From Sep. 18–Nov. 6, Flagpole photo intern Randy Schafer shadowed the members of local band Swamp, in an attempt to document what it’s like to be in a band in Athens while simultaneously attending college at UGA.
Previously: Life on the Stage
Halloween is usually the time for costumes and candy, tall-boys and tail-shakers, horror movies and late-night debauchery, with costumes often painted on for weeks. For Swamp, the list includes an industrial-sized container of mayonnaise and some alcohol-soaked chicken heads and testicles.
Charlie Bond, a 20-year-old sophomore biological engineering major at the University of Georgia, lives on two-acres of relatively undeveloped land, sandwiched between farms and student neighborhoods. He has a coop with two chickens, five ducks, a cat, a dog and a snake. After a couple “meat chickens” died of natural causes, Bond froze the heads, testicles and a trachea and decided to use them as Halloween decorations, submerging the heads in Mason jars filled with isopropyl alcohol.
“I’m a vegetarian,” says Bond. “But if I kill a chicken, I’ll eat it. I don’t keep them to kill them though.”
The decor of the Swamp Halloween show is like a traveling countryside horror-show meets Bed Bath & Beyond and “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” in a DIY, Southern freak-show-styled operating room with cement floors. For the members of Swamp, especially Bond, putting together and playing a Halloween house show is a blast. “I feel like it’s easier to play with a costume on,” Tommy Weigle says.
After setting up most of the decorations and musical equipment, the band members split up to have fun, while their friends began to show up and help decorate or set up camp. Not wanting people to drink and drive, Bond allows friends to set up tents to crawl into at the end of the night after the show ends. While Weigle takes care of his own affairs, Bond and Hunt enjoy goofing around on the property.
“One time me and Lulu were at the tractor supply store getting some chicken feed, and we saw this little pedal-cart,” Bond said. “And you have one of those moments where you’re a child in an adult body with adult money, so we bought this freaking go-kart… and on Halloween, me and Owen were just flying down this hill in a little cart.”
Tacking up extra lights with some tapestries and skulls, the barn is transformed once the sun goes down, as it radiates with an orange hue.
Part sandwich, part performance art and part white, sticky mess, Weigle performs his “Mayonnaise Man” sketch at the end of the show. “With the mayonnaise thing, we had no idea how that was going to go,” Weigle said. “I’m glad it went well and people got into it—it could have been horrible.”
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.