Sunday, September 25, 2011

Groove Street Fest / September 24, 2011 / The Dairy Barn Arts Center

The crowd at Groove Street Fest 2011Story and Photos By: Brooke Bunce, Contributor

Saturday marked the premier of Athens’ very own Groove Street Fest, organized by Paul Drury (director of the summer fest Boogie on the Bricks) and Jack Gould (saxophone player of First Street Heat.) The outdoor festival took place at The Dairy Barn Arts Center and brought together bands from all over Ohio to jam out in a Bonnaroo-type atmosphere.

As would be expected with any street-style musical fest, art vendors were aplenty at Groove Street, featuring handmade jewelry, do-it-yourself tie-dye and even a djembe drum booth. The lineup featured 12 bands, including notable names like headliner and Athens regular Papadosio, First Street Heat, Elemental Groove Theory, Any Colour, HELLNAW, The Pinstripes and Mojoflo.

Twenty One Pilots at Groove Street Fest 2011Columbus band Twenty One Pilots were somewhat out-of-place compared to the rest of the Groove Street lineup, but that did not hinder their performance in the slightest.

Decked out in skeleton costumes, the band put on one of the most memorable sets of the day. Composed of two members, the group combines piano, drums and synthesized beats to create a brand of music that is truthfully indefinable. Lead vocalist Tyler Joseph successfully riled the timid, not-yet-intoxicated crowd into moving and shaking to his sometimes singing, sometimes screaming and sometimes furiously rapping lyrics. Accented by drummer Josh Dun’s hard-hitting drum beats, Twenty One Pilots utilized audience participation to their full advantage, at one point even moving Dun to the crowd to play percussion amongst the crowd while Joseph pounded the drums on stage. They definitely amped up the Groove Street energy and readied the audience for a night full of jamming.

HELLNAW Drummer Wren FentonLima, Ohio natives HELLNAW (Hell Naw) took the stage shortly after, showcasing another two-member group that packed a punch. With speak-singing vocals reminiscent of Cake and heavy jazz-inspired bass lines, HELLNAW fit the bill of the expected Groove Street act. The group’s fast-paced funk continued to keep fest-goers moving, but there were times when it seemed the drawn out jam sessions were more for the enjoyment of the musicians than the audience.

As the night progressed, glow sticks were unleashed and the hillside continued to fill with Groove Street attendees. Highly-anticipated bands soon took the stage, which included Elemental Groove Theory, First Street Heat and headliner Papadosio.

Members of Elemental Groove Theory joined First Street Heat on stage and vice-versa, transitioning the two acts virtually seamlessly for an antsy crowd. Both Athens favorites and multi-membered, the two soulful bands delivered high energy performances that crowded the tiny festival stage. As always, EGT and FSH put on eclectic, funky, soul-inspired and ethnic-infused sets that left the crowd stomping their feet, swaying their hips and wanting more.

To end the night, Papadosio delivered their unique brand of jams that can only be described as electric-house-funk-soul. Extended instrumental jams suggestive of Ratatat and harmonic vocals demonstrated why it is that Papadosio has gained success across the country. Hypnotic flashing lights and fog enhanced the atmosphere of the performance and ended the night on a psychedelic note, leaving Groove Street attendees hopeful that the festival will become a yearly staple.

Emily & the Complexes, Dan Lurie & the Quarter System , and Kyle Sowash / September 23, 2011 / The Fern Gully

By: Katie Pinter, Contributor

Deep in the urban jungle that is downtown Athens, lies the mystical venue called Fern Gully. While it may not include fairies, fruit bats, and an Elton John soundtrack like its '90s movie namesake, the venue did feature the musical stylings of Emily and the Complexes, Dan Lurie, and Kyle Sowash, all of which were pretty magical.

Starting off the night was Tyler Verhagen's Emily and the Complexes, a singer/songwriter act from Columbus. From the beginning of the show, Verhagen enraptured the audience with his croons about longing and heartache with a healthy dose of angst here and there. The folk rock set was closed with a cover of Against Me!'s "Sink, Florida, Sink," with which the crowd was more than happy to help sing along.

Following the solo act was the trio Dan Lurie & the Quarter System. Coming in all the way from Portland, this indie-pop rock group dished out songs on every topic from chicken sandwiches and trampolines, to reminiscent tunes about OU's Jefferson Hall and South Green. Lead singer Dan Lurie was happy to be back at his alma mater with drummer/"snuggle bunny" Daniel Mancini and singer/wife Vanessa Rehder, but even happier to have his Athens references understood.

Soon after their crowd-pleasing rendition of "Robocop" by Kanye West, the band was accompanied by Kyle Sowash for a few electric guitar soaked numbers, which nicely complemented Lurie's lighter style.

And then there was one, just the solo sounds of Kyle Sowash to finish off the night. Also from Columbus, Sowash played his indie rock with a rougher tone than the other acts that made his set feel right out of the '90s. One of the highlights from his act was his version of the FreeCreditReport[dot]Com jingle, which his band actually recorded for a contest, and definitely kept the crowd laughing.

But just when everyone thought the show was over, Sowash dusted off an old track with a great story behind it. As told to the crowd, Sowash and Lurie were at an ice cream shop in Portland when an antsy tyke in front began morosely singing about the ice cream clown sundae he was desperate to eat. Lurie and Sowash took the boy's words and made separate versions of what is now "Vanilla Clown." Their collaboration couldn't have finished the evening on a funnier note.

In the end, the show delivered a massive amount of laughs and cheers from the crowd, all thanks to Emily & the Complexes, Dan Lurie & the Quarter System, and Kyle Sowash and their rocking beats. With Hope, there will be more nights of magic and entertainment in the future at The Fern Gully, Athens' most elusive and enchanting new venue.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Those Darlins / September 21, 2011 / The Union

By: Carolyn Menyes, Interviews/Live Reviews Editor

Okay, so maybe it was a Wednesday night. And maybe I had two papers due the next day that I was only about 40% done with. And maybe I'd gotten only minimal sleep during the previous week. (Junior year is a killer, by the way.)

But! It was ladies' night at The Union. Duke Jr. opened, followed by Columbus's Lydia Loveless and then the stars of the night: Those Darlins. And there was no way I was going to miss one of my favorite bands playing in my favorite little college town. So, as the clock struck 10 p.m., I headed uptown to see the show and to be incredibly irresponsible.

But, I think I made the right choice.

After my male companion and I paid our expensive but justifiable $8, we cold hear the sweet sounds of local folk favorites Duke Junior and The Smokey Boots. They're one of the local acts I enjoy most and a consistently good time, so I was pretty stoked.

The group was certainly on-point on this Wednesday night. Playing to a semi-sparse crowd, Duke Jr. played a good bit of songs I didn't recognize, so I have to assume that they're off their upcoming album. The new direction is one of which I greatly approve. The songs are a little saucier and a little sexier but still maintain the folk-ish, country edge we all love about these guys. I missed about half their set, so I don't know how many older songs they played total, but they rocked out to the always pleasant "Travelin' Man," which had me stomping my pink boots.

Before I knew it, their set was over. After I took a quick step outside, Lydia Loveless was up. She was the act I was least interested in. I'd heard good things (apparently she's been reviewed by SPIN), and she did put on a good show, but that whole part of the evening is a bit muddled in my mind. I was mostly anxiously awaiting the arrival of Those Darlins to the stage and creeping to look for them in the crowd.

However, Loveless did still manage to entertain me, and I have no intention to imply she was boring or bad. Apparently, all her songs were relatively long, as she said, but they were good enough on every level that each individual song, and consequently her set, went by quickly.

At one point, two members of Duke Jr. were do-si-doing in the crowd, so my dear friend Hannah and I followed suit. And if any musician (especially one I'm unfamiliar with) makes me want to make an ass of myself in that manner, then they're a-okay.

Then, Lydia Loveless left the stage, and I got exponentially more excited. Those Darlins were up next! We made our way to the front of the stage, prepared for the insanity that was about to ensue. I'd seen Those Darlins a year-and-a-half ago at Nelsonville Music Festival, and ever since then, I've been aching to see them again.

They started off by playing "Be Your Bro," the first single off their latest album Screws Get Loose. This set the precedent for the evening, during which they played most, if not all, of their second record. The girl group vibes they mixed with their signature sassy southern sound is quite original and makes for a roaring good time.

However, that leads to my only real complaint about the evening: too much new stuff. To my memory, Those Darlins only played two songs off their eponymous debut, "Red Light Love" (as seen in those Kia commercials) and "Wild One."

Despite the new material, The Union was still hopping. Though the audience tended to hang back for Duke Jr. and Lydia Loveless, everyone crowded around the stage for the headlining act. Personally, I have never danced so much at a show before. My friend and I boogied and stomped our boots like there was no tomorrow (or more specifically, no classes tomorrow). We sang along to all the words we knew so well and had a concert experience that rivaled any show that rolls through Columbus.

Realistically, Those Darlins played for well over an hour, but their set flew by. Before we knew it, they thanked the crowd and got off the stage. But! This is where my life was made.

Post-show, I gave Kelley Darlin a thumbs up and told her they put on an awesome show. Apparently, since Hannah and I were shaking our tailfeathers and shouting along throughout the whole show, the band took notice. Kelley then thanked us for our participation and that they all appreciated it and then gave us hugs! And it was a glorious hug.

So, back out into the cold, concert-less fall we went. And even though it's only been a day, I'm totally anxious to see Those Darlins again.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rosie Haney, Kaitrin McCoy, and Megan Terese / September 16, 2011 / Donkey Coffee

By: Jacob Betzner, Staff Writer

It was an acoustic pop night at Donkey Coffee featuring pianist and singer/songwriter Kaitrin McCoy.

Rosie Haney and her banjo-pickin’ friend kicked off the show, presented by Brick City Records, with a little self-proclaimed “hipster music” infused with bubbly comedy, and Megan Terese impressed the crowd with her rangy voice accompanied by the smooth guitar playing of Tom Atha.

With a good voice but limited guitar playing technique, what Haney lacked in musical ability she more than made up for in making the crowd laugh. She took the crowd on a “tour of hipster music” and ended her solo set with an a capella version of Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow’s hit “Picture” while the crowd laughed uncontrollably. Her friend then joined her for an original song about getting drunk. The song's chorus, “Tonight, you’re getting drunk/as a skunk/Who’da thunk/you could get so drunk?” also made the crowd cheer.

Next up was Zanesville native Megan Terse. Joined by Tom Atha, Terse hit a bunch of big notes and performed a beautiful cover of Etta James’ “At Last.” The duo added a few originals, covered Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be,” and finished with a heartfelt original about a failed relationship.

Finally, Kaitrin McCoy continued the night of music and laughter by playing her all-original set, which included a song about “stupid” boys and considering becoming a lesbian, giving Haney a run for her money. McCoy tried a few new songs out for the crowd including her catchy song with the working title “Addicted to Love" to close the show.

The light music combined with some good coffee made for a nice little concert for a chilly Friday night in Athens.

Friday, September 16, 2011

High Castle, Pigeonholes, Nurser, and Hippie Grinder / September 15, 2011 / The Smiling Skull

By: Sam Boyer, Staff Writer | '90s Blogger

My first venture to The Smiling Skull was marked by some apprehension. As a socially awkward sophomore, the thought of wandering beyond Court Street filled me with a ridiculous sense of dread. Translation: I’m really weird and I don’t like hanging out with people. But I’m a big girl now, and I have the ability to traipse around Athens like I own the damn place. Kind of.

Now that we’ve established the proverbial “popping” of my local venue cherry, I can get into the super rad experience that ensued.

The Smiling Skull looks slightly menacing upon first glance, but inside lies the coziest little hole-in-the-wall you ever did see. And by cozy I mean littered with (sometimes X-rated) graffiti and various vintage beer signs. Home sweet home.

The first band up was Pigeonholes, a pop-punk outfit from Parkersburg, W. Va. As I am partial to bands of the punk persuasion, I dug these guys. They were playful and had the three-chord progression thing down pat. The lead singer had a permanent smile plastered on his face, which translated to my face. If you’re happy, I’m happy, dude. And if you name one of your songs “This Coke Tastes Like Pepsi,” you automatically get my seal of approval.

The Skull started to fill up pretty quickly after the first set, but it wasn’t claustrophobia-inducing. One reason why I prefer The Skull over The Union: Atmosphere. There isn’t a ton of space, but the close quarters make for the dank bar equivalent of a group hug. “You smell like PBR and sweat. Let’s be friends!”

But I digress. Nurser was up next, and since I am ignorant to the local scene, I kept an open mind. Unfortunately, Nurser didn’t quite woo me the way Pigeonholes did. The former is a noise-rock band, so comparing the two is absurd. But after a few songs, I came to the conclusion that Nurser is just not my cup of tea. Too much noise, not enough rock. But that’s just my humble opinion. I am not the master of local music.

Due to the fact that I hadn’t eaten much all day, I only caught a few songs during High Castle’s set. What I did hear was fantastic. West Coast punks always rub me the right way. They kind of had an early Green Day thing going on, and considering my GD obsession, that is a very good thing.

I regret not seeing Hippie Grinder, but hopefully they come back around. My expectations for a “hardcore punk” band are very high.