AthFest in Review: Dirty Athens, Birdhouse Collection and More


Photo Credit: Mike White

Muuy Biien

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.

Later in the day, Shade continued to casually be one of the best bands in Athens right now with an excellent set that I must say, at the risk of upsetting my editor, was an improvement over their showing at Flagpole’s showcase the night before. The main difference was the sound; Shade’s strange mix of noises was just a better fit for the small, crammed-in acoustics of Caledonia. It was glorious. 

I closed out the day with the one-two punch of Muuy Biien and Shaved Christ. The former was (understandably) a bit subdued—lead singer Josh Evans is still recovering from a broken hip and had to spend about half of the set sitting in a chair—but still had their signature energy boiling just underneath the surface. When Evans was standing, it was clear he was in a lot of pain. Admirably, he pushed through it and played one of the more unique and memorable sets of the band’s career. Shaved Christ’s set was a 15-minute assault on the senses. A straight kick to the ass destined to burst the eardrums of anyone unlucky enough to be inside without earplugs.

The rooftop performances at the Georgia Theatre ranged from tensely interesting to downright terrible. Gyps, the impressive ambient project of Muuy Biien’s Xander Witt, was not the right fit for this showcase. The low volume and minimal beats did not mesh with the loud bar/restaurant environment of the rooftop at all. It’s unfortunate, because in a better venue, Gyps’ beats (which were paired with extremely sweet home videos from Witt’s childhood) could have been a weekend highlight.

Gyps led straight into a set from the ever-evolving but still consistently generic k i d s. Despite never-ending lineup changes and “new” sounds, k i d s remains one of the duller bands in town, a Kroger-brand Deerhunter whose shows are only ever mildly pleasing. Later in the night, Edgar Lopez’s alt-hip-hop act (or whatever you would prefer to call it) Ginko played one of its best sets ever. Lopez’s beats, stage presence and visuals have all improved since the last time I saw him in January. There was mild pushback from the crowd at first (I even heard Lopez threaten to kick one guy’s ass for making fun of him) but eventually, the confused masses thinned out and everyone who wanted to was able to enjoy the performance.

Downstairs on the main stage was an entirely different story. The two highlights were up-and-coming pop heartthrobs Programs and recently reunited electronic dance duo I Am The World Trade Center. Programs sounded great, as usual, but their performance was mostly notable for how cool they looked. In particular, lead singer Robby Casso was rocking a fresh-as-hell Yadier Molina jersey, a necklace and an all-white keytar. The largely high school-age crowd ate it up. 

I Am The World Trade Center’s long awaited reunion was everything a fan could have hoped for. Some moments seemed a little rusty (it has been eight years since their last performance), but mostly, it was the kind of amped-up electronic goodness one would have expected. Having never gotten the opportunity to see them live, last night was like a dream come true for me, complete with over-the-top voice modulation, breakdancing and an appropriately timed Human League cover. At the end of the night, Dan Geller thanked the crowd and claimed it would probably be the last time the band ever performs. Let’s all hope he’s bluffing.