Athens closed out the last weekend of July with the Sigh in July Music and Arts Festival at Live Wire Athens on Saturday night.
The festival ran from 3:30 p.m. on Friday, July 26, until the early morning hours of Sunday, July 28. Bands played on both the indoor mainstage and the outdoor patio stage.
In addition to musical acts, Sigh in July featured entertainment such as fire performers and professional hula-hoopers, as well as a number of vendors for the artist market.
Bands Universal Sigh, Earthcry, JAZZ is PHSH and Funk You headlined the festival. Universal Sigh performed the second-to-last show on the mainstage both nights, and Earthcry played twice on Sunday, once on each stage.
The festival was created in 2016 by the members of Universal Sigh, explaining the similarity in name.
The self-described “metamorphic rock” band, performed for just over an hour Sunday night to a large crowd. The four-man band is local to Athens and has been playing around town since 2013.
The band consists of lead singer and bassist Austin Parker, guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist Steve Terry, guitarist and vocalist Pace Maynard and drummer Jones Maynard.
As the band took the stage Saturday night, Parker stood out in sunglasses and a coverall jumpsuit.
“So, we got a bunch of new songs to play here tonight,” he announced to the crowd, which responded enthusiastically with cheers.
The band played several unreleased songs from its upcoming album, which it expects to release next year.
The show also highlighted the band’s diverse sound. Though it is a rock band, certain songs had a jazz flair with highlighted keyboard instrumentals and others had an R&B twist with slower, more seductive vocals.
Even though the band has extremely strong vocals with Parker’s impressive range, the band also sets aside time to exclusively demonstrate their instrumental abilities. Several of the songs were extremely long with little-to-no singing, allowing for the audience to focus solely on the music.
After six years performing together, the members seemed simultaneously relaxed and energized while on stage. Terry and Parker especially seemed at ease pausing to joke and interact with the crowd.
Terry, who doesn’t sing as much for the band as Parker, took a break to sip his beer in between songs.
“I get to sing here tonight, so time for a little bit of liquid courage,” Terry said before starting.
Midway through the show, Universal Sigh brought Tyler Walker from the fellow Sigh in July band The Orange Constant up onstage with them to play bass.
Before a long instrumental section, Parker urged the crowd to dance along. Throughout the next song, he jumped and headbanged along with the crowd, moving all over the stage.
“There’s my cardio for the week,” said Parker, out of breath as the song ended.
As 11 p.m. approached, the band seemed to be winding down.
“One more,” yelled members of the crowd.
“That was … epic,” shouted one man.
The band obliged, performing two more songs. Universal Sigh officially ended its set a few minutes after the scheduled 11:15 p.m. finish, but not before getting a “family photo” with the crowd.
Band Kilroy Kobra was still playing on the outdoor stage when Universal Sigh’s show ended, and Earthcry followed the band on the mainstage, closing out this year’s Sigh in July festival at around 1:30 a.m.