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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Athfest 2009: And the winner is...

Thursday, June 25th 2009
Flagpole Athens Music Awards Show

Ah, Athens! It was great to finally be back in my favorite city!

My friend Sheila and I got into downtown just about half an hour before the Flagpole Athens Music Awards started. As we waited in the lobby for another friend to arrive, I noticed several people dressed in an array of eye-catching clothing milling around in a side room just beside us. These, I assumed, would be the celebrities of the night. Even though I'm still a relative newcomer to the Athens music scene, I could sense that the members of this group were the people to watch. I'll admit, it helped that I caught a glimpse of Hardy Morris, the lead singer of Dead Confederate walking around back there just before Trent Allen of the band Dreams So Real paused next to us to ask some of the workers where the presenters were supposed to be. Sightings like these merely fueled my anticipation for the show and the days ahead.

Having never attended an official awards show in my life, I was eager to see what would happen once the presenters and bands stepped onstage. We managed to get seats relatively close to the front but still far left enough that I had to crane my head a bit to get a good view. However, it transpired later in the evening that we had some of the best seats in the house. Little did I know that a majority of the winning bands were seated in the dark area just beside us. Also, I could never have guessed that the distinguished-looking gentleman right behind us was one of the presenters for the night. The best was yet to come though.

Pretty soon after the show began, Deaf Judges, a local hip hop and rap group, took the stage. Well, I say "took the stage," but in reality, they made the whole theatre their stage. They tossed beach balls into the audience before they started so that the air was filled with flying spheres during (and following) their performance. These balls even played a hilarious part in the awards proceedings when the Half Dozen Brass Band got a beach ball chucked at them good-naturedly as they were giving their acceptance speech for the Best Jazz Band award. Then, during the perfomance, one of the members of Deaf Judges ran into the audience and jumped on a chair right behind my friend Diana to rap to the crowd in close quarters. I told you we had great seats!

Another highlight of the night was when American Cheeseburger won for Best Punk/Hardcore Band. Unlike the other winning bands, their acceptance speech didn't include any speaking at all. Instead, one of the members donned a rubbish-filled trash can for a hat, mumbled some sort of incoherent sound into the microphone, and then poured water onto his head before leaving the stage. What a sight! My favorite moment of the night by far, though, actually happened because of a glitch. During the presentation of the finalists' videos for the Best Music Video category, the film started skipping which disrupted the music horribly. Kenosha Kid, the band playing music in the pit for the awards show, filled in the gaps of the Dead Confederate glitching video with an impromptu performance of the missing parts of background music. There's nothing better than seeing a band make something awesome out of a problem like that!

The only thing that really put a damper on the evening was this guy, Clay Leverett, who kept making jokes at the expense of recently deceased king of pop, Michael Jackson. The jokes were in bad taste, and it wasn't long before he was booed off the stage. Also, a few times during the show, I felt like an outsider at an exclusive party. Inside jokes that only longtime citizens of Athens could understand ran rampant throughout, but luckily, these were harmless.

However, on a more positive note, some of the biggest cheers of the night went to those who really deserved them. The second biggest cheer was for my fellow blogger and friend Jordan of AthensMusicJunkie who's become a sort of celebrity around these parts for her extensive and dedicated blogging about the bands of Athens. Don't tell her that, though! She'll deny it completely. But truly, the girl did a great job presenting a special award to the man in charge of UGA's music business program. The loudest, most heartfelt cheer, though, was also a bittersweet one for Wilmot Greene, owner of the recently destroyed Georgia Theatre. When he walked onstage, everyone in the theatre gave him a standing ovation. It was wonderful seeing all of the people of Athens join together in their earnest determination to see the theatre rebuilt and the years of memories maintained!

Then soon after all of this, the show was over, but for my friends and I the night had just begun. The awards show after party had already started, and we weren't about to miss that!

Check back regularly for more blogs about Athfest 2009, and don't forget to check out the concert videos at!

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