Editor's Note: New Athens resident Adam Barnett is exploring AthFest all weekend long and chronicling his impressions for Flagpole in a series titled Who the Hell Are These Bands?
It’s a good thing I put on sunscreen today, otherwise I’d look like a total sunburnt loser, and then I’ll never get an Athens girlfriend. Day two of AthFest allows me to explore the festival with a solid amount of daylight left. Daylight means a few things: Older folk, lots of kids, and no vampires. That’s good. So far, I’ve noticed that whoever scheduled Athfest did it with at least two of those things in mind.
The genres spanning Saturday seem like your general street festival, crowd-pleasing, favorites: Funk/soul, ska/reggae, country, etc. This is, by no means, a bad thing; it’s downright smart and effective. Imagine if a band like Xiu Xiu played the outdoor main stage? Kids would cry, and I haven’t seen anybody cry all day.
Here’s my Saturday recap so far:
Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics
This stylish lady can belt notes I couldn’t hit at my manliest. She has range, soul, cool hair, and a funkadelic backing band with a bassist who can solo like a rock god.
Chicago had a ska scene once, back when Warped Tour still had a ska stage and The Blue Meanies ruled my massive Creative Zen Jukebox. I skanked to the best of ‘em. But, times change, and people forget that No Doubt used to have a huge brass section. So, when bands like Lowdive open a set with “Linus and Lucy,” dotted with upstrokes on the guitar and crazy bass lines, I get giddy. I also learned about the vocalist’s tumor. What a nice, honest dude.
Shonna Tucker & Eye Candy
The parents were really digging these country rockers. Shonna’s voice was sweet as—some Southern desert. I think the South likes molasses. So, Shonna’s voice was sweet as molasses? She’s also a great bassist. The result is a crowd-pleasing country band with plenty of slide guitar, twang and drawl.
By complete chance, Muuy Biien happens to be the first band in Athens I’ve seen twice, and I’ve only been here three weeks. I’m now officially “in the scene.” I heard from a few people that Caledonia was hosting some unlisted, “secret” show from 2-8 p.m., so I decided to take a break from the tamer, official side of the festival and head around the corner.
Rumor has it that these hardcore punks have some serious ‘tude, but when your music happens to kick the crap out of everything nice and fluffy about the Universe, not-giving-a-fuck becomes a necessity. With all this awesome angst and ferocity, I was surprised at the audience’s complete lack of thrashing to which I’ve grown so accustomed in the Midwestern hardcore scene. I thought about making the initial shove but then remembered my lack of friends in the area. Once I become super popular, though, we’re all going to beat the shit out of each other out of camaraderie and respect for each other.