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

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