This weekend, Athens will host a two-day music and art festival full of genre and gender-fluid solo and duo acts. Ad·verse Fest came about when AC Carter of local electropop act Lambda Celsius had the idea for a festival unlike any other that features artists of every style and type of performance.
“I wanted to have a festival that was structured around a different form of performance, one more geared toward a cabaret show or a variety show that highlighted a variety of different artists,” Carter says. “I wanted to create an event [that] disrupted the notions of what a festival can be.”
During Carter’s time in Athens, the musician has performed at and seen many similarly oriented festivals, and wanted something for artists that didn’t fit the normal mold. “I was getting really frustrated with the four-band bill of four dudes that all kinda sound jangly or garage-y—which is fine, but it was so prescribed,” Carter says.
Ad·verse is designed to give artists who may be marginalized or othered a space and, in fact, an entire event dedicated to them. Featuring over 40 solo and duo acts, the lineup is full of musicians, visual artists, drag performers and more. Go Bar, the Caledonia Lounge and Flicker Theatre and Bar are the three participating venues, and all will have stages designed by artists with a variety of props, details and even projections. Performers will use the designs as inspiration, and some will work them into their show.
Carter describes the event as a festival designed by artists, for artists, and says their goal was to curate something that could hone in on that.
“It’s important to structure a festival around something that is less constricting in terms of identity—but still invested in identity—but structured around something else and, through its method, shows a new trend in performance,” Carter says.
Although Carter won’t be performing a live set due to the demands of organizing the festival, on Saturday at the Caledonia, Video Tronic’s Intrusive Thots will perform in drag to songs by artists involved with the festival, including Lambda Celsius. (Carter’s next show is Mar. 5 at Caledonia with Molly Nilsson, Locate S,1 and Sarah Swillum.)
While many of this weekend’s performances will be musical, some of the talent will use music as a guide or to support their acts. New York City artist Becca Kauffman, also performing Saturday at the Caledonia, puts on a theatrical music set as Jennifer Vanilla. Kauffman, a member of the band Ava Luna, launched Jennifer Vanilla as a solo project for her performance art.
Calling Jennifer her “fantasy vehicle,” Kauffman says that “Jennifer-ing as a verb” is taking comedy, music and characters and putting yourself into another world or state of mind. “I think [a] song can be a melodic conversation, and a good entry point to introduce audiences to a character in a world, which is what I’m trying to do in a performance,” Kauffman says.
Jennifer Vanilla is a way for Kauffman to activate her creativity to create her own world, and she says she hopes she can do that for others with her “techno Mary Poppins” identity. She praises Ad·verse Fest for its vision.
“It’s very rare, as a sort of genre-fluid artist, to be a part of something that recognizes the multidisciplinary nature of what you do, and [to] have there be an entire festival programmed around the concept of simply performing, rather than splitting it up into more divided categories,” Kauffman says.
Other Ad·verse Fest performers include RaFia, Javae, Internet Boyfriend, Eureka California and many more. (See The Calendar for full listings.) “Your feelings will come out, and you’ll like it,” says South Carolina electronic producer and singer Diaspoura, who will perform Saturday at the Caledonia. “I will be sending everyone home cleansed with many blessings.”
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