Sunday, February 28, 2010

John Walsh reps Positive Scene with High Fives, Hug Pits

Pheromones and Dopamines both play rad sets that rattled my happy brain waves. I notice a few faces I don’t recognize, and the crowd seems to be even with representatives from Athens and Columbus. Fairfield natives John Walsh opens their set, and immediately I’m impressed: extremely fast melodic hardcore with twinges of ‘90s pop-punk.

Thrash? Don’t mind if I do!

The Brown Town basement shifts into a punk rock dance floor. Friends good-naturedly grab each other in football lines and mosh. The chick in front of me leans forward and shakes her appendages while simultaneously raking her metal claws in the air. Another girl seems to experience spasms in her legs and shrugs her shoulders to her ears, all the while manically shaking invisible cans of Cool Whip in her fists. John Walsh’s singer theatrically grabs his chest and crashes into a friend. The two tumble to the floor and the singer finishes the verse on his back before leaping to his feet. He’s generous with mic grabs on the originals which results in a duet in the final chorus of their anthem “Closing the Gap!”

John Walsh rips into “I’m in Love!” a breakdown-laden slow jam in which the band professes its contentment with sobriety. The band prompts audience members to engage in a “hug pit” during the next song. They play “Hugs!” an ode to embracing, and a dozen-person mosh wheel commences to spin about the basement. The group’s participatory, inviting demeanor spawned a kind of crowd command.

John Walsh embodies characteristics common to punk-derived genres: pop-punk style guitar and drum lines adjacent hardcore breakdowns and sing-a-longs. Modern punk and hardcore bands tend to direct great thematic focus on isolation, anger and other forms of emotional turmoil. John Walsh keeps hardcore vocal style but its lyrics promote a positive perspective and embrace punk community members as friends. And still promotes pits. Pits filled with high-fives.

It’s been awhile since I’ve attended a punk show in which I didn’t witness individuals display attitude, unnecessary violence and excessive drinking. This show proved to me, though, that people can still form communities with integrity. The patrons and bands that played last night demonstrated real commitment to creating a participatory, comfortable atmosphere. The sky poured down snow. Brown Town doesn’t allow booze. It was a Saturday night. All of the preceding function as deterrents for show attendance, yet the basement was comfortably packed with people who care about their community.

-Dani Purcell, Senior Writer

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Unfamiliarity at its finest

Dear livejournal,

Just kidding. But really.

My emotions were running wild last night. Was it the PBR and cheap vodka putting a hazy barrier around the balanced part of my mind? Possibly. But more so I’d say it was the music and the people, both of which (as a freshman) I’m not too familiar with around here.

After trudging and slipping as quickly as we could across town to get to the Manor house last night, we arrived too late to see In Silent Movies and a little ways through Theodore’s set. But luckily, I snuggled in a place right up front, literally about a foot from the bass player.

Usually, in cases like this, a part of me gets jealous of people’s abilities to create music that can have a moving effect on other people. After all, I want to be in a band, and only in my dreams can I contrive music like that. It’s a bit discouraging at times. But last night called for merely an appreciation of it all.

Theodore was definitely appreciable. At some points they made me kinda sad, but in a good way. It’s just emotional tunes that I think take some sort of toll on everybody listening. They were captivating and mollifying and a bunch of other adjectives that probably couldn’t do them justice. And they seemed like such kind souls, too.

Bruce Manor’s own Manor Animals came on last. They fit so comfortably in their own little basement. The band played a jaunty set and my knees and heels quickly found the beat. And people were bantering and clapping and havin’ fun and bein’ friends.

The atmosphere of the night couldn’t have been more charming. And there’s no better way to top it off than with a pit stop a the Union Street Diner. Oh sweet bagel and cream cheese that I could make myself in my dorm room, but for some reason it’s so much better here -- I’ll pay $1.27 for you any day.

So while I’m still not too familiar with things around here, I think I’m getting there. And enjoying myself thoroughly while I’m at it.

-Hannah Cook, Staff Writer

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sparse crowd at Casa misses a true-blue bar band

The Cowboy Angels rolled through Athens last night for a free show at Casa Cantina. Let me say that again: free show. Sadly, for a free show, there ended up being less people there than shows I've been to in town with a $5 charge.

Of course, one must take into consideration the day of the week. It was a Thursday. Some of the college crowd (myself not included) still had class the next day, and Thursdays in general are not known for having a huge amount of patrons in the bars, but regardless, Casa seemed rather empty.

That said, it was not a bad evening in the slightest. After paying
the $2 underage charge to get in (which I was totally expecting, since "free show" in Athens only ever seems to mean "free show for those 21 and up"), I took a spot next to the bookcase and waited patiently for the show to start. Speaking of that bookcase, they've got a nice selection there! I mean, shoot, if I could have actually seen the words through the dark, I might've finally started reading The Da Vinci Code!

Kicking off the evening at around 10:30 was a band known as the 65's, who I hadn't heard of and still don't know much about. Definitely some former members of the Sad Bastards in it, though. A very good band through-and-through, if anyone ever gets the chance to see them. Country-tinged, but what seemed to be a folk-indie influence as
well. They're all very talented and seem to be veteran musicians.

My mind began to wander toward the end of the band's set and while the Cowboy Angels set up. This is what happens when I'm ungodly tired. I began to update my Twitter for no reason whatsoever, even going as far as quoting Kindergarten Cop. I cursed my underage-ness since I'm thirsty and I'm in a bar. I began to wonder if eating all those burritos beforehand was a good idea (spoiler: it wasn't). I began to debate whether or not the Punk Go
es (insert genre here) compilations deserve to exist. And finally, I decided to open a hipster loft in Portland and form a bluegrass band featuring a drum set worthy of Neil Peart, just to be really ironic. All true facts.

The Cowboy Angels finally took the stage and my mind snapped back into focus. I had interviewed the guitarist earlier in the week, and he told me that the band was country rock, the Stones with some Drive-By Truckers in there. And you know what?
He was pretty much spot on.

The Angels are pretty much the quintessential bar band... not that they can't and won't expand beyond that. The songs are generally mid-tempo, there're no crazed guitar solos going on, and singer Dan England is actually a good vocalist. I had thought of a comparison to him at the show, but sleep has caused me to forget it. Let's put it this way, though: he could certainly front more than just a country-rock band.

I must express my disappointment at the lack of people at the show, once again. This is mostly out of respect to the band... I know people are going to have other things to do, especially on Thursdays, but I feel bad for them in that they're a touring act just trying to get their music out there and make a little bit of cash. One show like this isn't going to be a problem necessarily, but if a whole tour gets like this... well, I can't help but think that funds might be a little sparse by the end. Then again, you know what they say: Rome was not built in a day. Every band goes through shows like this. When my bluegrass band finally hits the road, we'll no doubt encounter the same problems.

When the set was complete, I made my way to the back of the place to pick up a copy of the band's CD, The Burden of Love and Sin. There I met both the vocalist Dan, and Gavin, the band's tour manager. Really nice guys. I really do hope nothing but the best for them. I expressed my hope that there would be a few more people out the next time they came around Athens, if by chance they do head out here again. Maybe on a Friday or Saturday night in much warmer weather.

-Kevin Rutherford, Senior Critic

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sibs Weekend... breaking down a $15 bill

The line-up of musicians for this year’s Sibs Weekend Concert was a disaster waiting to happen.

3rd Degree consists of some pretty sexually frustrated guys who didn't get selected to be in the already overly-sexual group Pretty Ricky. Little singing was involved in their set, but a lot of grinding on the stage and slithering to the ladies in the crowd with their tongues. Then they violated the hell out of this girl in a "bedroom only" lap dance on stage. I literally LOL’d! I put my headphones back on after that, hoping I could hear anything else over their performance. I was really hoping I did NOT pay 15 bucks for this crap.

Once Corey Bapes came on the stage, a vast majority of Cleveland area folks hopped out of their seats and started bouncing around the aisles. You could tell from the performance that he is highly loved in Cleveland. But he and his hypemen should’ve stayed in Cleveland, because they were not worth my money. Maybe like a dollar out of the total 15. He earned a buck because it was nice to see the crowd get hype to “Bitch, It's the Corey B!” Plus his delivery was nothing less than crunk. Many seats were still empty, yet the air was filled with the scent of sweaty and stinky pits after his performance.

After a great opening from his DJ/MC Jasmine Solano, the highly anticipated Wiz Kha
lifa came out singing “So Long” with the crowd. Small glitches and a miscommunication between he and the DJ began killing Wiz’s high and the crowd’s drunkenness. When he performed “Say Yeah,” I couldn't even hear him rap his own lyrics over the sweaty crowd emulating them. Neither could he. So he said fuck it, and started dancing on stage. His delivery was on-point once the crowd got to actually hear him from there on out. Most of the stuff he performed was off his mix tapes, and it ended up that the crowd unable to sing with him. Overall, it was worth 6 of my fifteen.

J-Cole stepped out to a very hesitant crowd. After his opening song -- with its crazy lyrical delivery and charm -- the crowd crept closer. A couple of blends later (Kanye’s “Cheers to the Roc” and Jay-Z’s “Dead Presidents”), he had the crowd, especially the hip-hop crowd, rocking with him. His next song “Losing your Balance” lost the hype of the crowd, with the intense conscious rap song killing the buzz of the crowd that was ready to party. It was actually a pretty good set, but the crowd grew restless and began yelling “Where's Mario?” At this point you couldn't blame them with the rest of the misleading opening acts for Mario. Out of the 15 bucks for this concert, he was worth 6 bucks because he didn’t back down to the audience’s request for sex-craved, booty-shaking music and held his own as a real hip-hop emcee.

The intermissions were the best part of the show! Random appearances by 3rd Degree, who humped the stage more than Shakira humps everything else. I really hope the TBAMA staff sterilized the stage after this concert, or else whoever steps on the stage will endure a sticky situation. It was a joy to see the drunken dance battles in the audience as well.

Once Mario got on stage, almost every female began screaming until her esophagus fell out. OK, maybe not all that, but it was definitely loud. His claim to “Re-do Valentine’s Day” definitely happened. His singing was great, the song selection was spot-on and the near-sex scene was baniddles! Sorry LL, the ladies love Mario now. He managed to address mishaps throughout his career, including his videos that have been filled with lighter skinned Black women, so he sang his new song w/ Lil’ Jon and R. Kelly called “Chocolate Girls.” He also sang happy birthday to someone, too! To continue itemizing my receipt for this performance, he was worth the rest of the bill.

Overall though, I could’ve kept my tail home. There was no real line-up to this concert, instead it was a random group of musicians put together by an organization that I’m pretty confident made this line-up just to make some money. There was no theme in this concert whatsoever, and the atmosphere of each artist was thrown off by the different crowds that was there for a certain artist.

-Star Watson, Staff Writer

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sometimes it be like woah

It's currently 2:46 p.m. on Sunday. My tummy is rumbling, my breath stinks of cheese and beer and my brain is violently attempting to exit my cavernous skull. The familiar signs of boozing and loosing have me feeling like I had my ass kicked... hard. Which in not untrue. Indeed something walloped my fanny last night. It was Larry and His Flask.

Guinness, yelling and beards were the order of the evening. I knew LAHF could bring the pain to such a degree that the Richter scale wouldn't be able to keep up. I didn't know they could bring said pain with a deliciously Irish sensibility. I felt like gorging on raw potatoes and screaming Gaelic blibber blabber during the entire show. There's a reason these six Oregonian gentlemen and one remarkably friendly girlfriend await a tour with The Dropkick Murphys. The reason is because they could make Mahatma Ghandi get buck wild.

A man named Tom VandenAvond was playing some interesting folk music when I entered. Apparently he too engaged in the ass-kicking business. His voice was strong. It was a tried and true, a veteran brand of strength that not many can attain. It was the kind of strength that you can only acquire after years of a pack-a-day habit. It was strength that never quivers but rests gently beside the realm of complete and utter despair. Basically, I had the distinct impression Tom had been through some shit, both good and bad.

Then he invited most of LAHF onstage for a few songs. They played "Dirty Old Town." If you are unfamiliar with "Dirty Old Town," you are a bad person. If you live in Athens and aren't familiar with "Dirty Old Town," there is no hope for you. Call it a life and move to Detroit immediately. "Dirty Old Town" is a song by The Pogues, who essentially wrote the book on keeping it real (which interestingly enough was co-authored by A Tribe Called Quest and Beethoven. Here is a Wikipedia article about this book). The wonderful cover left all in the audience weak in the knees. It was like listening to Jameson.

There isn't much more I can say about the rest of the evening that hasn't already been said about Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. It was perfect, took less than six hours to enjoy and left me with the desire for more. I can confidently say it was one of the best shows I've seen in Athens in some time.

-Davis Chambers

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sibs Weekend + Woody Pines = awesome

Before embarking on their upcoming European tour in roughly a month, Woody Pines and the Lonesome Two stopped by Casa Cantina Friday night for a rollicking set. I was excited for this show, having circled it on my calendar for a couple of reasons. I had missed the trio when they last rolled through Athens, having discovered them just a few months ago. To boot, my younger brother, Kyle, was coming to Athens for Sibs Weekend. He hadn't visited Athens since I myself was his age (he's 16, I'm 19) and had certainly never been to a show in Athens. I was determined to show him a good time, even if the style of music was not exactly his thing.

Off we went, arriving at Casa at roughly 10 in the evening. It was at this point that I assigned Kyle to camera duty, for two reasons: firstly, I wanted to give him something to do; and secondly, I didn't want to do it. He seemed completely fine with it, so it really was a win-win for me. I have the intrinsic ability of messing up any picture I take. I could be taking a picture of the Capitol building in D.C. from across the mall and totally miss it. No joke. This actually happened to me once.

Woody Pines went on at a quarter til 11. And that's when shit got crazy.

So much dancing. So much flailing. The audience was moving. It was like a drunken barn dance minus the line dances, which I was totally expecting to break out the entire time. This would probably have been less surprising had I experienced an act along the lines of Woody Pines before that night, but this was my first time too. Kyle and I looked over at each other, stupid grins etched upon our faces. We do not come from a family of dancers. We were so out of place, it was hilarious.
The night wore on. A nearby man grinded up against me as he danced. Subconsciously, I'm hoping. Next to me, a girl dropped her beer, which was thankfully in a plastic cup. The crowd did not care. They danced through the expanding puddle on the floor. A staff member of Casa arrived shortly after to clean the mess. Placing a rag under his foot, he cleaned the puddle to the beat of the song, almost dancing along. Did I get a kick out of that? You bet.

My brother's comments cannot go unmentioned. He mentioned early on that the show reminded him of being at a Pentecostal church. I suppose that's not a horrible comparison. Throughout the show, he was co
nsistently remarking at how downright interesting this show was. That in itself made the night worth it. I'm a self-conscious person; I worry about whether or not my guests are having a good time. When they are, I am.

Another beer dropped -- this time, it was in a glass bottle. Did the crowd care? Of course not; they danced right through it. I mean, what's a little glass in one's foot, right?

Woody and his bandmates were simply great as well. These guys put on a frolicsome show, if you could not infer that from the crowd reaction. It's a down-and-dirty bluegrass hoedown, from quick numbers about farmers to slower, swing-influenced songs that really set the couples in motion. Woody adds harmonica and kazoo to the mix at times along with his guitar, with double bass and percussion backing him. A saxophonist/clarinetist was also present on this night and was a supremely welcome addition.
A string broke on Woody's instrument toward the end of the set. What does that mean, aside from changing the string? Whiskey, apparently! As Pines down his glass of whiskey, I stood there and wondered if this was actually was some sort of unwritten tradition. Sounds good to me, though. When I get big, hit platinum and all that jazz, I'll be breaking five to six strings a night at minimum. You know why.

The band's set ended a little past midnight. It was a mere 10 minute break; they were coming back and would be performing well into the evening. We, however, took our leave at this point, having to get up at a decent hour the next day. I would like to thank Woody Pines for a great show (or half of a show), though. You've gotta be doing something right if you can get a metalcore-leaning kid like my brother into a bluegrass band. Stay sweet, fellas. Stay sweet.

-Kevin Rutherford, Senior Writer

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Battle of the Bands '10

ED2010 and SPJ joined forces and hosted an absolute raging Battle of the Bands last night at the Union. The show had the place absolutely filled and attracted an audience of Athens locals and OU students looking and finding a good time and good music from the local scene.

The set list included the band, Sufferin’ Moses Blues Band, Mind Fish, First Street Heat and Solis; having the musical style range from garage to mellow to funk, everyone’s taste was satisfied. Each band held their own when it came to entertaining the crowd, especially entrancing the pre-gamers, which was quite entertaining to watch.

While the winner was announced in the wee hours of the night, and I departed early, one band definitely stuck out — First Street Heat. The near dozen-man group was a true ensemble, all donning outfits from decades past, rapping, playing several different instruments (like saxophones) and showing off… dance moves. More impressive than their image and hip-hop funk music was their ability to captivate an audience so much that the Union briefly resembled a miniature disco.

The Battle was successful, and I hope that it can make an annual appearance.

--Jazmine Reed, Contributor

Friday, February 12, 2010

When love takes over The Union

The date auction (hosted by yours truly, ACRN) was a smash among the bands, their fans and the love-filled hopefuls looking for a special companion. Before Athens' The Ghost of Asa Phelps hit the stage with reminiscing, feel-good punk a la Hot Water Music, the Union was half-filled. Seeing the crowd downing drinks and PBR was the tip-off to an interesting night ahead of us.

Promo Director Aaron Vilk and fellow Lobster/MC David Massimini took the stage to auction off the first round of available companions. As they scoped the room, I was an immediate target as a first contender. (I really should start mixing in the crowd more.) With my head perched high and a perky, marketable smile, I took the stage with a $15 Donkey coffee gift certificate. The dollars climbed and it was Vilk who succeeded the auction at $13.

Throughout the night, the bands catered the kind of music worthy to put on a love-drenched mix tape. Columbus' Stomp the Condor had an off-step sort of punk, guitar and drum madness layered with slammed piano keys - even more so with vocalist falsetto cries. The "ballad" they had for the night, of which afterward the band resumes from the "love bullshit," took my mind to a scene of a punk-a-fied Romeo and Juliet, of which Juliet is actually a 17-year-old Husker Du fan named Sheena and Romeo is on his knees singing this Stomp the Condor song. So fitting.

The other Columbus band, Tin Armor, returned to Athens two years after a Smiling Skull gig. Instead of sticking to a set list of the pop-punk/indie hybrid in "A Better Place Than I Have Been" and "S/T 7," the surprisingly long set heavily consisted of newer tracks, which leaned towards the latter genre. Fans of Tin Armor were nonetheless enthralled of the band's return, and the onstage charm gave them no reason to fall more in love.

ACRN successfully raised money for the 2010 Lobsterfest. While some auctions faltered towards the end of the night, those who didn't spend too much money at the bar bid generously. Some of the top auctions that night included a pair of Black-Eyed Peas concert tickets, Sales/PR Directors combo pack and ACRN's own Melissa Burant.

--Rika Nurrahmah, Senior Writer

Photos courtesy of Melissa Burant

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Whale Zombie ≠ the Postal Service

So I’m standing at the Union on Friday, watching Whale Zombie play, and some drunken broad saunters up to me and shouts, “WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS BAND?” I tell her I’m rather fond of them, and that I just wrote an article about their music. She explains that she often approaches show attendees at random and asks their opinions on the band playing. Isn’t she a little citizen-journalist-in-training? She then proceeds to inquire, several times, but don’t I think they sound like a knock-off of the Postal Service? So, grimacing and not quite drunk enough, I tell her, “I wouldn’t say that.” She then asks if I know who the Postal Service is. -______-

Yes, I tell her, I’ve heard their singles. And no, I don’t think Whale Zombie sounds like them.

Dear stupid girl who suggested Whale Zombie’s music somehow resembles The Postal Service: you are an ignoramus. I’m surly that you could even compare this quirky, innovative band of gentleman to insincere, commercial, “indie” pop bullshit whose videos graced Fuse mid-millennia. I did not attempt to explain this to drunken girl, though. I didn’t see the point.

I don’t expect every resident claiming a 45701 zip code to recognize local band’s correct genre (or lack of). I have to applaud Whale Zombie for making music accessible enough to reach a wide audience – even if that includes silly Postal Service fans. If anything, it reminds me that those who frequent house shows must encourage SHOW ATTENDANCE! It’s the most viable antithesis to ignorance and fun for all.

Saturday rolls around and I trudge through the slush to the Spacement show. It’s pretty late and by the time I get there, Whale Zombie is setting up. I promptly realize I have forgotten my beverages at home, but Vilk informs me they’re the last band of the evening.

Bobb Hatt accompanies Whale Zombie on the saxophone on several songs. As WZ fades into “Jungles,” the light above my head begins flickering. It’s the kind that makes your eyeballs hurt and often makes appearances at middle school parties. The song climbs to the most epic part, the light flashing so fast and bright I can feel my pupils shrinking to the size of pinpricks. The place breaks into sporadic little moshings – the benign basement variety in which kids shove each other in jest, and the risk of sustaining injuries is virtually nonexistent. I notice drummer Chris Lute’s girlfriend Michelle giggling. She is watching the crowd react as she controls the lighting.

As WZ ends its set, Lute introduces the next band, “Metalflesh from Bangladesh” which sounds like a joke. The Spacement kids leak into the snow and light cigarettes. Right before I leave, I hear a well-dressed indie girl ask her boy next to her when Metalflesh from Bangladesh is playing.

--Dani Purcell, Senior Writer

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mr. Sax Man dominates The Union

First of all, apologies to We March. I had intended on seeing your set but was literally about to collapse due to exhaustion. I shall make it up to you one day.

I did at least witness Whale Zombie and Terrible Twos Friday night at the Union. Seeing both in concert was a first for me, and I'd heard grand things about both. I even read that Terrible Twos will be playing this year's South By Southwest festival. I mean, really, if you're playing that, you can't be all that bad, right?

So I of course fulfilled my usual obligation of getting to an Athens show two hours early, leaving, and then coming back again, treading through the quickly-accumulating snow with plenty of time to spare. Athens' Whale Zombie started their set shortly after 11:30.

I'm gonna tell you what, I really like these guys. Whale Zombie is one of those types that rely minimally on vocals (perhaps two songs total featured them, and you couldn't even hear them to be honest) and still manage to captivate you, a la bands such as Russian Circles. There's a ton of guitar distortion, some fantastic drumming and dancing, dancing, dancing.

Probably the best part of the evening occurred when one of the audience members jumped up onstage and randomly started playing a saxophone. I can't be sure if this happens often. What was best about this, however, was that Mr. Sax Man played on only one song, went back into the crowd and then did this Superman leap into some of the people in the front row about halfway through, causing all hell to break loose.

Seriously, I really enjoyed these guys. I might be a bit biased because I have a soft spot for (largely) instrumental bands. If anyone wants to form a similar band and doesn't mind teaching me an instrument (unless you need a trombonist), call me. We'll rock that shit.

The fantastic Terrible Twos came next. These guys are out of Detroit, and as mentioned earlier, will be at South By Southwest this March. And I'll tell you what: they're more than worthy of that festival. Keep in mind that this is coming from a guy whose ideal music-listening experience is listening to a combination of the Decemberists, Mumford & Sons and Cat Stevens while idly sipping a cup of tea. Terrible Twos are pretty much at the other side of the spectrum musically, full of writhing, ferocious punk with a formidable dual attack on vocals. I bobbed along fervently to the beat. I was rendered half-deaf by standing next to the speakers. And I enjoyed every minute of it. Check 'em out next time they're in town.

It was at this point that the combination of a lack of caffeine-induced headache and absolute exhaustion took its final toll on my soul; I had to leave right before We March began. I probably should've sucked it up in retrospect, but sleep had never sounded so good in my life. That and (I'm not kidding) I really was deaf in one ear.

Once again, apologies to We March. Please don't hurt me.

--Kevin Rutherford, Senior Critic