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Friday, October 28, 2011

Kristen's Concert Picks: Special Edition: Dance the night away on All Hallow's Eve 2011

Halloween has arrived in Athens, my friends! Are you ready for the ghouls, the ghosts, and all the madness? This year, our town is rockin' the biggest celebration of the holiday yet with a whole weekend and more of delightfully spooky shows!

Tonight, kick off your festivities early with an exciting Halloween show at 8:30 PM over at the Melting Point featuring sweet melody songstress Ruby Kendrick. And don't forget to dress in your favorite costume too... You'll have a chance to win some rare memorabilia during the show's costume contest!

On the 29th, you can make a full ghoulish night of it, starting with the 3rd annual Wild Rumpus Parade which kicks off at 8 PM at the corner of Clayton and Pulaski! Then head on over to the Wild Rumpus Afterparty at the Georgia Theatre featuring Packway Handle Band, Kite to the Moon, and many more bands. Or catch the sure-to-be spectacularly wild Of Montreal show at the 40 Watt at 9 PM! They'll be rockin' the entirety of their album Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer. How awesome is that!

Hoping to party all night on the 31st? We've got you covered! For those of you lucky enough to already have tickets, the Georgia Theatre booked STS9 for the whole eerie evening. But even if you're ticketless, you don't have to miss out on the celebrations! WUOG, UGA's student-run radio station, is hosting a deliciously scary Spookfest Haunted House of Infinity party at Farm255 at 10 PM as well. Looks like it's going to be chock full of fun!

Can't wait to catch you all around town festooned in your most ridiculously creative costumes and living out your most delightfully macabre fantasies. This is going to be an unbelievable Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Journey to CMJ 2011: the true story of a band on the road: Part 2

It was just after 8 PM when we finally passed through the gleaming Holland Tunnel and made our way into the Big Apple. Minutes outside of Brooklyn, we found our venue, a midsize bar filled with a bunch of recognizable bands that had also journeyed up from the southeastern states to rock the CMJ showcase. Towers of band equipment filled the small room backstage, so we piled Misfortune500's instruments and amps onto the sidewalk as we waited for their set to begin.

Soon enough, I found myself watching band after upbeat band cycle through their short sets in front of a crowd composed mostly of friends they too had brought along with them. At times, the tunes of all the bands ran together in a blur of sound as the names of groups I'd seen before - Shallow Palace, the Winter Sounds, Sleepy Eye Giant - drifted in and out of my consciousness. Maybe it was all that time on the road, rushing to get to the city or the contrast of the quick pace of the New York streets with the bands' southern attitudes, but time seemed to just speed by as I stood there watching the show. What felt like mere minutes later, Misfortune500 was setting up and prepping their sound. Once they launched into their tunes, I began to feel a bit more alive as the numbness of traveling through eight states to get to this moment finally wore off. As always, I relished in every one of Misfortune500's dark rock songs, but much too soon, it was time for them to leave the stage. Atlanta's Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun followed them with a sexy, almost gothic sound that I quite enjoyed, underlined by thunderous drums. Then it was the aforementioned Sleepy Eye Giant's turn to give us a bit of their very whole and complete progressive rock style as we stepped back out into the cold city air.

Before ending our six hour jaunt in the NYC, the band and I, along with some pals of theirs, partied it up in a bar nearby around 2:30 AM. No 2 AM curfew for New York! Traipsing through the streets near Brooklyn, in the shadows of buildings that stretched far into the sky, I felt comfortable and revitalized. Yes, the lights were brighter, and people still filled the streets long into the night, but at that moment, I didn't feel so far away from home. In some ways, this little slice of the city wasn't so different from our own Athens town. One day, I'd like to visit this place again.

Then, with that small taste of New York still on the tips of our tongues, we drove back to Jersey, eager for one more nap in our cozy motel room before our journey home. The next afternoon, we began to make our way through the states we had traversed just days ago. I've always found that, for some reason, no matter where a trip takes you, the return journey always feels faster, and indeed, this notion held true this past weekend as well. Even with our stops for snacks and gas, the 13 hour ride back flew by. During one of our snack runs in Maryland, we caused quite a bit of a stir among some young teens merely by getting out of the van. At that moment, it hit me just how awesome it was to be traveling all the way to New York City and back with a band that looked and acted like a band. There's a camaraderie there that that emanates from such a band and fills onlookers, even ones unfamiliar with the group's music, with a sense of awe. It was quite inspiring just to observe such a thing.

The remainder of the ride passed relatively uneventfully as we crossed Virginia and slipped through the Carolinas, but that feeling of accomplishment, of satisfaction at having traveled so far together and seen so much in such a short amount of time... that feeling lingered. It was simply an incredible, unforgettable journey!

Journey to CMJ 2011: the true story of a band on the road: Part 1

What they tell you in books, what you see in the movies... those aren't the real stories. When the average person thinks of a band on tour, they imagine spacious tour buses, security guards, thousands of screaming fans awaiting them wherever they go, and massive drug-filled parties in ritzy hotel rooms that always seem to get trashed before the band leaves. That's just common knowledge, you know? For most fans of big name bands, it's hard to believe that there was ever a time before all of the autograph signings and dressing rooms, all the roadies and luxurious perks. I mean, all of this stuff just comes with the territory, right?

Well, unless that band embarked on their very first rock-filled journey under Disney's label or something similar, the untold stories of their road trips and tours are quite a bit different... and truly, just as interesting! This is a small taste of the true story of going on the road to the CMJ showcase in New York City with awesome local rockers, Misfortune500.

Hardcore as always, the band's plan was to do a straight-shot from Athens to Philadelphia in as little time as possible. In my cozy seat in the back surrounded by amps and luggage, I dozed off and on for thirteen hours between the road games and hilarious conversations that filled our trip. Until early evening, there really wasn't much of anything else to do besides watch the rows of trees speed past our windows and read the occasional road sign featuring names like Backlick and Dimwiddle. As the hours flew by, we knew once we reached our destination that we'd have a place to crash, but all the information we had was that we'd be staying with a man whom none of us had ever met, a man who called himself Bunny. Finally, right around 4 AM, while splitting headaches and an overwhelming sense of exhaustion engulfed us all, we arrived in the lovely Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and navigated our way to our host's house.

Now, Bunny's house was actually just as you'd expect a place owned by such a creatively named man to look like! Art exploded over every surface, and his adorable yet rather insane kitty leapt from statue to statue in the living room where we were to sleep. In the bathroom, a sprawling ceramic mural of a nude woman adorned the wall. Too tired to move, though, we hardly noticed these things as we curled up on the cold, wood floor of the living room beneath a towering nine-foot statue of a very pregnant Virgin Mary that watched us as we alternated between resting and pulling the cat off of our faces. You truly haven't lived until you've experienced a night like this one! And yet, every band who has spent time on the road has a tale to tell much like this one.

The next afternoon, after a short nap in a hard-to-find motel in New Jersey, we wound through the impossibly confusing streets, muddy fields, and toll roads that populated that state as we headed towards our ultimate destination, the NYC! Darkness had already fallen once again by the time we reached the city, but before entering through the Holland Tunnel, we caught glimpses of the Statue of Liberty shining in the distance. I have to admit I'm not normally a person impressed by iconic landmarks, but there was just something about seeing Lady Liberty for the very first time, even if just from afar, that left me a bit emotional and full of hope. I simply couldn't wait to see what the night had in store for us!

Stay tuned for the rest of the story as the band rocks CMJ and more!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Away at CMJ... Be back soon!

In the future, I shall refer to this year as the Year of the Festivals. I still just can't believe that today I'll be off to my fourth music festival since May. Yup, that's right, I'm going to CMJ in the NYC! I can't wait since it'll be my first time ever stepping into the city, and I'm even more excited about the fact that I'll get to experience the CMJ showcase with one of my favorite bands, Misfortune500. It'll even be worth having little to no internet access for half a week. :D If any of you are planning on rockin' out at CMJ too, hope I see you there! As for everyone else, I'll be back soon with some awesome coverage of the festival. Have a great weekend, my friends!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Echoreview: the Athens band's Animals EP

Recently released online, the Athens band's newest EP, Animals, is quite a step up from their earlier recordings. A few years ago, as young teens, they made a big splash on the scene with their rather impressive natural talent, but as they have matured, they've honed the quality of their craft as well. The band's classic rock style has gained a stronger, harder edge, and it's clear they've worked to produce a more cohesive sound. So what's the word on their latest tunes?

The EP begins with the title track, Animals (Mama Said), which proves to be my favorite tune on the album. The song's thundering intro provides the perfect start to the record as it builds to an intense peak before all of the band's instruments blast onto the scene. Then vocals that almost resemble those of a young Michael Jackson leap and wind their way through the tune. Listeners might remember this song from the band's music video which debuted last summer and won a Flagpole Award for Viewer's Choice Video.

Softer and slower in its execution, Rainbow drifts in next. While the song comes off as being a bit forced at times, I just love the lyrics in this one. They're so full of hope! Then She'll Wait, another of my favorite tracks, enters the scene. I very much enjoy the rolling style of this song. Something about it just makes it easy to imagine the band playing this tune in arenas, surrounded by screaming fans.

Longtime listeners of the Athens band will probably recognize the final tune on this EP as well. She Don't Even Know, the song responsible for their very first Viewer's Choice Video award in 2010, concludes the album in a stripped down, much harder and darker version of the tune. While it differs markedly from its original incarnation, whispered lyrics and sparse but satisfying backing vocals definately make this song a strong ending to the record.

Want to get your hands on these tunes so you can hear them for yourself? Well, you're in luck! They are all available for download from Bandcamp right here. Enjoy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sights to see & incredible things to come!

It's going to be an exciting next few weeks! Not only are we in the midst of Popfest here in Athens, but Halloween shows are looming in the near future as well. On top of this, many of our local bands are gearing up to head to New York for the CMJ Southeast Showcase, and, to my surprise, it looks like I'll be joining them. Wow, I've got a lot to do to get ready! To tide you over till we cover that awesome festival, let's reminisce about Music Midtown, shall we? Here's some of our very best shots from that magical event, and just like always, we've got over 50 more up on our Facebook page. Feast your eyes!

Coldplay's Johnny Buckland rocks the stage

A ball covered in water is tossed into the crowd to cool the fans off

The Black Keys set up their inflatables

A sea of 40,000 people gathers in anticipation

For all of the awesome pictures taken at Music Midtown, check out our full album here!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Popfest starts today!

Video created by Nick Gomez of Reeks of Failure & Kater Mass

Athens' biggest pop music festival officially starts tomorrow, but you can head on over to Transmission Merch for their kickoff party featuring David Barbe, Dead Confederate's Thomas Hardy, and the District Attorneys tonight! Check out the Popfest website here for more info. Have fun, everyone!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Keep your ears safe this October!

First off, I just want to say that yesterday's "Shameless Plugathon" on WUOG 90.5 FM was a wonderfully amazing experience. Thank you to all of those who listened in!

And now, to business. Did you know that October is National Protect Your Hearing Month? What, a whole month dedicated to ear care!?! Who comes up with these things?

But truly, though, protecting your ears is incredibly important, especially if you're a fan of the scene. Now look at that picture above. The first thing you'll probably notice about it is that it looks a whole lot like the one in the post below. Clearly, I just can't hide my great love of fedoras, and I've really got to work on changing up my expression in pictures. Alright, I'll give you that. But look closer. See those earplugs dangling around my neck? I don't go anywhere without them. For just a few bucks, I've got an instant necklace that ensures that I'll be rockin' out to my favorite tunes for years to come.

Having good hearing is of the utmost importance to a music blogger, and it's just as necessary for music fans and band members too! Don't believe me? Or perhaps you're worried about what your friends might think? Look around you! Those massively awesome musicians you came to see - the ones that have been around the scene for a while now - well, most of them are wearing earplugs too. Got to protect those eardrums so they don't miss their chance to hear the golden notes of their band's latest hit tune!

Still not convinced? Well, everyone likes free things! If you're a student at UGA (or a person who can pass for a student - yes, I'm onto you, ageless townies...), head on over to the SLC (right across from the stadium) and ask one of the kids at a help desk for a pair of earplugs. They hand 'em out as study aides, but there's no reason you can't grab yourself a few for your band of choice's next show. And hey, even if you don't want to wear them for your favorite band, there's likely to be some, shall we say, less than good bands making their noise up onstage during many of the shows you see too. The idea of losing your hearing is bad enough, but losing it to a terrible band would just be a complete tragedy now, wouldn't it?

So protect your ears with pride, my friends! Happy October!

Friday, October 7, 2011

EoA/AMJ WUOG takeover this Sunday!

This Sunday at 6 PM, Echoreyn of Athens and Athens Music Junkie are teaming up to give you two hours of our favorite local tunes on WUOG 90.5, the University of Georgia's very own student-run radio station! You're sure to hear everything from Bambara to R.E.M. and all of the rockin' madness in between. And hey, if you're a regular on the scene, you might even catch a song or two that you've fallen in love with at a live show. It's going to be a wild time!

But there's more! This weekend WUOG will give all the people of Athens the chance to determine which songs they want to hear on the radio. That's right, it's time for their annual Seize the Airwaves event! For a charitable donation of $10, which will go to a foundation created to combat AIDS, you too can nab one of the remaining spots to play your favorite radio-friendly tunes for the masses on WUOG's station.

And don't forget! Whether you're dying to find out what's new on the scene, hoping to hear your friends' bands on the radio, or just eager to rock out to some awesome Athens songs, tune in to WUOG 90.5 FM or visit their website at this link at 6 PM this Sunday!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fighting the cold with Save Grand Canyon and Machismo

Bitter cold weather and outdoor shows seem to go hand in hand here in Athens. I can't deny, though, that some of my favorite shows in the scene have taken place in temperatures so extreme I wasn't sure if I'd leave with my fingers intact. Last Friday was another night like these. It was quite a stacked lineup with old favorites Sam Sniper and Yo Soybean mixing it up with several newer discoveries as well.

Stepping out towards the stage, I was greeted by the sound of five-piece local band Save Grand Canyon. At first, I honestly didn't know what to make of them, but although I couldn't exactly classify their unique style, their tunes instantly put a smile on my face. Dark, alt and progressive rock loosely shaped their harmony-led songs with a hint of funk edging its way in every once in a while. Just a few tunes after I had arrived, they gave us their final song of the night, an almost gothic number with a spicy, international feel that I couldn't help but love. The band is undeniably hard to describe, but I definitely hope I can catch them live again sometime soon!

After several more acts, it was Machismo's chance to rock their style for the crowd at Little Kings. Not to be outdone in the unique department, the band gave us a very upbeat, punky, and fun set of tunes made for dancing, highlighted by ridiculous vocals that almost sounded like the lead singer had ingested a generous dose of helium before the show. After only a few moments, I found that I just couldn't keep my feet from moving to the beat, so I joined the growing mass of fans that were leaping about, grooving, and fistpumping to their songs, the cold weather forgotten in their excitement. Truly, throughout the set, I felt like I was watching some sort of amusingly twisted cartoon. It was quite the surreal experience!