Odd Street Block Party

Deep State, a local Athens band, performs on the main stage during the party. The 3rd annual Odd Street Block Party took place at the 40 Watt on June 8, 2019. Traditionally held on Odd Street in downtown Athens, the weekend's poor weather conditions forced the party to continue on at the historical music venue. (Photo/Daniela Rico)

The third Odd Street Block Party was moved off the block and into the 40 Watt Club on Saturday night as thunderstorms, heavy rains and an official flash flood warning dominated the area for the majority of the day.

Originally the event was set to take place on Odd Street in Athens with various local artists performing at different houses along the street. Instead, each act took to two stages within the club one after the other for approximately 35 minutes from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

From block party to club party

Co-organizer and Thrüm drummer Evan Leima works at the 40 Watt Club and says his connection to the location is the only reason they were able to book it for the block party so last-minute.

“It was very lucky that the 40 Watt was available for us to move it,” said Leima. “I work at 40 Watt and so it was easy for me to … be like, ‘It’s going to rain all day,’ like, ‘Help us!’”

Local hip-hop artists Dedric Knowles, known by his stage name DK, and Seline Haze were both happy with the change of location because it was easier to switch between stages in one building than it would have been to switch between houses along an entire block.

DK especially liked performing at the location’s second and smaller stage because he and Seline were able to rap on the ground right in front of the crowd. It worked out well, he said, because “we’re intimate artists.”

Co-organizers Arizona Zimmerman and Vann Johnson, members of local band and booking agency Clip Art, said they were originally hoping to get 500 people to attend the event this year after approximately 450 showed up last year.

“Unfortunately some bands had to drop off due to the time change and everything,” said Johnson. “I’ll be interested to see how many people show up.”

And show up, they did. Though the block party did not hit the 500 goal, a crowd of enthusiastic fans gradually grew as the night went on to support the cast of local hip-hop and psych-rock bands that performed.

More than music

This year’s Odd Street party benefitted Community through Chess, and attendees were encouraged to donate to the organization while at the event.

“We were pretty lucky to be able to talk to 40 Watt, and they agreed to keep it a free event,” said Johnson. “It’s a benefit, so we thought if people can get in the door for free, then they’ll be more likely to throw some money towards Chess for Kids.”

Leima said they were inspired to continue using the party as a fundraiser after raising about $300 for Mariah Parker’s campaign for District 2 County Commissioner last year, a position she won by a mere 13 votes.

“When she won by 13 votes, it was like, ‘Wow,’ like, ‘this mattered,’” said Leima about the event’s ability to raise awareness for something other than music.

Leima plans on continuing the Odd Street Block Party tradition as well as adding a block party “3.5” sometime this fall in response to the weather’s impact on this year’s event.

“The goal right now is to hopefully have a Odd Street Block Party 3.5 … by the end of the year, just to make up for it, and then try to have the fourth one around the same time next year,” he said. “Hopefully the date we pick isn’t [like] this.”

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