One of the many beautiful things about a small festival held in a renowned music town like Athens is that—holy cow—things start on time (usually)! I rolled into the Georgia Theatre at 9:59 and, by golly, the guys in Velveteen Pink were already on stage. But it’s not the fact that the band was on time that made them worthy of precious AthFest time at a wristband-only event. Although the crowd was scattered throughout the multi-level theatre (likely because of the need to post up for the impending Reptar set later in the night), the band certainly had a few limber young'uns shaking on the floor.
Every time I see this band (which is not enough) I’m always surprised that their distinctive (at least for this town) synthy funk sound hasn’t produced a full-length record yet. Oh, where are you, Velveteen Pink LP!? Surely you must be in the works. VP are certainly at their best when they’re all shredding in unison, and I’m pleased to report that there was plenty of mind-numbing virtuosity in their set Friday night. From wailing guitar solos (that sound, oddly enough, like a cross between Cheap Trick and Prince) to breakneck drumming, their level of musicianship was certainly the object of fascination for everyone who wound up at the Theatre this evening. And the headbands: oh, the headbands.
Yip Deceiver has been blowing up around town for quite some time, but I’m slightly embarrassed to say that this was my first time seeing them. The only real problem with the band’s set was that there could have been more of it. From the looks of the AthFest schedule, they could have fit in at least a few more songs. Pierce seemed a little too concerned with the clock, but maybe it was because he and his compatriot Nicolas “Dobby” Dobbratz were dressed to the nines in suits and burning up. I’ve always thought that wearing suits while performing live was a weird fashion decision, but I guess when you’re ready to celebrate the release of a new album (out Sept. 17 via Aerobic International), you pull out all of the stops. Then again, there might be a correlation between looking good and sounding good, because YD certainly had both goin’ on.
After switching some equipment out, Reptar hit the stage right at 12:30 a.m. with a three-piece horn section in tow. Reptar certainly isn’t news to anyone who has been paying a lick of attention to the Athens scene, but they’ve certainly deserved their headlining sets at AthFest over the past few years. Since I’m ancient compared to the 18-22 college age demographic that makes up Reptar’s fanbase, I decided to hit the balcony to make sure I had room to breathe.
It turns out that, at least for the first part of their set, I didn’t need to worry about being assaulted by flailing limbs. It’s obvious from their show on Friday night that Reptar is progressively eliminating songs off of their debut EP, Oblangle Fizz Y'all, from their setlists. The group seems bent on trying to integrate more of their sentimental slow jams into their live show, which seems like a weird move to me. There were new songs and a few old ones thrown in, but the bulk of the songs were from the group's debut album, Body Faucet, released last year on Vagrant. Reptar was a good five or six songs into their set before the band picked up the pace and really got the crowd going. Even though they may have sounded a little tamer than usual, they still proved that they’re worthy of headlining AthFest this year or any year in the near future.