Skull nights are special. There's an air of unpredictability, rowdiness and mystery behind every show at the Smiling Skull, and Thursday's show was no different. Unfortunately, it wasn't really the fun kind of mystery.
I walked into the Skull late, expecting to see the opening band on stage as I entered. It was almost Riley, Hundos, Ghost Stories and Method Air) and kind of awkwardly hung around with friends on the roof until we finally heard rumblings from the stage.by the time I got there, a full 30 minutes after the Facebook event said the music would start. Even by Punk Time™ standards, an empty stage that late was surprising. I was stoked for the stacked line-up (
We collectively worked our way down the narrow stairs to see who was up first, arguing whether Method Air or Ghost Stories would get stuck with the closing spot. After making a quick pit stop for another Pabst, I worked my way into the crowd to see Danny Paul and Sam Stansfield warming up for their set. I was excited to see Method Air again--it had been a little while since I had seen them live and they never disappoint. The set wasn't very long, but the tunes were solid.
After another retreat to the patio (seriously the best kept secret in Athens), Hundos took the stage. I only managed to see a brief portion of their set, but what I heard sounded great. Jam bands aren't normally my thing, and I suppose Hundos aren't really a jam band, but their chilled out vibes hit the spot. The crowd was amped for Riley, and it wasn't long before they took the stage.
Seeing the band last October only whet my appetite for its precise brand of guitar-driven rock. Having lost a synth player since they last performed in Athens, I wasn't sure of what to expect out of the band. The group absolutely slayed, ripping its way through a hefty handful of tunes. The drummer even cracked the shit out of his ride cymbal about two songs in, but kept on playing. He used the short tuning breaks between songs to spin the cymbal back around and distance himself from the ever-more splintering metal. Anyone who wasn't already a fan of the group was converted last night. The set expanded upon their recorded material greatly and blew songs out to incredible proportions.
Ghost Stories was up next, and I was personally geeking out over their set. It had been almost a full semester since I had last seen the band, and they both recorded new material and picked up Method Air's Stansfield as a second guitarist since I had seen them perform. The new material was everything I had hoped it would be--a little less Title Fight and a lot more Ghost Stories. It's hard to describe exactly what the new music sounds like, but if you're a Ghost Stories fan, it's everything you would expect.
Stumbling out of the Skull and directly to the counter for a chicken and waffle, I couldn't help but think back on all the incredible music that had erupted from that tiny stage that night. I went into the show with impossibly high expectations for each of the bands, and every single one had blown those expectations out of the water. Like always, the Skull delivered.