Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kristen's Concert Picks: April's tunes thrive

It's April already? The year's passing by so quickly! The cold, dreary weather of early Spring will soon give way to days of warmth and sunshine, and everything around us will bloom and thrive. For those of us in the scene, this month's tunes are thriving too! There's just so many shows to pick from, and we love it that way!

Fri, April 1: Venice is Sinking @ 10 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
Always a favorite, Venice is Sinking's soft but strong melodies are the perfect way to start off the month!

Fri, April 1: Futurebirds @ 9 PM @ 40 Watt
In the mood for some righteous Southern rock? The Futurebirds have got ya covered with their April Fools set at the 'Watt!

Wed, April 6: Chris McKay and the Critical Darlings @ 8 PM @ The Melting Point
It's Chris McKay and the Critical Darlings 3.0! Chris's long-awaited return with the Darlings is sure to fill the Melting Point with awesome classic rock and boundless energy. Best of all, its proceeds go toward the relief effort for those affected by the disasters in Japan. What a great cause!

Fri, April 8: Bambara @ 10 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
Bambara is, by far, one of my absolute favorite bands in the scene! Their raucous, noise rock style will awaken something native and carnal in your very being, and your soul will beg for more.

Thurs, April 14: Powerkompany @ 9:30 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
Powerkompany is an ethereal serenade traipsing through darkness and light. Your ears are dying to experience their sound, trust me!

Thurs, April 14: The Orkids & Tealvox @ 9 PM @ 40 Watt
The Orkids and Tealvox in one night? This is undoubtably one of those shows where the lineup alone promises an unbelievable night! Infectiously joy-inducing pop will dance through the 40 Watt with solid rock tunes. Excellent!

Fri, April 15: Sam Sniper CD release @ 10 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
Sam Sniper's delectably intense country rock has made it one of my most recent Athens favorites. Releasing their very first album We're Not Coming Back This Way on the 15th with free copies for all who attend, this show is definitely a must!

Sat, April 16: the Athens band @ 8 PM @ The Office Lounge
Awesome youth rockers Athens (the band) are back to help raise funds for Nuçi's Space. Such a worthy cause! You won't want to miss this show!

Sat, April 16: The Shut-Ups @ 10 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
I loved the Shut-ups' joy-filled, electronic style when I saw them at the last Athfest, and I've been yearning to catch another set of theirs. Enjoy!

Sat, April 16: Pholksinger Josh CD release @ 10 PM @ Go Bar
So many bands I love are taking the stage this month! Pholksinger Josh's unique style of folk-insfused spoken word will most certainly make this show one to catch. Also, the band is releasing their newest album Watermelon Mountain that night too! Nice.

Sat, April 16: The Beat Geeks @ 10 PM @ Bad Manor
Get ready to move! The Beat Geeks are back to make you lose control on the dance floor. Don't miss your chance to catch these guys in action before they blow up big time!

Thurs, April 21: Taj Motel Trio @ 9:30 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
Ska returns to Athens in the form of the Taj Motel Trio. Get ready to skank till you drop to their fast-paced, classic tunes!

Fri, April 22: Dead Confederate @ 9 PM @ 40 Watt
I'm actually listening to Dead Confederate on my iPod right now. Why? Because their songs are just unbelievably awesome, and they never get old. If soft rock with a Southern twinge tickles your fancy, Dead Confederate is your band!

Oh man, Caledonia and the 40 Watt are serving up show after incredible show this April! What a month of music! Just like before, if you know of another rockin' Athens show you think the world should see, post in the comments and tell us all about it. And, of course, don't forget to keep checking the Concert Picks link at the top of the page throughout the month as we add new must-see shows to the list. Have an amazing April, you guys!

Friday, March 25, 2011

A plea to the venues

I've visited a massive number of venue websites since the beginning of the Echoreyn of Athens blog. As our regular readers know, every month we put out a Kristen's Concert Picks entry - a list, complete with descriptions, of exciting upcoming shows in Athens, handpicked for the sheer awesomeness of the bands that are playing them. Basically, if my friends and I have seen and loved a band live, we're sure to feature their shows here so that more fans of the scene can get a delicious taste of their tunes. And while checking out the websites, Facebook pages, and, yes, even the MySpace pages of some of our favorite local bands helps us to discover a few of these shows, most of the time the venue websites are our best friends in this matter.

So here's my plea, my call to action, if you will:
Venues, please make your websites cater to the fans!

After all, the whole point of establishing a venue is to create a space where fans can come and listen to their favorite tunes. If there are no fans in attendance (and trust me, I've been to a few of those shows before), then what's the point having the band rock your stage? And, let's be honest here, an empty venue does no favors for the bank account either.

See I've been on a bit of a website-building spree lately, and as such, I've found myself taking a critical eye towards the sites I come across. The venues that serve their fans best are those that post the key feature, the event calendar, right on the main page of the website for all to see.

Proving that a site need not be complicated to be the perfect venue space, the Caledonia Lounge tops the list of Athens venues with sites made for the fans. A single page (yes, just one) provides seekers and makers of rockin' tunes with all they need to find the place, book a show, and discover when their favorite bands are taking the stage. Everything you need to know in one glance... Now, that's awesome! Right up there with the Caledonia's site is 40 Watt's professional site. Their main page features three whole calendars of delectable music with upcoming big name shows listed in a simple breakdown up top and in more detail towards the bottom as well as a weekly show calendar to the side.
But, being one of Athens biggest and most famous venues, there's no way they would just stop there! They've also got a schedule tab which describes each show in great detail among other tabs that provide all sorts of useful information from directions to booking to even the rather fascinating history of how the club came to be. That is one solid website! Other examples of great venue sites built with the fans in mind include WUOG 90.5's site featuring shows for Live in the Lobby, New Earth Music Hall's site, and Nuçi's Space's site.

But what about the smaller venues, those that don't require a full site to keep their fans in the know? Well, Facebook is here to save the day! A well-maintained Facebook page can serve as a venue website too, provided that those who manage the venue's page include all location and contact info and update it regularly with event pages created for every show - a makeshift calendar of sorts. Best of all, Facebook is search engine optimized to be a top result whenever a fan searches for your venue which means that they'll easily find your page when they're dying to know exactly who's rockin' your stage next.

Now, once again, I've got to put in a short word against using MySpace as a website. I've noticed that venues that subsist solely on their MySpace pages tend to forget to update them regularly. Even worse, the site's new layout makes it difficult for fans to see the events listed anyway. At this point and time, I encourage venues to move beyond this site when establishing their web presence.

So, to sum it all up, is a quality website or a regularly updated Facebook page a must-have for venues? YES! In this day and age, nearly every fan who dreams of seeing their favorite band, whether it be a famous touring rock group or a fresh new indie singer/songwriter, will check the Internet first before heading downtown to catch a show. Venues, give these fans what they need: a chance to rock out to the tunes you provide!

Friday, March 18, 2011

While you're on vacation...

The buzz around town is heating up! I've got a few cool little tidbits I've just got to share with you all.

First up, if you're not already a fan of the Warm Fuzzies, you've truly been missing out. Their name is really the best description I could ever give for that cozy feeling you get when you listen to their tunes. And, for the past few months, they've been sharing FREE, smile-inducing songs on their site too! Check out their Fuzz of the Month and let your eardrums frolic with joy!

In other news, The Spinoffs, Chris McKay's brand new side project, are one of the many awesome Athens bands featured on this year's Athfest Compilation CD. You'll get to check out their latest song Lucky Stars when the compilation goes on sale in June, but to tide you over till then, you can find a list of all of the bands and songs that will be on the CD right here.

And finally, speaking of Athfest, the latest news from the Georgia Theatre people suggests that they hope to finish rebuilding and reopen the theatre by June 19, 2011, just in time for this year's music festival! I've talked to some pals who have seen the construction inside firsthand, and they say it's looking pretty amazing. Can't wait to see it when it's a thriving landmark and masterpiece once again!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Leprechaun Day!

Crazy things happen when the leprechauns are afoot...

Just thought I'd share. :) And hey, there's a hint of Mud Scholar in there as well for us Athenians. Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! Go wild!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Invisible Hand, some Naked Gods, and Sam Sniper walk into a bar...

Without fail, Athens becomes something of a desolate wasteland of emptiness every Spring Break. Nearly all of the students disappear into their respective hometowns and the music scene collectively makes for the ever-enticing SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. This year, however, those of us in Athens had quite a fine send off for the break in the form of two traveling visitors and our very own Sam Sniper.

Charlottesville, Virginia's the Invisible Hand stepped up to the plate first with a solid soft pop sound and fun, clever lyrics that wove expertly through their tunes. I definitely liked their style. This year's bands seem to all share a common bond of explosive energy, and the Invisible Hand was no exception. At one point, taking a moment from giving each song a bit of an indie feel with his classically sweet voice and rocking the guitar while the rest of the band went wild on their instruments, the lead singer leapt up onto one of the amps in true rockstar form. Nice! Also, at the request of some guys I met at the show, I must mention the sheer awesomeness of the other guitarist's tee. Jurassic Park forever! Man, I wish this band was local. I'd love to catch another show of theirs if I could.

Up next, hailing from Boone, North Carolina were the evocatively-named Naked Gods. A rock band with a definite southern twinge, this group's energy manifested itself most in their singer/harmonica player/ tambourine artist's antics. What a character! The floor of the Farm was literally shaking with the combined enthusiasm of this singer and the band's eager audience. I didn't even know such a thing was possible! Jumping into the crowd, he proceeded to give us the most enthralling show of tambourine usage I've ever seen in my life as he threw it around wildly and smacked it against the mic stand with gusto. Quite a sight, no doubt about it! These out-of-towners sure know how to put on a memorable show.

Local americana-dipped country rockers Sam Sniper finished out the night with an awesome set as always. Their voices and lyrics complement each other so perfectly! This time around, I was familiar enough with their sound to identify a few tune favorites in the mix. I've gotta say, I fully enjoy the songs Please Don't Do That and Comfortable Hypocrisy. Good stuff. What a night that was!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kristen's Concert Picks: Spring Break 2011 Edition

Ah, to be a student again! Battling tests and projects and papers until the sweet moment of freedom comes to whisk you off to another land, be it home or somewhere exotic or even just the land of sleep and dreams. Spring Break starts today! But what does this mean for the Athens scene?

Well, for those of us still in town tonight, Farm 255's got an awesome show featuring country-meets-hardcore-rock band Sam Sniper to kick off the break. Excellent!

Headed out to Texas later in the week? I can honestly say I'm too jealous for words! Tons of our local favorites are going to be rocking shows in Austin, Texas for the massive South by Southwest festival. Be sure not to miss the all-day shows (starting at noon) at the Side Bar on the 18th and 19th featuring such spectacular bands as Bambara, Venice is Sinking, Reptar, Futurebirds, Gift Horse, Twin Tigers, and so many more!

Or maybe the Midwest is your destination? Well, if that's the case, Atlanta's rock superstars the Constellations have got you covered with shows in Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Minnesota! For more info on those, check out their Facebook page here!

Or perhaps you're trekking to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Well, you're in luck! You have the chance to catch the Winter Sounds as they rock the stage with the one and only Allison Weiss, queen of the Athens music scene turned NYC darling. Mark it down: Club Cafe on the 19th! Too cool.

Know of any other Spring Break shows around town or even around the world featuring some of our local favorites? Don't let us miss them! Be sure to comment below and share the tune-filled love.

And party on, my friends! Party on.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Echoreview: Lullwater's Silhouette

Back in late January/ early February, local band Lullwater released their third album Silhouette and rocked the Caledonia stage in honor of their latest tunes. Enthused by their new songs, the band's eager fans danced the night away. Lullwater's radio-ready mix of folky pop and hard rock made for quite a live show! But how do their recorded tunes on Silhouette stack up?

The album begins with Worse by Better, a song rather reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama. While not exactly unique in its execution, the tune provides a strong start to the album with its southern-style, hard rock sound. Then Amsterdam breezes in with a softer pop rock feel, the perfect soundtrack for a long, coming of age road trip. Similarly, the later tune Whatever Happened could easily be the melody of a soundtrack that plays as one reminisces about his childhood and past.

Power drives the next tune, A Forgotten Name, as it makes its debut. I've gotta admit, I like this track. Its sound, enhanced with an edge of darkness, had me intrigued from the very beginning. Then Alive comes, bringing with it a firm, nineties grunge feel. Now I wanted to love this song so much, but for some reason that I can't quite put my finger on, I just wasn't feeling it. Soon after, though, the rhythm of Let Me Out had me groovin' as I listened. While this, like several of the songs on the album, seems almost too familiar, I definitely enjoyed rocking out to it.

Broken Wings enters next with a depth of sound that really needs to be experienced live to be fully appreciated. Then Low brings in a pensive, background harmony, rather refreshing despite the fact that this and the tune that follows it, One More Time, seem once again quite familiar.

Faithful Sinners hearkens back to the band's beginnings, finishing out the record with a folk-infused melody of soft strumming and heavy drums that also fits neatly into the pop genre. Such a calm, peaceful ending!

One thing that can be said for Lullwater is that they definitely know how to give a song an undoubtably awesome intro. Nearly every tune grabbed me from the start. All in all, though, while I enjoyed the album, I think that they're just one of those bands that must be seen and heard live in its purest form for the full and true experience.

Want to check out Silhouette for yourself? You can get your hands on it through iTunes here!