SuperMagnaFlash, Skirts, and Things

(Photo/Ziona Kocher)

When I had finally gotten to the Melting Point, it was already looking pretty rough outside. The wind had been blowing a bitingly cold air across Athens, bringing with it miserable rain and a bit of sleet as well. I immediately ran into Ritchie and Matt from Flash to Bang Time. Thankfully, they seemed to like the article I had written and didn’t feel like beating me with the drumsticks that were lying on the table within easy reach. They were worried about Magnapop. None of the band had shown up yet. It was already 8 o’clock. Flash went on at nine and Magna right after. We all hoped that they hadn’t gotten snowed in. Of course, in Georiga, snowed in means there’s been snow spotted.

I crept up behind Ziona, scaring the daylights out of her after an already strenuous flight from Florida. It must’ve been my lucky night because no punching or kicking ensued from that either. Huh. It was SO great to finally get to see her again. She’s my right arm as far as photos for AMJ are concerned and she does such wonderful work with our Facebook group that I really hoped that she’d have a good time. Soon enough, our lovely intern Sofia joined us, finally bringing all of the official AthensMusicJunkie staff together for the first time. Aw, so special. We even took a cheezy picture later to commemorate the event.

I had to step away from the table for a second to apologize to Wes for not coming to the Melting Point in a LONG while. He was forgiving though and we promised to hang out again just as Kevin Sweeny came through, mumbling about me always being at the Rialto. After correcting him (I’m almost always at the Caledonia), I tried to get back to the table but was thwarted by a mass of musicians. A very happy meeting indeed.

Once I finally got back to the table, Ziona, Sofia, and I began discussing various upgrades for the blog, different crazy antics of Athens musicians, and our general lives. Food arrived and we were soon munching away while Flash to Bang Time took the stage. I shifted around in my seat, not knowing how the other three felt about the article and hoping that it had brought in some people to see the show. The place was slowly filling up, a very good sign.

FtBT roared into action, playing a few of the same songs I had heard at their practice session a few weeks before. I was absolutely thrilled that they played “Horatio,” a song I had heard on some compilation a while back. Nice to finally know the lyrics to it. They also played “Beggarweed,” an ode to a dog and one of my favorites.

Magnapop was set to go next but there was some guitar trouble that ended with a lot of ear-splitting EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE noises. It got sorted out (sorta) and the show went on. I’ve never really heard much Magnapop but I was impressed by what I heard and the energy that was onstage, especially the vibes coming from Linda Hopper. I squeezed into a corner to shoot some video. I had just gotten settled when Michael Lachowski pops up and starts taking pictures, ending up in my shot throughout the entire video! It’s a good video, despite some creative cropping. I made sure to mention it to Michael later, laughing about how it was the ONLY one I shot all night of Magnapop.

Last up was Supercluster. I got pulled away at the second song to talk to Hopper so I missed a lot of the show but Ziona and Sofia seemed happy with it at least. Probably the best moment of the night came after I had gotten reseated and I turned to look around. Michael was leaning up against the wall near the merch table, a mix of pride and admiration spreading across his face. He watched Vanessa, just enthralled. Supercluster had a captive audience for sure, though some of us were focused on Jason’s shoes and how he managed to not break his ankle in those platforms. After an encore that included “Across the Universe,” some of Flash to Bang Time joined Supercluster onstage for a very awesome cover.

It was a great night and a ton of fun getting to spend some time with Ziona and Sofia together. The weather was still pretty awful when Ziona headed out so I stuck around and chatted with some of the musicians, discussing some upcoming projects they had going on. By the time I got home, I just collapsed on the bed in full clothing and didn’t get up until 11 a.m. the next day.

I woke up to a ringing phone, a ringing head, and a cat clawing at my door. Last time Ziona came up to visit, we had lunch with Chris McKay and his wife Amanda. Since we thought it’d be nice to repeat the experience, we invited Chris’ bassist along for the ride. We met at Wuxtry (in the cold), walked to Transmet (in the cold), and managed to have an extremely long lunch break. Ziona had made Chris a hat which leads to this chapter I call: “In Which Chris McKay Attempts to Don a Hat.” Never in my life have I seen someone have such difficulty putting on a hat.

Lunch was great. Chris and I tend to get all chatterboxy so the topics of conversation jumped from freelance photography to getting banned from high schools to R.E.M. to the Critcal Darlings and just about everywhere in between. After we realized it was nearly four (!), we broke camp and went shopping. Poking around Agora, we found some hilarious old novelty records (rejects from Mills’ collection perhaps?), a lot of yarn, and some really cool old lamps. I love that store, just wish I had the money to spend in there. At least I know where to go for when I move out of the current residence.

ANYWAY. Ziona gave me possibly the most appropriate shirt in the world.  I also got a really awesome scarf, some pins, and my very own little plushy bunny thingy. It’s freakin adorable. We agreed that food would be nice before the Skirts show so we’d meet at Clocked around 8 p.m. then head to the Watt.

A few minutes before I should’ve left, I got the message that Kris had died. It was a shock and I ended up having to sit down for a bit before leaving for dinner. Rock and roll seems so silly in the face of life sometimes. But I needed to go and not dwell on it. There’d be time for dwelling later. So I ended up in Clocked where Matt was also waiting for us. Then onto the show.

I had to speak with a friend about Kris so I basically didn’t get to see much of Thayer. I found Ziona fiddling with her camera near the coat check where an ever so snarky Candice lay in wait. I ran into a ton of others during the night but I’ve probably name-checked too much already. We scooted our way to the front of the stage and I crossed my arms, put on my best music critic face and said “Ok Reptar. Impress me.” After the wall of energy had knocked me down, I considered myself impressed. They’re messy at times but at least they’re having fun.

We were waiting for the Modern Skirts to hit the stage when the smell of pot drifted over towards us, making me a bit green around the gills. We retreated back to the perch near the merch and discussed our options for the show. Ziona’s camera could get good pictures from back there, my flipcam cant. So I did the only thing I could and basically squeezed my way to the front to get the footage. You’re welcome.

I dunno what possessed them to slick back their hair like that but when Jojo said “I don’t normally dress like this,” there were more than a few “THANK GOD”s that went around. The Skirts previewed a lot of material from the upcoming third album. It’s very percussive and a lot less melody is involved. Sure to be a polarizing record but you either evolve or die in your little safe groove. They also ended up playing “Pasedena.” For some reason, it didn’t really feel like a Skirts homecoming show. Usually, they’re a lot more into the crowd, fun loving and willing to play “Indiana Indian” on their third encore. Maybe it was just me….

When it was all over, we walked to my car, freezing our asses off. I gave Ziona a small gift bag which she seemed pleased with. We hugged and then left. She headed back to Florida on a morning plane and I headed back to the residence to type up this story and Kris’ obit. I don’t remember much of Sunday, except that when the phone rang at 3 p.m., I sat up in my bed and was confused. Then I got it. I had fallen asleep in my clothes once again. I count that as a good night.

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