Photo Credit: Christopher Joshua Benton
Turning the Cake Shop into an impromptu UGA class reunion, the Bambara boys bought together a legion of Athenians and NY locals for a packed out headlining show, rounded out with support from Dusted, Rarechild and '80s post-punk revivalists Rituals.
After the jump, read the rest of the review, and check out a photo slideshow.
First, a confession: I skipped out on the first several hours of Sunday's P4K schedule to catch the Braves/White Sox game down at Comiskey Park U.S. Cellular Field. So, that meant no Killer Mike, no El-P and, most importantly, no Killer Mike + El-P. Bummed though I was to miss the Run the Jewels fun, at least I managed to catch some quality Braves baseball. Wait, did I say quality? I meant nine hits and only one run. I did see some drunk bros ironically Tomahawk Chopping, so that was something.
Uh. Still hot. And no breeze today. I entered Union Park to the sweet sounds of Phosphorescent, who were finishing up their Muchacho-heavy Green Stage set (later, I would find former MTV veejay John Norris interviewing former Athenian Matthew Houck by the media tent—livin'!), but the first full set of the day came courtesy of Austin rockers …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, who tore through the classics ("Another Morning Stoner") and some new material, which sounded punker and more aggressive than the group's most recent work. "Who wants to fucking mosh?" asked guitarist Jason Reece, before adding, wryly, "Not me." A certain youthful spark may have been lost since Trail of Dead's early, more destructive days, but their rock and roll heart remains.
On Friday, Bjork conjured the storm. Before her headlining set was cut short due to approaching weather (the crowd groaned, but 10 minutes later everyone was drenched), she put on a career-spanning show, the indisputable highlight of a day that had already seen some pretty amazing action. Dressed like some strange lightning rod and with her amazing Tesla coil synth on hand, the Icelandic singer and her choir of backup singers/dancers made their way through a set that included tunes from 1997's Homogenic ("Joga," "Hunter") and last year's Biophilia.
Jesus Criminy, it's hot. Daughn Gibson noted as much in his 3:30 p.m. red stage slot. "It is hotter than a two-peckered goat today," he intoned in his wry baritone. Sweatily, a slowly growing crowd agreed. The singer's loop-based country tunes became meatier, more rocking versions of themselves courtesy of his on-point backing band, and Gibson's stage presence was a thing to behold, even in the sweltering afternoon sun.
Photo Credit: Mike White
Because I grew up 20 minutes away from where Daniel Hutchens and Eric Carter are from in West Virginia, I’m morally obligated to love Bloodkin. Even though most of their tunes can be described as Black Crowes-lite, I still get a kick out of hearing great made-for-radio pop. From their grey hair to the way they hold their instruments, you can tell that the guys in Bloodkin are veterans. The band took the stage right at 4:30 p.m. and busted out a solid hour of tunes from their almost 20-year career.
On the Pulaski Street Stage, Atlanta's Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics turned in a workmanlike R&B set. Velle has a pleasantly gritty voice, and her band has chops, but ultimately it was soul-by-numbers with no real emotion beyond poster-ready platitudes about believing in yourself and following your dreams.
For a cynic like me, the antidote to all that positivity was a block away, at Caledonia's un-officially-sanctioned Dirty Athens day party, because there's nothing like moody punk and post-rock on a beautiful afternoon.
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?
Photo Credit: Adam Barnett
“Adam Hartbrayker Barnett.” Remember that name, because it’s getting more and more famous by the day. Last night, I recognized four people, and they acknowledged me with at least three minutes of small talk, each. One of them pointed out that my sleeveless shirt and glasses combination differentiates me from the normal Caledonia attendee. What can I say? I’m just a hot bro new to a warm city.
Here’s part two of my Saturday:
Photo Credit: Mike White
Everyone hangin’ in there? Sunscreen applied and adequately hydrated? Okay, good.
If you got plenty of rest Friday night and were brave enough to make your AthFest experience an all day affair Saturday, you had plenty of stuff to choose from. I missed the tacos, but a friend reported that Sr. Sol catered some pretty badass food to the New West Records party over at 399 Meigs. Buxton, New Madrid and Daniel Romano wound up playing some great sets over at Normaltown Hall. I’ve been to that place over on Meigs now a few times and I’m getting the feeling that it is the best-kept open secret in town. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend you check out the venue the next time they host a show.
Photo Credit: Gabe Vodicka
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