1. Harvey Funkwalker wielded surprise didgeridoo
This trio’s performance had the perfect blend of jazz, R&B, and plenty of soul. Harvey Funkwalkers is a three piece group made up of guitarist Johan Harvey, drummer Adam Funk, and bassist Greg Surratt.
Their set was full of psychedelic guitar solos, falsetto scatting and even a surprise appearance from a didgeridoo. With special guest vocalist Ben Stevens, a friend who hopped on stage to carry vocals, providing unreal, smooth vocals in the middle of their set, the band was able to quickly get the crowd swaying and toe tapping to their dynamic sound.
The group played their own instrumental original songs and with Stevens’ assistance got the crowd going with covers of OutKast’s “So Fresh, So Clean” and Childish Gambino’s “Redbone.” The band’s ability to make such a soulful set also upbeat and fast paced is what kept most of the crowd into the group’s performance.
“This isn’t my first time seeing them. They were awesome, they always know how to keep the crowd entertained,” concert-goer Jessica Baker said.
2. Shehehe spiced up Caledonia with '90s punk energy
With heavier bands in and out of the Caledonia Lounge, Shehehe gave the crowd something to head bang about as the closing performers. Reminiscent of the ‘90s punk era, the group gave a driven and high energy show. The punk rock band entered their element when it came to performing on the AthFest stage and the crowded dove head first after them.
With a killer drum backbeat, the performance had powerhouse vocals performed by singer, Nicole Bechill, guitarist Noelle Schuck and drummer Jason Fusco. Their stage presence was enough to keep the crowd captivated, between the rhythm guitar riffs and passion easily shown by all the performers.
3. Nihilist Cheerleader brought punk heat dressed in red
Bathed in red while wearing coordinated red outfits, this four piece punk band lined the makeshift stage on the left of the Georgia Theatre and belted lyrics. The sound throughout their set was delivered in punches with staccato burst of noise between heavier choruses and bridges.
Because of the weather, the Georgia Theatre moved the rooftop shows down to the main indoor stage and pushed the shows by an hour. As one band was performing on the main stage, the next band was setting up their instruments and preparing to jump into performing right after the other band stopped. This back and forth and quick set changes made it possible to squeeze all the slotted bands in on one night.
The lead singer of Nihilist Cheerleader, Flynn Collins, ended a song in the middle of her set with a quick “Fuck our president” before seamlessly jumping back into the upbeat punk rhythm which carried throughout the band’s set. They played songs both old and new, and though they performed at 1:15 a.m., heads were bobbing and fingers were reaching high into the air.
4. 40 Watt line up left the crowd with bangovers
Anyone that didn’t bring a pair of ear plugs to the 40 Watt’s Club Crawl performances is in for a world of hearing problems in the morning. Vincas, Motherfucker, Double Ferrari and Cinemechanica all delivered guitar riff laden, explosive and unpredictable performances to an equally energetic crowd. The very definition of “rock ‘n roll,” more than a few mosh pits sporadically broke out over the course of the night and everyone left with their ears ringing and buzzing with leftover energy.
“It’s amazing. It’s harder instruments, faster schicopation of the beats. It’s just more interesting,” attendee Dron Alandrya said. “This was more than what I was expecting. I’m so used to jazz, but this is rock. I was so shocked at how good they were.”
5. Robot playing piano at Little Kings Shuffle Club
Little Kings Shuffle Club balanced classic Athens garage rock with the growing hip-hop community on Friday night. Fans of the two genres got a taste of both worlds.
The shuffle club opened with a performance by a singer, guitarist and piano-playing robot. Marshmallow Coast is a sci-fi rock band featuring Andy Gonzalez on vocals and AJ Griffin on guitar. Gonzalez wouldn’t say whether or not the robotic pianist was actually hitting the keys, but he said it made touring and performing live a lot easier.
“It’s such a pain in the ass to put a band together, that I was like, 'I’m going to have a robot play piano,'” Gonzalez said.
Beyond the gimmicks, Marshmallow Coast was a great opener. Their sci-fi brand of psychedelic rock kept the crowd entertained. Gonzalez said multiple times that the audience was “very attentive.”
Abby McGill, Rhett Smith, Maggie Holland and Megan Wahn contributed to this article.