Recap: Athens Slingshot Festival

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Kai Riedl (one of the head organizers and founders of the event) doing a DJ set at Creature Comforts. Photos by Stephanie Lennox

With over 70 bands spread out among 12 different venues, 40 artists, a technology panel, a comedy night, sold out 1,000-person shows, and after parties, it’s safe to say that Slingshot Festival 2014 was a success. With the numerous acts and artists, it’s difficult to summarize, but we’ll hit some of the highlights of the weekend.

The festival kicked off Wednesday night with a performance by Tinariwen, a desert blues band from northern Mali. These guys could not have been a more unique start to the festival. The energy from Tinariwen was contagious, and the contrast between the band’s traditional dress and modern instruments was striking. Their harmonies were stunning, and despite the communication barrier, the passion in their performance was felt by the packed-out Theatre.

Tinariwen at the Georgia Theatre

To top off the great start to Slingshot, Creature Comforts previewed – and quickly filled to capacity – their lovely new space. The after party featured DJ List Christee, better known as Kevin Barnes. Barnes provided an excellent after party soundtrack to break in Creature Comforts in the best way. Thanks to Dos Equis, free beer was provided, and danceable beats from KB pleased the partygoers.

DJ List Christee at Creatures Comforts

Thursday was predominantly art exhibits at Creature Comforts, Bulldog Inn and Lamar Dodd School of Art. One art exhibit by Christopher Nelms and Ted Khun, at Bulldog Inn particularly stood out, involving 40 pounds of bananas, vodka shots, and karaoke. All of the art exhibits throughout the week were each completely unique and spanned a wide range of mediums.

Friday was a packed schedule, and it was tough to decide what to go to with the abundance of options. Lera Lynn graced the Morton Theatre with her style of rootsy Americana. During a few technical difficulties, she even gave an impromptu tap dance to entertain the eager crowd.

The New West records showcase was at the Caledonia Lounge, and all were exciting up-and-coming artists. Dega performed their synth-heavy compositions, which featured dreamy vocal harmonies, making quite the impression on the crowd for what was only their third live performance. Ruby the Rabbitfoot followed with her soulful, organic style of indie pop. Ruby had great stage presence and kept the crowd entertained with her quirky comments in between songs.

Powerkompany packed out The World Famous later in the evening. The cinematic electropop trio filled the room with powerful and convicting vocals the crowd seemed to enjoy.

Friday was also Japan Nite, featuring five bands from Japan performing at New Earth Music Hall. Peelander Z was the headliner for Japan Nite, and did not disappoint. The energy of the “action comic” punk group was electric, and the crowd responded with chanting, crowd surfing, and joining the band on stage.

The 40 Watt, had three of Athens favorite bands: Programs, Elf Power, and Space Trucks. Urban Outfitters sponsored free Weaver D’s, and there were several sightings of Michael Stipe, so clearly it was a true Athenian experience.

Kishi Bashi headlined Saturday night at the Georgia Theatre. As usual, it was a high-energy show featuring unique music. Kishi Bashi, with frosted tips and friendly smiles, revealed a handful of new songs, while making sure to play fan favorites like ‘Bright Whites’ and ‘Manchester’. The show was visually appealing as well, featuring an art piece that was progressively altered throughout the performance.

Kishi Bashi at Creature Comforts

Following the Kishi Bashi show, much of the crowd moved down the street to The Green Room, where Washed Out treated the house to a DJ set, complete with trippy projections and experimental rhythms.

To end the night there was a second after party at Creature Comforts, more free beer and even more dancing. Slingshot brought Athens a multitude of international and local artists, with so much to see and experience we cannot imagine what Slingshot will bring in the coming years.

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