Live Review: The Other Sound Festival 2009 (9/19/09)

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Photo by Kevin Griggs

The rain has been causing death and destruction across Atlanta for nearly two weeks now, and it tried its hardest to dampen the fun at The Other Sound Festival last Saturday. I got to Little Five Points early enough to get some grub and catch Today The Moon, Tomorrow The Sun kick off the event, but unfortunately the outdoor stage they were slated to play on got rained out for the day. It was quite unfortunate that the weather washed out so many great acts on the lineup, but there was still plenty of top notch artists left to perform. And while TTMTTS didn’t get to play a set, I did learn that they are just finishing up their next record, an EP which is set to drop next month, so that’s exciting news.

This Piano Plays Itself opened the fest inside of Criminal Records and sounded really nice on the great PA system there. They played a similar set to what they unleashed on Corndogorama, comprised of 3 new, long songs that will be on their forthcoming record. Only three months into their current 5 piece incarnation, and the band is becoming clearly more and more tight and consistent in this formation. I recently listened to some rough mixes of parts of the new album that they have been recording since returning from their summer tour, and it sounded very impressive. Look for that to drop around the beginning of next year. I know regular readers around here are painfully aware I’m squarely on this outfit’s bandwagon, but they continue to make the most of their vast potential and exceed my high expectations for them.

After that I celebrated the time honoured tradition of free PBRs at Criminal Records in-store performances. It seemed just about everyone was suffering various degrees of a hang over, including myself, and a few PBRs helped get me ready for a nice mid-afternoon Yo La Tengo set. By the time they went on, the entire store was completely packed full of people all the way back to the front door. They played a stripped down electric set that included a couple from the new record, a Beatles cover, and they finished it off with a great “Mr. Tough”. I didn’t get any of my personal faves from them, but I didn’t expect to in this setting, so it wasn’t really a disappointment at all. As always, they accompanied their wonderful music with charming banter between songs. Afterwards they signed things for people and did lots of record digging before and after their set. They are one of the rare bands that are both phenomenal musicians and extraordinarily nice people, and I hope they return to Atlanta again very soon.

A few PBRs later, The Orphins took the stage and jammed out a set full of tunes from the new record and classics from back in the day. There are not many bands in this city that want to make me dance, but these guys and gal are definitely one of them. They are able to combine punk intensity with mathy precision unlike almost anyone. Also, I can never get enough of the “steel drum” guitar sound. The Orphins are just such a consistently stellar live band, and The Other Sound was no exception for them.

The Criminal Records portion of the festival closed out with a solo set from Jeffrey Butzer, who did a typically enjoyable set. Mr. Butzer is the master of between song banter with his audience, and he had several humourous things to say this time as well. His easily likable stage presence enhances his live shows, but I have to say that there is something about a one man band setup that makes it hard to capture and hold on to the attention of an audience. While Jeffrey Butzer plays this role almost better than anyone I’ve ever seen utilizing so many instruments at the same time, it still seems to work against him a bit in tandem with music so light and minimalistic. Overall it doesn’t manage to engage me as much as I would like it to, but despite that, a Jeffrey Butzer solo live performance is still pretty damn good.

I took a brief break from the action to go back to my house and recharge a little bit and afterwards headed to the Star Bar for the second half of the fest. After more alcohol consumption, I caught Los Buenos, a new project from former members of the now defunct Batata Doce. Despite the name, this Justin Sias lead group was more reminiscent of Elevado than the world music centric Batata Doce. For a very new band, I thought they sounded great and I hope this line up sticks around for a while.

After some drunken conversations, I only caught the very end of Author’s Apology, and really didn’t hear enough to make any sort of judgment whatsoever. I went back upstairs and caught Untied States next. This was the standout set for me of the entire festival. I’m probably going to be talking about their new, yet to be released record a lot in the next few months, but obviously I think it is pretty amazing, and their live show was of the same caliber. The now 5 piece lineup behind Untied States masterminds Colin Arnstein and Skip Engelbrecht is completely different than last time I saw them, and probably the best supporting cast they have ever had. The drummer alone brings so much to this group. Colin was dressed in an army nurse uniform for this one, and it’s interesting how theatrical this band comes off just simply playing their hearts out on their instruments. These guys are criminally underrated and represent the pinnacle of serious and artful music in this city, so if you haven’t looked into them yet you are losing.

I caught a few songs of Falcon Lords downstairs, but they were a joke, literally. I then tried to wait it out to see Club Awesome next, but the steady supply of beers all day finally took its toll and I had to head back to the house.

Even though the weather tried to sabotage the fest as much as possible, it was still a very fun event overall. Getting Yo La Tengo dropped on the bill was a pretty awesome boost to help counteract the rain. I think The Other Sound was a great snapshot of what’s going on in the local indie scene right now. There is so much great music happening in this town at the moment that it would be impossible to gather it all together for one day, but they did about as good a job as they could. I have to give everyone involved with the fest mad props for assembling such a great lineup. Outside of Yo La‘s time slot, the turnout wasn’t spectacular, but there was a good crowd throughout the entire time I was there, especially considering everything else going on the city that it was competing against. I noticed a ton of ATL superstars in attendance, and I got to meet some new folks and chat it up with some cool peeps I already knew. I saw many of the different artists I like mingling together. The whole thing gave me a very positive feel on where things are heading right now in Atlanta. Between the many musicians and artists and the various people supporting the scene in a multitude of different ways, there is a lot of talent out there right now, and it feels to me like it is coalescing together into something special.

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One Response to “Live Review: The Other Sound Festival 2009 (9/19/09)”
  1. John Says: September 27th, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Here’s two videos from Jeffrey Butzer’s performance at Criminal Records. There’s some better looking video from that day floating around the ‘net, but here’s what I got:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UK-vWa9YvfA

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BM_fIiOhNog

    (Sorry, I don’t know the song titles!)

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