J. Roddy Walston and the Business

I felt a twinge of embarrassment when The Kingston Springs announced to an empty room that it was their first time in Athens. “It’s a beautiful place,†Ian, the lead singer reflected, and with that, the Tennessee band commenced to play as if they were totally oblivious to the fact that it was 9:30 on a cold Tuesday night in a vacant venue. A crowd trickled in as the band pressed through a high-energy set of blues infused indie-rock. With honesty characteristic of all of their lyrics, the band introduced their set of new material with a disclaimer of “it’s either going to be awesome or just terrible.†Don’t worry, Kingston Springs, it was the former.

The Features took the stage in front of a room which was more crowded, but still seated. The keyboards gave a nautical feel to the songs, as the guitar and drums boomed behind vocals, and the combination was a delicious mix of punk, alt-rock and indie. The song “Kids†seemed suggestively autobiographical, as it was easy to imagine the members were “born screaming,†because through the entirety of the show “they had fire in their eyes.†The band’s lead singer seemed crazed, as his eyes remained wide and fixated on some dark vision no one else could see in the back of the room. But his piercing stare and the fierceness of their unique blend of rock made it impossible not to be just as involved in watching and listening.

The opening performances seemed more than satisfactorily entertaining until J. Roddy Walston and the Business came in and made anything anyone had seen earlier seem docile. He opened with the question everyone was waiting to be asked, “You guys ready to have some rock ‘n’ roll times? Get up off your asses, you can’t do it sitting down.†J. Roddy carried himself with swagger enough to fill any empty space in the 40 Watt. Two songs in and the place was packed and the fans were all but crawling onto the stage; “You awake yet?†J. Roddy shouted, and the crowd answered with enthusiasm sufficient to earn their performance of the anxiously awaited “Don’t Break the Needle.†J. Roddy rocked the piano while vigorously thrashing his head of long, curly hair and singing with such an unmatched intensity. It was truly impressive that he didn’t lose any teeth to the keys. Playing an instrument that requires sitting down failed to slow him down in the least, and after a long set and two encores, I could not believe his tiny, swiveling piano stool survived the show.