Wednesday, June 8, 2011

ACRN's Lobsterfest 2011: Day Three / June 4 / South Beach

By: Amanda Norris, Staff Writer


Bridesmaid are great at what they do-- which is play hard-hitting stoner metal-- but their sound translated awkwardly to the South Beach vibe. I’d love to see them play at the Smiling Skull or the Union with a crowd of their fans but in the context of a non-Ozzfest-outdoor-festival, the vibe was odd.

Whale Zombie

The best and worst thing about being deeply involved in the local music scene is that I see many of the same bands over and over again. I love that-- but I would be lying if I said it didn’t get old every now and then. That being said, I have seen Whale Zombie play more times than I can count. But I have never seen them quite like I saw them--or rather, heard them-- at Lobsterfest.

I have heard their endless waves of layered progressive rock soar in the acoustics of Stuart’s Opera House. I have moshed for them at the seemingly ill-fitting venue Casa Cantina. And I have found them most at home at the Union with it’s underground (yes, I realize it is upstairs, but you know what I mean) vibe suiting them perfectly. But never have I experienced them outside, in the afternoon sun, on a lazy Saturday.

Until Lobsterfest 2011 that is.

With no shoes upon which to gaze, I treated Whale Zombie’s set as a much needed pseudo-siesta-- staring up at the blue sky, getting lost in the chord progressions of a familiar sound in an unfamiliar setting. Sometimes it’s nice to change things up.

She Bears

I never knew She Bears in their Athens days but Columbus seems to have treated them well if what they debuted as new material is an indication of their new direction. She Bears’ Saturday set proved them still capable of producing solid indie pop-rock for the head-nodding, even despite recent line-up changes.


By: Scott Smith, Album Reviews Editor

The rain tried to end Lobsterfest's third day before it had even begun.

Blithe Field

The festivities began at noon, and by 12:30, the sky got dark and ominous, leading to a half-hour-long downpour. The courageous and efficient ACRN sound crew was able to save all of the equipment, and after taking some more time to set everything back up, Blithe Field was able to conclude his set.

Donning a Pink Floyd T-shirt to match the "The Wall" banner in front of all his equipment. The electronic musician led the crowd through a subdued pop landscape. His songs are upbeat but not exactly danceable; a comforting middle ground for fans who seemed to want to relax and just enjoy the music rather than let the heat take an even greater toll than it was already taking.

Asobi Seksu

To close the event was New York band Asobi Seksu. Instead of the dense shoegaze that band is known for, they instead debuted new songs for their upcoming album, Fluorescent. The new songs moved away from layering of the guitar sounds and instead opted for a more synth and lyrically-driven approach.

Asobi Seksu has really been wrongly pigeonholed as a shoegaze band, but the reality is that the band is an amorphous, ever changing musical act. Unfortunately, the weather wouldn't play nice again, and the band's set had to be cut short.

Setbacks aside, it was great three days for Ohio University, ACRN and Athens. A fantastic way to end the year, and some wonderful sounds to linger in our ears as summer vacation comes to the horizon.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

ACRN's Lobsterfest 2011: Day Two / June 3 / The Union

The Friday night edition of Lobsterfest 2011 started off at The Union with Nurser, a band who seemed very much at home within the confines of the dark upstairs music venue.

I had missed Nurser to this point, and actually had not read anything about them aside from our hilarious interview with them this week. So, aside from knowing them to be humorous young gentlemen, I had no idea what sort of music to expect.

Nurser plays a sort of... we'll go with noise rock. I can certainly see why some people would not be into this (it does seem to be a very polarizing genre), but I dug it. Shane Riley's guitar sound was probably the most untuned I've ever heard, and his vocals were admittedly a bit hard to hear over the cacophony of noise built up behind him. Then again, that's probably the point. Is it the point? If it's the point, they're winning.

One thing I could comment on was the overall tightness of the band... you can tell they've not been a band as long as some of the others, and--as a result--there does seem to be times that a beat is missed or delayed, or that something simply doesn't seem right with the music. These are just tiny instances that don't take away from the overall experience, but I'm sure they'll be back in the fall sounding better than before. And perhaps, as per their interview, playing in the vault of Chase Bank. Which would be rad.

Following Nurser was Evolve, a hip-hop act (sometimes duo) out of Cincinnati. This was my third experience with Evolve, the first coming at last year's Lobsterfest. Let me say that Evolve is an act never to be missed when he comes to the area (take note, Lobsters and Athenians not at the show last night!). Evolve is not your normal hip-hop/rap act. Rapping about the "social climate in modern Capitalist America," as he put it in an interview with us last fall, Evolve incorporates electronic beats and sounds into the easy-going rhymes. It's definitely a laid-back affair compared to what one may be used to from his genre of music.

The one thing that always irks me about Evolve's set is its length. I cannot say whether it's the fact that I'm enjoying the music or that the set really is that short, but a show with Evolve always seems to blow by. Short and sweet is at times something I can get behind for certain acts, but I'd love to hear more from Evolve. Maybe someday.

--Kevin Rutherford, Editorial Director

Narrow and the Brights. See them. Immediately.

Frontman Tim Race, whose vocals fall somewhere between a less melancholic Ian Curtis and a less-produced Paul Banks, and drummer Zach Inscho, a percussion powerhouse, put on the best set of the night with the help of their bassist Brad Wilson, no slouch himself.

Soaring guitars, a drum kit getting worked-- nearly abused-- and the conclusion that Narrow and the Brights are undoubtedly the strongest post-punk act I’ve seen come through yet this quarter, made Lobsterfest, Friday night edition, completely worth it.

After Narrow and the Brights went Child Bite. Hardcore is not my forte but I can defintely respect these guys. I probably won’t be caught at Haffa’s buying their album, but their energy was staggering. I am still trying to figure out how their keyboardist/vocalist made it around the stage that much, seemingly without missing any of his parts. I am also still trying to figure out how their bassist ended up on the floor of the Union at the end of their final track with a girl straddling him. Details will be provided as further developments come to light.

--Amanda Norris, Staff Writer

Friday, June 3, 2011

ACRN's Lobsterfest 2011: Day One / June 2 / Casa Cantina

ACRN’s Lobsterfest couldn’t have kicked off better this year. Not only is every night free for festival-goers and those who randomly stumble into the right bar on the right night, but the lineup is a virtual who’s-who of the Athens music scene as well as a few fresh faces from out of town.

Last night was a meat and potatoes kind of evening. The venue: Casa Cantina, an Athens staple and a personal favorite of yours truly. The performers: Stomp The Condor, The Kyle Sowashes, Scubadog and Tin Armor, all acts that have developed a particular following here in town.

Unfortunately my arrival was delayed, and I was only able to catch Stomp The Condor sing happy birthday to a fan in the crowd. I was disappointed to say the least, those guys seemed like fun.

After settling in, one thing became abundantly clear to me--the place was packed, and there were more people constantly filing in. I’m not a regular on the bar scene, but I can’t remember the last time I saw Casa that full in the three years I’ve been going there.

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been so surprised . The Kyle Sowashes were about to go on, but before last night I wasn’t aware of what a big deal that actually was. The bands upbeat lo-fi indie-pop is infectious. Some of the lyrical content can get lost in the loud distortion, but the brand of music and the quartet’s excellent instrumentation (guitar solos from Mr. Kyle Sowash, himself, on nearly every track) leads to such a great live show that it’s hard to care. I’ve had people simply gush about this band to me, and I’m now starting to understand why.

Nearly everyone stuck around to see Scubadog, but there was no sense of mystery surrounding it all for me this time. If you’ve trolled around the local music scene in the past few years, these guys have become all too familiar. Teddy Humpert and Jake Householder are now in their second band together. It was the first time I’d seen them with new drummer Chris Mengerink, but I honestly think this is the best show I’ve seen out of them. Maybe these journeymen are ready to break through.

To my chagrin, Casa seemed rather cavernous just minutes after Scubadog finished. The band playing the late slot unfairly has to deal with tired eyes and the need for rest from fans more so than the other acts. Most times you don’t miss anything particularly spectacular, but then again Tin Armor doesn’t normally fill the late slot. The Columbus pop act remains one of the best kept secrets. I’m starting to see the same devoted faces when Tin Armor comes to town, a sort of cult following, if you will. That sounds strange coming from a pop act, normally there’s an instant universal appeal. Consider me baffled, but hopefully soon more and more people start to notice.

Lobsterfest continues tonight (June 3) at The Union at 10 P.M. and then Saturday in front of South Green campus starting at noon.

Like I said before, it’s all free, so your broke ass doesn’t have an excuse not to go.

--Scott Smith, Album Reviews Editor