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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Athfest 2011: Putting the pole in the Flagpole Awards

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Flagpole Athens Music Awards show

Visualize the scene. Darkness falls over the Morton Theatre as people rush to find seats while an amusing animated video plays on the giant screen before them. As the video fades, two men walk onstage bearing an extremely large pole. The crowd waits in silence, anticipation flooding the room, while the men attach the pole to the stage and disappear. Moments later, the audience erupts in applause as two girls sporting our town's trademark colors of red and black leap onto the pole and spin, stripper-style, to kick off 2011's Flagpole Athens Music Awards show. Oh Athens, I would expect nothing less from you!

Following this wild display, our MC for the night, Luke Fields, took to the stage to give us his hilarious take on all things in the scene. Man, I hope he hosts every Flagpole Awards show from now on! It was truly comedy at its finest. And most awesomely, Kenosha Kid, the Flagpole Awards' resident house band and winners of Best Jazz Band two years running, was back to fill every gap in the show with their fun and upbeat tunes. These guys just never cease to be amazing!

Seated between my friends from WUOG, UGA's student-run radio station, and Jordan of Athens Music Junkie fame, I was in the prime spot to relish in the sheer music scene madness of the show, and I loved every minute of it. Highlights of the first half of the show included a few soft and sweet acoustic melodies from Ruby Kendrick, an adult puppet show featuring sock puppets that redefined the concept of "dirty socks," and a short set of ethereal ambient tunes from Abandon the Earth Mission who were truly at the top of their form for the Awards. Best of all, though, were the two winning music videos shown right before a short intermission, the Athens band's "Animals (Mama Said)" for Audience Choice Video and "The Fear" by Lovett for Best Music Video. Wow, were they incredible! Readers of the blog will have already seen the laugh-inducing "Animals," but the awe-inspiring video for "The Fear" flew completely under my radar until the show. If you haven't seen these videos yet, be sure to check them out now!

Then just after the intermission, a followup animated video detailing the hilarious misadventures of a touring band, courtesy of local comic masters Flick Skinny, ushered in the second half of the show. After the video ended and more winners were announced, the influx of music began once more. Between Timmy Tumble's summersault during the band's super loud indie rock set, Lera Lynn's taste of soft, folk-twinged tunes, and the Gold Party's wonderfully unique, rolling tunes infused with strength and accompanied by the members of Powerkompany, the ear-engaging section of the show was just brilliant!

Comedy was rife throughout the conclusion of the show as well, thanks to Matt Hudgins and His Shit Hot Country Band. From the awarding of Grossest Athens Beard to Matt Hudgins while another bearded individual looked on sadly to the announcement of Best Upstart Band as "It's Woodfangs, assholes" when the band didn't garner the appropriate amount of applause, the Shit Hot Country Band guys were just made for this kind of thing! I'm definitely not much of a country fan, but I'd see one of their shows just for their banter, that's for sure. Then, after a dig at Stomp & Stammer courtesy of our MC, the 2011 Flagpole Athens Music Awards were over. All in all, I'd consider this year's show a raging success! Representatives from all but one of the winning bands were in attendance to accept their awards this time around, and the show lived up to its insanity quotient in a big way.

Once the Awards ended, we finished out the night at the 40 Watt's official Award Show After Party featuring a lineup of bands from Houston thanks to New West Records. We caught the last few soft rock tunes from Buxton before dancing up a storm to the upbeat pop rock of fog-covered band Wild Moccasins. What an awesome way to kick off Athfest 2011!

For all of our massive coverage of Athfest 2011, from preparation guides to articles on some of the best featured bands and shows, click here! More entries on all the bands and madness of the festival will be posted daily, so be sure to check back often. Plus, get ready for show footage and Athfest vlogs coming soon to the Echoreyn of Athens YouTube channel as well! Also, for a complete list of winners of the Flagpole Athens Music Awards 2011, check out the AMJ blog!

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