This time one year ago, the Athens Experimental Music Fest to me was a culmination of all things frustrating in the music world. I hated the "noise" domination and the way it was slowly creeping into the Athens music scene. Frankly, I couldn't understand the appeal of scraping together metal sheets, or why creating feedback via mics next to speakers was really considered "music."
Thankfully, a year's time has proved me more open-minded.
This year I couldn't wait for AEM Fest, mostly because I've realized over the past year that "experimental" music can't be compartmentalized into the simply category of "noise," and that some of this stuff -- a lot of it actually -- fuckin' rules.
So I moseyed in and out of AEM Fest for about nine hours, and reviewing all of the bands is virtually impossible. Instead, I'll give you some highlights. (Disclaimer: I am not cultured in this scene at all. I really don't know how to distinguish what's "good" and "bad." Given that all of these sets were so drastically different, I'm just giving you my take on what was pretty groovy.)
So I'm not even going to pretend like I know what's good when it comes to this stuff, all I know is that Programs puts me in a trance that I don't really want to snap out of. Deemed as "Athens' industrial drone," Ty Owen's total and complete concentration is intriguing. If you missed it this weekend, be sure to come out next week when Programs comes back to Athens with Wooden Wand.
Brandon Greter actually played under a different guise, taking the stage with his musical partner Sarah Spaulding... but these two were kind of adorable (...although "adorable" might be pretty much the biggest insult ever at a fest like this one, I absolutely mean that in a good way). I might be biased since I know them personally, but Greter and Spaulding started off with this adorably harmonious guitar paddling, and continued on with a set that was -- how else to say it -- sort of upbeat and fun? Basically, I dug 'em.
Becoming a staple to the Athens music scene, Blithe field was as fun and smile-inducing as ever. And when I say smile-inducing, I'm serious. Just try to get through one of his set's without smiling relentlessly. I dare ya.
Do Chimps Battle?
HOLY WOW. Returning for their second go at the AEM Fest, these people totally knocked me out. They played towards the end of the night, and rather than the crowd dying down, people were STOKED. They had the crowd a'rumblin' and the touch of femininity that's rare in this scene brought something totally new and awesome.
Notorious for their short songs and to-the-pointedness, these guys closed the night with some well-received and highly-appropriate rage. These two dudes -- Aaron Vilk and Ty Owen -- are raw as shit, and proved that shirtless-ness at male-dominated noise show is actually a contagious condition.
All in all, a pretty great experience. Kudos to Vilk for putting this fest on yet again; I hope it's one that continues to grow.
-Kristin Nehls, Blogs Editor