Sunday, September 29, 2013

Vinnie and the Lubricators / September 28, 2013 / The Over Hang

By: Megan Fair, Contributor

This weekend, I ventured down Court Street to the Over Hang to see a free show featuring Vinnie and the Lubricators. To be honest, I was expecting old dudes and mediocre dad rock, and I wasn't hopeful about the outcome. When I saw the four-piece on stage, half of them wearing sunglasses, cheetah print gangster fedoras and shot glass necklaces, I felt my worst fears had been realized.

This is when the universe gave me a nice slap on the wrist for judging a book by its cover. Although the bar band was performing covers, it covered them absurdly well, and played a fun mix of songs. The Lubricators even covered Cake and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which were both very well executed. These were musicians that could really rip, and their drummer had some wild gospel chops. The vocals were spot on, and Vinnie's range was impressive, especially whilst covering Stevie Wonder and Elton John

While at points cheesy, nobody could discredit the band for being boring. The vocalist and bassist would jump, sway and lean in synchronicity, and the whole band was smiling and enjoying themselves. These four men absolutely loved what they were doing, and they never let the energy drop for their whole set. Except for the keyboardist/organ player.  He was shooting off some major moody diva vibes behind those sunglasses and straight face. 

Overall, the performance was a pleasant and groovy surprise that made for a fun Saturday evening. While I wouldn't go out of my way to listen to their music on my own time, I definitely gained mad respect for their seasoned musicianship and joyful energy. 

Word of Mouth / September 28, 2013 / Casa Nueva

By: Courtney Mihocik, Contributor

The Athens-based Word of Mouth Jazz Band took to the stage for an early show at Casa Nueva on Saturday. The six-piece veteran band switched up singers and soloists, showcasing the talent and style of each member.

Each song highlighted each of the six band members, from the keyboardist to the drummer to the saxophonist, bassist and vocalist--each solo emitted raw emotion and spirit while the rest of the band supported their comrade. Despite being a jazz band, they never played a song that could put one to sleep. The more modern jazz style had everyone in the bar nodding their heads, snapping their fingers or even on the floor dancing with their friends.

This highlight of the show was when saxophonist Kyle Slemmer dished out smooth solos while accompanied by a steely bass guitar and keyboards. Slemmer also stepped up to the microphone and sang--his deep baritone voice captured the style of jazz. At one point, he even whipped out a flute, seemingly from nowhere, and busted out a beautiful solo.

Word of Mouth had high energy for every song--even when the beats per minute dropped, the energy and enthusiasm were just as high throughout the entire show. We left Casa with our ears satisfied by the sound of modern jazz.

Friends In Distraction / September 27, 2013 / Donkey Coffee

By: Nadia Kurtz, News Editor

The likable Athens punk-rock band Friends In Distraction is at it again. But this year the band is upping the ante, with a full drum set and electric sound effects. Quite an improvement from the sole acoustics of the two years prior.

The trio, composed of Dan Baker and Garrett Hood on mic and guitar and Dylan Sams on drums, rocked out last night with a loud, upbeat set at Donkey Coffee. The crowd was definitely not as dense as the band probably would have liked for its 2013-2014 school year debut. It was a strange occurrence for the typically packed Donkey Backroom to have empty chairs and empty tables (that was not supposed to be a Les Mis reference, but think what you will).

Despite the shortage of "friends," the band kept its most devoted fans captivated by its punchy sound.

As a somewhat devoted fan of Friends since its development two years ago, the band has evolved quite a bit and has expanded its setlist. Many of the songs sounded familiar, but it's clear that the band has been working on songwriting as well as thickening its instrumental sound.

Hood, who has typically been a little more behind the scenes during shows, came out and actually sang/co-sang almost all of the songs. It is obvious he is becoming more comfortable in the spotlight, and his softer croons contrast well with Brown's more nasally hollers.

Sams, who used to operate a simple djembe during the band's earlier acoustic days, owned the drum set like it was no one's business. The powerful sounds really helped liven the band and worked in conjunction with Baker and Hood's compelling voices.

Overall, the show was enjoyable, but it could have been more exciting with the addition of people and some dancing. But I feel like maybe Donkey isn't really the right place for that. It might be time for Friends In Distraction to leave its acoustic melancholy at the coffee houses and bring its new, robust sound to the bars.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Chrome Moses and Dune / September 13, 2013 / Casa Nueva

By: Abbie Doyle, Contributor

Last evening, Friday the 13th (which occurred with no incidents, no spooks, nada), I headed over to Casa Nueva to watch Dune and Chrome Moses perform. With me was my best pal Amy, who is visiting from Cincinnati (my hometown--reppin’ the 513).  It was an eventful evening. 

While heading up Court Street, I realized we were walking behind Albums Reviews Editor Colin Roose. I was like 95% sure it was him, so I called out his name (took a couple tries) and we had a nice brief chat before he and his company headed into CVS. Amy and I continued on our way to Casa, and the guy who was taking money at the door tried to let us in for free, but Amy had no idea what was going on and gave him money anyway, which was amusing. 

Shortly after Dune began to play I realized I had forgotten to include links in the album review I’d sent Colin six hours previously, so I spent the next half hour worrying about it. I shot him another email and was able to return my attention to Dune. The lead singer (who had a beautiful guitar; hell if I know what kind it was but it was a beautiful instrument) was quite drunk. A few songs into the gig, someone in the crowd bought him a shot, which he chased with the PBR he’d been nursing the whole show. The bassist of Dune was so great--we were sitting closest to him so the bass and the drums were the loudest things I could hear, which made me a very happy camper. The sound system was great--the dude in the sound booth was saying you could hear the dishes rattle. The sound was reverberating in the floor, in the walls, in my bones. Live music is one of the best things in the world, and I would definitely see Dune (who is from Athens) play again.

At this point in the night, it was around 11:30, and Amy and I were the sleepiest of sleepy bears. The music was keeping us awake but as soon as Dune went off stage we were practically asleep on the table.  Friday nights are not easy nights, man. You’re tired from the week, you’re tired from the, um, activities of the evening. Fridays aren’t easy. 

We stayed for a few of Chrome Moses’ songs, and they were fantastic. Very different sound from Dune, who was heavy into the bass and drums. Chrome Moses, hailing from Pittsburgh, utilized a slide guitar, creating a country/bluesy rock feel, and it was quite enjoyable. But we were sleepy as hell. All I could think about was food (specifically Big Mama’s and Chicken-N-Waffle), and I really wanted a Pepsi, so we hauled ass out of there and indulged in some munchies. Both bands were excellent, acted professionally and would definitely see me again at a future show.

Friday, September 6, 2013

ACRN Presents: Zack Kouns, Gazer & Sign Off / September 5, 2013 / The Smiling Skull

By: Megan Fair, Contributor

"Where am I?" I muttered to myself as I watched Zack Kouns beat another man with a leather whip, and later as he convulsed violently on the floor. To be clear, I was at the Smiling Skull seeing aforementioned Zack Kouns, as well as Gazer and Sign Off

Anywho, Zack Kouns. His set could be best described as noisy, intriguing and haunting--just a strange man with lots of vocal effects and some technology producing plenty of strange noises. They were the kind of terrifying and controlled chaotic sounds you'd hear resonating through a very messed up fun house. There are definitely clowns in said fun house. It reminded me of Sunn O))) in the sense that it was rather ambient and haunting. I certainly wasn't bored. It was quite the spectacle. 

Post-Mr. Kouns, Cincinnati-based Gazer played its first show outside of Cincy. Welcome to Athens, post-punk hombres. The three piece's sound could best be described in a simile: it's as if you tossed old Nirvana demos, The Chariot's Long Live and The Dillinger Escape Plan into a musical blender and blended it into a delicious, biting post-punk milkshake. I certainly drank it up. There's something irresistible about the wild energy that a mixture like that brings to the table. The set kept everyone's attention and contained some pleasantly diverse songs that I'd listen to of my own accord. 

Sign Off brought an excited crowd, and the band played a frantic set. That's a really good way to describe a lot of the music tonight--frantic. The crowd was boisterously hollering and shouting at every opportunity for the experimental two-piece. There was noise and reverb for all to enjoy. The Portsmouth post-punkers are certainly an experience to behold.

Overall, the night was an ear-ringing, boisterous event that left everyone entertained or at least really curious. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Method Air, Busy Busy, Night Stalker, & Slut Castle / August 31, 2013 / The Union

By: Ross Lockhart, Staff Writer

Once upon a time, I worked at summer camp, and while working at this summer camp, I wore a decrepit pair of moccasins that were probably never intended to be worn outside. I liked them despite their impracticality and wore them on the walk to the waterfront every day. Inevitably, a huge hole appeared in the right and shortly after, the left. The day the first hole materialized, another counselor named Bret, undeniably the biggest tool I have ever met in my life, suddenly surprised me with a moment of profound sincerity. As I raised my defeated shoe in mourning, he rested his hand on my shoulder and looked at me.

"All good things must come to an end, man," he said.

While I never wish to see Bret again, his corny pseudo-philosophical instance of empathy has stayed with me to this day. I still have the moccasins somewhere. They're wearable, but remain embalmed in a kind of stasis, preserved in a bubble of fond memories. To take them out again would be a violation of their retirement, a breach of the unwritten code of old shoes. Extracting any more use from them would only result in their needless destruction. It's best to leave them in a nice dry spot, out of view, simply for the thrill of discovering them years later. I remember these shoes. I had a lot of fun in these shoes.

All good things must come to an end.

Walking into The Union, I felt like Keanu Reeves after waking up from the Matrix. Dripping umbilical fluid across the black and white floor, all my friends were there and I felt really good about that night. Drinking some beers with the boys. Everything was great. Busy Busy, a noisy, mostly instrumental band made up of a bunch of my good buddies, started off the music with a short but ear-splitting performance. Forgoing their usual sprawling sound for a tighter, more concise set, they sounded great and I couldn't stop smiling. They'll hopefully be playing the odd show now and then, so be sure to catch them if you get the chance.

After that, I went across the street and ate my first chicken waffle. While it was certainly unlike anything I've ever eaten before, I can't say I enjoyed it the whole way through. The bizarre honey mustard/maple syrup sauce they drench those things in kept me coming back for more, but when it was all over, I immediately regretted touching my lips to that evil nectar. It felt like I just eaten a brick of fiberglass insulation. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was going to vomit and the beer didn't help much, either. In spite of this, both Slut Castle and Night Stalker were great. They are both relatively new local bands you'll probably see a lot of this year. There was an older lady wearing a pink cowboy hat who was really loving it. She would dance nonstop around the bar, get another drink and be back on the floor, ass shaking and waving her hands in the air.

When Method Air finally went on, everyone was ecstatic. I felt so proud seeing Sam and Danny up there. We all became good friends over the summer and they have remained one of my favorite bands, period. They opened with a new song, “Noise Violation,” which was inspired by the fun-hating, party-ruining, cop-calling lady who lives up the street from us. I looked around and the crowd was an ocean of smiles. Instant magic. Ripping into a Guided by Voices cover, Sam played his guitar and sang with the care and finesse of a father quieting a crying baby. When Shower Beers' Jon Gordon joined the band on stage for a rendition of the Smashing Pumpkins' “Starla,” IT happened.

IT is when everyone is perfectly in tune with the music, when the separation between audience and performer completely disappears. IT is when every component of the experience becomes important, which is a fragile thing, but there comes a realization that everything is perfect--a visceral connection with the music and the people around you. Each person in the room becomes essential to the moment and everything falls into place. My face started to hurt and I realized I had been smiling like a fucking goofball from the second they took the stage.

They finished the song and the crowd immediately screamed, "ENCORE!" Sam looked like such a rock star as he strummed the opening to “Election Day.” “Every morning I forget the night before / Emptiness is swept up off the kitchen floor,” he sang. Everyone joined in. “What's the deal with everyone? / Why do they look that way?” To see my friends up there, playing music that means so much to them surrounded by people with unwavering love and support for their art, suddenly brought from me such a tide of emotion that I felt like crying. This is IT, I thought. This is fucking IT. Sam wailed on his guitar until his face was red, Grant's hat flew off, and when the song ended everyone screamed and cheered and hugged. It was the most beautiful thing I've seen in a very long time. I left the bar last night in a strange euphoria, intoxicated by the energy of the show and my friends around me, feeling like anything is possible with a clear head and a chicken waffle bubbling in my tortured stomach.