From the thick smell of dude-sweat to the garbage water that leaked all over my shoes halfway through Ruby the Rabbitfoot’s set, Caledonia’s fourth annual Dirty Athens day party lived up to its name.
Co Co ri Co was the first big highlight of the day, with a catchy-as-hell, fun performance. I suspect those who were disappointed by Reptar’s main stage set on Friday (and by all accounts, that seems to be a lot of people) would have appreciated this performance a lot more. Judging by the crowd’s positive reaction, this is the kind of avant-garde dance-rock people are looking for out of Athens right now.
Although their sound at the Theatre was bassier than usual, Roadkill Ghost Choir ripped through a set of songs culled from their forthcoming LP, In Tongues, due later this summer. The band managed to produce dark sounds with a ton of reverb with the help of Dead Confederate keysman John Watkins. Roadkill also offered a stripped down (but still electric) cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” from Born in the USA. I unabashedly love that song, and while Roadkill’s cover was passable, it was still just too bright for the room.
Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones
The post-work Friday evening start to AthFest always brings out an interesting mix of office workers, undergraduates back in town for the weekend and scowling townies looking for the next best place to down a beer. When I finally made it downtown to Pulaski Street a bit before 9 p.m., I poked my head into a packed Flicker Bar and saw no familiar faces other than a few favorite bartenders preparing themselves for the next hour of serving as the “Reptar sidebar.”
Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones
It was exceptionally hot late Friday afternoon as Dana Swimmer kicked into their set on the Hull Street Stage. The energy was definitely dialed down from the group's usual level, and perhaps we can blame the humidity for that. Regardless, Dana Swimmer did what they do best: craft a solid set of sunny, spacey pop-rock. The crowd was less than enthusiastic, but the band provided plenty of energy. Even singer Jack Blauvelt felt inclined to grab a wireless microphone and run into the crowd to sing.
Photo Credit: Richard Piotrowski
The Jesters sold out the the Georgia Theatre Friday night, May 30, and they filled up the stage in their farewell performance after 50 years of bringing musical delight to their fans, many of whom have been with them since high school. The show raised a phenomenal $41,000, according to Jester Donny Whitehead, who spearheaded the effort. Proceeds go to fellow Jester Harold Williams, the popular musician/CPA debilitated by a paralyzing fall in November.
Photo Credit: Dan Mistich
For more photos, click here.
Friday, May 9
I arrived just in time to catch the last 30 minutes of The Whigs pound out a raucous set on the Ponce de Leon stage. “The Particular,” from their new record, Modern Creation, sounded especially sweet. It may have been mid-afternoon when the band rounded out its set, but a couple thousand fans doing the Tomahawk Chop in unison made it feel like a typical show at the 40 Watt. After the set, I caught up with the band to discuss their recent performanceon "The Late Show with David Letterman." Regarding the host's complimentary remarks about Athens, the group expressed humility. “We try to be good ambassadors to our hometown,” said Tim Deaux. Julian Dorio agreed: “We may be in Nashville now, but if Letterman says we’re from Athens, we’ll take it.” [DM]
I didn’t do a thorough investigation, but I’m willing to bet Charles Bradley was the oldest performer at Shaky Knees this year. Lucky for those posted up in front of the Ponce de Leon Stage, he was also one of the more impressive acts on the first day. Bradley and his band, The Extraordinares, don’t simply recall the iconic '60s and '70s soul acts; Bradley has a groove that is undeniably his own. [DM]
Dropkick Murphys broke through with "I'm Shipping Up to Boston," the emphatic, Celtic-tinged tune that scored The Departed and has been co-opted by many a film and television production since. The group's hooliganish steez is largely unchanged since its scrappy Warped Tour days, though it's become a decidedly more professional outfit; the band's heretical take on "Amazing Grace," complete with screeching bagpipes, cut through the muggy festival air with an odd sort of grace. [GV]
First things first: The return of Moogfest, and my experience of it, was undeniably positive. Its energy was palpable, the civic pride of Asheville and its attendant culture of inclusion was apparent everywhere and the organizers from Moog Music and the hundreds of volunteers couldn't have been friendlier if they tried. The menu was packed with fascinating speakers on all sorts of subjects and the live music lineup was simply incredible.
The footprint of Moogfest has the festival scattered over several blocks of downtown Asheville, but there's no clear center of activity. For someone unfamiliar with the town's layout, it can take a couple of days to get a bearing on things. This was my case entirely. As luck would have it, most of the shows I really wanted to catch were either at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, the free stage on Broadway outside the Moog factory and The Orange Peel, which is several blocks away.
More after the jump.
I was a bit worried for the Georgia Theatre when I arrived to the venue Thursday night. It seemed unnaturally empty when I arrived at the beginning of Pat Sansone’s solo opening set. Although best known as the multi-instrumentalist of Wilco and for his "side project" with fellow Wilco-er John Stirratt, The Autumn Defense, Sansone’s resume is extensive. (I once met Sansone at the Hideout in Chicago and we chatted about his work on Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker before I bought him a beer and left to tell my friends that I just nerded out with a member of Wilco.) In other words, the dude’s got cred, and it’s no surprise that The Zombies picked him to open their current tour. Sansone made his gratitude very vocal, taking some of his time to thank The Zombies on a few occasions.
More after the jump.
Photo Credit: Rachel Gibson
Editor's note: The Big Ears Festival took place Mar. 28–30 in Knoxville, TN, showcasing a wide-ranging set of experimental and other such forward-thinking art and music. After the jump, part one of Flagpole's review.
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