MusicThreats & Promises

2015 in Review: Tomorrow’s Athens Music News, Today

What began as a one-off joke has morphed into tradition, and it’s time again to present this year’s news—ahead of time. With tone and execution more closely related to Carnac the Magnificent than Nostradamus, here’s my roundup of everything important that happened during the upcoming year.

JANUARY: A local hip hop/rock compilation dubbed Wintry Mix was announced. However, engineer Joel Hatstat inadvertently wound up scheduling everyone to record on the same day, couldn’t make heads or tails out of everyone’s stage names and ultimately said, “screw it,” releasing instead an hour-long remix of Tommy Valentine’s 2007 rap-rock production “They Gon’ Love Us.” All involved said it was great and that they couldn’t remember when they’d sounded so good, adding that they looked forward to “taking this shit to the next level.”

FEBRUARY: With holiday gift money having been fully spent on rent and bills the first week of January, the Athens music scene was in a real pickle. Should it break up entirely before Valentine’s Day or just explain how broke it is? In the end, the scene decided it would “take a break,” but made amends before the end of the month, as there were only so many couches to surf.

MARCH: Taking its commitment to technology and electronic art to its logical conclusion, the Slingshot Festival announced an all-holographic live performance schedule. Those confused by this were reassured by the soothing voice of Lucas Jensen, who both narrated and live-tweeted each show. Special merchandise available for this year’s attendees included bumperstickers that read “Slingshot: Your Tax Dollars at Work,” and a grandparent-friendly auto tag, “Let Me Tell You About My Education Initiative.”

APRIL: Longtime downtown fixture Wuxtry Records announced that it was “taking things back to 1977!” That year, the go-to place for vinyl hounds ran a series of ads announcing that they were paying up to one dollar for “good used LPs in fine condition.” Adjusted for inflation, this amount neared $4, but downgraded by virtue of the YouTube/Spotify curve, it fell back to a mere buck. In related news, Taco Bell continued to make gastronomical inroads with its “Dollar Craving Menu.” Once again, it was proved that a career in the record business could feed a body pretty well. 

MAY: In a closed meeting, the Athens Downtown Development Authority secretly agreed to a new policy: “Fuck it all, people. It’s condos ‘n’ tacos from here on out.” The immediate effect on the music scene wasn’t as abrupt as expected, as most were easily distracted by nickel beers on every corner, easily digestible R&B playlists from the early 2000s and Netflix. The downtown developer known to most as simply “Fred” noted that, just when you think Athens has hit condo critical mass, “there’s always room for more, man.”

JUNE: Celebrating its 18th birthday, AthFest demanded that local musicians and their fans start acting like adults. To this end, a special occurrence of the AthHalf Marathon was held, and wristband sales and performance slots were available only to those who completed the 13-mile course. Special dispensation was given to members of the press, and Flagpole‘s local music blog, Homedrone, enjoyed a spectacular spike in community contributions. When asked if these two facts were related, music editor Gabe Vodicka said, “Man, I dunno. But it’s nice to finally have writers willing to cover the Hull Street Stage.”

JULY: Pulling a page from last year’s playbook, it was too hot to move. Thus, no one did, and nothing happened. 

AUGUST: Classes resumed at the University of Georgia. Local clubs were inundated with requests for shows by newly formed bands, mostly oddball acoustic-based things birthed in dormitory lounge areas. (Except for that one guy who insisted on practicing in the stairwell because it had a “really roomy vibe.”) Although the groups had their struggles, each was eventually granted a performance slot at one of the various productions staged by the Music Business Program at UGA because, y’know, they each had a real neat sound and offered something for everyone.

SEPTEMBER: After inadvertently aping multimillion dollar production Coachella with its two weekends of programming, several-dollar festival Athens Intensified decided to “go for it” yet again. After corralling several local yoga instructors and borrowing a veritable truckload of flashlights, it was a go. Organizer Gordon Lamb said, “We may not be able to host a Tupac Shakur hologram, but we can damn sure produce an Eazy-E shadow puppet.” Athens’ own funky bunch, DIP, played the show but were disappointed to be billed second. “I don’t know,” said member Parks Miller. “Spinal Tap never recovered from this type of thing.”

OCTOBER: Wild Rumpus instigator Timi Conley, riding high on the previous success of his annual costumed spectacular, found his reach exceeded his grasp. When an enthusiastic Conley approached Flagpole city editor Blake Aued about being a grand marshal in the street gathering, an exasperated Aued replied, “Look! How many times do I gotta say it? I JUST HAD A BABY!” Although disheartened, Conley refused to take his beach ball and go home, and the event lived to rump another day.

NOVEMBER: The Athens music scene tried like hell to find a ride to Atlanta during Thanksgiving, but everyone had their phone off and/or just got this text and was so sorry and hoped it all worked out. 

DECEMBER: In the final weeks of 2015, local artisans banded together and hosted a four-week craft fair in every available parking lot between Pulaski Street and College Avenue. Hosting approximately 700 vendors, a whole gaggle of customers—who were encouraged to carpool in their own food trucks—and three dogs, the event was declared a success by former Athens mayor and outspoken fan of downtown Heidi Davison, who noted, “It’s crafty! It’s just my type!” 

See y’all next year!