This is an entirely new festival put on by Andy Animal made up of mostly garage rock bands. The festival grounds were on the edge of the mountains of NW Georgia in the small town of Lafayette, Friday to Sunday, September 5th through 7th. Three stages were set up on fields around gentle rolling hills, separated by small sections of woods, and there was a small lake for swimming or boating. One might assume this would be a mosquito-ridden event, but they weren’t really present. There were campsites, a few food and drink vendors, festival merchandise, and local artisans offering handmade and vintage outfits.
Saturday, September 6th
On the second day, the early crowd began as a small, but enthusiastic, group but it steadily grew hourly through the daylight hours. During the evening, the crowd became more cohesive and migrated together from stage to stage. The light attendance created a nice environment because of no bathroom lines, no queue for beer or sustenance, and easy access to see all the stages.
Ravi Shavi came out playing choppy, retro guitar licks and quickly grabbed the attention of the audience. The dark-skinned lead singer showed off some impressive footwork on stage while the rest of the band rocked out the rhythms. Their set really kicked things off for the day.
Cy Barkley delivered a solid set of power-punk. The short songs anchored in bass lines were strong and energizing. It was nice to see a Cro-Mags’ “Age of Quarrel” t-shirt on the lead singer and the music seemed to follow a similar vein. The set ended all too quickly, leaving me wanting to hear more.
G.G. King offered a strong old-school punk echoing the boisterous energies of the early ‘80s. The lead singer delivered the lyrics with a self-assured confidence as the band brought a great musical crunch to sustain the punk attitude. The audience remained close to the energy on the stage.
Barerracudas had a few fans watching during soundcheck in the hot, mid-afternoon sun. Once the actual show started, the fans and the rest of the audience were greeted with a sound blast of sensible hard rock with some thrash-like outbursts that recalled the stage energy of early Anthrax shows. Adrian Barerra, always a dynamo onstage, bounced around the stage, but still clearly directed the band. Seeing the Barerracudas was a lot of fun, so much so that festivalgoers were easily drawn to the spectacle created onstage. The memorable moment from this performance was Barerra’s tribute to Diet Coke.
Apache created a rapid-fire tempo of rock with the visual offset of a dark-skinned, thin singer, a female guitarist, a shirtless male guitarist, and a large bassist. Quick vocal delivery and entertaining band banter kept the set moving along and the Daddy Longlegs’ singer joined them on stage for an intense song with a breakneck pace. Expect to hear more from these guys in the future.
Daddy Longlegs, from Brooklyn, opened with an exciting frenzy of slide blues, heavy harmonica and break-neck rhythms. Their “white blues on speed” trip romped through all classic blues stylings, bringing about a super-charged fervor. Their audience was enthralled and thrilled all at once.
Birdcloud are two innocent-looking girls who started the set with some awkward Carter Family-style harmonies. But the lyrics caught everyone by surprise as they romped through unexpected lyrical zones that included lots of sexual references and innuendos. Birdcloud’s simple vocal sincerity was disarming to the uninitiated, as these country cousins to the Shining Twins shocked but pleasantly surprised everyone.
Gringo Star is at this time an Atlanta institution, having been together under their present moniker over ten years. Their guitar-based music with a throwback sound had the audience dancing and having fun. Peter Furguiele’s vocals and Rickenbacker guitar solos are as clear as ever, always giving a steadiness to the band’s current lineup changes. His brother Nicholas was kind of unrecognizable under his big beard and baseball hat.
Expo 70 played as the sun was setting behind Pigeon Mountain, and the smaller dance stage began to crank up after Gringo Star finished. A one-man band with lots of effects pedals and knobs began echoing at a small DJ stage by the lake, which doubled as the late-night dance stage. Expo 70’s music involved light guitar work run through a tape-loop with lots of knobs and distortion. More ethereal than sonic, this artist layered several tracks to an amazed group of listeners. It was music in the realm of Noveller or Steve Reich, with the delicate but deliberate distortion that confused and surprised the listener.
Black Lips – Some bands evolve quickly, but these guys’ meteoric rise has been dizzying. After many years on the road, they have developed into stage professionals, consummate musicians, but have not lost one bit of the hometown charm and those moments of unexpected humor that makes their shows a treat. The end-song jams are non-existent and the set is tight and concise and wrapped up nicely. It seems that “Flower Punk” music has clearly bloomed for the Black Lips. Expect these guys to continue their festival touring and create a massive musical impact.