Friday, November 13, 2009

Union newb!

Being the ignorant, baby freshman that I am, I’m slightly intimidated by the whole Athens music scene. Perhaps it’s because -- for such a small town -- the scene is bewilderingly flush with bands. Or perhaps it’s because I’ve never seen a prouder group of followers. Last night at The Union proved this point beyond belief in a form seemingly much less threatening -- dance.

I arrived too late, making it in time for only one and a half songs by In Silent Movies... and "silent" they were not. Only three guys cultivated a massive sound as people swung their heads with satisfaction. Then came Whale Zombie, and that’s when it all began.

There was so much dancing. Never in my life had I seen such movement. This wasn’t your junior year Homecoming kind of dancing. This was the real deal. Arms were flailing wildly. Legs were kicking recklessly. Hands were flicking to and fro, and faces were scrunched up into a whole new level of dance face. It was a combination of moshing, ballet, maybe some jiving. It fit the sound of Whale Zombie quite well though, with their mostly wordless creation of loud and animate discords.

The final band, Manor Animals, was a fine finish to the night. They were slightly off but had very well-placed vocals. The quintet collaborated well to produce a jumpy yet intense sound to which the whole crowd continued to dance.

The whole night was a great first impression of the Athens music scene. If one thing is for sure, it was a night that many people felt drunkenly content with the friends they were hanging on as they sang the familiar lyrics. People were there to support the music, and that was completely obvious and admirable, from my somewhat outsider point of few.

-- Hannah Cook, ACRN contributor

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Manor Madness

St. Louis-based Theodore opened its set Friday night with a multiple-part harmony and slid gently into its first song. Students and locals continued filing down the steps, filling Bruce Manor’s basement to maximum capacity. An elderly man in a red leather jacket and a Blue Eagle cap stood at the forefront of the crowd, leaning stoically against a support beam.

Theodore permeated serenity in its twangy tunes, the apex of its love songs lyrically urging, “Baby, break the law for me,” and the crowd swayed in a drunken haze. Well, swayed as best it could; the audience pulsed in extremely close proximity, individuals politely attempting not to spill beer or jab others.

Outside I smoked cigarettes with the bassist, who disclosed that he used the upright bass in several songs for mostly aesthetic purposes. Theodore played Athens once before, at the Union. I tell him the house shows pretty much dominate the scene around here, and local support for this show was indicative of that participation.

-Dani Purcell, ACRN Senior Writer

Manor Animals, Theodore and Duke Junior and the Smokey Boots played to house show revelers Friday night at the Bruce Manor.

ACRN's own Aaron Lemley featured prominently on the drums in Duke Junior. Their folksy blues-rock sound was the perfect introduction to a night filled with the lo-fi sound that we here in Athens have grown to know and love.

Later on, St. Louis locals Theodore played an intimate acoustic set to the ever indulgent crowd.

Manor Animals closed the night to their own packed basement. The band comprises the inhabitants of the Bruce Manor and their angular pop rhythms are fast becoming sharpened with each passing show.

All told, an all right Friday night. Those keen to get into the local music and house show scene realized quickly that the Manor is among the premier venues around town. On the same token, those looking to have a drunken good time with friends and possible new friends (like this guy) realized quickly the Manor is among the premier fun-spots around this blessed old town.

-Paolo Balboa, ACRN contributor

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hello, Goodbye Goats

The Goodbye Goats' rock opera at The Union on Saturday proved to be a raunchy, seductive, baby-killing treat, full of face paint, props and the grossest stage show of music bestowed upon the stage of an uptown bar.

Celebrating the 10th year anniversary of the Court street tattoo shop Decorative Injections, Goodbye Goats' lead singer and Decorative Injections owner Jimmy Kisor went all out.

No, seriously, it was a hot mess (and we mean that in the best way possible). But don't be too upset if you missed out -- this is only the third of four rock-operas that The Union.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Scubadog came, Manor Animals rocked, She Bears roared...

So you saw those posters around Athens that said "Scubadog is coming" in BIG BOLD LETTERS, right? I couldn't stop laughing every single time I passed one. (Sidenote: my roommate stole one and is threatening to hang it up in our apartment. I would never get any work done again.)

It seems Scubadog came and conquered last night (October 15) at Casa! Of course I missed it, because I can't show up to anything less than 45 minutes late. I spent the rest of the night kicking myself, but alas, the rest of the tunes were enjoyable enough for me to soon forget.

It was She Bears' CD release show last night, and everyone I've ever met came out to celebrate. Did I mention it was a free show? It was, which I think was actually a really smart move for She Bears AND Casa (the bar was BUMPING -- I waited 15 minutes to get a damn amaretto sour, which I promptly sucked down in about 4.2 minutes. Argh). It made me a little sad, though, to think that the reason last night's show was the most crowded local show I've been to in the last couple months was because it was free. I mean, I get it -- most of us are "poor college students" who don't want to spend money to listen to some band we've never heard of. But I can't gush over the local scene in Athens enough. Really.

ANYWAY, it was great to bop around and talk to a bunch of folks (my throat was actually sore from talking so much last night), but of course, the music is the important part! I arrived in time to see most of the set from new band Manor Animals, comprised of the savory fellows who live in Bruce Manor this year. A girl I knew said something along the lines of: "Oh, this band is Russenorsk but some other name and some other dudes in it, too." I laughed. But, honestly, the sound is different; Manor Animals had me dancing my tush off with an upbeat and poppy/spazzy brand of indie rock. I just think people see Tim Race singing and playing guitar and Zach Inscho on the drums and get confused. No need.

She Bears were, of course, the main draw last night. The show marked the release of the band's first full-length, I Found Myself Asleep. As the band played through the album, I surely did not find myself asleep. Instead I found myself dancing, swaying, and overall, just enjoying the band's anthemic sound. It was a good night for local music, and I'll just leave it at that. -- Jillian Mapes, ACRN Editorial Director

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thursday nights at The Union

It was a Thursday night in the midst of midterms. As I went to see the highly-anticipated Box Elders show at The Union, I realized the members of the crowd were going to be few and far between, many people busy tending to their school-related responsibilities. C'est la vie, I was determined to party hard.

The show opened with in Silent Movies, a newly-formed band led by Josh Landis, a well- known, Athens-bred singer/songwriter. Their soft, folky sound in songs like “Japanese Beetle” was perfect for opening the night.

Seascapes, another a new band made up of former members of Russenorsk and Spooktober were next. They kept the good feeling going with their catchy hooks and early-punk sounding rifts.

Soon after, Box Elders was up -- finally! I had no idea what to expect when the three –piece, mismatched band from Nebraska took the stage, but within minutes of starting their set everyone in the crowd was dancing. Box Elders pumped out an upbeat, get-your-feet-moving sound that made even the sleepy doorman perk up. Whether it was alcohol-induced craziness or kids just trying to shake off the cold weather blues, Box Elders was the perfect excuse to let loose.

I watched as everyone laughed and danced and it appeared the guys from Box Elders were enjoying themselves as well. Danny Goldberg, the drummer and organ player, was mind blowing as he switched from one instrument to the other, sometimes playing them simultaneously. He stood up while playing -- an obviously off-kilter sight for a drummer -- and hit his maraca against his cymbal before throwing it into the crowd, just missing an innocent bystander.

Clayton McIntyre, the bassist, flung his long locks while singing their garage-rock, perfectly chaotic songs with his brother Jeremiah.

The night ended with The Red Army, who changed the vibe from pop beats to politics. As the bars on Court St. began to empty out, the boys of The Red Army continued to play well into the night as the crowd sang along to songs such as “Hey” and “Washington” off their album Tomorrow’s Unforgiving Sun. Former tour mates of Jay Reatard and currently pursuing a world tour of their own, I was not surprised that Box Elders had an awesome show. In fact, it was better than I even imagined and just what all these stuffy-nosed, summer-nostalgic students needed.

-Erica Euse, ACRN Contributor

Photo credit: The Red Army's MySpace page

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

And so it begins...

When the idea for this blog first started getting kicked around, my main editing cohort Jen wanted it to be a gossip blog about the Athens music scene. Then we started trying to explain the idea to other people and realized the concept was as flimsy as a wedding ring from Wal-Mart. It's not to say people in this town don't gossip -- because they certainly do -- but the gossip isn't exactly contained to the music scene. So we decided to make this blog a show-centric recap of last weekend's adventures. Many folks at are the types to hop from show to show around town every weekend, so our collaborative attempt will be to chronicle this each week.

Still recovering from my 21st birthday, I was just starting to get sick as Thursday crept 'round. That didn't stop me, as I had tickets to the Yo La Tengo concert at Stuart's Opera House that night. Now, we have a full review and photos of that show over in the concert reviews section, so I'm not going to steal anyone's thunder. BUT, allow me to say, that show was odd. Everyone was so well-behaved. Perhaps a bit too well-behaved. But the band ruled, so that's all that mattered in the end.

Thursday there was also, from what I've heard 'round town, a badass ACRN show at The Union. Kyle Sowashes headlined and that guy was my friend's dental hygienist so I know he's a good dude. Some other folks played, including indie kids Grade School, of whom ACRN photog Charles Yesenczki snapped some pictures.

Friday night was the tops, I'll tell you. A good ole'-fashioned rock'n'roll show at the best damn venue in town, The Union. Cincinnati psychedelic rockers Buffalo Killers, some very talented folks who toured with the likes of The Black Keys and The Black Crowes, played a set that lasted until about close at 2. The set had me up and down and all around -- one minute I'm dancing, the next I'm in awe of the guitar solos. One thing's for sure: There were some REALLY trashed people there wearing creepy paper masks. Not sure what was up with that, but I just tried to ignore it and watch the long-haired men on stage get down with their hypnotic guitar noodling.

The Buffalo Killers' drummer, Joseph Sebaali, sure does make some entertaining faces when he plays. My photographer, again Charles Yesenczki, and I were cracking up the whole night! It was, overall, one of the best shows I've seen in Athens in a while. AND it certainly was a packed crowd, even at an $8 cover.

I found myself at The Union again Saturday night for the ACRN show with Chicago's Kaspar Hauser, who rocked a semi-empty bar (*tear*). I was trying to make it over to the She Bears/Blastronauts show at Casa, but it just never happened. I'm going to blame that one on all the amaretto sours that somehow ended up getting poured down my newly-legal throat. I have no idea how that happened!

Until next week -- stay classy! -- Jillian Mapes, ACRN's Editorial Director