Monday, August 31, 2009

Aman Amun & Boombox, Names in Lights!

Thursday night marked my return to the beloved 40 Watt Club. Finally! Splashed across the marquee were the names Boombox and Aman Amun. I'd been waiting for this GA Theatre-presented show for weeks, so I'm sure you can imagine just how excited I was that the day had arrived!

Unfortunately, my friend Sheila and I encountered a few problems in the form of some already drunk out-of-state visitors who happened to sit beside us. Let me tell you, getting stared at, unblinkingly, by some girl for ten minutes and then having the same girl (that you didn't talk to) accuse you of making her cry and complain to the bar staff about you for no reason kind of sucks. Then getting harassed by her boyfriend who continuously insists that you and your friend look foreign and "don't belong here" will definitely put a slight damper on your spirits. Luckily, though, once Aman Amun started his show, all of my anger and confusion melted away.
Now picture this... You're in a dark room and in front of you hangs a large screen. A solitary figure stands before you holding a guitar and an array interesting objects. As the music begins, lights and colors flash across the screen, created by the music itself, in an array of stunning brilliance. This is just a taste of what the Aman Amun experience is like.

Aman Amun's downtown debut quite exceeded my expectations, and that's saying something, as any of my twitter followers can attest. He started with a remix of one of the songs off his Waxing CD, Exploring the Obvious. Using one of his newer technologically fascinating gadgets, he managed to make his live singing sound like it was spouting from some sort of electronic robot. Even cooler, as he sang, the smiley face drawn onto the screen behind him moved it's mouth to his words. And he used something that I'm quite sure was an iPhone to control a bit of the performance as well. Wow!

Aman Amun's stage before the show

One of my favorite things about his shows is that they're completely dynamic and unexpected. He's always improving and perfecting every aspect of his live performance so that each show is not only different from but better than the one before it. Following his first song, he introduced a few of his newer songs, presumably from his upcoming album. These had an electronic rock feel that still maintained the deeply moving essence and beautiful lyrics of his earlier songs but also incorporated a more danceable beat. Pretty soon, the members of the audience had crowded around the stage, moving and dancing, some quite exuberantly. He finished his set with a new take on an old favorite, Scapegoating. Watching his shows, I always feel like I'm privy to something special, something filled with incredible potential. To sum up, I'll quote Flagpole's Michelle Gilzenrat who put it best when she tweeted from the show, "Aman Amun is genius [...] Give him 1 year. 1 year."

After Aman Amun's set ended, the Alabama duo Boombox stepped onstage. The first thing that caught my eyes as they began their show were the massive, color-changing lights that flashed around them. They were seriously beautiful! Once I'd been thoroughly mesmerized by the lights and the wild patterns they made on the floor, I began to listen to the music. If I had to place Boombox into a genre, I'd call their sound techno jazz with a touch of disco. The lyrics in their songs were few and far between. I was actually quite surpised by the fact that most of their music seemed to be layered over the same constant beat. From what I had read of them, I was expecting something different, I suppose. Their tunes certainly had everyone dancing, though. One of their songs in particular captured my notice because it parted from the similar beat, providing everyone with a more unique, and quite enjoyable, dancing experience, more of what I was expecting of them. Yay.

All in all, it was a pretty visually and musically tasty night, an awesome way to usher in another year of brand new downtown Athens music adventures!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kristen's Concert Picks: Rock like it's September

Just a few days ago, the Athens music scene embraced me once again. My friend spontaneously suggested that we visit WUOG's headquarters, and during my visit, we caught the local band Blueswater Bridge playing a set for the Live in the Lobby segment. Afterwards, I headed over to the Myers Quad to enjoy a practice session of one of Athens' newest bands, Neptica. With echoes of all of these bands' tunes dancing in my ears, I decided that it was the perfect time to start compiling another list of shows sure to capture everyone's fancies. After all, it's nearly September already! And off we go...

Thurs, Sept 3: Bambara @ 9 PM @ The Caledonia Lounge
-Formerly 23jinx, this band has spent the past year making a name for themselves under the new heading, Bambara. Hard, dark rock is still their forte, but they've created a new, more refined sound to match their new name as well. And they've just returned from a stint in Europe, so start off your musical month with these guys!

Sat, Sept 5: The Warm Fuzzies @ 9 PM @ the 40 Watt
-Feeling down? Want to hear some tunes that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face? Well, the Warm Fuzzies are here to please! With songs about everything from robots to cheese to love at a drive-thru, you won't want to miss them!

Tues, Sept 8: Fire Zuave @ 9:30 PM @ The Caledonia Lounge
-A new addition to my concert picks, here's another band that passed the myspace test. Their wonderfully unique indie rock sound makes them a group certainly worth checking out!

Sat, Sept 12: Wilx @ 8 PM @ Farm 255
-These rockers aren't afraid to go a little crazy and have fun with their performance. Trust me, you'll definitely want to be an audience member at this show!

Sat, Sept 19: Aman Amun @ 9 PM @ Rye Bar
-What do you get when you mix soothing acoustic and amazing electronic music with a visual experience that is unequaled? Aman Amun's your answer! And this show's free. You can't get better than that!

Sat, Sept 19: Ruby Isle, Venice is Sinking, & the Young Sinclairs @ 9:30 PM @the 40 Watt
-A powerhouse party, indeed! Some of the best bands in Athens and beyond are joining together to rock the 40 Watt on this spectacular Saturday. With Maserati, Allison Weiss, and Still Flyin' on the bill too, this is sure to be an unforgettable show.

Wed, Sept 23: Romanenko @ 9:30 PM @ the 40 Watt
-Here's another local band that I've been yearning to see! Romanenko's beautiful vocals and soft indie rock sound somehow make everything feel right in the world. Also, they will be releasing their latest full-length record at this show, so don't miss it!

Thurs, Sept 24: Doctor Squid & The Warm Fuzzies @ 10:00 PM @ The Caledonia Lounge
Happiness abounds with this pair of bands! I've honestly never seen a more joy-filled lineup for a show. If you like upbeat songs and infectious lyrics, this show is for you!

Sat, Sept 26: The Constellations @ 8:00 PM @ Tasty World Uptown
I've been dying to see Atlanta band the Constellations again since I they rocked the stage this past summer at Summerfest, and now they're coming to pleasure our ears at Athens' own Tasty World. For some incredibly unique and awesome tunes from one of the most up-and-coming bands in the state, check out this show!

Wed, Sept 30: Bambara @ 9 PM @ the 40 Watt
-End this month just as you started it: with another taste of the lovely Bambara! Their rock will certainly ignite a fire of passion in your heart, so come party with them!

And that's all I've got... for now, of course! As always, this list will continue to grow throughout the month, so let me know if you're looking forward to any September shows that seem to be missing from the schedule. Also, August's not over yet, so click here if you're hoping to plan a few more musical adventures to usher in the end of the month. Enjoy!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sideways Bar: It must be time to dance!

You want to dance, but don't know where to go? Well, once you've turned the big 2-1, Sideways is the place to be! This full bar has quite a nice dance floor in front of its small stage, perfect for showing off your latest and greatest moves to some DJayed tunes or band's songs. The best parts of the floor, though, are the built-in cooling vents. The surface of the sun has nothing on the dance floor at Sideways once the party starts, so these vents provide a welcome blast of cool air and, as an added bonus, you can pretend to be Marilyn Monroe while standing over them!

Oh! Looks like it's time for a bathroom break. Once you manuver your way through the crowds to the hallway behind the stage, you'll find your destination. These bathrooms are pretty standard as far as Athens bar bathrooms go. Nothing to write home to Mom about, but they serve their purpose well.

As the bathroom door closes behind you and you step into the hallway once more, you'll probably notice another cool feature of this bar: the upstairs component. Want a party on the rooftop? Need to step out for air, but don't want to be bothered with finding your ID to get back in the bar? Just a few steps up the stairs, and you'll feel like you're in a completely different place. The atmosphere is more laid back up here, so many couples choose a spot here to get to know each other a bit better away from the loud music. If the upstairs isn't your scene, you might want to play pool by the entrance of the bar for a while instead. After a short break, though, I'm sure you'll be wanting to get back to the party. One small word of warning: by midnight, the floor will likely be covered in spilled beer so be sure to save your white knee socks for another downtown venture. All in all, though, Sideways is quite a bar!

Sideways Bar at a glance:

Ages: 21 & up

Cost: Generally free

Venue Phone Number: 706-319-1919

Venue location & Google Map: 364 E. Broad St, Athens, GA 30601

View Larger Map

Reviews of recent concerts/events at Sideways Bar:

Have any thoughts of your own about this venue? Dying to know something specific that I didn't mention? Be sure to comment below! Also, to read about all of the venues I've reviewed, visit my venues page!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This just in (sort of)! Mark your calendars!

I'm continuously updating the August schedule with newly announced shows... Seriously, I've been adding concerts like crazy! I know I just told you this yesterday, but the news keeps coming at me so fast, I thought I'd let you know that even more shows have been added since then. Check it out here! Also, tonight, the wonderful DJRX is throwing a back-to-school rave party at Sideways for all you 21 and up kids craving some wild dancing. The best part is, IT'S FREE! I know, being a poor college student myself, that's my favorite kind of party too.

Also, I'll be posting the full list of my top concert suggestions for September soon, so if you're in a band and you're playing a show next month, let me know! And for all you lovers of music out there, here's just a small taste of some of the shows you might want to keep in mind while planning your social event calendar for the next few months...
September 3rd: Bambara @ Caledonia
September 5th: The Warm Fuzzies @ the 40 Watt
September 19th: Aman Amun @ Rye Bar
September 19th: Ruby Isle/ Venice is Sinking/ The Young Sinclairs @ the 40 Watt
October 12th: Crumbling Arches @ Caledonia
October 24th: Dead Confederate/ Meat Puppets @ the 40 Watt

More to come soon! I love you guys!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Athens - The city where time stops, but the music never does

Just a small section of my ever-growing concert poster wall

Athens. I've yearned all summer for this delicious town, and here I am. Back again!

After being away, it feels kind of weird to walk these familiar streets, to see the faces of my favorite musicians and friends again, and to hear whispers of new bands, new songs, and new CDs. It's like moving back into a place where time has stopped and finding that all of the things and people and places that I love have just been waiting for me to return. It's a comfortable feeling as much as it's a strange one.

This semester, I hope to bring my blog back to its roots. I started this page so that I would have a place to chronicle my musical adventures, and most specifically, my great joy in the personal discovery of bands and acts that I'd never heard of. On occasion, a famous band will pass through this city, and it's always nice to check them out. To be honest, though, quite often I find that many of the local groups, the newer artists trying to book gigs with the most well-known headliners and the established bands that keep working diligently to get their names and their tunes to the masses, are just as good, sometimes better. There's true substance there!

These Athens bands have heart. They pour their souls into their music, not for the huge piles of money that their massively famous peers are getting for their national tours, but for the love of the music itself. It's a beautiful thing, and I definitely plan to continue to celebrate this dedication. If I can do my part to help those talented acts that truly deserve to be on the tips of everyone's tongues feed their music to the world's ears, I will. Maybe one day, they too will be among the bands that have emerged triumphant from the Athens scene, with fame in their hands, yes, but with our town's heart and soul still in their songs too.

Oh wow, speaking of famous Athens bands, the very first REM song I ever heard just suddenly started playing on TV. Yup, I'm definitely back in Athens! It's starting to feel like home again. I really can't wait to jump back into the music!

For a list some of the most exciting concerts in Athens during the month of August, don't forget to check out my concert picks. I've added several more for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kristen's Concert Picks: Back to Athens edition

For a lot of us, August means it's time to return to Athens. However, whether you've been there all along or you've never set foot in the great music city of the southeast, this is the perfect opportunity to check out some new tunes! After quite a bit of extensive research, I've compiled a list of musical treats guaranteed to caress even the most discerning of eardrums. And now, without further ado, I give you my recommendations for the lovely little month of August. Please do enjoy!


Wed, Aug 12: Doctor Squid & Venice is Sinking @ 9 PM @ The Melting Point
-Two of my favorites playing together on one night? Amazing! Most tragically, I won't yet be in Athens then, but please go see them if you can so that I can live vicariously through you! With both bands sharing a mixture of their familiar and their brand new songs, this show is going to be nothing short of wonderfully delicious!

Thurs, Aug 13: Wormsloew @ 9 PM @ The 40 Watt Club
-I have yet to see this band live, but they passed my Athfest-Myspace test quite awesomely, so be sure to check them out!

Fri, Aug 14: Deaf Judges @ 9 PM @
-The Deaf Judges, known in this blog for their climbing stint during Athfest, will be rapping up a storm on UGA's own student run radio station, WUOG. Go to to listen in!

Fri, Aug 14: DJRX @ 11 PM @ Sideways
-Our favorite pop music DJ is back to send us dancing into the next school year. I can never get sick of that Free Credit Report Dot Com song!

Tues, Aug 18: The Winter Sounds @ 9:30 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
-These guys played last year after my very favorite band, and they still managed to impress me with their sound; quite a hard feat, I assure you! Lend them your ears for the night. They'll treat them well!

Sat, Aug 22: Rachel O'Neal @ 5:30 PM @ Terrapin Beer Co.
- Rachel's soft and beautiful acoustic tunes will help you
start your evening off right!

Sat, Aug 22: Death on Two Wheels @ 8:00 PM @ Tasty World
-These rockers from Atlanta sure know how to put on a show! Let them satisfy your hunger for true rock.

Sat, Aug 22: Excali Brah @ 8:30 PM @ Flicker Theatre
-Remember the glow stick rave party at Athfest? I promise you, you're in for a night full of fun with these guys!

Thurs, Aug 27: Aman Amun @ 9 PM @ the 40 Watt Club
-Opening for Boombox, Aman Amun will give you one of the most amazing immersive experiences you'll ever have! His incorporation of technology into his acoustic music is sure to engage all of your senses at once.
Both his sound and his show can only be described as unforgettably spectacular!

Fri, Aug 28: Wilx @ TBA @ Terrapin Beer Co.
- If you want to rock with a band whose songs and covers will
get you dancing, look no further than Wilx. I've never seen a band get the audience so enthused!

Sat, Aug 29: Efren @ 8:30 PM @ Flicker Theatre
-For beautiful folk-infused indie rock, look no further than Efren. His acoustic songs have such a calming effect, they could relax even the most agitated person in the world. There's a refreshing earthy quality to them as well that makes you want to listen to them while sitting on a lone hilltop. Check out his latest tunes here!

Sat, Aug 29: Modern Skirts & Excali Brah @ 9:30 PM @ the 40 Watt Club
-Whoa! A double punch of awesome from some of the biggest up-and-coming groups in Athens! The Modern Skirts are well on their way to becoming Athens royalty, and Excali Brah sure knows how to throw a party. This is definitely going to be epic!

Mon, Aug 31: Sean Astin @ 7:30 PM @ Tate II on the UGA campus

-Okay, so you caught me. This isn't a band. But seriously, it's freaking Sean Astin, Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings! My inner nerd wouldn't let me finish writing this blog without mentioning this too. Oh yeah!

And that's all I've got so far... I'll be updating this list regularly as I find out about new shows, so keep checking back often. After all, I know you don't want to miss anything! Oh, and if you happen to think that I've made some grievous error or if you know of a show or band that you believe should most certainly be on this list, comment and tell me so!

Hope this helps you usher in a brand new, fantastically exciting school year!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More than Music: the Fashion

Ian and Zachary of Crumbling Arches
sporting their show attire
with style

Why do people go to live shows? For the music, of course! Right? Well, technically the answer is yes, but with a good stereo and a few high quality recordings, you can pretty much recreate the same effect at home. There must be more to it.

I think most people go to live shows for the experiences, for the chance to see and be a part of something awesome and unforgettable, something they can't have at home. The music is important, yes, but it's only a small part of what makes a live show an event worth traveling through downtown (or even across a few states) to enjoy. So what else makes a show bridge the gap between good and FREAKIN' SPECTACULAR? Hold your breath with me now... I'm about to plunge right in.

Since I just spent the past day sewing up a storm in the hopes of having double the "downtown wardrobe" by the time I get back to Athens, I'll start with the subject at the forefront of my mind: fashion! Or, more specifically, band member fashions. Now the key thing to remember when picking a rockstar outfit as a member of a band or a clever imposter is to stand out. Wearing your normal, everyday t-shirts and jeans just won't cut it. Take a cue from your favorite Halloween costume or eccentric, established rocker icon, and go wild! Remember you can't go wrong with bright colors and crazy patterns.

Take it from Ian of Crumbling Arches. From what I've seen of his onstage fashions, his closet must be full of shirts with hypnotising designs, artfully ripped jeans, and multicolored pants. Alex of the same band keeps everybody's eyes on him with his array of curiously interesting and slightly ridiculous hats. Brian and Zachary generally keep it simple and classy with their dressy/casual take on suits - always a good choice. The members of this band and Doctor Squid too have also been known, at other times, to don some rather spectacular costumes as well, among them phantom masks, kitty suits, santa hats, and even full-face squid masks. And while we're on the subject, I can't forget to mention bands like Deaf Judges and Excali Brah. For them, costumes are mandatory show wear. It totally works, too. Nothing makes me more gleeful than seeing a bunch of fully grown men wearing capes and vampire fangs!

Sometimes, though, fashion choices directly relate to the music being played. The members of Chris McKay and the Critical Darlings take it old school all the way with their sound and their threads. Basist Frank DeFreese definitely does it right with his shiny, eye-catching clothing. In fact, just before I saw the Critical Darlings perform for the first time, I noticed him wandering by in the semi-darkness. Without knowing anything about the guy, I instantly knew that he must be a member of one of the featured bands. That's the way it should be! His clothes totally tipped me off. He had to be more than just an average bystander. And you can't miss Carly Kane, lead singer of Stellate, when she's rocking the house either! Her brightly-colored clothing smacks of fun just like her music. You'd know she was a star from a mile away!

Other whole bands choose to rock their looks uniformly. No, I'm not talking about the matching outfits worn by the boy bands of the nineties. I'm sure we all want to forget about those! I'm talking about a small hint of color coordination like the matching red glitter eyeshadow worn by all of the members of Casper and the Cookies (especially the men). Things like this ensure that these groups won't be forgotten in a sea of bands trying to stand out and make a name for themselves.

So, now that you've got a handle on some of the fashions of Athens and Atlanta bands, what's next? A live show has to be more than just a rockstar outfit, right? Well, naturally. As always, stay tuned for more!

To read about all of the ingredients that make up a live show to top all others, click here!