Last night we headed out to the 40 Watt to see the first of two awesomely cool back-to-back shows. The first show featured Angelo Spencer, Paul Baribeau, and Kimya Dawson. It was an early show and billed as an all-ages, "family friendly" show. The second show featured Madeline, Ham 1, and Elf Power. The later show was billed as a cd release party for Elf Power's newest album...
We showed up at the 40 Watt later than we expected and we were greeted by a strange sight - rows of seats had been set up theater-style and they were all full with eager concert goers. The place was packed. We ended up having to stand in the back, arriving in the middle of ANGELO SPENCER's set:
PAUL BARIBEAU encouraged people to get up from their seats, saying that it was a little weird to see everyone sitting like that. A bunch of people charged the stage while others scrambled for vacated seats...it was a total mess:
Not content with standing in the back, Missy and I made our way to the side of the stage to watch KIMYA DAWSON:
The view was plenty fine, but then Kimya asked everyone to sit back down in the seats, so that the little kids could see (there were quite a few of them in the audience)...a bunch of people got stranded up front without a seat and Kimya told them that if they wanted to, they could come sit up ON the stage with her. Before me and Missy could decide whether or not to go up, a ton of people bum-rushed the stage and our perfect view was ruined:
I tried to see if I could get a good picture by standing on a chair that was a little farther behind the stage:
A couple vacated their seats and me and Missy quickly filled them. Unfortunately, our view turned out even worse! But at least we were sitting...we had a long night of band watching ahead of us, afterall. I did manage to get out of my seat a couple of times to snap some close up pictures of Kimya, though (like the one at the beginning of the post):
(Kimya accepting gifts from some fans at the end of the show)
In between shows, we headed over to the X-RAY CAFE hoping to catch our friends Paul and Peter there, but sadly the shop was locked up and empty, except for a few funny items...Paul's car was still parked in front of the store, so we assumed that everyone had gone out to eat somewhere...
It was cold and rainy outside, so we were happy to get back into the 40 Watt...this time, we were among the first back into the club:
Soon, MADELINE and her band took the stage...Robbie from Neutral Milk Hotel and Laura from Orange Twin Records/Elf Power made up her horn section:
HAM 1 rocked it afterwards...Eric Harris from Olivia Temor Control plays this tiny drumset for Ham 1, which is always funny to see:
When ELF POWER finally took the stage, we were surprised to see that Eric was now playing drums with them also...and Derek Almsted (formerly of Of Montreal and Marshmallow Coast) was playing bass:
One of the pot-bangers from Dark Meat jumped up on stage to do some weirdo go-go dancing:
Seeing Elf Power perform and hearing their new songs was a perfect way to end the night...they had the crowd head-bobbin' and dancing around. It was jaw-droppingly awesome, to say the least...
In the end, it was funny to see the differences between the two shows and sets of performers: the first show was whimsical, charming, and decidedly lo-fi...it was "family friendly" and all-ages, and featured singer-songwriters armed with just a guitar (in Angelo Spencer's case, a guitar and a kick drum)...there were hip parents there with their little kids as well as a bunch of high school-aged fans (and they all looked like extras from the movie "Juno") and it seemed like a lot of folks came from Atlanta. Kimya also stressed the fact that she and her tour mates were "straight edge" and didn't partake in drugs and alcohol...in fact, Kimya doesn't even do refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup...a fan tried to give her a bag of candy and she politely declined (but ended up giving it to a young fan instead, in celebration of his birthday)...and true to K Records-style shows, Kimya's set tried to break down the barriers between performer and audience. Besides having audience members join her on stage, she told stories and shared personal experiences, and even had the audience participate in a couple of songs...
The later show was much more rockin', to say the least, and the musicianship was on another level - I'd even venture to say that Elf Power's new rhythm section is probably the tightest and most talented in Athens, if not in all of Georgia. The later crowd was much older and more local, though I know several diehard fans came from far and away. And it's safe to say that the later crowd was probably a lot more "accepting" of recreational drinking and drugging! Plus, the later show just ROCKED harder, with full bands taking the stage...and true to Elephant 6-style shows, a couple of the bands featured a brass instrument or two, shared the same band member or two, were drunk and/or mildly stoned, and had that certain kind of mind-blowing, smile-inducing sound that can only be attributed to the E6/Orange Twin/Cloud Recordings family of scenesters.
In the end, who won out in the battle of the scenes? Well, if you plopped down a mere $15 to see two shows and six wonderful bands and performers in one magical night (like me and Missy did) then YOU were the big winner!