This show took place on February 5, 2011 at The Caledonia. These are some pictures and video I took of local hardcore band American Cheeseburger’s last performance. Svagist and Atlanta band Primate also performed. Primate features Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher, who I managed to snag an interview with. Check that out here: http://thesilvertongueonline.com/?p=22416. He talks about a new Mastodon record, so if you’re interested . You can read my full review of the show here: http://thesilvertongueonline.com/?p=22584.
The mosh pit was so intense it was literally impossible to get a good shot. But the video should give you a good idea of the level of chaos that ensued.
On Friday 28th local progressive death metal band Shark Heart performed at the Caledonia with fellow locals Dierz Eve and Manger. The performance was typical of the brutal band whose terrifying metal songs have been honed over the course of 12 years playing together.
When I arrived at the Caledonia it was relatively empty. Most people I assumed were going to see the Waaves show at the adjacent 40 Watt Club. The Caledonia was unusually quiet and peaceful – a veritable omen of what was to come. (more…)
Bit Brigade, a local guitar driven rock group who perform live versions of video game soundtracks as a gamer beats the game, performed on Monday at The Caledonia. On this occasion they played the soundtrack to the original Ninja Gaiden circa 1988 for the NES.
Featuring members of local math rock groups We Versus The Shark and Cinemechanica, the group has existed for several years and continually impresses with their intricate and synchronized playing. Their performance as “Ninjaband” was the first of a five day stint which is taking them up the east coast through North Carolina and ending at the ninth annual Magfest in Alexandria, Va. The bands choice to start their tour on 01-11-2011 is fitting due to the binary nature of their band name (“Bit” Brigade, anybody?).
Despite the blizzard hurtling inches of snow on the city and freezing many of the roads, a crowd of thirty or so fans attended. In place of an opening act (understandable in consideration of the logistical problems caused by the weather), the gamer Noah McCarthy warmed up his fingers and the crowd with a speed run through Mega Man II which took only a mere twenty minutes.
Bit Brigade entered the stage and explosively played through the title screen before the start of the first level. On the large projection screen at the back of the stage the small Ninja character ran across a horizontal playing field and slashed at his foes. McCarthy quickly dispatched through the first boss at the end of the level who exploded as the band created a loud crashing noise with their instruments. This soon to become familiar sound would make several recurrences through-out the set, each time after the master gamer easily dispatched his digital victims.
Typically, it took around two to five minutes for McCarthy to defeat a level, or “Act,” as they were called in the game. After each of the five acts there was a cut scene which featured the animated face of the Ninja, his adversaries, and a female comrade. During the cut scenes the band would play melodic arrangements which set the tone for the next level, or emphasized certain words. Their guitars were tinny, electric, and biting-a faithful rock’n’roll recreation of the original 8-bit audio. Their performance showcased a genuine love for the classic game and a fusion of highly technical rocking with highly technical gaming.
On their website the band states of Ninjaband “Clocking in at forty-five minutes and encompassing over sixty unique cues and some of the most acrobatically challenging platform gameplay ever created, Ninjaband is indisputably the most epic game in our roster and truly showcases the meticulous attention to detail we pride ourselves on.”
Another semester has come and gone. As classes are wrapped up and Jittery Joes prepares for their finals rush we at WUOG made sure to take a night to celebrate another high achieving semester.
Friday December 3rd heralded the latest installment of the WUOG Winter Banquet at the beautiful historic Ciné. In addition to delightful snacks, candy-themed decor, and an incredible ginger-brownie there was delicious local music! If you put that many music junkies in a room together you’d be hard-pressed to keep them together without it!
After the awards ceremony (many congratulations to all winners!) The Humms took the stage. They played a great set of psychedelic garage pop. This was my first time hearing the Humms, although I’ve been hearing of them for a year or so. They’re music is easy to listen to, full of great hooks and I even heard some good Southern rock twang in unexpected places. Their lyrics were simple and made sense. Overall, they played a tight set, had good chemistry, and did nothing new. I’m looking forward to catching their next show.
Next up was supergroup Supercluster. They have musicians from several well known local bands and the whole ends up sounding remarkably different from the parts. The level of musicianship was superb, but I must admit that I personally didn’t find the mix to match my tastes–live, that is. I was introduced to Supercluster via Waves, their first full length album. The album is great! Unfortunately the sound had trouble getting across with the technology Friday night. I had trouble hearing about half of the musicians above the bass, percussion, lead guitar, and vocals. Regardless, the show was fun! The group clearly enjoys playing with each other. I imagine this band is a fun side project for most of the members. Their sound is very indicative of Athens music.
The highlight of their set, in my humble opinion, was their Christmas song. Fortunately for you, some local music staffers were able to get their hands on a copy of the lyrics. The video is their best attempt at a reproduction of the rhythm rap romp of Christmas cheer that Supercluster ended their set with.
To finish the night off Casper and the Cookies pounded out their catchy inflect-y pop tunes. This is another group that has been doing great things under various guises in Athens for years and the current collaborations of it’s members are well worth your time. The lyrics are tight, the lead singer (Jason NeSmith) has awesome hair, and they’re straight up dance-tastic. In my book, if you can’t help but dance then the band is doing everything correctly. Due to other obligations I sadly missed the end of the set, but the first half had more than enough good things for me to rant about. Everything was tight, and the vocals were spot on and in tune (bless them). Their live show was spiffy, and despite a middle of the road sound system they came across loud and clear as a long time Athenian band that we hope will be around for much longer.
The first WUOG Fest was held on the nights of Nov 11, 12, and 13. Bands from all corners of the local Athens music scene performed at a different venue each night culminating in a huge shin-dig at The Forty Watt.
Night 1 – Fantastic Folly at The Farm 255
The first night took place at Farm 255, an outdoor type venue with an open patio. Sleeping Friends was the first group to perform. On this night they performed as a three piece consisting of bass, drums, and guitar. The members were Jason Coombs, Rob Howerton, and Charlie Key. Their songs were characterized by a chimey clean guitar tone drenched in reverb which played rhythmic chords to keep time. The drummer kept time as well with a constant kick drum pulse and spanks on the low floor drum. Few cymbal crashes and only the occasional accent on a hi-hat kept the songs mellow. Oddly, the drummer kept a sheet over his kit through their entire set. The bass guitarist was the highlight of the performance. His moving rhythms provided a needed melodic direction for their songs. Despite being somewhat boring, the yelpy vocals were entertaining and fit the music well.
Necey Gallons was up next. As a solo guitar and voice act, little set up was required and he quickly got the playing underway. His voice was a high falsetto which soared delicately over his rhythmic guitar chords. He reminded me of a much smoother John Mayer. His guitar playing was mostly in a strummed acoustic style, however, he played an electric guitar on this night. The overall impact of his folly sound would’ve been improved if he’d gone totally acoustic.
Witches were the third band to play. Led by Cara Beth Catalino on guitar, the three piece performed a raucous set of tropical desert rock tunes. The guitar was extremely loud and pushed with just enough dirt so that it was overdriven. The songs were mostly strummed guitar chords with occasional lead fills used as decorations. Her low voice complimented the sound well and added to its laid back intensity. Although not a personal favorite of mine, the band seemed to being enjoying themselves and received a good audience reaction.
Around midnight, the last band to play, Marshmallow Coast (sometimes abbreviated M Coast), began. The set started with Andy Gonzales’ looped guitar noodlings. Drummer Carlton Owens played synth pad fills interspersed with simple, but groovy beats. After a gradual buildup, the bassist joined in. They jammed on a funky groove before the volume receded and Andy softly sung into the mic “They were wrong and we was right.” Those were the only words in the bands entire set, which
effectively spanned a single song jam. He repeated the line over and over, each time with the a Southern accent and hypnotic inflection.The buildups and crescendos, and joking nature of the band made them a joy to behold and best of the first night. According to Andy’s parting words, the band plays a different set each time they perform. (i.e. a different single song jam.) Definitely a fun group worth seeing live.
Night 2 – Giggidy, Giggidy Awesome at Go Bar
The second night of WUOG Fest was held at the Go Bar. The bar was dimly lit with blue lights and had silver streamers hung all around. Being late at night, and cold out, the place reminded me of a secluded igloo, but with a bar and stage. If only Santa and his elves had come to play “Jingle Bell Rock.” Alas..
The first group to perform that night was Arturo In Letto. Formerly a solo act of local WUOG staffer AJ Weiss, the band has recently been reformed into a four piece with Max Wang on drums, Lee Markey on bass, and Lindsay Clark on keys. AJ continues to play guitar and handle most vocals. Lindsay was absent for this performance, so Lee took over some of the keyboard parts. Their performance at the Go Bar was very sincere and fit the atmosphere of the venue perfectly. Max Wang’s shimmering Hi-Hat style trademarked most songs and kept the set consistent. Most notably, AJ’s strumming skills were a lesson in Indie Rock-style guitar playing. His shifty bar chords formed the basis for his cool vocal melodies. Of all the “Indie-Pop” style guitar players I’ve seen, AJ is the most skilled and adept at creating chords which not only compliment his voice, but create a unique basis for interesting songs. Their set concluded with a higher energy bit which featured mild overdrive and some phasing effects on the guitar.
After a thirty minute wait, Yo Soybean appeared on stage. They performed a stripped down set as a duo with only acoustic guitar accompaniment and fiddle to their harmonized voices. They got off to a great start with pretty ballad-esque folk songs which wooed the Go Bar audience into a trance like state. Their personal songs worked perfectly in the intimate environment. Unfortunately, instrument trouble plagued the guitar player whose amp began cutting out about halfway through their set. After struggling through a couple songs, he decided to just unplug and play fully acoustically. This was a step in the right direction for the duo. The raw, unplugged sound and clean voices played better with the natural acoustics of the room and made the experience that much more intimate. They were the most memorable performance of the second night.
Tumbleweed Stampede, another WUOG band, took the stage next. Comprised of Benjamin Papillon, Colin Frawley, Tuna Fortuna, Stephen Pfannkuche, Greg Callas, Jake Wells, Alan Hamm, and Andrew Zimdars, the group plays raucous rock ‘n’ roll with punk influences. Having three guitarists, a drummer, and a bassist; the tiny stage was packed with instruments and people. Their songs were high energy, and often played at brisk tempos. Although clean and chordal, the songs were technical. Wide dynamic changes, bluesy solos, and Flamenco sounding bits energized the crowd, eventually leading to a jump party in the middle of the room. I found their music to be interesting, but not appropriate for such a small venue which absorbed a lot of the sound they produced and caused them to be muffled. Their bassist’s high energy moves and flailing was entertaining to watch, and the unison guitar swinging during their last song also helped to keep them not only aurally pleasing, but visually as well. Too many bands just simply stand on the stage and don’t react to the sound of their music. However, Tumbleweed Stampede did not.
The last group to perform that night was Abandon The Earth Mission. On this night they performed as a duo of Josh Mckay on keyboards and dulcimer, and Winston Parker as bassist and DJ. They took plenty of time to carefully assemble the stage with their intricate array of electronic gear and wires. Watching them set up a stage is almost as interesting as watching them actually produce the music. The attention to detail during the set up and in their performance created sounds which were nearly identical to their recorded music. Despite being a metal head at heart, ATEM’s dark atmospherics and slow but gripping melodies have made me a lover of their music. Unfortunately, I’d have to say that the group’s wall of sound did not work so well in The Go Bar. Similar to Tumbleweed Stampede, a lot of their atonal and delicate tones were not very audible.
Night 3 – Final Frontier Voyage at The 40 Watt
The last night of WUOG Fest took place at The 40 Watt in downtown. I arrived a little late on this night and missed Green Gerry’s set entirely as well as part of Bigfoot’s set. Apologies to both.
Bigfoot are a three piece guitar bass and drums power trio featuring Wyatt Pless, Alan Lee, and Marshall Sanchez whose unpredictable sound is reminiscent of 1960’s psychedelic rock acts. Lead singer and guitarist Wyatt’s performance was extremely energetic and inspired on this night. Most of the songs seemed like bass and drum funk grooves with Wyatt’s guitar playing drifting over intermittently. His vocals were percussively stuttered and gradually built to a manic yelp at the end of phrases. It was very organic sounding and the group’s chemistry came across beautifully. During their last couple songs Wyatt drew a piece of folded paper out of his pocket and began reading from it ferociously. I had no idea what he was saying, what was on the paper, or what it meant, but that wasn’t important. The angst and tension he projected over the audience was commanding of attention, and undeniable. His raging passion continued as he read for the entirety of two songs. Through out their set a Tv set up on a table in the middle of the stage showed what I think was an old non-cartoon Disney movie. It just added another perplexing element to the bands spasmatic set. They finished their set with a two beat country romp sung by bassist Alan Lee. After Bigfoot, the bar was set high for the rest of the evening to match, and for me, it was not.
Oryx & Crake are a 9-piece Atlanta-based electro-folk group fronted by Ryan Peoples and Rebekah Goode-Peoples. hey have recently released their first self-titled album. They took about thirty minutes to set up the stage with their plethora of keyboards, drums, computers, a stripped down drumset, and strings. The ensemble began their first song with Mac driven beats, rolling tom-tom accents, acoustic guitar, banjo, electric guitar, violin, cello, and synth. Unfortunately, from the start, their sound seemed bloated. Although the banjo constantly played, it was almost never audible, and few other instruments were immediately discernable without purposefully searching for their specific attack color within the dense mix. The voices were always on top (a good thing), and the electronic drum beat was also, but most of the chord or accompaniment instruments were sadly lost. A major highlight was tenor lead vocalist Ryan whose voice carried so much power he had to step a foot back from the mic to prevent from overloading it. The DJ’s mysterious wheel-like theremin was also intriguing.
Venice Is Sinking, a local Folk-pop band led by Daniel Lawson and Karolyn Troupe, played next. At first, they seemed very reminiscent of Oryx & Crake with their laid back, slowed down, acoustic vibe. Keys, violin, trumpet, and an electric hollowbody guitar blended more seamlessly, though, creating a tighter sound. Their set culminated in them inviting the members of the night’s bands on stage for a sing along to their song “Bardstown Road.” Tons of people filled the stage and swayed as they and the audience sang in unison. In the truest spirit of togetherness and the power of music to uplift people, this was WUOG Fest’s most touching moment.
Reptar was the final band of the night. They are comprised of Graham Ulicny on guitar, William Kennedy on keyboards, Ryan Engelberger on bass, and Andrew McFarland on drums. They share members with local favorites Geisterkatzen and CoCo Rico. William Kennedey, keyboardist and festival organizer, entered the stage first wearing a black graduation gown, perhaps alluding to his upcoming graduation from UGA. Starting with immediate energy, the band went into their first song. The music was intensely loud, up beat, and evoked much dancing in the audience. William became the party leader on this night as he jumped and fired up the crowd with wild stage play. During one song he beat on a floor tom with a big red bat like some character from Donkey Kong, and through most he would jump three feet in the air with each beat. After a couple songs he thanked everyone for coming out to the first WUOG Fest and wished that it would become an annual event. Next, a horde of costumed people came on stage. The group danced and held up street signs behind the band. One guy in particular was very animated in his stage acting. He shredded a news paper into strips, balled them up and kissed them before delicately tossing each wad into the crowd. He also drew intensely on one newspaper for the duration of an entire song. At its conclusion he held the paper up for everyone to see. Nothing was discernable on the newspaper, whatever ink he drew with blended in too well, but the expression on his face was unforgetable. It was of amazement. Their set was fun, entertaining, and a befitting closer to the third night of WUOG Fest.
The first WUOG Fest was a great occasion which brought together many different genres of music and people. For three nights in November of 2010 the party raged deep into the night with soulful tunes, romping guitar, grooving bass, and soaring vocals.
Thanks to the awesome Bianca Wilson-Price for accompanying me on the first two nights and snapping pictures. Additional thanks to Mike White and Kristen Danch-Powell for the use of their photos of Abandon The Earth Mission and the third night, respectively.
On Sunday November 14th New York Black Metal band Liturgy performed with Athens locals Geisterkatzen at Farm 255 in Athens, GA. The night was filled with noise and brutal beauty.
Geisterkatzen were first to perform. Consisting of guitar, drums, synth, saxophone, keyboards, and voice, the group’s name literally means “ghost cat” in German. Each member wore an identical white cat mask during the set. Combined with the ghostly sound of theremin and droning bass feedback, the cute masks were somehow made menacing. Their set consisted of two songs, each building from a simple keyboard drone, adding instruments, and crescendoing to a raucous jam. At the peak of volume drummer William Kennedy tortured his kit with mad thwaps in no predictable fashion. He was like a windmill flailing about the thing and coming up from his seat in agitation multiple times. He could hardly contain himself, while the rest of the band stood their stoically staring from beneath the cat masks. Low saxophone, squirrelly theremin, blaring keyboards, a synthesized guitar sounding like a space organ, and a steady bass line created a huge, but audible crust. For thirty minutes they deconstructed music to it’s most primitive form: sheer noise. They are one of my favorite local Athens bands.
After wheeling in their drumset, bass amp, and two guitar amps, Liturgy began their set. From the get go they wasted no time in spraying high frequency notes. I had expected blast beats and double picked riffs, but they were different. Drummer Greg Fox’s drumming technique was impeccable. He easily moved between different styles of blast and grind within songs. Watching his left hand on the snare, I saw that his arm and palm barely moved. With the mere flick of his middle and ring fingers he could send the drumstick down to the drum head at speeds which made it nearly invisible. He was cool and relaxed though their entire set and seemed to exert little energy in creating such extreme sounds.
Although it took me a second to adjust to the breakneck tempos, by the second song I began to understand what their self incurred moniker of “Transcendental Black Metal” meant. Within the buzzing terror of their sound existed beautiful chords and harmonic dissonance. Despite blast beats, harsh tone, and screeched vocals, the sounds beneath the surface were delicate and touching. They were blissful, happy, and hopeful. Somehow, Liturgy infused beauty into the chaotic noise of Black Metal. Frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix’s unchanging, serene facial impression only furthered the effect.
Their third song began with technical failures from bassist Tyler Dusenbury’s amp. Apparently a speaker had been blown (a recurring problem for him I later came to find). Thankfully, a member of Geisterkatzen came to the rescue with a spare cabinet. The song began with a distorted bass line which turned over several times before being joined by drums. The rhythm remained slow and subdued – a stark contrast to the previous songs-and guitars eventually joined to double the riff. For the first time in their set the twin guitars rung together on unison chords of a riff and created a stereoscopic effect within the room. Greg’s drumming in this song impressed me again with groovy combos and speedy yet simplistic tom-tom fills.
Another song, their last, matched this hypnotic groove and likewise was completely instrumental. The two songs were favorites of mine, but their speedier ones were equally entrancing in their own ways. Hunter’s complex and unusual fingerings of the guitar tended to spider their way down the high strings of the neck as he strummed at a lighting pace. After their set, the band had introduced a crowd of strangers to Transcendental Black Metal and, hopefully, garnered some new fans.
Promoting their new upcoming record Gramahawk, Athens natives Modern Skirts graced the stage of the 40 Watt Club on Friday November 12th. The show featured the Athens two-piece set Grape Soda, along with DC originated, Brooklyn based band Deleted Scenes as the opening acts. The show featured a balanced meshing of new tracks off of the Gramahawk record, as well as those from prior albums. Commencing the show with the track Bridges and Overpasses off of the new album, the band was able to effectively establish the presence that they have earned since the days of their formation some 6 years ago, as well as generate an enthusiastic audience following. Other notable tracks performed included Soft Pedals off of the All of Us In Our Night album, DUI and Like Lunatics.
The new album is set to be released in January of 2011, and from the looks of it, is sure to leave fans content.
All if this said, perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the evening-besides the opening number with Jay Gulley coming out in a rather retro, fuzzy pink jacket-were the opening acts themselves. Deleted Scenes surely gained new fans with their unique sound that incorporates the vibraphone to the already post-rock sound they exhibit. Meanwhile, Grape Soda left many in a pensive state regarding the “need for multiple instruments” in a rock band; this duo proved this assumptive notion to be false.
All in all, all 3 bands delivered extremely well, as they each proved why they were bands to look out for.
- F.S. Julien
Grape Soda are an Athens Pop-Soul band comprised of brothers Mat and Ryan Lewis. In preparation for the release of their first LP, Grape Soda played the WUOG Live In The Lobby.
Being a two-piece drums and organ band, setting up in the lobby didn’t take very long. The operations staff quickly had all the wires run and the two brothers set up their instruments to face each other as they played. Although at first they didn’t realize they were on-air when the Big Red Light blinked off, they quickly shaped up their bantering and began the set.
Keyboardist Mat Lewis’ vocals were captivating. I spent most of the performance pondering the different qualities audible in his throated sounds. It wasn’t his range or technical skill which captivated me, though, it was his tone and soul that impressed me. His notes moved in subtle, but natural streams that ascended high briefly before dropping to the middle register at the end of phrases. I could describe his vocals as “lazy” sounding, because they sounded so relaxed, but that’s not a fair word to use. “Warm” and “vintagey” are much more appropriate. The was a certain raspiness and distortion that was introduced into his voice when singing high notes. It was atone akin to the soulful pop-singers Bono, John Lennon, and even Sting.
The two brothers connection while they played was a major highlight. They rarely made eye contact, but their sincerity in performing the songs they had written together was sheerly heart-warming in the best sense. Sonically, their music was filled with bouncing bass lines and jittery high synth bits. The drum beats seemed to be polka inspired on many songs, but changed rhythms frequently. Their third song featured this typical polka-beat, but it eventually evolved into a bluesy hi-hat groove. Melodically, the songs were inspired by what sounded like ethnic or perhaps Spanish scales which made for a very interesting listening experience. In typical Indie-Rock fashion, the band did fall back on some psychadelia tinges during their last song, but it was not overtly obvious and nor did it affect the performance in a negative way.
Grape Soda are a playfully soulful band that are sincere in their delivery and worth seeing live. Check out more on Grape Soda here: http://www.myspace.com/grapesodaforlife.
Since 585 Wells St.’s hiatus, Atlanta metal and punk bands have been hitting up various venues around town. On Saturday, October 16th, Jack’s Pizza hosted a very thrashin’ show that featured Atlanta natives Spewtilator, Death of Kings, and Withered. The show started off with Spewtilator playing some of the fastest tunes mankind has ever heard. They tore the place up. There was barely any room to stand around and somehow the crowd managed to mosh and crowd surf. Death of Kings played only a quick three song set because the drummer got into some trouble prior to the show. Withered’s drummer stepped up to fill in, just after listening to the three songs on the way to Jack’s Pizza. The night ended with Withered’s set. They will be hitting the road on the Blackest of the Black tour featuring the almighty Danzig, death metal legends Possessed, Marduk, and Toxic Holocaust.