Welcome to 2014. No doubt about it, folks: We’re in the future now. Between mile-a-minute news feeds, big-screen TVs in every possible place of public accommodation and the blind sprint toward packing the classrooms of the attention-deficient national student body with more and more technology, it seems we’re just out of time. And inclination. Toward what, you ask? Keeping up with everything as it happens, of course. So, in the spirit of not only riding the cutting edge but actually cutting the edge, here’s the annual Threats & Promises that brings you tomorrow’s news, today. If you want to know what happened in Athens music in 2014, this is the place to be.
January: Everyone’s long winter’s nap seemed to get a little longer this month, as Athens’ many musicians continued to forget when their soundchecks were. A goodly handful of them forgot when their shows were, as well, forcing local clubs to enlist the services of glittery handmaiden to the unreadable-flyer fairy, Mercer West, and his cast of thousands once again. Crowds were alternately thrilled and confounded, but hell, all the shows were free.
February: Valentine’s Day continued to baffle the Athens music scene, as no one could figure out if they should mask themselves in faux-romance or faux-resentment. So, everyone got together for the first truly organized Athens Pity Party, at which perma-bachelors tsk-tsk’ed at the betrothed-‘n’-yoked while those who had a ring on it wore fake noses to be able to look that much farther down.
March: Kai Riedl‘s entertainment/technology thing Athens Slingshot finally made its mark on the nation by getting gritty and real with its name, single-handedly reviving the careers of The Verve Pipe, Yellowcard, Deadeye Dick and former Athens road warriors Dayroom. When asked about this change of focus, Riedl remarked, “The original idea was to ‘slingshot’ bands coming back east from Texas after SXSW, but after some reflection, that seemed like a situation where ‘boomerang’ would be more appropriately used. So, I just looked for bands—or pieces of bands, lying around, taking up space—that should be shot from a sling, and it all started coming together.”
April: Building off its success with its Green Room offshoot, the Georgia Theatre announced its “Rock in All Colors” initiative, opening the Pink Palace, the Blue Cupboard and the Beige Bungalow. After failing to find enough mid-level indie acts to fill the newly opened clubs, management invested heavily in karaoke machines, which packed the joints daily, proving yet again that the most desirable sound on earth is that of one’s own voice.
May: Kindercore Records reimagined and relaunched itself for the 22nd time. Having already represented twee indie-pop and braggadocio-laden rock and roll, the 18-year-old concept was again reconfigured as a mutual-fund investment scheme and retirement-planning consultation service. Co-founder and spokesman Ryan Lewis said, “Rock and roll may not last forever, but with Kindercore, it can sure feel that way.”
June: AthFest came and went without founder Jared Bailey in the driving seat. It was OK.
July: Athens musicians figured out how to raid every single apartment complex pool at the same time the night of July 4, drunkenly likening their exploits to some sort of vague heroism that only that one history major dude really understood.
August: Too hot to move. Everything was cancelled forever.
September: The influx of college freshman saw the Athens population rise by several thousand. Concerned citizens and beleaguered audiences petitioned the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission to impose a mandatory three-day waiting period on the purchase of all guitars so as to tamp down those really awful ideas found brewing in the quad.
October: Flagpole Music Editor Gabe Vodicka and City Editor Blake Aued were plowingthrough their second year of townie football coverage, in response to which Taco-Stand-munchers and Facebook-feed-followers asked why this space wasn’t being parceled out to “realer” Athens things like craft fairs and start-up amateur carnivals and stuff. Several readers really had something to say, but those thoughts slipped their minds as it was announced that their lunch order was ready.
November: Musicians’ resource center Nuçi’s Space made a hostile takeover bid for online streaming and download service Bandcamp. This unusually aggressive move was justified by the necessity of an automatic repository for all the new recordings—both well- and ill-advised—produced by its hugely popular Camp Amped program. An anonymous high-level source said, “Look at all the crap that’s been flooding Bandcamp. I bet you half those ‘artists’ never even went to camp! We’re gonna bring some honesty back to the music world. Also, we need the server space.”
December: Still reeling from the decision to spend precious rehearsal time two months prior, learning the biggest bunch of bogus cover tunes in order to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve with their bros, Athens bands jumped whole-hog on the highly competitive and Mike Turner-promulgated Krampus Fest. All the groups began furiously writing tunes for the event, which mostly took place via Internet insult-trading but came to glorious fruition at the Parade of Lights when everyone played as loudly as possible inside Bryant Williamson’s Sprinter van, driving up College Avenue surrounded by renegade skateboarders. Turner, of course, had a headache that night and couldn’t make it out, but was eventually soothed by some tea and a nap. When asked about his designs for Krampus Fest, he chuckled slightly and said, “Y’all took that seriously?”
Thanks for another great year, Athens!
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