Live Review: Athfest (6/21/2008) Athens, Ga

Last Saturday I left the Big A for the Little A. I arrived in downtown Athens mid-afternoon and checked out the scene. There were lots of arts and crafts tables setup along the road and the crowd was very family friendly. It reminded me of the Atlanta neighborhood festivals like Inman Park Fest or Virginia Highlands Summerfest. None of the musical acts on the outdoor stages were really my style, so I went to check out the Wired Dance Musical Festival at some bar called Blur.

The place itself was really cool, with video game machines and TVs setup everywhere and a swank looking waterfall behind the bar. They had a DJ and people doing art on the stage inside and then another DJ outside on their deck. I hung out there for a while, but it wasn’t really my style of techno either.

So instead I decided to walk around downtown Athens and go shopping at the record stores. I picked up some great vinyl I had been looking for including Jim O’Rourke‘s Insignificance and Eureka, Marnie Stern‘s In Advance Of The Broken Arm, and Pink Floyd‘s Obscured By Clouds and Wish You Were Here. I noticed the record store that used to be in front of the 40 Watt that carried all those bootlegs was gone and replaced by a guitar shop, but there were plenty of other cool shops and I think I’m going to have to come out here periodically to go music shopping.

I was trying to catch King Of Prussia because I’ve been wanting to see them for forever, but I got confused by the way things were scheduled and didn’t get to the stage they were at until the second they finished their last song. Next I went to see Spring Tigers, and they weren’t anything to get excited about. I don’t know what it is about the formula of some guy from the UK fronting a Georgia band, but so far all the results I’ve seen are fairly under par.

So I skipped half of their set to go find DARC Recording Studio, where Morning State was playing. I ran into lots of ATLiens over there and the slightly out of the way outdoor stage setup was a very chill scene. This was the first time I have caught Morning State since intimately knowing their full-length, and since they played a set almost exclusively made up of songs from that, it was pretty awesome.

After hanging out over there for a while, I left to go catch the headliner on the main stage, Modern Skirts. While I had never heard of them before today, they are apparently a big deal over here in rural Georgia, and will be opening for R.E.M. in Europe. They were extremely poppy, but they were very good for their particular style, and the show was enjoyable despite the fact I would probably never want to listen to a record that sounded like that. I went and grabbed a burger and a shake at The Grill near the end of that so I could go get a good spot for the 40 Watt show.

First up in inside I caught Centro-matic. It was indie-rock music with a country music aesthetic but didn’t really sound like country music at all. Again, it was enjoyable but not the sort of thing that quenches my thirst for non-conservative music.

After that is was time for A Armada. The band featured members of Cinemechanica and did a particularly kick-you-in-the-face style of post-rock. While I’m certainly a sucker for this genre, something about this project seemed to be far above and beyond the average instrumental band. I picked up a copy of their EP that hasn’t officially come out yet, and it is as stunning as their live show. It appears they have been added to Corndogorama tomorrow, so make sure not to miss it.

I had to get back to Atlanta and since I just saw Cinemechanica a couple months ago and will be seeing them this weekend, my final band of the day would be We Versus The Shark. This would be Samantha Paulsen’s last show with the band, as her and the band have amicably parted ways. I’m not sure why the first time I saw them I wasn’t completely sold on these guys, but they were just phenomenal for this one. I videotaped most of the set and will have that up very soon, but this was a serious sonic experience that I’m so glad I got to witness.

Overall, my day in Athens was a fun one. It was a great warm-up for Corndog’. While I still think that Atlanta’s scene is far superior to our cousin town, what they have going on over there is pretty cool too and it’s great to emerse yourself in something a little different.

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