Friday, December 7, 2012

ACRN Presents: Jonathan Hape, Frankie Teardrop and Small Steps / December 6, 2012 / The Smiling Skull

By: Ross Lockhart, Staff Writer

I feel like I don’t go out that much. This is probably an exaggeration, but with all the shows that happen around Athens, it seems like I see very few of them. I wasn’t about to miss this one, though. For whatever reason, I had hyped this show up to myself a great deal. I felt a strong sense of culmination, like everything was coming together. It was one of those nights where everything just felt right.

My friends and I showed up at the perfect time. Frankie Teardrop was just about to go on. The humble threesome assembled behind their respective instruments and got right to it. Dudes were shredding. There was a notable difference from the last time I had seen them perform. Everyone in the crowd was completely engrossed immediately. It seems that the group has finally closed in on a sound and how they want to play. The audience huddled around the band intently, too interested in the music to thrash around. They played fast songs, heavy songs and closed it out with a distinct, mostly instrumental, ridiculously groovy banger. Just like that, Frankie Teardrop became my new favorite band. Tonight, The Skull. Tomorrow, the world.

Obviously, Frankie T was going to be a hard act to follow, but I was stoked to see visiting artist Jonathan Hape perform as well. He had a unique one-man-band setup with a guitar, custom rigged kick and snare drums and plenty of pedals and fancy-looking gear. Unfortunately, there were some issues with the setting up of said gear. My guess is he felt rushed and certain plugs didn’t make it into the correct holes. He started playing, and the mix was low and uneven. Everyone just looked at each other nervously. The sound guys tried to crank it up, but to no avail. It was a shame because he was really going for it, oblivious to the confused looks on everyone’s faces. I don’t think fingers should be pointed at anyone specifically, though. Shit happens. Despite the technical issues, he played well from what I could hear and everyone stuck around to give him a courteous applause when he finished. I thought that was swell. Ain’t no scene like the Athens scene.

Small Steps were last to go and, as expected, incited some good-natured ultra-violence. As the group furiously ripped through their set, combatants flailed about and tossed each other around mercilessly. Patrons became gladiators in a sinister beer-drenched arena. Even the tiniest of girls weren’t safe from the mayhem. Buckets of sweat splashed everywhere as Grant Engstrom and the gang beat the living shit out of their instruments. Some dudes lifted their friend onto their shoulders and slammed him into the disco ball above. I couldn’t help imagining how cool it would be if his head were sliced off by a ceiling fan.

All too quickly, Small Steps were finished. Handshakes and good jobs were exchanged. People poured out of the bar to smoke and pursue more adventures. It’s always funny to see a place that was in complete chaos just a moment ago return to normal like nothing ever happened. I think it can be safely said that everyone had a blast last night. The best part is, it’s only a matter of time before we do it all over again.