I took a much needed morning off on the final day of Athfest, as the high temperature was around 100 degrees. I headed out at 4:30 p.m. and caught an excellent set by Five Eight, an Athens-based band that’s been around for more than two decades. The first few songs I caught sounded a lot like R.E.M.’s early work (not surprising, as Five Eight toured with them in the early 90s). They were incredibly enthusiastic and rocked out like they were the headliners. The lead singer played the first few songs in a suit jacket while bouncing up and down like a little kid — this alone would’ve impressed me since it was sweltering outside — and he ended up stripping down to shorts by the middle of the set. I really enjoyed their energy and performance, they were one of my favorites of the day.
Next up was the popular Darnell Boys on the smaller Hull Street stage — they probably needed to be on the bigger stage, as they are pretty well-known in Athens and the area in front of the stage was absolutely packed. The twangy five piece put on a good performance that was enjoyed by the eclectic crowd of all ages.
I grabbed a quick bite to eat then headed back to the Pulaski Street stage for Monsoon, a talented Athens punk group fronted by Sienna Chandler, a young beauty in a red sequin dress, torn fishnets, and black high heels that she danced and jumped like a natural in. She had the punk scream down to a tee, but her speaking voice was amusingly childlike. The band’s been getting a lot of attention over the last few years and has gotten accolades from Yahoo Music and Atlanta Magazine, but Miller nevertheless seemed grateful to be on stage and made a point to thank Athfest, her family, her band members, and the audience for being there.
Yip Deceiver! was next back at Hull Street. 80s synth pop is hard to do right, but the duo succeeded and put on an enjoyable show. Frontman Davey Pierce is a member of the indescribably unique of Montreal, but the side project lacks of Montreal’s weirdness and theatricality — no costumes or signs to be seen, just a synthesizer, drums, and Pierce’s passionate twirls. A lot of new wave style music has a tendency to run together and sound the same, and I had to laugh when Pierce announced he was going to play a sad song, because it sounded a lot like the (presumably) happy songs that preceded it. Nevertheless, I very much enjoyed the show.
The final act of the festival was Kishi Bashi, the founding member of Jupiter One and a former member of of Montreal. He resides in Athens and the set had a quintessentially Athens feel to it — a little overdone, perhaps a little too hipstery, but lovable nonetheless. He was superb on piano and violin, and his band members were equally excellent. He played songs from his new album being released this fall along with popular older songs like “The Ballad of Mr. Steak”, a love song written to a steak (no, really). He was joined on stage by Mr. Steak, a character dressed up in a foam steak costume who danced around and played piano—okay, at that point, it did feel a little like an of Montreal show. A young girl in the front row got a lot of attention for her homemade sign addressed to him, and it was hard to not get touched when she teared up when he came down to sing in front of her.
The night ended with, literally, a bang, as Mr. Steak (no longer in costume) and Kishi Bashi’s cameraman let loose confetti over the crowd. It was a great ending to a wonderful weekend.
Until next year, Athfest — it’s been a blast.
Check out more photos from day 3: