Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Venice is Sinking never sinks

Sheila and I with Venice is Sinking

Amnesty International finished off their human rights film festival on Tuesday with a generous helping of Venice is Sinking. Ever since February, I've been dying to see them again, and this was truly the perfect opportunity. Unlike at the 40 Watt, we were in close quarters with the band in Cine's lab which was an entirely different type of experience. Because the room was so small, sweet music engulfed the audience, filling everyone with a sense of other worldliness. Karolyn Troupe's ethereal voice blended beautifully with Daniel Lawson's softer, deeper tone to create an almost unearthly sound. I felt as though I had been transported, like I was drifting over flowered fields, carried by a warm and gentle breeze.

Unfortunately, it seems that I will forever be followed by faulty show equipment. This time, Daniel's microphone was a bit too quiet, causing some of his singing to pass away unheard as the drums, guitars, and violas played. However, since he began to sing significantly louder in the later songs, this quickly ceased to be an issue. Also, although being so close to the band meant that the instrumental music was quite loud, they still maintained a sound level fit for humans as all well-practiced bands do. This was quite a feat, in fact, because they used at least nine different instruments throughout their performance. Very impressive.

Once again, I must commend the band for its ability to relate to its fans and its knack for showing a more humorous side. Karolyn, in particular, provides that ever so important fan to band connection. When I initially walked into the room, she smiled at me and exclaimed, 'It's the glow stick girls!" I wore a glow stick the very first time I saw them perform, and apparently it stuck. It's always so lovely to be remembered! Then, during the show, she and drummer Lucas Jenson had a rather hilarious, good-natured fight about the pronunciation of their latest CD AZAR. After that, while Amnesty chose winners for a few free givaways between songs, the band members piped in with amusing little exclamations of excitement over each of the prizes. Best of all, after the show the band agreed to take pictures with my friend Sheila and I which was a funny fiasco in and of itself because the man they asked to take the picture had clearly never used a camera before.

As everyone began to leave at the end of the show, the keyboardist spontaneously decided to play some covers of songs, making even the journey home a pleasant one. All in all, I'm incredibly glad I took time out of my Tuesday night studying to go see them. It was an absolutely wonderful show!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Man in Dreads Speaks the Truth

Pholksinger Josh on the Myers Quad
(The band played a grand total of five instruments at once. Wow!)

The whip cream on top of this musically delightful weekend occurred at HPSC's Night on the Quad right in front of Myers Hall on the UGA campus. We were treated to a banquet of several bands, each uniquely delicious. Excellent!

Having caught only half of Pholksinger Josh's show on the twentieth, I was eager to see him perform again. Luckily, I managed to obtain my free t-shirt and food in just enough time to leap to the front of the audience and claim my spot before he began. I've checked out his songs on MySpace several times, but truly, I think that they need to be experienced live. There's a certain energy and passion that exist in his live show, particularly when he's singing about failed relationships, that draws you into the songs and makes you want to sing along. Also, the combination of his talents and those of his bandmates Andrew and Hannah is inspired. Although the three of them won't be playing together after this, I certainly wish them luck in their future (sure to be plentiful) musical endeavors.

Honestly, it's quite difficult to describe Pholksinger Josh's sound. He calls his genre "gangsta folk", but I feel that the music, at times, definitely has a bit of a hard rock edge as well. I'm generally not a huge fan of folk music, but his sound is so wonderfully unique that to class it in just any one genre would be an insult to his creativity. Most specifically, his songs Imperfection and 18th Summer (April to August) caught my fancy. He truly has a way with the lyrical word!

The bands that followed Pholksinger Josh were certainly worth listening to as well. Jam Manual, a rather loud hard rock group, performed quite an excellent cover of a Muse song. Later, Stone Irvin, a talented lone guitar player, sang an amazing original tune entitled Spiderweb. Then the female vocalist of the freshman band, Quiet Hours, finished off the night by sharing her beautiful voice with all of us.

However, one band that performed in the middle of the show, Cyrnaca, particularly captured my interest. I'll be honest. It's awfully hard for me to be truly impressed by bands that I have no previous knowlege of, but Cyrnaca managed to completely break through my skeptical wall. Their musical style was ground-vibrating hard rock, very intense. I was shocked when they said that they've only been together for six months! They were rather awesome.

Altogether, this weekend gave me an exquisite sampling of some of the more established acts as well as some of the fresher ones that the Ath-town has to offer. Thirteen bands in just three days! All of this joy never ceases to blow my mind. Tuesday night's Venice is Sinking show at Cine at 10 pm certainly has a lot to live up to, but I'm sure it won't disappoint.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

For a fun time, call Doctor Squid...

Doctor Squid at Legion Field

I've seen Doctor Squid three times over the past year, and I keep coming back for more. Their upbeat music always fills me with joy, and their songs are ridiculously infectious. Every good band has their signature move, and Doctor Squid is no exception. They begin most of their shows with a clever little "testing the mic" song which always makes me smile. It's truly an awesome way to kick off the rock.

They chose to start yesterday's Local Bands Live show with one of their more established tunes, Stop the Show, but they had quite a short set so I couldn't blame them for filling it with as much squidrock as possible. In fact, they were in top form at this show... I've never heard them sound so amazing! It's clear that they've been honing their talent, and the new songs they debuted were absolutely delightful. Regrettably, I was unable to stay for the entire show, but even as I walked by the building formerly known as the SLC on the way to meet a friend, I heard their songs echoing throughout campus. I couldn't help singing along as I walked which earned me a few weird looks. Trust me, seeing one of their shows is such a joyful experience that you just can't stop the excitement! The group of dedicated fans they have that know all of the words to their songs can attest to this. As one of my five current Athens favorites, Doctor Squid is certainly the band to see if fun is what you desire.

Happy Here and Now

Chris McKay and the Critical Darlings at Go Bar

Sometimes you've got to just embrace your life even when times are tough. Chris McKay took this idea to heart when he rocked out on the Go Bar stage with the rest of the Critical Darlings last night despite having a concussion. He just can't stay away from the rock! I'm utterly amazed at his ability to still maintain some semblance of his trademark rockstar energy while suffering from head trama. That's nearly superhuman!

Although the sound quality at Go Bar was rather horrible and Joe's microphone was most tragically dead, Chris McKay and the Critical Darlings still managed to fill my ears with some of their most danceable tunes. Their songs never cease to pull me to my feet and put a smile on my face. They've got a style that hearkens back to the days of classic rock, and there's a certain edgy joy in all of their lyrics which is evident in every one of their performances. And, on top of all of this, they're some of the sweetest guys ever. I seriously urge everyone to check these guys out!

After the Darlings, Alanta band the Pinx took the stage. The first thing that caught my eye even before they stepped onstage was a plastic owl with glowing red eyes that they apparently bring to all of their shows. Props for the props! I loved it. Once they began playing, it was clear why the Darlings and the Pinx are such good friends. They have a similar energy that the Pinx displayed last night with lots of head banging and some rather nice guitar parts that, at times, resembled the wildly impressive sound of the band of demons in the song The Devil Went Down to Georgia. They ended their set with some songs that had a darker edge to them that I truly enjoyed.

Afterward, while walking back through downtown, I ran into some friends who were dancing just outside of the gate of the Boar's Head Lounge to some 80's tunes. Now, I wouldn't mention a cover band in this blog unless they were amazing, but Velvet Runway, the band that was playing there, was just that. They rocked the songs as if they had written them, and it was impossible for all of us not to dance. Apparently, our enthusiasm was infectious because several people we didn't know joined us in our outdoor dance fest. Our excitement also sparked the interest of many potential lounge patrons, and during one of the songs, a guy informed us that we looked like the badasses from a scene in some old movie. Thanks, dude! Even the band showed their appreciation. Awesome.

Basically, the night was a blast! Two live bands and a cover band all in a row... You've gotta love Athens!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Misheard in Athens

Hello, my friends! I've been rather busy lately, finishing up all of my class projects and preparing for finals and such. Tragic. Sadly, I'm also a bit behind in my show write-ups. Be on the lookout for my review of two of Pholksinger Josh's shows sometime soon after Sunday night. However, I have had a few humorous experiences during the past couple of days while pumping some of my favorite Athens acts, and I thought I'd share some of them with you. Apparently, good hearing is quite scarce on the UGA campus.

The first of the lovely mix-ups occurred while I was discussing the wonderfully exciting Crumbling Arches show coming up on May 8th. I told my friend that they were opening for the Presidents of the United States of America, but understandably, she thought I had said that they were playing for the President. The mental image of Obama mouthing the lyrics to the Preachings of Priamides while Sasha and Malia dance beside him certainly put a smile on my face.

Just a few moments later, as I shared the news of Aman Amun's May 1st show with another friend, a second mix-up occured. I was enumerating the event details listed on his website for her (free food, free music, free art) when I came to the last item: free booze. Of course, with her head firmly in the gutter, she heard "free boobs." Apparently, Mardi Gras is happening twice this year, the second in UGA's very own art building! I'll let you handle the visual image on that one.

My favorite moment occured not long after that. Filled with excitement after the Pholksinger Josh show I had just seen, I mentioned to a friend that several of his songs had been used in an indie film. In shock, she replied that she had no idea he had been involved with the Indian film industry. Oh, Bollywood will never be the same for me after this! The mental image of Josh's dreadlocked personage dancing Indian-style in colorful, traditional garb was nearly too much for me to take. After a long bout of hysterical laughter, I decided to give Athens music a rest for the day.

Now, however, I'm back full force. This weekend is going to be a wild treasure trove of Athens bands! Chris McKay and the Critical Darlings will kick off the weekend with their sure-to-be amazing Friday show at 10 pm at Go Bar. On Saturday, the party starts early with a seven-band Local Bands Live show at Legion Field beginning at 11 am. Don't miss Doctor Squid's set at 12:45 pm! Then we'll have the delightful opportunity to hear Pholksinger Josh again as well as six more local bands rock out on the Myers Quad for HPSC's Night on the Quad on Sunday starting at 5 pm. Athens has certainly outdone herself this time! Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Shockingly Exciting Calendar Update for April

The 40 Watt lights

Wow, this month keeps getting better and better! I've just added a few more shows to the incredible lineup of acts to see in April right here. Coming up soon: the Modern Skirts will be showering their audience with tunes at the 40 Watt Club this Friday, and the Atlanta band Stellate will show us what pop rock should sound like at the Athens Creative Theatre (which apparently actually is a real place) this Saturday! Don't miss them!

Also, I just found out that I'll be celebrating my half birthday with what just might be the greatest week of music ever! All five of my current favorite Athens bands and acts will be gracing stages all around this lovely town starting on the 24th of this month. Chris McKay and the Critical Darlings, Doctor Squid, Venice is Sinking, Crumbling Arches, and Aman Amun... I'm nearly speechless with excitement!

Update: Crumbling Arches will no longer be playing on April 30th in order to prepare for their show at the 40 Watt on May 8th with The Presidents of the United States of America!

Update 2: It seems that the end-of-the-year Crumbling Arches show is cursed. Stay tuned for more information on the date of their next show.

Update 3: Forget the curse! Crumbling Arches will now be playing a FREE show at the 40 Watt on May 8th. Don't miss it!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Crumbling Arches: Beyond the Rock

This is the level of excitement I generally reserve for my favorite band.

Note: I first saw Crumbling Arches perform live in April of last year. Wow, what a difference one year makes!

Over the past year, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of seeing Crumbling Arches perform a ridiculous seven times. I’ve come to find that each of the band members brings something both awesome and unique to the metaphorical table of rock. In the past, I’ve described the intense effect their music has on those who listen to it, but the band members themselves provide a live show experience that cannot be overlooked either. So, for anyone out there who’s interested, here’s how I (and many of my friends) view this group of musical adventurers…

I’ll start with singer/ guitar player Alex McKelvey because he’s the first one everyone notices, the quintessential front man. Basically, Alex is the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” of the band, and in every way, he shows this. He brings a taste of danger, badassery, and sexual humor to everything he does. In fact, it can be argued that Alex’s mere existence was enough to put several college girls through a second puberty. Also, he is quite possibly the only person I’ve ever met who is (apparently) the proud owner of some “testicles of […] identity.” Honestly, though, he has a rather unique view of the world which he generously shares with all who care to listen to his song lyrics.

Singer/ guitar player Brian McGaw is the shadowed genius of the group, the experimental artist. A wonderfully sweet but elusive mystery, you’ll often find Brian behind the scenes, creating melodies, developing technologically fascinating devices, and testing out new ideas. As a determined perfectionist, he constantly works to improve the band’s image and performance, making each new show something definitely worth experiencing. Also, Brian demonstrates his rather incredible musical range both with his use of an array of different instruments and in his separate solo project, Aman Amun (described conveniently in the blog below). Furthermore, he too shares his delicious ponderings with the world through the lyrics that he writes.

Bass player Ian Hennessee has the lovely gift of making everyone in the audience feel special. His clear enthusiasm for the music permeates every space where he performs, and his bouncy demeanor and active presence fill the audience with quite a spectacular amount of anticipation and glee. However, most of all, Ian is known for his smile. Nearly every concert-going lass leaves the show convinced that he was smiling at her, and more than a few friendly fights have broken out after these shows with regards to this fact. Best of all, Ian is a genuinely friendly person who always takes the time to talk to all of the fans and to let them know how much he appreciates them.

During performances, you may not see Zachary Hennessee at first, banging away on his drums, but you’ll feel the wonderful rhythms and beats that bring a sense of completion and certainty to the Crumbling Arches melodies. Although he may be playing in the background, he’s far from being a background member of the band. Zachary shares a wealth of love for the fans at every show, and he’s always up for a hug and a chat. Even after the show ends, he makes sure that each fan knows that he hasn’t forgotten them, and he showers them with appreciation. It’s enough to make anyone feel incredibly important. Essentially, he completes the package of rocktacular perfection.

As a whole, Crumbling Arches manages to operate as one musical body. The harmonization of Brian’s and Alex’s voices creates a sound for the band that is wonderfully unequaled, and they share the task of entertaining the audience between songs with humorous anecdotes, interesting details about the songs, and clever sayings. Zachary and Ian’s talents combine to thrill the ear and intensify the rock quality of each of the songs. And, to top it all off, their collective fashion sense can only be described as spectacular. Basically, they are Crumbling Arches. No other words should be necessary.

Don’t miss their highly anticipated, end of the year performance on Friday, May 8th at the 40 Watt Club with The Presidents of the United States of America!

**Update (4/5/09): PUSA can no longer make the show, but Crumbling Arches will still be rocking the club that night. Be sure to check it out! It will be a FREE show!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I've Got a Friend that You Can't See

Aman Amun (Brian McGaw) & I at a Crumbling Arches show in January

I entered the WUOG radio station premises in the Tate Center for the first time on Thursday with a feeling of great excitement and anticipation. I was just about to see one of the most creative Athens acts, Aman Amun, perform for the “Live in the Lobby” segment of the radio show. My friend Jordan (Athens Music Junkie) greeted me at the window and beckoned to me to come inside. The cozy little lobby with its walls covered in posters and CDs provided the perfect backdrop for Aman Amun’s soothing and melodious sound. Aman Amun’s alter ego, singer/guitar player Brian McGaw from the lovely Crumbling Arches, was just setting up as I got there, and he welcomed me in with a smile before beginning his mini show.

It is nearly impossible to place Aman Amun’s sound into any one genre. Brian uses both electronic and acoustic elements to create a listening experience far different from anything else I’ve heard in Athens. He began his short set with my second favorite song of his, “Opportunity Cost”, a calm yet heavy tune with an almost ethereal feel and an emphasis on the acoustic guitar. From there, he let the music flow out of his guitar, subtly changing without pausing into a newer song that was characterized by some rather impressive vocal work on his part. He continued to debut several new songs in an unbroken medley of soft strumming and computer-generated sounds. My only wish was that they had used a speaker with less static so that the songs could have been more clearly heard by the live audience. I’m not sure whether or not this affected those listening online.

Due to a series of terribly unfortunate circumstances involving prior plans, a friend’s rap craving, and a timing mix-up, I was unable to see the rest of Aman Amun’s show. My friend Sheila, who was happily listening to it at from her room, told me that, just after I left, he performed my absolute favorite Aman Amun song “Scapegoating” complete with an interesting array of experimental sounds. I can’t believe I missed it. Sadness, indeed! However, I am overjoyed to say that he will be performing a more extensive and likely visually delicious show on May 1st in association with the Touch My Project interactive art show in the Lamar Dodd art building in Room S150. Since that’s a Friday and Reading Day for UGA students, everyone should most certainly check it out!

Crank Dat UGA

Forgive me, reader, for I have sinned. Ok, not really. I merely ventured outside of my usual cozy realm of Athens music. Thursday night, Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em performed on a crowded Legion Field for what appeared to be thousands of screaming fans. Although I am only really familiar with one song of his, “Crank Dat”, the song that rocketed him to apparent fame in 2007, I can hardly pass up a free concert with an artist that a large majority of people have actually heard of. After we had waited an inordinate amount of time, becoming terribly bored with the DJayed music that was played to appease the audience, Soulja Boy finally arrived and pumped up the crowd with series of songs punctuated by some rather rockin’ gunshot sound effects. To everyone’s disappointment, however, Soulja Boy merely performed short sections of each of his own songs and then proceeded to yell out things intermittently over pre-recorded songs made by other artists.

Luckily, though, what Soulja Boy’s show lacked in content, he made up for in audience involvement, energy, and effects. He danced across the stage enthusiastically as he performed each of his songs, and between songs, he exchanged a few words with the audience members in the very front. Then, when he performed his song “Kiss Me Thru the Phone,” he chose about 25 lucky girls with cell phones in hand to join him on the stage as he danced. He finished off the show by tossing his sweaty shirt and towel into the curiously eager audience, leaving himself nearly naked, his pants having fallen down around his ankles earlier in the show. I have to commend the rarely appreciated lighting designer for this show as well. The swirling colors and projected shapes on the stage were a visual feast unto themselves.

Basically, for the price (or lack thereof), I’d say that the show was definitely worth seeing. The sheer excitement that permeated the mosh pit-like atmosphere was reason enough to attend, and now thousands of UGA students can add Atlanta’s own Soulja Boy to their list of artists seen live.

Hope for the Night

Claire and Page of Hope for Agoldensummer

Thursday night was one of the most musically satisfying nights of my life. From 5 pm to 10 pm, I managed to catch four different acts, each with its own unique sound and style. Even better, each show was free and took place on the UGA campus. How amazing is that! You’ve gotta love UGA.

The first band of the night, Hope for Agoldensummer, was one I’ve been trying to see for a while now. I kept hearing and reading about them, and naturally, I rejoiced when I found out that they would be playing at the Take Back the Night event in order to promote nonviolent relationships. As they began to play, I soaked in the sweet melodies of their songs with a smile on my face. If I was to compare their sound to any of the other Athens acts I’ve seen, I’d say it is closest to that of Venice is Sinking. However, unlike VIS, Claire and Page of Hope for Agoldensummer keep it simple with just a few acoustic guitars and the occasional musical saw. Overall, I enjoyed their songs although they seemed to struggle a bit to remain on-key during their performance. The highlight of their short set was the cover of Aliyah’s “Somebody.” They managed to sing that song with a soulful air not heard in any of their other songs. One of the girls even rapped Timberland’s lines to the amusement of the audience.

I always place great importance on band/fan interaction, and Hope for Agoldensummer did not disappoint. They shared silly stories with their listeners, and they even dedicated one of the songs to an audience member. Also, one of the girls had baked five pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and she offered them to the audience at the end of the show. That’s probably one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen a band do.

After their 30-minute set ended, another band Incatepec began their show. Markedly different, Incatepec most closely resembled a South American flute band with jazz and rock touches. They had a wide range of instruments from an ocarina to a saxophone, and they played songs from both Latin America and South America. They even played a spiced up version of an old rainforest tune my mother used to listen to on tape when I was a child. It was rather nice to experience a bit of nostalgia and to get a taste of culture from their songs. However, the night was far from over…

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Kristen's Concert Picks for the Next Month... You won't want to miss them!

Diana & I with Doctor Squid at Habifest on April 1st

Athens is always a musically happening place, but this April, the city will treat us to a most exquisite menu of musical acts and shows. I thought I'd share a schedule of bands and dance opportunities sure to delight your (and, naturally, my) very being. :)

Be warned, though, that if stalking me is your passion, you will not find me at all of these shows. Much as I'd like to attend everything, evils like homework and prior obligations may prevent me from experiencing all of the events described below. However, I will try to attend as many as possible so that I can bask in the musical joy that they will most certainly provide.

Anyway, as promised, here they are:


Wed, April 1: Doctor Squid @ 8 pm @ Tate Plaza: PAST
-If you like happy, upbeat music, Doctor Squid never fails to deliver. Relatively new to Athens, they're bringing their jolly sound to Habitat for Humanity's Habifest.

Sat, April 4: DJRX @ 11 pm @ Sideways: PAST
-DJRX manages to bring a new style of mixing to the DJ scene. You know you don't want to miss the opportunity to dance to the Free Credit Report Dot Com song!

Thurs, April 9: Soulja Boy @ 8 pm @ Legion Field
-Seriously, if you don't know who Soulja Boy is, you must be living under a rock. Come see him perform this decade's version of the Macarena. Yeah, I bet that ruined it for you, didn't it? :P

Fri, April 17: Modern Skirts @ 9:30 pm @ 40 Watt
-For those of you not going to Six Flags with your UGA pals, don't fret! The band that's the talk of the town, better known as the Modern Skirts, will be playing a lovely show at the 40 Watt that night just for you. I have yet to be lucky enough to see them live, but I've heard wonderful things!

Sat, April 18: Stellate @ 3 pm @ Athens Creative Theatre
-Stellate, formerly known as Helios, finally returns to Athens! Assuming the Athens Creative Theatre is a real place, this should be a show to remember.

........................DJRX @ 11 pm @ Sideways
-DJRX brings us a lovely mix of pop, rock, and everything in between once again.

Mon, April 20: Pholksinger Josh @ 11 am @ Tate Plaza
-If you like folk music or exciting dreadlocks, Pholksinger Josh is the one to see! I've never seen him perform live, but this seems like the perfect opportunity.

..................Crumbling Arches @ 11:30 pm-1:15 am @ Upstairs in Tasty World
-It's CRUMBLING ARCHES! Unique and dark theatrical rock at its best, Crumbling Arches holds the coveted title of "My Absolute Favorite Athens Band."

-> UGA NORML is putting on a show in celebration of the subject-matter-appropriate holiday 4/20 which includes both of the acts described above as well as several others.

Fri, April 24: Chris McKay & the Critical Darlings @ 10 pm – 2 am. @ Go Bar
-You've never seen a high energy rock show until you've seen Chris McKay & the Critical Darlings in action! Trust me, you won't want to miss them. They are a sight to see and a delectable treat to hear!

Sat, April 25: Local Bands Live @ 11 am – 6 pm @ Legion Field
-Union is being slightly mysterious and keeping the names of the performers secret. Using my superhero powers, I've found a possibly correct list of bands, but as I've never heard of most on the list, I'm keeping my mouth shut. If nothing else, this should be an opportunity to discover some new musical treasures.
**Note: This just in. Doctor Squid will be delighting the audience with some Squidtastic tunes at this show at around 12:45 pm! Lovely.

Tues, April 28: Venice is Sinking @ 9 pm @ Cine
-I can't help but use the phrase "sweet melodies" every time I mention Venice is Sinking. It will truly be a precious gift to your ears if you go and see them at the Human Rights Film Festival at Cine!

So there's the list... Mark your calendars!

Also, if you happen to know that I've gotten something terribly wrong, if you've heard a whisper of a cancellation, or if you know of another event that is tragically missing from this list, please comment and let me know!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

This DJ Knows How to Spin 'Em

Normally, I stick to writing about the bands I’ve had the pleasure of seeing and hearing here in Athens. Occasionally, though, I feel the draw of popular music and must feed my need for some generally mindless dancing by moving to some DJayed tunes.

DJRX, also known as Brian Gonzalez, is a great reason to don those dancing shoes and head downtown. His DJaying skills and quirks set him apart from the average Athens DJ. First of all, he plays a rather unique mixture of music. He doesn’t hesitate to move from pop to rock to country to hip hop without a pause in between. Now, usually I’m not a fan of country, but he layers his own wild dance beats into these songs, making even the most stubborn country music hater start moving their feet to the rhythm. And there’s his trademark inclusion of a remixed Free Credit Report dot Com song. While most newcomers to DJRX’s events stand around in confusion while this song plays, all of his seasoned dance fans anticipate this moment and sing along with gleeful expressions on their faces.

DJRX also encourages dancer involvement by motioning to the audience and by dancing himself. He takes cues from famous bands as well. During several of the songs that he played last Saturday night including Lil’ Jon’s Get Low, he would pause the music and point the mic at the audience so that everyone could shout the lines back to him. These little things maintain the energy of the night and help to increase everyone’s excitement.

Last Saturday’s event was a packed one. At one point, the dance floor was so thick with people that, had a band been playing, the floor could have appropriately been called a mosh pit. Several people, mostly men curiously enough, enjoyed the music so much that they leapt onto chairs and onto the stage and began mouthing the lyrics for all who were dancing. Everyone in attendance seemed to be having the time of their lives.

There was only one slight downside to this entire event that is worth mentioning. A few of the songs played earlier in the night were heard near the end once again. Most people tend to stay for only the first or second half of the night, though, so this only affects some of the more hardcore dance fans like my friends and I. The unique mixes and unending dance opportunities, however, largely outweigh this minor issue. Essentially, DJRX is the DJ to see if you’re in town. Catch him again at Sideways on April 18th. Trust me, if you enjoy dancing at all, this is one event you won’t want to miss! I know I’ll be there, having an incredible time! :


Stephanie and I with Chris McKay & the Critical Darlings at 40 Watt

Note: This was originally posted on my livejournal and on Last.FM in mid-March. Then, to my great surprise, the Critical Darlings posted it on their website here soon after! :)

Wow. This town never ceases to give me amazing new musical experiences! I'm not even sure how it happens. I guess I'm just incredibly lucky!

I was invited to this school-sponsored music festival, Sustainapalooza, and since I had nothing better to do today (and I was trying to forget what a terrible day I had), I decided to go. I heard several bands play there, but the very last act of the night, Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings, blew me away. They brought a whole new energy to the stage that I loved. Truly, their stage presence was spectacular, and their talent was undeniable.

Also, in my mind, there are two things that make a great band utterly amazing. The first thing is a penchant for making clever comments or sharing amusing anecdotes between songs. They certainly provided us with entertainment during the pauses which was nice. The next and most important thing is a genuine love for their fans. Bands that thank their fans, take the time to talk to them, and make them feel special top my list of awesome musical acts. Chris McKay & the Critical Darlings met and surpassed this criteria. Not only did they give us shoutouts for dancing, but they also sang directly to us when we stepped closer to the stage. Then, after they finished playing, they gave everyone in the audience free CDs and offered to sign them. They were incredibly happy to chat with us as they signed them as well. To top it all off, they are going to try to put all of us who stayed after the show onto the VIP/ special guest list for their show tomorrow night. How amazing is that!

Basically, Chris McKay & the Critical Darlings gave us a truly awesome musical experience. It's times like these that I fully appreciate the freaking fantastic life that I lead.

Guess what!

Note: I originally wrote this as a livejournal entry in late February, and I also posted it on Last.FM in March.

I have a new one to add to my favorites... a local band, that is. Venice is Sinking! I actually found out about them through a friend's Facebook status two weeks ago, and when I checked out their MySpace, I fell in love with the sweet melodies and soft lyrics that they used. Today, I left a school-sponsored activity that I helped set up to go check out their show and get their latest CD, AZAR. Although they were mostly just playing covers by the time my friend and I got there, I loved the show! They played all different kinds of instruments from flutes, violas, and trumpets to guitar-like contraptions and weird maraca-like objects. It was quite a sight to behold!

Also, each of the band members was incredibly multi-talented which was wonderfully impressive. The drummer's crazy commentary helped keep the show upbeat and fun as well. Oh, and boy am I glad we wore our glowsticks and danced while holding them. The female singer Karolyn Troupe was visibly amused by this, and she even thanked us for wearing them later.

The best part of the night, though, was just after the show when my friend asked them if they could autograph our CDs. A few minutes after she asked, we were escorted backstage by one of the band members so that all five of the members (and someone involved in the making of the CD) could sign our CDs. Karolyn actually talked to us for several minutes about our majors and such, and she was really sweet. She also helped us get the remaining band members' signatures. Daniel Lawson, the male singer, was clearly confused by our enthusiasm at getting the CDs signed, but eventually we were able to convince him to give us some sort of squiggle. It was amazing! I mean, BACKSTAGE! I've always wanted to see what that was like. Once again, the awesomeness of my life never ceases to amaze me and fill me with glee!

Crumbling Arches: Why do I love them so much?

Note: I originally wrote this as a livejournal entry back in October, and
I also posted it on Last.FM in December. Crumbling Arches has since become my favorite band.
**Warning: Longest entry ever ahead :D **

Nearly everyone that I talk to knows that I love the Athens band Crumbling Arches. I'll admit, barely a day goes by that I don't mention them in conversation. But what's so great about them? Why do I seem so obsessed with this one band? I think it's time for an explanation, a confession of sorts.

Up until a few years ago, I refused to claim any bands as favorites. I liked nearly all kinds of music, but nothing really impressed me much. I listened to the general fluff that was semi-popular music, bought several soundtracks from my favorite movies, and enjoyed whatever songs played in the background during the TV shows I watched. For me, music was just there. Important, yes, but not very meaningful. I was deaf to the idea that there could be more to music than what I heard on MTV.

Then, on YouTube of all places, I discovered a Boston band that changed my idea of music: Lemon Demon. This band's songs lived in their own world, far away from all of the pretentious lyrics of the top 40 hits. They had no true meaning, but for the first time in my life, I realized that a good song didn't have to spell it out for the listener. I could find my own meaning in these songs. This "indie" genre was new to me, but as I ventured further into this unknown world, I discovered true music: songs that held a different message for each person who listened to them.

During the next few months, I opened my ears to new music for the first time. I was on a quest to find something, some sound that truly meant something to me. Lemon Demon and an Atlanta band, Helios (now known as Stellate), served as foundations for my newfound love of music, but I had an insatiable desire to find more. Then, around March of this year, one of the school clubs I belonged to, Dawgs After Dark, gave me a simple task: listen to the music from a list of several different bands and choose my five favorites to play at Dawgstock, a school-sponsored concert. Eager to help out, I logged onto MySpace for the first time in months and searched for the first band, "Crumbling Arches."

Crumbling Arches? My friend Lisa had mentioned them before, but I had never really heard their music. I know it sounds completely overdramatic, but honestly, this band was exactly what I was looking for.

The first song I heard of theirs was Phantom. Being a Phantom of the Opera enthusiast (and, naturally, an owner of the soundtrack), I loved hearing their slightly twisted version of it. They managed to take a song that was already dark and disturbing and make it both humorous and vastly more terrifying than it had been before. But there was more.

For several years, I've felt that one simple phrase of three words describes me best: "Disney and darkness". I love the joy of childish delights, but I'm not complete without my supply of strange costumes, macabre decorations, and horrifying notions. I love it all, and Crumbling Arches managed to capture both of these ideas with their rock cover of "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan. The original song has always been one of my favorite Disney hits, and the fact that they performed this song the very first time I saw one of their shows - well, I can tell you that this cemented their place as "one of my new favorite bands."

But these are just covers. What about their actual songs? That's where it gets personal. The CD (The Somnambulist) I bought from them during their show in August was filled with songs that told the story of a man who dreamed of leaving his life behind and going to sea. This man refused to be numb to the monotony of the life society chose for him and instead sacrificed everything he had to pursue his dreams. This story is truly why I love this band so much. It's my story. No, I'm not a man who wishes he was at sea. However, I am a woman who dreams of being an author, a woman who is willing to give up the security of the corporate world and comfort of the suburban lifestyle to achieve her goals. Though I may drown in the sea of a million other dreamers, I'd rather suffer and struggle there than take the easy path to financial success and be miserable. I don't want to be the girl who might have been more. I don't want to spend my life wondering what would have happened if I had just stepped off of the lit path.

It's as simple as this. Crumbling Arches is everything I would want in a band. The members are the nicest people ever, they're genuinely talented, and they clearly love what they're doing. Best of all, their songs truly mean something to me. So the next time you see me writing about them on Facebook or hear me mentioning them to someone I've just met, you'll know why. I just want to share my love of them with everyone. I know their songs won't mean the same things for you as they mean for me, but true music divulges a different message to each listener and gains new meaning with every play.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I'm ready for the Athens music scene!

Hey everyone! Kristen here, also known as Echoreyn of Athens. A while ago, I started a personal blog just as I was discovering the music scene in Athens, GA. Since then, I've delved deeper into the musical joys, triumphs, and mysteries that fill this small college town. I chose to begin this new blog, so that I could have a place to discuss all of my interesting experiences and crazy moments in this scene.

My first few posts will be re-posted from my personal blog to get things started. After that, we'll just have to see where this town takes me. I have high hopes!

Also, be sure to check out my friend Jordan's blog, Athens Music Junkie. She's been doing this for quite some time, and she certainly knows what she's talking about. Also, we may collaborate in the blogging arena sometime in the future which should truly be an adventure, indeed.

I'm ready now. Are you?