Five Eight Setlist
Day 1 was the day of the woman. The three-female, one-male band Powerkompany mixes performance art and dance with electronic beats and violin. They played the Hull Street stage, but they are most certainly destined for the main stage in the future. Their onstage antics bring of Montreal to mind. They utilize masks, makeup, gauzy sheets, feather boas and leotards. Their music and stage presence make you want to dance, goggle and swoon all at once. These ladies and this gentleman are just lovely all across the board.
Speaking of the surreal, Harlot Party played a relaxed, low-key set at Cine. Singer KyKy Renee Knight was tending bar and took a break from work to perform. Her band is super tight, and she has the voice of a melancholy angel.
Monsoon totally punk-rocked the Caledonia Lounge. There was crowd surfing, groping of Sienna Chandler’s hair and general ecstatic mayhem.
Day 2 brought with it intermittent rain. Brooklyn’s Super Yamba Band had to cut short their incredibly skillful funk performance due to the weather. That day's headliner Zoogma moved to an alternate location and played a smokin’ show inside where it was dry at Live Wire Athens.
Intermittent precipitation continued during the Club Crawl, but not so much that anyone really noticed.
At Flicker, Don Chambers played in a darkened room while illuminating himself with nothing but a utility light on a long cord that he either attached directly to his microphone or allowed to swing from his guitar. This gave his face an otherworldly appearance to go along with his hauntingly beautiful music.
And now we come to the pièce de résistance: Material Girls. This is how they describe themselves on their Bandcamp page:
“Think Captain Beefheart (mid 70’s vintage), Sun City Girls, The Sonics and your mother’s underwear drawer.”
This is a fitting and clever description, and it really captures the spirit of this delightfully flamboyant band.
Material Girls did not allow a little bit of rain to scare them one bit; their show on the Georgia Theatre rooftop carried on in all its glory.
These men and this woman make up their faces to go onstage, but not just that; they bring the whole package. Dresses, stilettos and a horn section… oh my! Their singer resembles Lux Interior of The Cramps, and he can really rock a natty suit and stiletto heels. The horn section consists of a couple very tall and slender drag queens who know just how to strut while making their instruments sing. Add to that a kickass drummer, a moody and masterful guitarist and a superb bassist who resembles a beautifully risqué Bettie Page. Often the band members will switch instruments and vocal duties, and this makes for an even more exciting and dynamic performance.
Material Girls beat all I’ve ever seen. They are wonderful to hear and to gaze upon. They don’t just stay quiet between songs either. They create a rowdy rapport with their audience, and they are not at all shy. Now that I’ve witnessed what they can do with their looks, attitude and music, I hereby include them on my “highly recommended/must see” list.
After Material Girls’ set, things got bittersweet. Muuy Biien played what they say might be their final show, because frontman Joshua Evans is moving to Los Angeles. Given the fact that he is probably the best frontman in Athens (and undoubtedly beyond), L.A. seems like where he truly belongs. He and the band will be missed, but it’s exciting to envision what his future holds.
If ever a band embodied the spirit of Athens, Georgia, that band would be Five Eight. They rocked the Hull street stage on Day 3. I first started going to their shows when I moved to Athens in 1993. These were some of the very first shows I saw at the 40 Watt Club. I went to just about every single one, always front and center. Singer Mike Mantione contorts, leaps and wreaks just as much frenzied, beautiful havoc now as he did back then. Not only the musical connection but also the friendship between these guys is palpable. Mike Mantione, Dan Horowitz, Patrick Ferguson and Sean Dunn make up a huge part of the backbone of our musical community.
For the first time in years the weather during AthFest was relatively cool. In that respect, the rain did us a favor. At 7:00 pm, a decidedly un-sweaty audience gathered at the main stage for the festival’s headliner, Atlanta’s own Drivin’ N Cryin’. Their rock-with-a-twang went well with the likes of Roadkill Ghost Choir and Futurebirds; fans of the genre were in virtual heaven this weekend. As with every one of the many times I’ve seen Drivin’ N Cryin,’ they rocked the neighborhood up, down and sideways. Singer/guitarist Kevn Kinney penned and always plays what is perhaps the world’s best song to sing along to. I’m talking about “Straight To Hell” from 1989’s Mystery Road. It’s quite possibly the best song you’ve never heard. After kneeling and contorting to get some photos in the press pit, the opening chords of “Straight To Hell” sent me straight to that other place. I rested my head against a muralled wall and watched the stage from a comfortable distance in one of the festival’s many beer gardens. Then and there, the stress of working for the past three days melted away.
Drivin’ N Cryin’ (Kevn Kinney) at AthFest 2017 (06/25)