Hello, all. AthFest was the most. I was sweating from 5:00 PM when Seven Handle Circus began and didn’t stop until my friend Benjamin Butler closed out the day (at Cine) around 2:00 AM. I love every minute of it. Sadly, I was only present for one day of the festival. But, three cheers for Kelsey Butterworth, a good friend of mine who’s great to have meaningful 4 hr-long car rides convos with. And hey, the Harry Fox Agency just recently started following her on Twitter which I think, proves that she knows what’s up. So, here is AthFest in review from her!
Ahh… another year, another splendiferous Athfest. Every Athenian music festival has its own style – Slingshot is the worldly newcomer where anyone can get their freak on; Americana is the rootsy, flannel-robed porch chiller of a weekend; and Athfest is the perfect intersection between Athens the college town and Athens the townie haven. This year’s felt bigger than ever, with hundreds of artists, vendors, and bands on display. No matter your age, no matter your locale, it feels like coming home. There were so many fantastic things to see, they could not all have possibly been seen by one mere mortal. Anyways, let’s dive in!
Everyone’s favorite part of Athfest is the free music because it’s, well, free. The Pulaski Street stage was hopping all weekend with incredible performances from folks like Dana Swimmer, Judah & the Lion, Elf Power, and Family and Friends. FAF, a relatively young band comprised of UGA students, blew the crowd away with their sincere energy and unironic stoked-ness. The group’s happiness was contagious from the moment they all jumped off risers in the opening number. Their Mumford Sharpe and the Magnetic Sons sound was well received despite the constant interference (also experienced by Kishi Bashi and basically everyone who played the Pulaski stage – c’mon, sound crew!), and any passive audience members were immediately converted.
Local promotions startup, the UGA MBUS student-run Shiny Eyes Entertainment, held a showcase at Ciné on Friday night with sets by relatively smaller groups like Little Chief, who continued the awesome new trend of multiple band members freaking out on their one and only drum set. UGA student Sam Burchfield had his expertise for blues and funk well on display, reminding us all that we can expect great things from the Clapton lookalike.
Classic City regulars abounded as well – local heroes Reptar played a characteristically high-energy set full of Hawaiian shirts, righteous horn solos, and wild enthusiasm on Friday night. Though their stoner reggae punk is well known by most here in Athens, the group showed a masterful command over their hometown crowd.
Saturday night’s Pulaski stage show had Kishi Bashi once again show us the meaning of musical transcendence with his classical-meets-world-meets-indie-pop brilliance. Confetti was naturally involved, and we would like to nominate the Quiche & co. for the “Most Athens Thing To Happen At Athfest” award after their incredible cover of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “King of Carrot Flowers” suite.