One of the perks of being surrounded by such a colorful collection of friends is the incredible debates we often engage in while waiting for a band to come onstage. They range from the mundane (Pepsi/Coke) to the profound (What is Happiness?). One of my favorite debates of all time took place in the back corner of the 40 Watt on a cold November evening.
The discussion? Are the B-52s an Athens band? For me, it was a no brainer but the following is what I can remember from a few months back. Feel free to join in in the comments.
NO: At one point, I will give you this, the B-52s were an Athens band. They were the art school, I don’t care what you say, Rockin Lobster party band. They got the scene started, no doubt. But guess what? They moved. Yup. They took off to New York and it hasn’t been the same since. Only one member even lives remotely near Athens now. And when was the last time they played around here? Is Atlanta really that good that they’d skip town and not play? I can only wonder how many people felt slightly betrayed by that decision. The Bs haven’t been part of the local scene in decades. Maybe they were once the darlings of the town but that time is long since past. No one talks about them anymore. They’re not an Athens band anymore.
YES: They made their last album here dude. Sure, they’re all in other places but you don’t fault the V3 for living on the West Coast instead of in Athens with the rest of R.E.M. If you can still have that spark and have breathing room, why not move? I’d wager that if the Bs hadn’t moved off, the connections between NYC and ATH wouldn’t be nearly as strong. They paved the way for a lot of people. A “big in Athens” band didn’t mean squat to people then. Obviously they still feel a connection here. I mean, they did a whole song called “Hot Corner.” Saying the B-52s aren’t an Athens band is like denying any of this ever happened. Without the B’s, there really wouldn’t have been the massive worldwide recognition. The B-52s were, and ARE, the original Athens band.