Dispatches From Athfest: Day 3, Friday

That’s the thing about mornings. They start WAY too early. But today was no day to whine. It’s the first real ATHFEST day and things need to be done! Put on some sunscreen, grab a t-shirt and get Bailey a beer cause this thing is ON!

I parked in the College Ave. deck (which has always freaked me out a little cause there doesn’t seem to be enough room for a deck but there it is!) and made my way to Washington Street where vendors were setting up shop and already sweating more than Matt Tiabbi at a Republican rally. The entire street was unavailable due to the Kidsfest/Artist Market/Staging areas. A big white tent in the middle held the volunteer, information, and merchandise booths.

“Hi! I’m here to volunteer!” I said a little too perkily.

“Oh. Right. Um, yeah, here’s the sign in sheet. What’s your size?”

I replied and got the blazing red ATHFEST STAFF 2008 shirt that I would soak completely in sweat, grease and water by Sunday night. This year they also gave out travel bottles of Sunscreen that could be clipped to your belt. “Nifty,” I thought. I’m amazingly pale so every little bit helps. Made my way to the main outdoor stage and met my supervisor Mary.

Mary, stage manager, was digging through some tarps when I approached. I introduced myself and she immediately got me working on clearing the backstage area for the bands. It worked as a corral system. Three lanes were separated by barriers and were supposed to hold bands, their equipment, and anything else we could think of. A band would already be onstage with stuff in corral one while a second band was warming up in corral two. In the third slot, a band would just be pulling up and unloading their massive pile o’ junk. Very good system but musicians aren’t the best at following orders. Many a game of “find the drummer” was played on Friday.

There were two stages, Main and Hull/HotCorner. When we were setting up the Main stage for the next band, a smaller band would be playing Hull Street to keep the crowd entertained. Then we’d start and the Hull street would set up. Meanwhile, our friend Maureen from the screening was running down announcers and desperately trying to keep Mary from overheating.

First up was a group from a high school (I think) headed by Lis Carney. They were pretty good, better than any group back from where I grew up. They were cute and the parents were in the audience. I didn’t get a good look at them because soon after they got onstage, a giant rabbit and chicken appeared in the corral. Could only be Kite to the Moon, winners of the Sprockets video award. The boys were running behind trying to get costumed up (didn’t they learn anything about capes from The Incredibles?).

They were energetic and kooky for their set but why oh why did they have to tear up those stuffed animals? I understand, yes, “Tigerz” is their best single and it required vicious girls in tiger stripes but some bands tend to forget that these unpaid roadies get to rush your garbage offstage in 15 minutes while trying to get the next band up.
At this point, I’m sent to guard the food/VIP tent. Free food for staff, musicians, and vips. Yay!

I’m in the middle of a Gatorade meltdown when the next band comes onstage and blows my mind. FIVE EIGHT. Where in the world have these guys been? I’d never heard them before and here they were, from generation x and with more energy than Kite to the Moon could muster. The entire stage shook every time that they jumped and hit a powerchord. I’d struck gold and found a new band to get behind. I went backstage again pogoing like a maniac.

Mary was talking on the walkie-talkie when she spotted me. “You work at the radio station right?”

“Um, Yes ma’am.”

“Can you work lights?”

“That’s not really something you do at a radio station. But I can try”

“Great!” she said and sent me up to the lighting and sound booth. I ended up spending the rest of the night behind a giant board full of lights and buttons. Kid in a candyshop here. The guy in charge was pretty blasé about the whole thing. Showed me the basics and said “have at it.”

I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to anyone in Down With The Woo I might have inadvertently blinded while experimenting with my new toy. Your beats will live on, even if your eyesight might not.

Up next was the main act, Dark Meat. Lots of people on one stage, confetti and horns. It was a party alright. The night ended with Jared Bailey leaning offstage with tons of little glow in the dark Frisbees for the darkening crowd.

More equipment removal and sweeping involved. (Note: Water + Confetti = Sticky Awful Mess) Then a meeting for the next day.

“Okay, for those of you who will be here,” said Mary while shooting me a nice glare, “be here around 9ish okay?”. I just smirked. She knew good and well I was not about to miss the concert
in ATL Saturday to see Modern Skirts. Again. For the billionth time.

After we broke camp, I went snooping around for some good music in the clubs. Here’s some that I heard that you should really take note of.


Cars Can Be Blue

Supercluster (supergroup with members from Pylon and the Squalls)

And many more played at the same time that I just could not see. Darn it. That’s the price you pay with Athfest. Some advice. Skip the bands you’ve seen before and then go after some new stuff. You never know who you’ll find.

Went back and crashed with anticipation of the concert to come dancing in my head.


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