When you first visit Athens, GA, you’ll notice kitschy statues of bulldogs and storefronts black and white and red all over. There’s no question that, as in every upstanding college town across the South, football is king. But in addition to what goes on between the hedges, Athens has a ridiculously good music scene. Like I even need to say it.
This weekend, that scene will be on display at AthFest, the annual festival started in 1997 to showcase local artists. It’s billed as a family friendly event, so a lot of the acts will appeal to an older crowd. There will be a hearty selection of classic rock acts and at least one B-52’s cover band.
The real significance of this festival is the exposure unknown artists need to make their way into the company of Athenian legends like the B-52’s and R.E.M.
Some of them I’ve seen before. Some of them I haven’t. A few them will still be making music 15 years from now. Most won’t. But they’re here to play for us now.
I won’t be able to see every good band, much less every band that could be good. In addition to some bands that should be highlighted on everyone’s itinerary, I’ve picked out a few that I really want to check out.
^Outdoor Stage (FREE!)
*Indoor Venue (Requires $20 Wristband)
TOP THREE for FRIDAY, 6/22
Atlas Sound 7:30-8:30pm // Pulaski Street Stage^
solo project of Bradford Cox of Deerhunter
“could only exist somewhere between sleeping and waking” — Grafton Tanner, The Blue Indian
Tunabunny 11:30pm // Cine*
cyclical-speech-rock w/ slightly seductive vocals
PacificUV 12:30am // New Earth Music Hall*
a frosted mug that will never thaw. (chiller than chillwave.)
TOP THREE for SATURDAY, 6/23
Elf Power 7:45-8:30pm // Pulaski Street Stage^
cool college rock tunes since 1994
bubbly mommy gun 11:00pm // Farm 255*
potato mashing music with gravy guitars behind it on a hot plate
Grass Giraffes 12:30am // 40 Watt*
a potentially frequent exchange:
–THIS IS THAT INDIE BAND FROM CANADA, RIGHT?
–Of Montreal isn’t from Canada.
–This band is called Grass Giraffes.
–GLASS CARAFES? WHATEVER, MAN! WHOOOOOO! ATHFEST TWENTY-TWELVE!
Reptar 9-10pm // Pulaski Street Stage^
pitchfork made a punching bag of the debut LP, but I’m still a big fan
The Shut-Ups 10:oopm // The Melting Point*
foolish rock candy pop
Yo Soybean 10:00pm // Flicker Theatre*
sometimes fast, sometimes slow, usually sentimental banjo blues. (WARNING: may contain djenmbe)
Adron 12:30am // Farm 255*
sounds like a female Devendra Banhart
Woodfangs 01:00am // Georgia Theater*
gnashing through songs like George Washington’s oaken dentures through the flesh of an apple
(The whole outdoor lineup on Saturday is like an Athens Indie Music Hall of Fame parade.)
Packway Handle Band 4-4:45pm // Pulaski Street Stage^
accomplished bluegrass veterans for a reason
The Glands 9-10pm // Pulaski Street Stage^
orchestral-ish pop from the turn of the century; “long forgotten artist” — YouTube caption from 2009
Los Meesfits 12:00am // GO Bar*
I’ve covered this cover band before.
They play Misfits standards like salsa songs. Una fiesta todas las veces.
Grape Soda 1:00am // Cine*
a synthy cemetery underneath waxing crescent crescendos
For supplemental AthFest advice, check out The Blue Indian. Visit AthFest.com for more information about the festival and full lineup.