtuoso at his instrument. Guitar solos clashed against each other throughout, only pausing to allow frantic keyboards and organs to come to the front of the mix.
Their knack for funky dance jams was apparent as they segued through the first three different songs without stopping. Everyone in the crowd was so engrossed in the multi layered compositions to even stop dancing for a moment. Despite their long and flowing song structures, Dank Sinatra’s performance never, at any point, seemed boring. This is due to the fact that they know exactly how long to lay down a groove. Right after the audience settled in to one riff, they would deftly turn on a dime by taking the intensity up, cooling it off, soloing, etc. On this sunny and hot afternoon it would have been easy for everyone to just chill out and fan themselves, but Dank Sinatra wouldn’t allow it. It is in their very nature to force all of those in attendance to rave and sweat until they have nothing left to give. – Zac Turner
“I’ve heard things about Dead Confederate. They’re good, but can they follow that Easter Island set?” Yes. Yes, they can. Dead Confederate is a completely different breed of animal from their stage predecessors. Using feedback and pure sonic aggression, their very being screamed grit. The music was undeniably heavy and perfectly accented by the band’s chaotic stage presence. To the tune of raucous grunge music each member stomped and paraded around with an animal magnetism. The drummer pounded so hard on his set that I could visibly see each piece shaking and threatening to fall over.
Intimate crooning combined with dissonance and gargantuan sonic assaults on classics like “Wrecking Ball.” These older songs blended perfectly with songs off of their recently released album In the Marrow. To showcase their versatility and pay homage to their upbringing in the “middle of nowhere” (how they nostalgically referred to their Athens home) they played a country encore. Everyone held up their drinks and grabbed their buddies to sing along before the band ended their blistering set with another crushing guitar number. Dead Confederate followed a very talented band by playing louder and heavier from start to finish. No person in attendance had their eardrums spared as the band pushed the gain on their amps to 11. With a definite swagger they sliced through old and new songs to deliver one of the most angsty sets of Athfest. – Zac Turner
I ended my Friday night by heading over to Go Bar to see the return of DIP, Athens fake-ish rap sensation. I say fake-ish because it’s clear that most of the appeal of DIP is in their tongue-in-cheek and overtly raunchy humor but it’s also clear that these guys take not being serious very seriously. The beats are grimy as hell and are actually very well done, the rhymes are usually just garbled words that utilize the word “Dip” over and over but the hooks are catchy enough to the crowd to sing along and mosh with reckless abandon. With plenty of stage props, crowd interaction and general artistry to be found on stage, DIP may have been the best hip-hop act at all of Athfest. – Nathan Kerce
The Dream Scene
I went to the rooftop of the Georgia Theatre knowing only one song by The Dream Scene, but that song was enough to get me incredibly excited to see their Athfest show. The crowd was on the smaller side but those who were there seemed quite interested in what they were hearing. The three members of The Dream Scene were bathed in a blue light as they played their funky tunes. For the most part, I felt myself being compelled to bop back and forth to the music. Only a few songs into their set, The Dream Scene told their listeners there would only be two more songs. Right after this statement, the opening chords to “Let’s be Dogs Tonight” began. This was the song I had come to the show to see and it was just brilliant live. Smoky vocals hung in the air as the sexy bass line boomed over the rooftop. A couple near me who were dancing got closer; the song was bringing an intimacy not seen before to the crowd. One more song was played, The Dream Scene departed, and I began counting down the days until I could see them again. – Dafna Kaufman
Easter Island is a band that I’ve really come to appreciate in the last year. Their often soft-spoken vocals mixed with their big, powerful sometimes stadium-level guitar and percussion is an astonishing mix that sounds incredible in the context of somewhere like the Caledonia or The 40 Watt. Seeing them at The Georgia Theatre was a bit of a different experience however. The larger venue size took a little bit of the intense magic away from some of the smaller performances I have seen them do. No fault of the band I’m sure but the atmosphere did feel slightly off. Still, their playing and crowd control was just as solid and on-point as ever. – Nathan Kerce
Eureka California was one of the two three-piece bands at Cine that were missing their bassist. Despite the disappointing omission, they had no problem filling up Cine with noise. I’ve always casually enjoyed Eureka California as they play the kind of noise pop reminiscent of 90s lo-fi bands like Superchunk and Guided By Voices, which may be my favorite period of music. Due to this and the front man’s Milhouse sticker on his guitar, I was happy to go along with the nervous banter and low-key performance. Just as interest was starting to wander a little, they closed the show with a solid cover of “Game of Pricks.” If you’ll remember my feelings on Guided By Voices from earlier in this review, you’ll know that this was a very welcome surprise for me. – Lawson Chambers
Flash to Bang Time
While I wouldn’t classify Flash to Bang Time as a jam band, it’s safe to say they at least have some jammy qualities. They have heavy riffs, lots of finger picking, loose drums and a tendency towards the grandiose. There was an improvisational feel to the whole affair, something that was on exacerbated by the trippy PC screen visuals being projected on Cine’s back wall. They had somebody in a photo program moving around a pre-designed grid at different paces and intervals throughout the show. It was cool effect that seemed easy to do but was endlessly entertaining. At times it actually sort of distracted me from the music as I got caught up in all the open tabs and mouse clicks. – Nathan Kerce
At only 10 weeks old Ghost Owl is still an infant as far as bands go. At least, they would be were it not for the fact that their lineup is exactly that of retired act Perpetual Groove minus Brock Butler. Despite this fact Ghost Owl managed to bear practically no resemblance (at least to me) to P Groove. Whereas the latter emphasized negative space, indie rock, and occasionally southern rock Ghost Owl has diverged into heavier, more psychedelic electronic territory on the low end while maintaining brightness on the high end, essentially pulling apart the textural extremes touching everything from indie rock to chaotic noise. Standing in the audience hearing the play between gritty synthesizers and bubbly guitar riffs I found myself transported to a magical forest in which industrial, mechanical behemoths tromped about. While Albert Suttle manned the drums Matthew McDonald and Adam Perry switched between synthesizers, sequencers, bass, and drums filling the audience with a sound way bigger than you would expect for 3 people. Ignore their past; this is a totally new, heavy, awesome experience. – Daniel DeSimone
Mid-way through Easter Island, I opted to walk on up to the rooftop of the Theatre to catch a short set by Glasscrafts. I had seen them once before and had been quite impressed by the amount of pulsating energy they created.. Glasscrafts began playing their set of catchy fuzzy rock-out tunes, when the boy next to me yelled out, “Robby Casso has a big dick!” I turned to him and said that I would be putting that comment in my review (as I am now). Robby Casso is the drummer for Glasscrafts and is still in high school, when I learned this my jaw dropped. I was so impressed with his skill and power. The band as a whole played flawlessly, with Steven Trimmer belting out each song and his accompanying members facing away from the crowd, creating a passionate, yet distant sensation. I was very happy with my choice to visit Glasscrafts and will be seeing them again as soon as possible. – Dafna Kaufman
Grogus, Athens’ premier Latin-Caribbean-jazz thing, hit the stage early Sunday morning to an impressive crowd for the time slot, one that they have filled in years past and hopefully will continue to fill in the future. While I enjoy the rowdy rock club scene of Athens I also greatly appreciate the diversity there still is to experience i.e. this act. The ensemble Sunday included upright bass, drum kit, conga, 2 trombones, a flute, and guitar. They performed (as far as I know) both original compositions and older, more traditional songs to appeal to on multiple levels. Knowing only this it is still possible to misunderstand Grogus, so allow me to elaborate: their music is not latin in the sense that many people may think, that they are tossing sombreros and whooping in the style of mariachi. In fact, they generally play a cool, relaxed, afro-cuban lounge-like style though with some heavier breaks. Despite this their shows are rarely still-moving and in this one in particular there were at least a few scattered couples salsa-ing, cha-cha-ing about, having just as good of a time (albeit a unique one) as those at the late night shows. Another crucial aspect to their identity: more than almost any other act I have seen Grogus radiates immaculate positivity, giving thanks, wishing well, honoring local heroes and smiling through songs. If you want to leave a show with a glowing smile, you may want to check some bills for Grogus’ name in the future. – Daniel DeSimone
k i d s
Jared Collins has a certain mystique to him, assigned to that type of domineering songwriter who controls studio output and enlists mercenaries for live performances (in this case, the mustachioed Velocirapture). It’s an allure that makes you want to throw around overly dramatic terms like the “mastermind” or “brains behind…”
As Collins moves away from his lo-fi, bedroom pop to the rooftop of Georgia Theatre, his sound predictably shifts to a more expansive, hazy atmosphere that adds to the recorded material. A transposition that Collins has shown an affinity for in recent history, with the release of the band’s are US EP, recorded live at the Caledonia Lounge. A gap widened by the recent addition of flugelhorn (played by Brian Veysey, Athens busiest horn session player), keyboards and female vocals to the live mix. Surprisingly, the crew member additions didn’t feel gimmicky or forced; the flugelhorn intrinsically carrying the melody in parts, cutting through the swelling walls of sound to punctuate and encapsulate where the lazy progression was heading. – Will Guerin
Up to this point I had seen Lowdive billed along with local act Showtime to form the infamous Hip Hop Funky Soul Band That Rocks but never as a solo act, so I took the opportunity to see them just being them. The band is fronted by bassist Jay Rodgers of Kite to the Moon and I’ll say that a lot of the funkiness and soul carries over propelled by his growling voice and general charisma. Although the music has the feeling of archetypal ska/ska punk, the band forgoes the normally prominent horn section for an organ and a more rock lineup. There was definitely lots of bobbing and many good vibes to be had even if you, like me, feel like a little ska goes a long way. Also, where else are you going to hear the phrase “This song is for a tumor I used to have” followed by an organ glissando and major guitar chops? – Daniel DeSimone
This whole article could be about the Athfest miracle that happened after Manray found Derek Olivera (one of three Olivera brothers in Manray) jailed for the night of their performance. In true Balto fashion, drummer Blaze Bateh of Bambara, who bears a slight resemblance to Aaron Rodgers, came to save the day on short notice. I have no real means of conveying how difficult it must be to sit in as Manray’s drummer or how amazing it was when Bateh breezed through the performance with just a few hiccups along the way. Mid-way through the performance Jordan Olivera admitted he had been stressing all day over the performance and properly acknowledged the congratulatory tidings that should go Bateh’s way when he said “and SOMEONE suck the man’s dick.”
Understandably, the performance was cut a little short as presumably the new drummer only had enough time to rehearse about thirty minutes of material. The show ended about 15 minutes shy of 2 AM but Manray encouraged the crowd to stick around and drink because “everything else in Athens sucks right now.” A comment completely acceptable to a crowd who had just beaten themselves silly to the soundtrack of Manray’s unmistakable ‘complicated-core.’ – Will Guerin
I had been told Maserati was not a show to miss. My friends who had seen them at South by Southwest promised thrashing drums and hurt eardrums by the end. Maserati set up their set outside the Caledonia and did not bother with too much talking. They began their set and a wall of sound hit the audience. With the drum set placed in front, we were face to face with greatness. Mike Albanese, aforementioned drummer, wailed on his drums like there was no tomorrow. Onlookers from Farm 255 gazed out their windows in awe of the noise and majesty of Maserati’s set. The only hitch was a very vigilant photographer who felt the need to run back and forth in front of the band for nearly the entire set. Thankfully, Maserati’s set was not based on visuals. They were simply there to release their aggressive, pulsing post-rock and no photographer could ruin that. – Dafna Kaufman
The Modern Skirts final show played out just like a movie. The crowd played their role perfectly, hushed and reverent with eyes gleaming. The band nervously shuffled around on stage under sepia lighting, with the 40 Watt and Sunshine Cycles as their backdrop. Actors on a stage of oppressive importance, emotionally confused, improvising what they thought was expected of them. It wasn’t “Shut Up and Play The Hits” but carried the same, borderline intrusive sentimentality. “You are breaking our hearts,” keyboardist JoJo Glidewell sheepishly remarked to the crowd, as the band began their awkward departure away from a place of love to a life where a packed Washington Street won’t be joining them sing-alongs; a relationship in demise, saying its goodbye at its height.
The Modern Skirts final show was the opposite of a nasty divorce. Instead of months of contempt and bitter remarks culminating in a teary fight of love turned hate, the band stood before an ultimate representation of their fame and impact, distinct from all the reasons they decided to call it quits. A representation of their finality, a representation of everything they meant to Athens. As soon as they took the stage, it was like they were forced to bury themselves at their own funeral, loved ones mourning above. Each shovel of dirt regretfully piled on top of the casket with the realization that maybe this feels like what eluded Modern Skirts their entire career: greatness.
After the flailing staccato of “DUI”, the band obliged the crowd with a final encore that began with a solo rendition of “Save Me.” Seconds later, the band would be walking off the stage for the last time, free from nervously busying themselves during song breaks, with the chorus of “Save me anyway, I’m not coming home today, I’m not coming home” resonating as well as any movie-script ending swan song could have. Perhaps this sounds melodramatic out of context, but their final bow was brilliantly colored, as was the entirety of the concert, by a definitive time and space that is now closed. – Will Guerin
MrJordanMrTonks is the eponymous project of misters Tommy Jordan (acoustic guitar) and William Tonks (dobro slide/electric guitar) whose names may ring a bell from local acts like String Theory (Jordan), Bloodkin (Tonks) and Workhorses of the Entertainment/Recreation Industry (Tonks). When they weren’t laughing or joking MrJordanMrTonks performed folk/country tunes rich with vocal harmony and twangy slides from slow, melancholic tunes to upbeat dance numbers. Since the inception of the act it has been a duo but for their performance at Athfest 2013 they performed alongside an upright bassist and a drummer creating a more complex sound and therefore somewhat moving away from the old-timey ethos and more towards Nashville/Memphis country. Either way you like it (and maybe you like both) MrJordanMrTonks is guaranteed to get you smiling and dancing whether or not you’re conscious of it or not. – Daniel DeSimone
Only days before their performance at Cin, Muuy Biien was named best punk/hardcore band at the Flagpole 2013 Music Awards and at their show it was easy to see why. The band took the stage in almost all black, instruments, amps, clothes (and hair) then embarked on a relentless assault of music, physically knocking the crowd into each other and bowing heads to the floor. Singer Josh Evans composed himself in a manner that I would call destructive apathy: while staring accusatively ahead he dragged mic stands, shouted incomprehensibly, and paced like someone trying to keep themselves from violently lashing out. Meanwhile the instrumentalists stared down, seemingly oblivious to the chaos occurring around them, almost inhumanly and emotionally removed while playing sludgy, yet phrenetic mosh-ready tunes. All around there was reckless self-endangerment. Basically: It was beautiful. – Daniel DeSimone
Murk Daddy Flex
Murk Daddy Flex’s set at the Georgia Theatre was primarily the same sort of set he’s been rolling out for the past few months. He plays his beats on his cardboard turntable (this time accompanied by surprisingly elaborate cardboard speakers) accompanied by trippy visuals projected on a screen beside him and a few rapper friends he brings out towards the end of the set. It was a solid performance but the beat he teased at the end of the set hinted at some exciting new territory for him in the future. Looking forward to see how he moves forward with both his beats and his live performances. – Nathan Kerce
New Madrid waited till main-stage headliners Modern Skirts finished up before quietly assuming their cosmic Americana twang. Lead singer Phil McGill embodying Workaholics’ Blake Anderson with his floppy mop of hair, complementing Graham Powers overgrown afro. True to fashion, the reserved foursome got lost in the reverb, but maybe not in the way you would think of, coming from the guy in the stoner poncho and Wallabee slippers.Unkempt walls of sound transformed tight crescendos into blurred mile markers as songs trudged along above the increasingly loud crowd chatter. Usually New Madrid plays right into the paradoxical image of a “good ol’ boy” laxity masking a subtle determination and the only reason this complaint is notable is because it compliments their regularly tight guitar lines and harmonies that fell just a little flat, perhaps not properly cemented in some of the new material they trotted out. The problem with consistently bringing crowds to close-eyed, swaying ecstasy and winning Flagpole’s awards for both “Artist” and “Album of the Year” is that when you have an off night some critic that no one cares about writes about it. Set closer “Houseboat” still overwhelmed but New Madrid has had better nights. – Will Guerin
Patterson Hood and the Downtown Mystic Rumblers
Patterson Hood last closed out Athfest in 2009 with a solo set that was remarkably similar to this one. With a heavy focus on the past, his family and the stress of touring, Patterson’s soothing voice overtook the crowd with a set that bordered on the two hour mark. He leaned heavily on material from his excellent 2012 album Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance but even for those not familiar with is solo work, the set was a treat. Patterson is a master storyteller and his stage banter which at times came in ten minute stretches is almost as entertaining as his songs. It helps that his sultry country accent permeates both his singing and speaking voice. An excellent close to the festival, again. – Nathan Kerce
The Powder Room
The Powder Room had the unfortunate task of opening up for Manray and Bambara, whose only competition in a hypothetical Flagpole list of “Bands That Will Kick Your Head In” would be Muuy Biien. They sludged their way along roughly the same paths as their headliners, removed from much of the intensity that requires mandatory attendance at any Manray show at the Caledonia. The Powder Room has yet to release anything from the studio, smartly avoiding the pitfalls of a debut while the band is still under construction. Luckily, song titles like “Sand In My Vagina,” that lead singer Charlton Woolfolk hopes that “maybe you can relate to” explains pretty much everything you need to know about the band. – Will Guerin
When I walked up to the Pulaski Street Stage on Friday, I was pretty excited. Quiet Hounds were going to be my first show of Athfest 2013. They had played at last year but I missed their show, therefore, my excitement was pretty high. When we arrived, the crowd was thin and there was no sign of any music. But after 10 or so minutes, I started to hear drums coming towards me. A few marching band drummers were coming through the crowd, as if to announce Quiet Hounds’ arrival. After this dramatic beginning, I turned to see seven men had taken the stage, all wearing wolf masks. Pink smoke brimmed from the stage and Quiet Hounds began their set. They played new and old tracks, while much of the crowd sang along. The vocals were crisp and listeners swayed and smiled to the cheerful tunes. The older woman rocking out next to me sang along as “Hemlock” ended the bands’ set. The Quiet Hounds played gracefully and passionately as their fans and their new admirers began their Athfest weekend. – Dafna Kaufman
Reptar shows don’t really get going until that first layer of sweat has begun to drench your shirt. Then, before you know it, it’s all over and the band’s onto their chaotic, crowd-surfing acoustic after-performance. Twelve concerts in to my relationship with Reptar, I’ve come to expect a few occurrences at their shows: The hook to “Sebastian” and the tomahawk chop will alternate with crowd sing-alongs in the break before the band returns for their encore; approximately seven people will yell “Turn up the heat!” as if it’s the most original thing that has ever popped in their head (at least it’s better than someone screaming “Freebird”); the floor will resemble the greasy kitchen floor of McDonald’s in its ability to provide traction. A bro in a retro Phoenix Suns jersey (Jason Kidd-era) will make an appearance (It’s not ever the same person!).
It’s criminal that despite their repetition and annoyances, Reptar concerts are still something I feel I need to go to. You just won’t be able to experience the wackiness of having a Wendy’s burger shoved in your face during the middle of the concert anywhere else. Sure there will be a sorority girl behind you saying things like “This is Reptar! Not AC/DC or something” but it’s a still pleasure just to witness a band develop before your eyes. Friday’s expansions included a horn section comprised of Casual Curious band members, and a new, less-dancey but intriguing batch of songs. – Will Guerin
One dark and stormy night there was a band booked to perform a show who cancelled last minute and a replacement had to be concocted. Hastily, the wayward scraps of humanity lying about holding instruments were gathered to play a set of some of the saddest, most patriarchal music to ever grace the ears of the listeners. That frankenband was Sad Dads and at Athfest 2013 they took the stage to spread the sad for the last time. Born with an identity crises, the band is the core of a venn diagram of local acts including members from Velocirapture, The Rodney Kings, Figboots, The Barlettas and k v i d s. So what are they really? A joke that got out of hand? the epitome of dada art? The spokesmen of depressed fathers everywhere? Whether they are any of these things or not their show was certainly uniquely them, featuring uncomfortably small shorts, four different guitar players for a 6-person band, and a very drunk 8 person mosh pit complete with stationary crowd surfing. Truth be told I am sad to see them go. Nowhere else have I seen a band perform with so few pretensions while playing such digestible music so as to create such a comfortable environment. It’s just a bunch of friends on stage having a good time and you can feel that as a listener no matter what the people outside looking in think. RIP, pour one out guys, you’ll be missed. – Daniel DeSimone
Shonna Tucker & Eye Candy
I haven’t heard much from Shonna since she left the Drive-By Truckers so I was excited to hear what she and her “eye candy” had in store on Saturday. It was mostly the same well-worn country sound one would come to expect from someone associated with the Truckers. Perhaps it did feel a bit more watered down and a little less fun but this was undeniably Shonna Tucker’s show and I was personally glad to hear that she wasn’t afraid to take a little bit of Truckers-sound along for her solo career. – Nathan Kerce
It was Saturday night at dusk; the ripe golden sky had just perfectly matched the string lights strewn over the Melting Point. Inside, the Skipperdees were lighting up the room – punctuating their crooning harmonies with convivial stories about good friends, Peyton Manning, and “the best mom in the world.” The Skipperdees are twenty-one year old Emily and Catherine Backus: fraternal but look-alike twins. Catherine plays guitar and sings lead vocals, Emily plucks banjo and harmonizes with high range notes. Along with the feel-good that comes with seeing twins together (they promised everyone to a “twin-hug” at the merch table after the show,) the Skipperdees’ relationship shines through sweetly when they sing to each other on stage. Slipping into smiles and stomping American flag cowboy boots, they break only to hit the harmonies that much harder. They have well-matched vocal parts that leave you imagining their late-night sibling practice sessions and wishing you were the third triplet.
The one word that comes so easily to me about the Skipperdees is “sincerity.” Emily gushed about recording with Packway Handle Band for their new record and the two reverently covered the B-52’s “Roam.” The audience was pensively quiet during their songs, but really erupted into appreciation after every pause. I felt my body exhale and swirl around lyrics like “You joke you have Restless Leg / the rest of us have restless heads.” From their never-bored stage presence, to their simple but “get-it” lyrics, to their gushing inter-song banter about…well anything, there is not a part of their product comes off less as a performance and more like a conversation. – Andrea Amszynski
I ended the night with Turf War at MAX. I’ve been a fan of theirs’ for a while and saw them once before at the Caledonia last year. Turf War excels at making music that speaks to the salt of the earth, reminiscent of The Replacements: music that has straightforward, relatable themes of feeling trapped in a small town, yearning for more, and wanting to f’n PARTY. Accompanying the lyrics is fun, seamless garage rock which makes Turf War’s pathos all that much more effortless. Unfortunately, some of the magic is lost when seeing them live, as they were all VERY drunk, and treated the performance with maximum irreverence. It probably didn’t help that I was fixated on how much the lead singer John looked like Anders from Workaholics, and was coming up with a scenario in my brain where he was Anders’ brother who resented his family and ran away to start a band and get a Jaws tattoo (he had a Jaws tattoo). Despite this, I enjoyed the show, especially when they played a few, very promising, new songs. As I mentioned, Turf War is a vessel to channel the southern, small town restlessness, and their two new songs “My Hometown” and “Stuck in the G A” didn’t beat around the kudzu in achieving that effect. – Lawson Chambers
What happens when four talented musicians with a penchant for the 1980s come together to make music? Apparently you get something along the lines of Velveteen Pink. Sporting tank tops, vibrant shades, and sweat bands the band was like a time machine of the now 30-year-old traditions of synth rock, hard rock, and glam rock in the flesh. As the show wore on they Night-At-The-Roxbury’d and pelvic thrusted their way into the audience’s hearts serving up a decadent display of over-the-top synth solos, vocoders, falsetto exclamations and funky rhythms. I honestly can’t imagine a better way to open up a night that included acts like like Yip Deceiver and Reptar. Velveteen Pink is definitely a show worth experiencing; just get ready to get fabulous – Daniel DeSimone
The Viking Progress
Saturday night reminded Athens that Patrick Morales is still running the course at the helm of Viking Progress. A revolving cast of Athens shipmates at his side that consisted of McKendrick Bearden (Androcles and the Lion), Nicholas Mallis (Yo Soybean, Sam Sniper) and Paul Stephens (Androcles and the Lion, Woodfangs) this go-round. Morales’ vocals still fall short of his studio efforts but it’s nice to hear the more electric leanings in their live performances of their folky tales of a life at sea. The show also featured the first time I saw a fan try to scan a QR code off a performer’s body (Morales was promoting a friend’s documentary) and the first time a band had to order the crowd to pack up the venue’s chairs and stand up. – Will Guerin
The Warm Fuzzies
The Warm Fuzzies, with their heavy power-pop synths and thick-rimmed glasses started off my early Athfest afternoon in the best way possible. As someone who was young enough to not know/care about Weezer’s “The Green Album” being considered a disappointment, I still hold strong feelings for that particular brand of triumphant early 00’s rock; a feeling that was catered to well by The Warm Fuzzies catchy melodies, lyrical self-deprecation and love of videogames. The crowd over on Hull St. was small and mostly full of small children, perhaps the next generation of Rivers Cuomo-loving rockers is already being groomed? – Nathan Kerce
Yip Deceiver was my surprise MVP of last year’s Athfest so I made a special effort to seek out their set at The Georgia Theatre on Friday night. While I can’t say it quite lived up to their Hull St. set from last year (mainly due to raised stage and larger venue eliminating the intimate feel) this was still an incredible solid set of dance and R&B. All of their newer songs went over well with the crowd and their spruced-up suit jackets were probably the single nicest pieces of clothing I saw for the entire festival. I can’t wait for their album out later this year. – Nathan Kerce
Zoogma following Ghost Owl made for a very nice fit as the last acts on the main stage Saturday night. Only a few weeks before this I had the opportunity to see Zoogma at Wakarusa music festival in Arkansas playing before hundreds of people with an insane light show so it was interesting to see the same act playing on a relatively small stage before a relatively small crowd in my own home festival, this time as a headliner and not late evening support. Currently in the music scene there are more and more “livetronica” acts emerging each embodying that concept of mixing (as the portmanteau suggests) live and electronic in their own way. Formulaically Zoogma borrowed a lot from dubstep at this show, employing the infamous build-drop pattern and forgoing live lyrics for vocal samples from popular sources such as Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and Dr. Dre’s “Next Episode”. The four members were constantly switching between their computers and their tangible instruments (guitar, bass, keyboards) to create interesting melodies as well as crank out cheesy (sorry) guitar solos. One thing I definitely appreciated about the act (aside from their danceability) was the lack of repetitiveness. No section was dwelled on for too long and none were revisited, like a musical journey. It was spacious but evocative enough to pull you into your own world, but with a beat driving enough to get you to move. From what I heard from the audience Zoogma not only stood up to others in their genre but also pleasantly surprised those who were not necessarily expecting to enjoy the act, always a sign of a good performance. – Daniel DeSimone