Saturday, June 5, 2010

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

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