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Monday, September 28, 2009

The Constellations light up Athens!

Saturday was indescribably incredible! As all of my Twitter followers know, I've been dreaming of seeing the Constellations rock the stage again ever since I first saw them at Atlanta's Summerfest several months ago. Well, it seems that dreams do indeed come true! Their much-awaited show at Tasty World Uptown just after UGA's win against Arizona State was simply spectacular.

Openers SolShakr and Kite to the Moon started things off rather awesomely. SolShakr got everyone excited with a taste of their lovely southern rock. Great stuff. Then Kite to the Moon, a local psychedelic rock pop trio, stepped onstage. Playing custom-made guitars in a variety of shapes and wearing hot dog suits, animal ears, and crazy rocker wigs, this band had a humorous style all its own. With the Tiger Girlz of Athens swinging on a trapeze beside the stage dressed as anything from pregnant nerds to Hooters girls in heels, there was no shortage of visual stimulation during their set. The members of the audience hardly even knew where to look!

Minutes before midnight, the Constellations, much-buzzed about Atlanta band who just signed with Virgin Records and has been heard all over the radio airwaves during the past year, appeared in front of us ready to show Athens how it's done. And boy, did they show us! Once again, they were completely amazing. The band rocked everyone's favorite tunes with a fantastic amount of energy, and the fans just couldn't stop dancing! Then Elijah Jones, lead singer for the eight-member power group, decided to make it personal. Jumping straight off the stage and into the audience, he belted out the songs while leaning on people in the crowd and rocking out with them. And just like at the Summerfest show, he didn't shy away from feeling the music and writhing on the floor during a particularly wild rendition of the band's ode to Atlanta, Step Right Up. The rest of the band members, too, took over the whole stage with their rock making the show a sight to behold!

Best of all, though, this band's relationship with their fans was nothing short of wonderful! Between songs they wished several girls in the crowd a Happy Birthday and even had them come up on stage to sing along with the clap squad, the band's lovely duo of backup singers, during their hit Felicia. And then, the coolest thing ever happened. Shab, one of the girls in the clap squad, recognized me from my Twitter picture and gave Echoreyn of Athens its first ever shoutout from the stage! WOW! My memory is a jumbled mess of what happened next, but I think I got a high five from one of the members, and I know I got to say the full name of the blog into Elijah's microphone. So freaking crazy! This was something I totally would never have expected. What an end to my Saturday night! I still can't believe how amazing it all was.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Of Squids, Crickets, and Fuzzies

The Warm Fuzzies fill us with glee

Thursday's UGA Freshman night at the Caledonia wasn't just for the Athens newcomers. After all, everyone can use a bit of happiness! I have to say, this was one of the best lineups I've seen. What a way to welcome people into the Athens music scene!

Gemini Cricket kicked off the night with their curious mix of garage pop tunes. They've got quite an interesting style, most clearly demonstrated in their I've Got My Boots On song in which both the female and male vocalists sang different lyrics in layers over each other. Also, they got the audience involved by having everyone whistle and meow along with their last song. Craziness.

Then the Warm Fuzzies leapt onstage. True to their name, pure joy emanates from this band! This was the second time I've had the pleasure of seeing them, and my friends and I agreed that their show was even better this time around (if that's possible). Nobody could help but smile, and the band members' hilarious comments between songs filled the audience with glee. Best of all, during their song Hey Milunka, they brought two concert-going newbies onstage to hold up lyric cue cards for the crowd. I'm sure that was an amazing experience for them! It was all just so much fun. As my pal Beth said excitedly after their set ended, "I feel so warm and fuzzy!"

After the Fuzzies, Doctor Squid finished off the night of happiness with a rather epic set filled with old favorites and a few rockin' brand new tunes. Everyone in the room was dancing like crazy and having an awesome time! As always, I was most incredibly impressed by their audience. These guys seriously have the most dedicated and enthusiastic fans ever! Nearly everyone in the crowd knew the lyrics to at least one of their songs, and pure excitement filled the air. Jason, Doctor Squid's new drummer, rocked his beats too, and this was only his second show with the band! Oh, and I can't forget to mention Mark's very entertaining interpretive dance and Larry's lovely bit of trumpet-playing. I love these guys! This whole show was just totally and completely spectacular!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Arrr, it be a Hootenanny!

Ruby Isle drives everyone wild

Ahoy, me favorite lads and lasses! Gather 'round! 'Tis time to tell tales of the The Kindercore/ Owl Scooters Fall Hootenanny that took place at ye olde 40 Watt this past Saturday. But first I owe ye scurvy dawgs an explanation of sorts. See, Saturday was also International Talk Like A Pirate Day! No, I'm not joking. It's a real holiday (well, kind of)! And, just like the good costume enthusiast that I am, I naturally took the opportunity to dress as the dread pirate lass Echoreyn of the Sea as well. Hey, nothing makes a night of awesome tunes more fun than a puffy white shirt and a hat with a feather in it!

By some miraculous coincidence, my pals and I managed to get to the club just in time to see all of the bands I highlighted in my September 19th concert picks. How lucky is that! Venice is Sinking was just finishing up their set as we arrived, but their melodies were gorgeous as always! I believe I caught the lovely song Bardstown Road as well as a few other amazing tunes before the band stepped offstage. I can honestly never get enough of their sound. Oh, and I can't forget to give a shoutout to Lucas, the drummer, who was one of five awesome guys I talked to downtown who knew exactly why I was decked out in full pirate gear. Arrr, me fellow Talk Like A Pirate Day revelers! I salute you.

Next in line for the stage were Virginia natives The Young Sinclairs. I had seen them once before at Athfest, and I recognized them immediately from their seventies-inspired clothing. This time around, they played many of the same beachy and old school style tunes I remembered hearing during that show, but they seemed to have a quite few new songs as well. Nice.

Following them, a loud boom echoed through the air, resonating through the floor of the 40 Watt. Ruby Isle had arrived! Ever since I sampled this band's music on their myspace, I've been dying to experience them live, and they did not disappoint. Here's another band that truly knows how to put on a show the right way! I could feel their energy radiating through the audience immediately, a mark of their rather awesome stage presence. They traversed the whole length of the stage as they played with a sound so distinctly different that I can't really classify it at all.
There seemed to be a bit of an 80's rock influence, yet they had an incredibly modern style. Basically, they were pretty damn indescribable, and the crowd ate it up. I've never seen the 40 Watt so packed for a show. What fun!

Then my friends and I popped over to Rye bar to finish off the night with a few of Aman Amun's new tunes. You know that's always a treat! The whole night was, without a doubt, spectacular.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Stegosaurus and Nero rock their way to extinction

Stegosaurus fires up the crowd

Last Friday night three bands played their final tunes and nearly brought the crowd into a frenzy!

Bang-Utot, Nero and the Burning Violins, and Stegosaurus, all bands claiming the very talented Marshall Yarbrough as a member, bid farewell to their rather excited audiences at this show. Since Marshall is leaving for Germany quite soon, these guys took over Go Bar for a night to rock the house together one last time.

Bang-Utot began playing shortly after my friends and I arrived. The songs that they ended their set with were quite impressively good for a band who's only been together for a few weeks! Then Nero and the Burning Violins took over the stage. Their incredibly unique style of rock captured my ears and kept them. Why didn't I know about them before their breakup show? Such a tragedy! Well, at least I got free CDs from Bang-Utot and Nero. That certainly lessened the pain a little bit.

For both of these bands, Marshall acted as singer and drummer. Therefore, it was quite a surprise to see him step up to the front and pick up a guitar for the Stegosaurus set. Man, that guy knows his stuff! And the band's final show drove the audience wild. Everyone was dancing, and the kids right beside the stage even started moshing. Then things became completely ridiculous. Let me tell you, crowd surfing at Go Bar is not a good idea. If you've ever seen the size of the place, you'll understand why. Pure madness, indeed. What a way to say goodbye, though! I definitely wish Marshall luck on all of his future music endeavors... I'm sure there will be many more!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Where, oh where, has Echoreyn of Athens been?

I know it's been a week since I last posted. Don't worry, though! As my friend Sheila would say, I am currently still in existence. It seems that last week was the week of the wildly overhyped SWINE FLU! Everybody run for your lives! No, stop. I'm just kidding. But yeah, I had it or, at least, I had some strain of the nasty, horrible flu. So did most of the other local music bloggers I know, crazily enough. There must be some correlation between concert-going and weak immune systems, right? Hm...

Anyway, the point is, now I'm back, and I'm ready to experience the rock again! Look out soon for my review of the very last Stegosaurus show as well as another article jam-packed with information about the music venue in 40 Watt's backyard: the Caledonia. Hooray!

Also, a few other cool things that I can't mention yet are in the works, so as always, stay tuned! And, at the risk of being repetitive, I've got to remind you to check out my list of September concert picks for all the best shows to satisfy your music cravings. Mmm, take one bite of the Constellations, a nibble of the Warm Fuzzies, a serving of Doctor Squid, a taste of Aman Amun, and one heaping plateful of all of the rest, and your ears will most certainly be well-fed till October!

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Bambara experience... An explosion of sound

Bambara rocks so hard the colors blur

Four bands on a Thursday night? Say it with me... Athens rocks!

To start off my night, I swung by WUOG's headquarters in Tate to catch Aman Amun play his second Live in the Lobby show. I just can't get enough of his new songs! The one about the mirrored mask is definitely my new favorite. I could listen to that one over and over again. His show on the 19th is going to be amazing!

A few hours later, I headed over to the Caledonia Lounge to catch the end of local Christian rock band Marriage's set. I saw them for a short time at Athfest this past summer, and it seems I'm always destined to arrive just before they finish. After their last few songs, a North Carolina band with just about the coolest name I've ever heard, Hammer No More The Fingers, stepped onto the Caledonia stage. Apparently, they played with Athens' own Bambara in their hometown a while ago, so they decided to double up again during their first visit to our city. This band totally rocked it out of the park! Their music was dance-worthy rock, filled with fun. Most adorably, one of the members brought his sister and his cousin from two different parts of the country to relish in the tunes. Bringing the family... what a sweet thing to do! I certainly hope this band visits Athens again sometime.

At midnight, Bambara began their set. Two years ago, I saw them in their previous incarnation as 23jinx, but I must say, I love their new sound! Their incredibly loud, hard rock style has captured the ears of many in the local scene and even as far away as Europe, and I can see why. It's got a wild, untamed quality to it that still manages to be quite rhythmic and invigorating. And, to my great delight, they played all of my favorites from their latest album including Shake, Native Tongue, and Lullay. Yay! This is also a band that knows how to truly embrace their rock. All of the members were fully absorbed in the music. It's a beautiful thing when a band loves what they're doing so much that it shows. Man, their energy was thrilling! They are just some generally cool guys as well. Awesome!

Seeing all of these rockin' bands was totally worth the three hours of sleep I got that night. What a time!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Of Hobbits and Happiness

 A colorful pattern of light much like the one Bambara's song painted in my mind 

Do you ever just close your eyes and let a song take you where it will?  A couple of days ago, I was listening to Native Tongue, one of my favorite Bambara songs, and I did just that.  Wow, that song brought me on a ride!  Maybe it was the two hours of sleep I had gotten the night before, but in my mind's eye, I saw myself walking along patterned tunnels filled with swirling lights and colors.  There's something about that song that just conjures up such vivid imagery!  I can't wait to see their show this Thursday at the Caledonia!

In other, less trippy news, Lord of the Rings' most loyal Hobbit graced the UGA Tate II stage on Monday night to discuss fellowship and leadership with an audience of several hundred people.  No, it wasn't a concert or anything like that, but getting to hear Sean Astin give a speech has to be something worth mentioning in my blog, right?  He was pretty cool, not too absorbed in the whole Hollywood scene which was nice.  Also, he kept interrupting his own written speech to tell arbitrary jokes that popped into his head or to entertain us with various impressions of people he knew and characters he'd played.

After he explained in great detail what he'd learned while acting in some of his most famous movies (mostly that because he was a public figure, he could embrace the opportunities he had to help others and spread a message of love and unity throughout the world), he took questions from the audience.  Yeah, there were the standard ones about Lord of the Rings and 50 First Dates, and then there were the more substantial ones, like those focusing on how he felt about his contributions to society as a whole.  A few tidbits I gained from the questions he answered:  he played a small part as a voice actor in Balto but doesn't remember the character's name, he's worked with countless charities for various different causes including literacy, he loved filming the LOTR scenes on the mountain tops because flying up there in a helicopter made them seem more significant, he considers himself part of the "liberal media," he once worked at a movie theatre and took his job there very seriously, and his most treasured achievements include graduating from UCLA and being a father.

I found it most interesting, however, that he and his wife are currently working on a film version of the beloved book Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.  This was one of the stories that caught my attention in elementary school when we were learning about the mass exodus of the Jews from Germany during World War II.  Miraculously, I still remember how much I loved that book and how much I cried while reading it.  From the reactions of those in the audience, it seems that I'm not the only one who looks forward to seeing what comes of this project!  Very, very cool.

Alright, I hope you all stay healthy this week!  Athens is getting a little crazy as far as health is concerned.  Oh, and don't miss the latest additions to the schedule of spectacular September shows here!  More delicious performances from Doctor Squid, the Warm Fuzzies, the Constellations, and Bambara have tiptoed their way onto the list.  I'm so spectacularly excited!