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Thursday, January 28, 2010

More than Music: the Banter

It's just the tunes, right? That's the reason we all don our dancing shoes and leave our cozy rooms for the wild world downtown. Well, yes, the music's a big part of it. But let's be honest, amazing songs from super talented bands abound in Athens! It takes more than just a rockin' set of songs to stand out in this town.

So what do some bands do to keep us coming back for more? Well, most songs take a bit of setup time, but nobody wants to just stare off into space while they wait for the music to start again. After all, we are the get-it-now generation. These bands embrace the time between tunes to give us unforgettable experiences that we could never have lounging around listening to the stereo at home. How do they do it? Well, they simply open their mouths!

Banter. Talk. Spontaneous awkward conversations with the audience and with each other. It's so simple yet so wonderfully entertaining! Some of the things I've heard downtown would make even the most stoic people burst into hysterical laughter. Classic stuff.

Most of my favorite bands employ this technique to keep their fans excited. During one of the very first shows I saw in Athens, Venice is Sinking's drummer Lucas kept an awesomely hilarious commentary going as the rest of the band adjusted their instruments. The second time I saw them, he and singer Karolyn had a highly amusing mock argument during the show about the pronunciation of their album AZAR. Fun, interesting, relevant to the music... You've got to love these guys!

Atlanta band The Constellations give their whole set a sexually charged atmosphere as they flirt incessantly between songs. Lead singer Elijah especially loves to dish out lust-filled compliments to anyone and everyone in the audience and to the beautiful girls of the clap squad too. He's also not afraid to say whatever crazy thing comes to mind, and I absolutely love it! Some of the things he says would shock your mother and make your father cringe. It's all so in the moment! The crowd just can't wait to find out what he says next.

Birthed of pure joy, the Warm Fuzzies put a cute, personal spin to their songs by giving a bit of a background story. Why this subject, why this song? Often their stories are completely off the wall, but true or not, these tales make the songs that follow even more fun to hear! I just adore learning how a band came up with their lyrics, what they were doing when the tune came to them, or who their love song is really about. Ooh, juicy!

And, of course, I can't forget Crumbling Arches! These guys have banter down to an art form; they're the undisputed kings of the talk. Half the reason I love their shows so much is that I can't get enough of their between-song insanity. I've heard curiously ridiculous stories about their childhood, tattoo explanations, wonderfully awkward puns, band history tidbits, rap battles, and even an impromptu song so wild it made the audience squeal with glee. These always make for an incredibly memorable night!

All that bands need for this bit of banter is the creativity they already possess. Perfect! And hey, even for the bands that really hate using their voice instruments for the "lesser act" of speaking, merely introducing the band and sharing the name of the song to be played works too. I mean, how else are we supposed to pick out our favorites?

But talking's not the only thing bands do to gain a bit of a reputation around here, of course. Stay tuned for another chapter of More than Music!

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

Monday, January 25, 2010

Kristen's Concert Picks: You're gonna love February!

I can't wait for next month's shows! This February is shaping up to be one of the most exciting months of music I've ever seen. Let's not waste any more time... Here are my picks!

Tues, Feb 2: Futurebirds & Gift Horse @ 9 PM @ Tasty World Uptown
Hard rock and southern rock combine to give us a truly wild night. Party with Futurebirds once more as they continue their Tasty World takeover, and immerse yourself in Gift Horse's awesome tunes while you're at it!

Tues, Feb 2: Venice is Sinking @ 9 PM @ 40 Watt Club
Yay! Time for more Venice is Sinking. These soft but moving tunes will definitely take your ears on a ride!

Wed & Thurs, Feb 3 & 4: Of Montreal @ 8 PM @ 40 Watt Club
Oh. My. Gosh. OF MONTREAL! One of the biggest names to come out of Athens in recent years will grace the 40 Watt stage for a sure-to-be spectacular two-night party. Get your advance tickets now!

Thurs, Feb 4: Crumbling Arches @ 10 PM @ American Tavern

It's time for another delicious taste of Crumbling Arches! Want some wild rock tunes and an unforgettable experience? These guys will caress your eardrums in a most satisfying way!

Fri, Feb 5: Kalvinova @ 10 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
And the purely amazing shows keep coming! I had the extreme pleasure to check out Kalvinova during their Live in the Lobby set last week, and they completely blew me away. You won't want to miss this show!

Sat, Feb 6: Casper and the Cookies & The Shut-Ups @ 10 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
It's another pairing of bands I've seen and bands I've been dying to see! Casper and the Cookies has an absolutely crazy style that differs from all other bands, and rumor has it, the Shut-Ups' new wave indie rock will leave you speechless. Nice!

Sat, Feb 6: Carolina Ridge @ 10:30 PM @ Rye Bar
Formerly known as Pholksinger Josh, Carolina Ridge's triumphant return to Athens is finally here! Check out his new sound!

Sat, Feb 13: Sister Hazel @ 8 PM @ 40 Watt Club
WOW! Here's another one to add to our list of incredibly big names coming to Athens. That's right: rock band Sister Hazel visits the 40 Watt this February too! This is just five kinds of awesome! Don't forget to buy your advance tickets for this one as well.

Wed, Feb 17: Allison Weiss & Creepy @ 8 PM @ 40 Watt Club
Local songstress Allison Weiss and the powerfully-voiced Creepy join together with the Orkids and Incendiaries to celebrate women in music! Help out the Girls Rock Camp and lose yourself in some rockin' tunes at the same time. Sounds like tons of fun!

Fri, Feb 20: Bambara & Reptar @ 10 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
Unbelievable! More and more tremendous shows await us! Everybody's talking about Bambara's insane dark rock sound these days, and Reptar's fanbase just keeps spreading the word about their wild, dance-inducing tunes. Best of all, Bambara will officially release their latest EP, Dog Ear Days, during this show too! There's no question about it; you just have to be there!

Wed, Feb 24: Romanenko @ 10 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
Time for a rockin' midweek celebration. Romanenko's dark indie style will most certainly delight you! What fun!

I am just in shock. The music, the bands, the excitement... February is going to be breathtakingly sensational! And, of course, I'll let you know if I hear about any more shows worthy of this list. Feel free to comment below if there's a show you're just dying to see as well. Now join me downtown, and let's make the most of this rock-filled month!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Echoreyn of Athens wants YOUR suggestions!

Hello, my friends! Hope you all are surviving this ridiculously indecisive weather. Want something to take your mind off your wet boots and your freezing hands?

Well, Echoreyn of Athens is planning a few things for the near future, but we need your help! Comment here or on the EoA facebook page, or hey, shoot us an email, and let us know which songs by Athens and Atlanta bands you think are the best love songs. How about the best breakup songs? The best makeout songs? Which songs make you think completely inappropriate thoughts, and which ones are just purely, blissfully beautiful? All suggestions are welcome! Just post a link to the song or music video and tell us why you think it fits one of these categories. If you've been dying to spread the word about your favorite underground band, today's a great day to do it!

As always, don't forget to click the Monthly Concert Picks button on the sidebar to check out some upcoming shows that are guaranteed to rock your socks off! And prepare yourselves... February's concert picks are coming soon!

You all are absolutely amazing! Thanks for reading! :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Time for a SKAncert!

It's nights like these that remind me that I'm still so new to the music scene. There's so much left for me to hear, so much more for me to experience, so much I have yet to learn. I mean, who knew skanking could be a good thing? It sounds like... well, you know what it sounds like! But Friday night, during my very first ska concert, I got a glimpse of what it means to skank, wildly, in public, and surrounded by tons of people!

For those of you who, like me, have been completely unaware of ska music and culture until this point, I'll tell you a bit about this skanking. See, skanking is the term used to refer to ska dancing. To skank, you must immerse yourself fully in the music, abandon all tension and control, and just let loose and flail about to your heart's desire. An odd sight for a first timer, yes, but a refreshingly awesome one too. Ska's listeners don't let fear of anyone's judgment affect their complete and utter enjoyment of the music. Ska music itself is like nothing I've ever heard either. A mixture of punk, reggae, jazz, and swing music with a splash of several other styles, it's got a happy, upbeat sound that effortlessly causes everyone to move their feet. You just can't resist! Major props go to my friend Kole for his infectious excitement about everything ska. I'm so glad he convinced me to come!

Taj Motel Trio, a band from Cornelia, Georgia, kicked off the night's SKAncert with what I would call a bit of classic ska. Their whole set had the crowd going skank-crazy! This audience had some mad energy, that's for sure. Then, a few songs in, the band managed to rework the always-awesome Darth Vader theme from Star Wars into a completely incredible and danceable ska tune. That definitely takes some major talent. Everybody loved it!

New York's band Royal City Riot brought a taste of more peaceful reggae to the mix next. Their style made me feel like I was just chilling on the beach in the warm sun, soaking in some nice tunes. Even though their music was a bit slower, the crowd kept on skanking up a storm and wholeheartedly immersing themselves in the moment!

Then it was time for Atlanta's own 50:50 Shot to play us on out. These guys had about eight people performing onstage at a time... quite the spectacle, particularly when compared to the size of the Caledonia stage! Each member had such personality that the band seemed to explode with passion and energy as they played. Their rock-infused ska had elements of the style I like to refer to as "doomsday," and it certainly kept the crowd skanking till the end. In fact, people were dancing so wildly, I'd swear the floor of the Caledonia was shaking. I'm not even sure that's possible, but wow, it was insane! My favorite part of their set had to be just moments in, though, when I heard the awesome tones of an instrument right beside me. I turned to find one of the band members standing in the midst of the sea of concert-goers, blowing away on his trombone. There's nothing like getting that true surround sound feel from a band. It was so undeniably cool!

Simply put, the whole ska scene blew me away. For me, it was truly like a trove of undiscovered treasure, a box of pure joy just waiting to be opened. Here's hoping there are plenty more ska shows and SKAncerts in Athens soon!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Earth Music Hall: Not quite deja vu

Blur? Detour? It seems like this place changes looks and names as often as Lady Gaga changes outfits. Well, maybe not that often. I've got to admit, though: I love this place's latest look! New Earth Music Hall has got a certain classiness to it that its previous incarnations lacked. Lovely murals adorn the walls, and the main room's shaded lighting sets the tone for a night of just about any type of entertainment. Regulars from this place's past will notice that a small slice of the former stage is now a starred room for performers only. Every venue needs a backstage area, after all! Never fear, though. New Earth's spacious dance floor still faces a rather large raised stage with a miniature thrust stage in the center, perfect for performers to get up close and personal with their fans. A towering DJ box that sits right beside the stage completes the performance space.

Time for a drink? New Earth's definitely got you covered as far as that goes. Its extensive full bar lines an entire wall of the venue! And, of course, after a while you'll be wondering about the restrooms. Well, fear not! The bathrooms here are some of the cleanest-looking ones I've seen in an Athens venue.

Want to just relax for a bit? You've got several choices at New Earth. Inside, they knocked down one of Blur's old walls to create a nice sitting area that provides an excellent view of the action onstage. And, if you make your way through the doors on the side of the venue and up some steps, you'll find yourself on a very large deck, ideal for dancing the night away outside or just chilling. As far as remodels go, I give New Earth two thumbs up.

New Earth Music Hall at a glance:

Ages: All ages events take place during the day!
18 to 20 are generally welcome at night; 21 & up usually get a cheaper price.

Cost: Varies depending on the band/event

Venue Website:

Venue Phone Number: 706-543-8283

Venue location & Google Map: 227 W. Dougherty Street, Athens, Georgia 30601

View Larger Map

Reviews of recent concerts/events at New Earth Music Hall:
Aman Amun

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!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snowy Days, Unexpected Nights

Well, that night didn't quite go as planned. It started off rather awesomely, though. Some of you may have been lucky enough to dance through the thick sheets of snow whirling around among the icy Athens winds yesterday night. My pals and I embraced this once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity to frolic through the snowflakes as we headed downtown to catch our first show of the new semester. Ah, snow in Athens! Snowflakes on my tongue, nature's glitter on my hat. Such joy!

Naturally, we arrived hours too early for the show since I consistently harbor an irrational fear that the bands I want to see will somehow start playing before I get to the venue. I've really got to convince my brain that no show will ever start on time or early unless it's being televised (just a little tidbit to remember for any readers who are not yet experienced concert-goers). By the time Futurebirds introduced themselves with a loud "hi," the place was completely packed. People lined every open wall, the most enthusiastic of them practically hugging the stage in their excitement. Aw, man, I love seeing fans enjoy themselves. The levels of insanity that the Futurebirds' fans reached very nearly terrified those standing in their general vicinity, but their joy was undeniably awesome. Their exuberance infused the entire crowd with enthusiasm, and the band responded beautifully, throwing themselves into their southern rock tunes. Indeed, their sound certainly made them the perfect opener for Dead Confederate's melodies.

Unfortunately, near the end of the Futurebirds set, my rockin' adventure was abruptly cut short. One of my pals suddenly fell ill due to adverse atmospheric conditions and had to be taken out of the venue. Definitely not a great way to end the night. I'm glad I got to see the Futurebirds though. And the snow! We can't forget the snow. It was indeed quite a memorable night.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Boyd for her contribution to this post.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kristen's Concert Picks: January's tunes heat things up

It's 2010, you guys.... Another year, another year. Oh, holy platypus! That means it's another month, too! Well, luckily I managed to round up some delicious concert picks for January just in time. These shows are definitely worth braving the icy weather to experience. Enjoy!

Thurs, Jan 7: Dead Confederate @ 9 PM @ Tasty World Uptown
Old favorites Dead Confederate return to our little town to drive our ears wild! The last show I saw of theirs was probably the greatest show I've ever seen in Athens. You just can't miss this one!

Fri, Jan 8: Aman Amun @ 9 PM @ Tasty World Uptown
It's guaranteed to be a different kind of rockin' electronic experience with the massively talented Aman Amun this time around. Prepare yourself for the Eurotrash III party which, rumor has it, will be completely unforgettable!

Fri, Jan 8: Venice is Sinking @ 11 PM @ Farm 255
You know you've been missing them... Now Venice is Sinking's back to fill your ears with sweet melodies once more! And it's free too! Awesome.

Fri, Jan 8: Madeline @ 9 PM @ The 40 Watt
Remember when she opened for Dead Confederate and the Meat Puppets with a set full of dark and southern tunes? This girl's quite the singer. You've got to check out her songs.

Mon, Jan 11: Geronimo! @ 9 PM @ Tasty World Uptown
Hailing from Chicago, Geronimo!'s gearing up to share their loud, indie rock tunes with us here in Athens. And with their use of a keyboard instead of a bass guitar, it's likely to be quite an original experience!

Tues, Jan 19: Futurebirds @ 9 PM @ Tasty World Uptown
If you missed them last week, catch them now! Their southern rock sound definitely riles up the crowd, and their energy takes over the entire room.

Thurs, Jan 21: Doctor Squid & Leading Edge @ 9 PM @ The 40 Watt
The dream team joins together again, this time for a great cause! Help out the Children's Miracle Network while you jam to the tunes of four bands, each with members in the Redcoats. Pure joy!

Fri, Jan 22: Carolina Ridge @ 10:30 PM @ Rye Bar (Postponed till Feb 6)
Remember Pholksinger Josh? He and his band rocked their "gangsta folk" for us several times last year, and now he's finally returned to the Ath-town with a new name and a fresher folk sound too. Don't miss this!

Sat, Jan 30: Deaf Judges, @ 9 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
Deaf Judges will give you an experience unlike any other. Creativity abounds with these rappers! I wonder what they'll do next...

Sat, Jan 30: Modern Skirts & Reptar @ 9:30 PM @ The 40 Watt
Athens just can't get enough of these guys! Hear the buzz-worthy Modern Skirts take over the 40 Watt once more. And I've heard nothing but amazing things about Reptar. It's the cherry on top of a scrumptious month of music!

Well, it looks like January's going to rock. Yay! As always, I'll be adding more awesome shows as I hear about them so keep checking back often. Also, if you're just dying to tell everyone about a show that I didn't mention here, comment below and let the world know about it!

Now, don't forget your coats and scarves, my friends. Hope to see you again in all of our favorite Athens haunts!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Stellate Sings Us Into 2010

Layers. That's what you need to remember when you're going to the Peach Drop celebration in Underground Atlanta to ring in the new year. It was FREEZING! But once Stellate leapt onstage, I forgot about the cold. It just didn't matter anymore. I was fully and completely absorbed in the music!

Seriously. This was the second time I've had the chance to see this incredible pop rock band share their tunes, and, as far as I can tell, every Stellate experience tops the last. They were simply AMAZING! Their larger than life sound engulfed the crowd of people lucky enough to arrive early to hear their tunes, and the audience's cheers just kept getting louder with each song. Halfway through their set, my dad turned to me, eyes wide with awe, and told me that he was blown away by their talent. Best of all, they rocked tons of songs from old favorites to EP hits to brand new melodies. Afterwards, thanks to my new friend Charlie, I managed to find Stellate hanging out amongst the massive crowd, and I got to snag myself one freakin' cool band t-shirt. These guys are the best! I'll never give up hoping they make their way to Athens soon to rock out for all of my pals there.

Shortly after, Ben Deignan followed Stellate with a bit of his own soulful rock, and indie rockers Sun Domingo brought us a few of their tunes that I swear I've heard before as well some nice covers. What an unbelievable time. Altogether, it was the absolute perfect show to usher in a brand new year!