Saturday, November 13, 2010

Scubadog, Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas & Zapaño / November 11 / Casa Cantina

We love Scubadog—for obvious reasons. They’re wonderful musicians, charming, handsome, funny. If only Scubadog as a collective could be our boyfriend. Until that can be arranged, though, I’ll settle for a free show.

Casa Cantina greeted us with warmness and Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas. We missed most of their set, and regrettably so. But I spent more of my Goodfella’s tips (ALWAYS tip at Goodfella’s, you guys) on their album anyway. The last two songs were wonderful and worth being jealous over, at least from a girl’s perspective. Hernandez has a voice cultivated by the heavens above. It was a perfect blend of pitches and harshness, accompanied by some jazzy, rambunctious piano playing. The band backing her brought it all together. Certainly if they haven’t already reached some sort of fame, they’re on their way to it.

Scubadog took the stage next, and I was shaking in my boots with excitement. And once again, they came bearing treats—but this time vegetarian friendly.

The talk of their releasing two new songs at the show was finally put to life. Inside homemade fortune cookies were fortunes holding the most majestic and secretive information known to man—the code to download the songs. They were selling those for two or three bucks, but decided to throw a few into the crowd for fun and kindness’s sake. Once again, my unlucky hands didn’t get one, but never catching anything free is something I’m used to.

Their set consisted of songs old and new, all of which were perfectly executed. Their guitarist’s hands moved all over the fret board, and it was almost mesmerizing. The riffs he was playing were innovative and complicated. He was a mad man.

Zapaño was next, and I had never seen them before. The moment they started, though, I was really intrigued. The singer Sean was super sensual, moving his hips all ova da place. His legs twisted and bounced and split.

The music was something comparable to Mars Volta with a lot of peculiar but marvelous instrumentation and wild singing. I left early, but the next time they play, I’m for sure there.

The crowd was a sea of dance, and never had we moved so much and so hard. Yet another successful Scubadog undertaking.

--Hannah Cook, News & Live Reviews Editor

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thumpdaddy / October 17 / Smiling Skull

Turn down Union Street. Keep walking straight until you think you’ll get raped. Then keep going, you’re in the right place. Turn into sketchy biker bar. Fight past the townies and get your groove on because Thumpdaddy is in the house.

Thumpdadddy’s been groovin’ for decades and it’s easy to see why George Clinton jammed with him back in the day. The man is a funk titan and the band ain’t bad either.

They took the stage, sporting hats the belles of the Kentucky Derby would covet, and knocked out the best “Mrs. Jackson” cover Athen’s has ever heard. After a short “pause for a good cause," a.k.a Thumpdaddy's meeting and greeting with the crowd, they launched into the main set sequence. The show started out slow, as these things often will, but get enough PBR into those kids in plaid and they get down with their bad selves. “Play That Funky Music, White Boy” lightened the mood and from there the revelry never stopped.

By the end of the night, The 'Skull had erupted into a giant dance party. Both feeling and smelling funky, the crowd requested encore after encore until Thumpdaddy could thump no longer. And we ACRNies were lucky enough to walk away with a free C.D. from the hands of Thumpdaddy himself. It will display prominently in the station... after visits to each of our laptops.

--Amanda Norris, Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jones for Revival, Rootstand & Elemental Groove Theory / October 9, 2010 / Jackie O's

Welcome to the world of jam bands. At Jackie O’s on Saturday night, Rootstand and Jones for Revival played long jam sessions oriented to groove in their own transcending styles.

Rootstand, a band from Michigan, blended their own version of hip-hop, celtic, and bluegrass music together to form an all-out hootenanny in Jackie O’s main bar. While parents and their children celebrated Parent’s Weekend with a drink or ten, Rootstand played two separate one-and-a-half hour sets. Keeping the feet stomping and the hips shaking, they covered Johnny Cash, The Doors, and many more while still keeping their own songs flowing. Brant Losinski, the band's singer/guitarist said, “I love coming to Jackie O’s and the atmosphere here in Athens.”

Jones for Revival, a band from Youngstown, kept the crowd largely entertained in Jackie O’s Public House. The band's mixing their indie-acoustic jam style set an the mood for an intriguing night, to say the least. As their set played on, they showed that they could jam with the best of them and the crowd seemed to thoroughly enjoy what singer/guitarist Jimmy DeCapua was dishing out. Singing tales of leaving Ohio for better things and the emotions that go along with it, DeCapua seemed to have a real resentment towards his hometown of Youngstown.

The real surprise of the night came late as Elemental Groove Theory took the stage and not only drew in a crowd, but had them grooving all night. Many people wandered into Jackie O’s Public House late on Saturday and found EGT jamming better than they may have ever done. With astounding vocals and a flowing chorus of instruments EGT captured the crowd and drew some of the attention away from Rootstand next door.

As the night winded down, all three acts seemed more interested in starting their nights than sticking around. All-in-all it was a great show more than worth the $3 fee to get in.

--Brian Bound, Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Films of Tom Comerford / The Athena / October 2

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Mr. Tom Comerford. Tom is an original jack-of-all-trades, master of -- well -- all. Trained in sculpture, performance, and the classics, Tom has embarked on an influential series of films depicting not only the landscape of our nation's past, but the steadily decaying landscape of the present. His work has been screened at such venues as the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, San Francisco Cinematheque, and the London Film Festival. As if all of that wasn’t enough, Tom travels with his band Kaspar Hauser and rocks the socks off of the Mid-West and Eastern United States.

At his screening at the Athena on October 2, 2010, Tom showed three of his films: Dèpart (2000), Land Marked Marguette (2005), and his latest masterpiece, The Indian Boundary Line (2010).

Initially, I had no clue what to expect. All I knew was that I was surrounded by School of Film TA’s and note-takers. When the lights turned off and the first film began, a blind man could probably smell the anticipation seeping through my pores. The first film, Dèpart, was shot on a homemade pinhole camera at a train station in Iowa City, Iowa. Accompanied by screeching static and a distorted French narration by a man recalling life on the tracks. It was reminiscent of the Lumiere Brothers and their 1895 masterpiece L'Arrivée d'un Train en Gare de la Ciotat, or simply Train Leaving the Station. Watching that film showed me that Comerford was the real deal. The next two films came on a jet-pack fueled by irony. Their focus was basically how much of American civilization has discarded the vast history of our Native American roots (sorry Pocahontas) in the form of spray paint, plastic, and cement.

Just a couple scenes worth mentioning: In one comedic scene, Tom and a couple of friends dress up in dollar store Halloween department quality Jesuit regalia and retrace the same route down the Chicago Portage that Marquette and Louis Jolliet canoed in 1673. Except in Comerford’s addition, the “settlers” are discovering not a world of newfound beauty and nature, but one of stagnate water and large, run-down, graffiti-covered buildings. One must think: Is our past so far behind us that it can’t be reenacted without hearing a roar of laughter from the audience? Tom’s answer is yes. There are constant scenes of the future, and how it is suffocating our past like Lou Ferrigno suffocates, well, anything he puts his hands on.

The other was a scene of a young child playing on a playground that lies on what used to be the Indian Boundary Line (now Rogers Avenue). Sure, watching a cute little guy explore a big new world is entertaining, but there was a much deeper message. The point is that we children of the future are born into a world that we know nothing about. We did not help create it, explore it, or institutionalize it. We are simply, here. So living today is similar to a child's playing in a playground. We wander around aimlessly, curiously, and neglectfully. There are traces of our nation's landscape, but they lie in the hands of graffiti-ridden informational signs and plastic beaches of garbage.

-Samuel Sloma, Staff Writer

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Monolithic Cloud Parade, Scubadog and She Bears / Casa Cantina / September 30

There are nearly too many events that were squeezed into Thursday night: So many that I can hardly wrap my mind around them clearly or cohesively. I’ll do my best, though, to collect from my weary memory what I can.

At about 10:30 we entered Casa, only to greet a nearly finished Monolithic Cloud Parade. To that I said “crap.” They were really great for that last song-and-a-half I heard. They seemed like a motley crew, but their sound was perfectly unified. It’s such a shame that I didn’t see them long enough to come up with very many ways to describe them. But if you were there, you know.

Dear Lord, Scubadog was absolutely a blast. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed them more because of the incredibly ridiculous inclusion of the audience, the performance itself, the humor and the absurdity of it all. The band said so many silly things. I laughed so hard so much.

In celebration of Rocktober, Scubadog had treats for the crowd. Every once in a while during their set, they would break into that song that marching bands play before every victorious event in a football game. When it came for the crowd to join in, we yelled, “Hey! Free Meat!” and up over heads and arms flew mini beef jerky pieces. The lucky ones who caught one celebrated as if they had caught the fly ball at a baseball game. Unfortunately, he didn’t throw any to the side of the stage where I had taken my place.

The whole situation was enjoyed so thoroughly by the band and everyone else. When they ran out of meat, the lead singer was super apologetic, as if he ran out of grants to heaven. “Hey, I’m really sorry about the meat situation guys.” It was such a humorously sincere apology.

Their set was outrageous. They played their instruments so robustly, with fingers bouncing all over the fret board for mad solos of sorts. My hands turned blue just from watching them. They even rocked out so hard that the lead singer’s shoes came off. With that, he said something along the lines of, “you know you’re rocking out when your shoe comes off.” They also played some new songs that were intricate and exciting to listen to. I hope their album comes along quickly.

There was so much more banter from everyone. It’s just too hard to put it all together into one page of recollection. But all in all, it was a hilarious thing to watch. I was perpetually smiling or dancing, or both. Usually both.

We intended to leave before She Bears came on, only because it was getting to be our bedtime. But, it so happened plans worked out otherwise and I was able to see a good amount of She Bears’ set.

Not that they were ever terrible at all before, but they sounded a lot better this night. I think it was because I could clearly hear Steven’s singing, which can sometimes be an issue. Their songs, even the old ones, sounded different in some ways, as if they had added more intricacy. The people watching were really into it, dancing together, spinning around, and nodding heads.

Everyone in all of Casa was satisfied.

Before leaving, I was standing outside waiting around to leave. A person who I suppose we would classify as a “townie” came up to me and started showing me his tattoos that HE apparently did himself. That was mind-boggling to me. He even had a tattoo on the palm of his right hand, and he’s left-handed. He was a hardass to say the least. He told me he had about $1,000 worth of music equipment in Casa and that if any body touched it, he’d kill them. Then he told me: “Anyone who messes with you, I’ll kill em’.”

I said, “Well, gee. Thanks.”

As he was walking away to leave, he said, “That’s just how I am.”

--Hannah Cook, Live Reviews Editor

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Southeast Engine, Josiah Wolf and Ortolan / Casa Cantina / September 17

Following one Cobra and a seven dollar fee, Carolyn and I found ourselves inside the Casa Cantina. A little too late. I’d say we missed the majority of the first band, who was Ortolan, a band of four girls who were really great from what I saw. They played some folksy indie-rock for us, making my mouth incapable of forming a frown. The singer’s voice was a lovely one comparable to -- maybe -- Laura Stevenson a little bit, especially with darling harmonies flowered from the other girls. Of course, it made me want to be in a band. In fact, that thought took control of my mind for most of the night. Sweet envy.

Next was Josiah Wolf, the drummer of WHY? who are from Cincinnati (Halright home.) He was accompanied by a woman who an awesome outfit and a graceful voice. And Josiah-- My goodness! He has arms and legs trained like a circus lion. He was playing guitar and drumming simultaneously. Yeah. Imagine the confusion your right brain and left brain would go through during that. It’s like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time, but much much harder, I would imagine. And not once did he appear to have a single flaw, at least not to my untaught eye.

Those two formed the sound of a band of at least four people. His voice, a little nerdy and talky, which I didn’t think was a word but my computer didn’t underline it, so we’ll go with it, was delightful with the lyrics he was singing. Some odd words that don’t make much sense but that fill your brain nonetheless. I loved every minute of it.

One slice of Goodfella's and a midnight dinner in a dark corner off of Court Street later, and we were back in Casa to see Southeast Engine. It had been a whole summer since we had seen them last, so my feet were hot with the readiness to listen and boogie. And so I did, to the best of my ability.

After having us applaud for the opening bands and the movie Space Jam, the band went into a pretty long set of new and old ones. Not once did my feet stop twisting or my knees stop bouncing. Or those of anyone else, for that matter.

Southeast Engine is wonderful to everyone, but I’m convinced no one loves them more than a certain man in a fisherman hat. To anyone who wasn’t moving, he insisted otherwise. He waved his hands in the air with a “come on” so that we would clap louder. He trudged through the crowd all over the place to personally ensure that people were reacting to the music in the way it deserved. He loves Southeast Engine. And fishing, probably.

--Hannah Cook, Live Reviews Editor

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Elemental Groove Theory taught me how to move

Elemental Groove Theory taught me how to move...

Granted, "moving" for me is not much more than nodding my head, maybe moving my leg a bit, and not TOO much else. But it's more than what it used to be, particularly at the onset of my college career. As opposed to not moving at all, I'll take this any day.

I had the honor of seeing EGT in concert for the fourth time Thursday evening, and for the second time (maybe third... hell, I can never remember these things) with the like-minded First Street Heat.

This time in particular was for the eight-piece's CD release party, the first of -- hopefully -- many. Students and non-students alike trudged from all over to the Union to witness an evening of horns, hula hoops and funk-- all in the name of a brand new album from one of Athens' most prominent bands.

The First Street Heat were a more-than-worthy opening band. The band's malleable, ever-changing lineup was still as tight as can be, with swelling brass and stellar vocals from Ben Kain, Eden Lee and Eric Turner. And, of course, people got down. Like whoa. It may well be because it was freshest in my mind, but I cannot remember seeing that much dancing at a show in quite some time. And what was more? The place was packed. The two bands have always been known to bring large crowds to the Union for their shows, and Thursday night was no different. If you were in the front of the audience and had to leave even for a moment, you'd have to forget about getting that spot back. Things were intense.

Elemental Groove Theory only ramped up the intensity of the evening. Though the First Street Heat were, as always, exceedingly eye-catching and entertaining, there is no funk rock band I've seen that can beat EGT. Having heard their new album in its entirety (a must-listen, by the way) and having spoken to a few band members themselves in an article I wrote last spring, I can confidently say that the band is simply too talented and entertaining to pass up on any night.

It was a great hour-plus of music. After starting off with an immense jam-like song sans vocals, singer Rachel Maxann emerged onstage as the band launched into -- arguably -- their best song, "Live Your Style." It contains a lyric, "Music will change everything," which I particularly like. It's simple, sure, but it can be the truth. And when you see the crowd reaching toward Maxann and the stage while she sings those lyrics, well, it certainly is inspiring to say the least.

The night wore on but the intensity never died. Bassist Matt Urminski aimed his bass into the crowd like a shotgun, guitarists Mark "Mavis" Meredith and Dan Perez traded harmonic, blistering guitar solos, and the brass/woodwind combo of saxophonist Kyle Slemmer and trumpet Dustin Bastin are seriously two of the most talented players of each respective instrument I've had the opportunity to see live. Keyboardist Mike Brokamp's solos were always welcome and the crowd always seemed to dig them, plus the guy has an incredible amount of energy while onstage. Drummer Eric Wright donned an enormous fuzzy hat for the occasion. Frankly, while watching him, I thought about how it was a wonder that the thing even stayed on as he played.

Hilariously enough, after finishing up their album's closing song, the ten-minute "The 751," Urminski leaned into the microphone and asked the crowd if they liked the song. He proceeded to note that ACRN called the song the worst on their new album. For a fleeting moment I felt like yelling out that not all of ACRN thought this, that this was just one person's opinion, especially since the track was one of my favorites on the album. But to each their own, right? Right.

The evening ended just shy of 2 a.m., after the band had played most (maybe all? It's so hard to keep track!) of their new disc and had inserted in a few covers and other originals as well. The verdict: I think everyone most certainly left satisfied. I know I did.

Though seeing them live is an experience in and of itself and should be witnessed at all costs, Elemental Groove Theory also has a great record out now that is many, many months in the making. Go out and get it. You won't be sorry.

--Kevin Rutherford, Managing Editor

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Lobsterfest: Day Three!

Lobsterfest is right! I look like a damn lobster right now with this sunburn, and it doesn't even make sense that I do; seeing as, we were only outside for the first couple hours of the morning!

As I walked to set-up at 10 in the morning, I shot a venomous glare at a kid who was toting an umbrella as he walked, thinking his preparation for rain a curse. Turns out, my causality logic may be a bit off, but the kid was wise to have had an umbrella.

Stages were set and humans were arriving on South Beach when storm clouds started forming. Promo Director Aaron Vilk announced before the first act's playing, "We're gonna rage out here for as long as possible."

We didn't get to "rage" outside for very long at all...

Melk was the first act of the day, and the only one that got to play outdoors. Their set was preceded by a long, low growl of thunder before Mother Nature got a slapping of drowning-outage in her gloomy face from the drum and bass duo that comprised Brian Jackson and Ghost of Asa Phelps' vocalist/guitarist Ryan Ford (or "Boomer" and "Sick Old Bastard" as they preferred to be called onstage). Rough instrumentation and unintelligible lyrics were the name of the game with Melk, though, I think I may have picked up some "fuck"s here and there. The band's sound was just as ominous as the looming storm clouds that would force Lobsterfest into the South Pole below Nelson after its performance.

The migration to the South Pole was a quick one as everything got packed in and the original stages were covered with protective tarp. Inside the air-conditioned rec room in the parking garage, everyone found a place to sit and to socialize as we waited for everything to get reorganized.

Bag of Hair, formerly known as Sandcrawler, captivated the room as the drummer and guitarist went madmen on their instruments and what appeared to be an interpretive dancer in an Iron Man mask wearing an American flag as a cape pranced and flailed about. I wont lie and say that he didn't make me nervous, but those dancing at the front of the crowd didn't seem to be so weary, especially when the band announced that they were playing a song from "Pete & Pete."

Then came Legends of Wrestling

What the hell, Brotthheerrrr? Legends of Wrestling, a Grindcore sideshow of all things brutal, took place in a makeshift wrestling ring with two-man tag-team of Ty Owen and Pat Snyder pacing within its confines. They wore football pads with nails driven through them and red and black face paint. Terrifying.

With songs that were shorter than the roughly 30-second intros given to them played from a Mac and screamed over by the men within the ring, Legends of Wrestling held my and everyone else's attention.

Characters such as a honky-tonk bigot, an evangelical hater with a "God Hates Grind" sign (Aaron Vilk in drag) and Bret Hart met their ends at the hands of the Legends and their harnessed Warrior powers via guitar-beating, light-tube shattering and trashcan doom respectively. I actually found it hilarious and, even...brilliant. Too far? No. Brilliant. I even left with a bruise on my arm from being barreled into by Owen after the set. I'm just glad no one lost an eye from those football pad nails.

At that point, as I sat at the merch table, performances started blurring together for me, perhaps because it was nearing dinner time and I had yet to have breakfast or that my sunburn was starting to eat at my brain. The tunes just weren't motivating me to get up from being the obsessively organizing shirt-nazi behind the merch table to get a better view.

In Silent Moves, Whale Zombie, and Manor Animals are bands I often hear praised here in Athens and in this blog, but that I had neither actually "scene" nor heard (haha, get it?) until Lobsterfest. All three, especially the latter two, drew a very distinct crowd, one that appeared to have actually seen them play as many times as I had heard they were playing. They danced, sang along and had a fabulous time to the music.

I must admit at this point that my attention is something that is easily lost, and -- though the music was good, I can't remember much of it. Again, sunburn blur. I do, however, remember one song from, I believe, Manor Animals that had the lyrics, "Oh, oh, oh my God!" happening. That was cute.

I believe it was during Scubadog's performance that I left to edit Carolyn's review of Lobsterfest Day 2 and came back to catch the end of The Cutter Family's set then to be re-energized by Tin Armor, whose music made me start bobbing my head again.

I was able to stick around just long enough to see my favorite local band, The Ghost of Asa Phelps.

I don't know why I even like those guys. There's so much dude happening all the time with them. Seriously. It's an almost overwhelming amount of brothership. Well, maybe I like them because I like dudes. Maybe I have an attraction to dudeship. Nah, I think it's the fact that the bassist definitely started playing Alkaline Trio's "Trouble Breathing" as they soundchecked. That's what gets me with those guys: It's familiarity and closeness to my tastes that most other Athens bands don't offer that helps make me feel more secure in this place. Now I'm writing like I'm selfish, but whatever. I enjoy the band. What can I say?

The last time I had seen TGOAP, the band performed a Misfits cover, and I'll admit that I was crossing my fingers for another one this round, but I wasn't disappointed when they covered "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival for the singer's father. It certainly lead to sing-alongs and grins... Not that sing-alongs aren't the absolute norm for those guys. Again, DUDES, a pack of them, are always found in the front row ready to lend their voices for gang vocals. They played two new songs, one of which was a slow one, described by the band's singer/guitarist as being "about a girl, but -- in a way -- aren't they all?" True.

I left at 8:30 p.m. just before She Bears played to look for an icy lake of aloe into which I could throw my sensitive-skinned self. Before I left, I took note from Ty that I should at least come back to see Coltrane Motion play. I probably should have and would have taken that suggestion had I not fallen ill by the time I reached my dorm room.

Oh, well. I got my 10 hours in at Lobsterfest and can't wait to do it again next year!

Fortunately, Miss Hannah Cook was there to tell you how the rest of the day went!

--Cassie Whitt, Blogs Editor


I didn’t even know this so-called South Pole existed. When the sky was cracked down the middle with a strike of lightening and everyone collectively decided to move the show inside, I was so confused as to why they were going into a parking garage. “You…you guys. That’s…not…a place,” I thought. It was a place, though, with a stage and a refrigerator and chairs and inside-ness. But it was an odd atmosphere for live music. I felt like I was in the lobby of a hospital or in a dining hall at a summer camp. Needless to say, it just didn’t seem like the right place for Lobsterfest.

But Lobsterfest controlled the South Pole. South Pole did not control it. And despite the technical and weather mishaps, bands, duos, lobsters and weirdos alike rose to the occasion.

As Cassie covered the beginning of the day, I shall cover the end. Although, there are a few things from the beginning that I’d like to discuss. Only because…shit got weird. And sort of scary.

Ty Owen, I hardly know you, but you never ever fail to freak me out entirely, and I’m sure that’s sort of the point. Cassie will do the description justice, but I just had to add my personal thoughts and feelings about the matter.

First, I hope the three dudes who got hit brutally by light bulbs, guitars, chairs, “cocaine,” etc. are okay. It looked painful and real. I hope that I didn’t look like too much of a pansy in comparison to the badassness when I threw my hands to my cheeks and widened my eyes in worry.

Second, those boys are quite the screamers and quite the intimidators. They were just pacing around the home-made wrestling ring, making a mess, spitting water, dripping sweat and face paint, beating the crap out of people. Dear GOD.

Third, way to be inventive. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had heard mutters of eagerness about this Legends of Wrestling. I honestly thought it was going to be a band playing whilst people wrestle. But this was much more creative.

Music wise, not really my style. I’m much more in to calm Indie delightfulness. If I had to put a contrary to that, it would probably be Legends of Wrestling. It’s okay though, because the show in and of itself was entertainment enough for me.

I missed a few bands during my naptime. I know, I know. I shouldn’t have missed Lobsterfest for a nap. But if you only knew my weariness. It just had to be done.

I also skipped out on a couple bands who I had seen before, like She Bears and The Ghost of Asa Phelps, so I wasn’t terribly upset, though I am sorry.

What I was terribly upset about, however, was that I didn’t get to see what musical essence the young man in the dress (Evolve) had to offer. I knew, just from lookin’ at ‘im, that it was probably going to be really interesting and probably really worth not napping. When I walked in as he was clearing off his technological who-nots, I asked about him. Apparently it was a DJing and rapping sort of thing. Which makes it all so much more bizarre. I guess I’ll never know.

I caught the end of Coltrane Motion, who were really cool. They were two men sounding like many more. One was on a keyboard and computer, the other on electric guitar, and they worked together to form danceable beats and clever sounds. There’s nothing I love more than some good electriconically-steered music. The movement of their bodies only added to it all. They twisted their legs around, slammed their feet backward, jumped, hunched over, nearly always looking like they would fall down. They were limitless.

I wondered who the people in bright yellow, marching band-looking uniforms were and apparently I was really out of the loop for not knowing. Forgive my ignorance. They were Flotation Walls, and they were magnificent. They had dynamics and joyous harmonies that were radiating like a sun’s rays through their bright yellow bodies. The girl’s voice was so beautiful. It had a sort of opera tone about it, very full and impeccable. But then she could also make it rougher and loud. It's the sort of voice I wish I had, but I won’t digress to that. At the last song, the lead singer, in all his cheery sincerity, came off the stage and into the crowd, as we all sung our last verse of “oohs” and “aahhs” together, like an unpolished choir.

Check out a video our Managing Editor Kevin Rutherford took of Flotation Walls' performance:

Flotation Walls - "Kids, Look at the Waves" from Kevin Rutherford on Vimeo.

Russenorsk was the last band I saw. I honestly don’t feel like I can be the one to write about them. They’re an Athens legend I unfortunately missed as a youngin’. But I looked around often, at all the people in the crowd who clearly realized what they had missed since September. And they were rejoicing in the reunion, both with tears and smiles. Perhaps the song that triggered wild emotions most was “Long Winter’s Coming.” Even in me it did, and I wasn’t around to see any of this unfold.

The cello was alluring behind Tim’s unique chords and crafty loop pedaling. Man, I love a good orchestral string instrument in modern music. All their instrumentation pieced together so perfectly. It just didn’t seem like they hadn’t played in months. Their warning of potential rustiness was not necessary No apologies were needed, and no forgiveness was shed. Everyone was just enjoying the moment for what it was worth and soaking in the nostalgia. This whole thing needs a much grander description and appreciation than what I’ve given. But if you were there, you know.

I missed Sidekicks! Crap! Apparently it was a good show too. I just figured since I wasn’t that into to pop-punk stuff that it just wasn’t for me. Stupid stereotyping!

Alas, my first Lobsterfest is over, and those set to leave have had their last. We young ones have big shoes to fill and a turny, adventurous route of footsteps to follow. We can only hope we’ll make it out alive and well, the way our old friends have.

I was going to get all sentimental about the leaving seniors and juniors, but this may not be the right place or right time. I can’t get like that anyway; I have finals to study for.

--Hannah Cook, Live Reviews Editor

Photos and Flotation Walls video Courtesy of Managing Editor Kevin Rutherford

Lobsterfest: Day Two!

So, I have a bit of a confession to make...

Despite the fact that I have been in this wonderful student organization known as ACRN since the beginning of fall quarter, this night, better known as Lobsterfest Day 2, was my first local Athens show ever.

Oh, how I avoided the local scene at all costs! I'd walk past The Union slightly faster than everywhere else on a Saturday night and avert my gaze when "Scene & Heard" blogs came up in editorial meetings. While many nights, schoolwork and money and other social gatherings were distractions from a good old-fashioned concert, sometimes I had no excuse not to go except the fact that I didn't really want to.

I figured it was about time to just deal with whatever reservations I had about shows here in Athens and just go to one, especially since the end of the year is so close. I'd seen both Duke Jr. & The Smokey Boots and Southeast Engine at Nelsonville Music Festival a couple weeks ago and have become quite fond of both bands since then. The mixture of two bands I like playing at the end of the year and the fact that this was an event hosted by ACRN made it the perfect choice for my first show.

I walked in a few minutes late into what appeared to be a honky-tonk. The Casa Cantina crowd was having a raucous, boot-stompin' time with The Graveyard Shift. While most of the crowd was bopping their knees or tapping their feet, many were much more into it. For instance, an elderly man over to my far left was doing a proper hoedown dance! If the atmosphere wasn't amusing enough for a first-timer like myself, the music was also quite enjoyable. The Graveyard Shift played good ol' country music with a blues and rock twist, which is exactly what I've been into lately.

Musical highlights from their set were a catchy little number about a high school dance and a song called "Get Back," during which the crowd helped out singer Aaron Heindel (who sports a fantastic mustache) by shouting back "heart around" at him in the chorus. The Graveyard Shift was a fun and wonderful start to the night, and their set was over all too soon for me.

Next up was Theodore, who I'd never actually heard, but heard nothing but good things about. If I'm a sucker for one thing, it's a genuine, heartbreaking voice, and Justin Kinkel-Schuster has got it. His controlled screams mixed with the band's rich, yet fun sound in "Engine Number Nine," melted my heart while allowing me to have a good time, and it certainly confirmed all the good things I'd heard about this St. Louis quartet.

After their truly delightful set was one of the reasons I had decided to come out that evening... Southeast Engine. Though I saw them from the merch tent at Nelsonville, I recognized that that was not the most ideal way to hear them, and I was right. The crowd clearly loved Southeast Engine, as that is when Casa was the most packed. Though certain substances may have been involved, the crowd was jumping and dancing and singing their own hearts out to the tunes they all know so well (especially to the chorus of "Ooh's" in a song later in the set). These hometown heroes were definitely on point. The show was high energy and perfectly played, despite a few issues with feedback from the microphones. The combination of the perfect energy from the crowd and the delightful melodies from the band made me sad that this was only my first time seeing Southeast Engine up close.

Though my feet hurt, my eyes were drooping, and my tummy was rumbling at this point, I knew I couldn't quite yet leave Casa because Duke Jr. was about to go on. Just like at Nelsonville, they put on a fabulous show with their country/blues influenced rock. The second song of the set was a bluesy, sultry cover from the '60s that was just straight-up sexy and got the crowd grinding. The more country-influenced songs also got people do-si-doing and singing along, especially to "Travelin' Man," a clear favorite.

Lobsterfest night two was a clear success, with both the crowds and bands doing their jobs perfectly. I couldn't imagine a better way to start off my career of going to local shows, and I'm sure to do more of it in the future.

--Carolyn Menyes, Staff Writer

Southeast Engine photo courtesy of: Kevin Rutherford

Lobsterfest Day One Correction

As pointed out by Promo Director Aaron Vilk, there was a bit of a misunderstanding about the lineup of Psychedelic Horseshit in our latest review for the first day of Lobsterfest.

Vilk commented:
"...PsychShit's lineup was Whitehurst and Adam and Beth from Times New Viking as the rest of the band...I don't think Rich is in it anymore. "

We apologize for the misunderstanding.

--Cassie Whitt, Blogs Editor

Friday, June 4, 2010

Lobsterfest: Day One!

Dearest Lobsters,

You know the drill. Lobsterfest. I wouldn't go as far as to say that it's the goal of our existence, but it's perhaps the most prestigious event of the school year for ACRN-ers. It is the sum of all that has happened from the beginning of September to now – the beginning of June, nine months later.

Though last year's fest was a one-day ordeal on South Beach, this year's installment pumped up the jams, taking it from one to three days at three different locations.

Thursday's show took place at that so-hallowed ground, a staple of the Athens music scene: The Union. Lobsters and non-Lobsters alike descended upon The Union late Thursday night for a night of delicious, drunken debauchery and sweet, sweet music.

I made it my goal pre-Lobsterfest to catch at least a portion of each performer's set this year, and barely kept my hopes alive after arriving a bit late to the festivities. I caught the end of Blithe Field's set and was pleased to find that since I last saw Spencer Radcliffe's musical project in a live setting, not much had changed musically. The key difference was the addition of a drummer. I should note that it was the first time I'd seen Blithe Field since the end of January, so that may be a late discovery on my part. Nonetheless, I really liked what I heard despite only catching maybe two songs. From electronic beats and computer-esque blips to recorded voice samples, now complemented by live percussion, Blithe Field is an act that will – with hope – be around for a few more years to come in Athens, and it should not be missed. I'll be excited to catch another set of his next fall.

After the din died down and the bustle of musicians coming on and off the stage subsided, Seascapes took to their set: A blast of garage-y rock with some definite pop hooks and punk sensibilities. Brace yourselves for the biggest example of musical deprivation this side of the Hocking River: it was my first time seeing Seascapes. As with Manor Animals, whom I will finally be seeing on Saturday, I had somehow missed Seascapes all this year. I certainly wasn't avoiding them; it simply never happened. That said, I'm glad it finally did.

The quartet, which was showcasing its new EP for sale in the back of the venue, was on its game. Featuring a double-pronged vocal attack from guitarists Brian Rudell and Dan Whiteley and the occasional group vocal courtesy of bassist Matt Tarnowski, the set definitely garnered the attention of the slowly-growing crowd at the Union. Drummer Zach Inscho was no doubt a highlight as well with his formidable drumming; that man will also be a part of the Russenorsk reunion Saturday night. Maybe you should be there, too. Hint, hint.

The next act was the source of my most recent musical education: godversussatan. I had never been to a certified noise show before, but I have a feeling that this was the closest I've ever gotten to one. And you know what? It was cool. I listened to some of the collective's tunes beforehand and thought they were definitely interesting, but it's a whole different experience to see things unfold live.

The four men of godversussatan had enough instruments to form a 20-person, possibly more, band. And everything had a purpose, from more conventional instruments such as guitars to music-makers of which I didn't even know the name. Trombones made appearances. What looked like a keytar had a place. Drums were scattered around the back of the stage with members taking turns going ballistic on them when the situation called for it. Did I mention it was loud? Trust me, you did not want to be standing next to the amps during portions of the set. I was probably 6 feet from the stage and my ears are still ringing as I type this.

I'll be checking out those guys and similar acts more often in Athens from now on. You can be sure of that. Though some earplugs to curtail the noise at its shrillest might be a good investment. Like I said, my ears are still ringing. It's my only battle scar of the evening. I flaunt it proudly.

Once the amalgamation of instrumentation was removed from the stage, Lobsterfest veterans The Kyle Sowashes took to the stage. As I've stated in a previous Scene and Heard post, the Sowashes were my favorites of Lobsterfest 2009, and so I was thrilled to see them back on the bill this year.

They say some music gets better the more you listen, and I think it's safe to say that that applies unabashedly to The Kyle Sowashes, at least for me. Though I'd obviously enjoyed their shows in the past, last night was the zenith of my Sowashes experience to date. The band treated the audience to both old favorites like "I've Been Working on My Resume" and cuts from their new album, Nobody. Never was there a dull moment. Band leader Kyle Sowash's glasses humorously continued to slide down his nose for the duration of the set, though some trusty Lobsters were there to slide 'em back up, as the show must of course go on.

About halfway through the set, audience members began calling out their favorites – having the Sowashes in Athens often and having their records in the ACRN studio will do that to a band. The guys laughed many of them off, sometimes seemingly surprised that people knew the songs mentioned. All in all, the audience seemed satisfied of the song selection, and the Sowashes appeared to be appreciative of the support from what they continually claimed to be "the best college rock radio station."

Quite frankly, their set almost seemed too short, though it was probably the longest one of the five acts at the Union. Having a blast pressed up against the front of the stage will do that to you. And the Sowashes' music is simply gleefully infectious. Smiles abounded and singalongs prevailed, and Sowash thanked us one last time before departing back into the audience as preparations for the final act of the evening were made.

Columbus's Psychedelic Horseshit was that final act. The three-piece was a fine addition to the evening and a formidable, if not brief, end to Lobsterfest Day One. The lo-fi "shitgaze" band seemed on the verge of collapse with each passing song, though that is certainly to be expected from their musical stylings. It's not a bad thing, we'll put it that way; it's meant to be that way.

Psychedelic Horseshit blazed through their set, pausing only briefly between songs before launching back into the madness and singer Matt Whitehurst's gaze trained straight forward as he sang and strummed his guitar. Drummer Rich Johnston* was a sprightly fellow too, sometimes on his feet and leaning over his kit as he rhythmically pounded away. Their songs, a collection of dynamic, lo-fi, uncompromising noise-pop tunes, were perhaps difficult to see through at first but were cohesive soon enough, and souls not bobbing their heads to the rapid-fire beats were hard to come by.

The show ended somewhat abruptly with Whitehurst bidding all a goodnight as showgoers turned toward the exit. The warm June evening was certainly unmoving after being in the sweaty confines of The Union for the previous 3-and-a-half hours. Lobsters young and old fled the scene, some off for more early-morning commotion, others such as myself heading back to prepare for the next day's events, including of course day two of Lobsterfest.

I'll see you there.

--Kevin Rutherford, Managing Editor, Dude with the Shitty Digital Camera, All Around Swell Guy


Editor's note:

Lobsterfest continues tonight at Casa Cantina with Duke Jr. And the Smokey Boots, Southeast Engine, Theodore and Graveyard Shift. The show starts at 10 p.m. and the entrance fee is $6.

Also, make your way to South Beach in front of Nelson Dining Commons by the Volleyball courts all day tomorrow for the free Lobsterfest finale!

More details about Lobsterfest.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Friendship Show

It’s Wednesday, and 10:30 p.m. is past the point of the night's being young. The night is old. An old old man, slouched over on his floral sofa, glasses askew and falling asleep to the mid-morning news with his gray-muzzled Terrier doing the same on his lap. Alas, I’m going out anyway because sometimes you just gotta live life on the edge. And if the night is old, then I may as well not be. So, off to the Union I go.

I smoothly hand the man at the front door a five-dollar bill. No permanent marker tonight, Ba-bee! It doesn’t matter, though. It’s Wednesday.

Alone, I walked up the stairs and stood pretty awkwardly in front of the stage, which was taken up by three young men playing some punk rock-y tunes. The Ghost of Asa Phelps were they (Yoda?), and it was my first time seeing them after hearing their name so many times around town.

Although I’m not quite that into punk rock-y tunes, I still found them entertaining. They brought me back to my earlier days. Before one of their songs, the singer/guitar player said, “This is a song about getting drunk and fucking up. I think I’m getting a degree in that here in a couple weeks.” It was funny. I laughed internally because I had no one to share the humor with at the time.

After those guys, Stomp the Condor came on, and me -- oh my -- were they a goofy group of dudes; lots of goofy dudes, at that. Their music reminded me something like Man Man mixed with ska and punk, and -- quite honestly -- I can’t think of a genre to perfectly squeeze them into because I’m bad at that.

One thing’s for sure, though: They moved in peculiar ways, sometimes taking their saxophones and other brass who-nots and strumming them like guitars. Sometimes they bounced up and down and distorted their faces. Basically, they were perpetually being weirdos.

I left for a moment to step outside with my friend Danielle (HAPPY BRTHDAY!), hardly expecting to miss much. Upon return though, it appeared that the men had removed their shirts, which I’m assuming happened either because the crowd (probably mostly the guys) requested it, or maybe they just got hot and bothered. Or just more goofy, which I didn’t think was possible (more on that later, though, because turns out it’s entirely possible). Regardless, they were playing shirtless. And they were playing wildly. And they gave me a free CD. Thanks, guys!

And next was the one-and-only, lovely lady, dollface, peach, cupcake, sex-kitten (wait. sex kitten a synonym for cutie? I don’t think so, Laura Stevenson, and of course the four men with her who made up The Cans, I’m assuming. I’m finding myself becoming more and more in love with Brooklyn bands, and these guys only heightened the infatuation.

They were SO good. That’s my lazy way of putting it. In more detail, Laura’s voice was charmingly adorable. She could fluctuate it from dainty falsettos to coarser yells. She could pluck around chords to make them sound entirely unique and then, without hesitation, turn it into a harder, fuller strum. There was a man on a squeeze box and if that statement alone isn’t good enough, too bad because I don’t know how to describe one of those.

Beside the music itself, Laura had such a delightful-ness about her. She was so kind, very thankful, and downright hilarious, able to literally turn anything said into a comical relief even if the songs she was playing were sort of sad. I could sit here and name all the jokes and wits she threw at us, but I won’t because communicating it through a blog will make it lose all its appeal. Besides, you should have been there anyway.

Last but not least were She Bears. The crowd, unfortunately, had dwindled by then. But those who chose to stay were not disappointed, because they got to hear a new song, if not, two (I’m not sure).

Oh, and about the Condor men, I noticed two of them were choreographing dance moves to the songs She Bears were playing. That’s where they proved they could be stranger. I sort of got distracted by it for a while even, and cracked up a lot. On top of that, there were a lot of jokes about Stephen’s drunkenness and a lot of mentioning the set’s dedication towards Shea, as it was his last She Bears show for a long while.

It was like watching a friendship show. In fact, the entire night was like watching a friendship show! Aw, how nice.

2:00 a.m., and the night is on the verge of death it is so old. But when it happens, it will be a peaceful death. The sort of one we all hope for.

--Hannah Cook, Live Reviews Editor