Every spring, students in the Music Business Certificate Program at the University of Georgia complete a Microcosm of the Music Industry Project, which is a semester long project of their own design based on a sector of the music industry that they are interested in. For their project, students Daniel Crowe, Charlie Enter, Marissa Jones, Ansley Nicholson, and William Perdue created Highlight Athens, a one day music festival, as a benefit for beloved Athens institution Nuci’s Space, a nonprofit resource center focused on suicide prevention and providing support for musicians. The event featured seven up-and-coming Athens acts of various genres performing in an intimate venue filled with glowsticks and the aroma of the fairly-priced grilled cheeses they were selling.
Sun Trick Pony
The day was off to a great start with a performance by Sun Trick Pony, an Athens four-piece with a sound that is difficult to categorize to one genre (think The Backseat Lovers meets Joe Purdy, but also something completely original). The set started out calm with only lead singer and guitar player Drew Henriksen on stage performing a couple of acoustic songs, but the rest of the band soon joined him on stage to add to an already impressive performance. With a set consisting of originals like “Corduroy Jacket” and newly released single “I think I love you,” every song was so different that by the end of the performance I felt like I had seen eight different bands play (and I was a fan of each one of them).
Next up was Shine, a hip hop artist from Gwinnett County who was truly like no other artist I’ve ever seen, with songs featuring themes like religion, love, friendship, support, and transparency. I had the impression that he was truly grateful for every person in that room. He ended his set with his single “Champions”, which has gotten an impressive 277,000 streams on Spotify, and after that performance, it was easy to see why.
From the moment singer/songwriter Ashtxn started his set by having the audience greet his “favorite milf” on Facetime, one thing became clear to me: I had no idea what to expect from his set but whatever it was, it was going to be extremely entertaining. He had a great stage presence and managed to successfully hype the crowd up numerous times, due both in part to his charismatic personality as well as songs like “Nighttime” that can get a crowd to open a mosh pit in the middle of the afternoon, an impressive feat.
The next act, indie pop/rock band Evelia, was completely different from those that it followed but remained every bit as captivating. Starting off strong with their song “Around”, their talent absolutely demanded (and successfully held) the attention of everyone in the venue for a solid 45 minutes. While I enjoyed every song that they played, their new song “Bed Bugs” was especially entrancing, and I cannot wait to hear more music from them.
Five Gallon Flow
When watching this performance, it was clear that the Athens band was having a great time while they played, and they sounded fantastic doing it. The high-energy set consisted of covers ranging from Frank Ocean to Chris Stapleton, as well as originals like “Easy” that reminded me of a yacht rock song but with extra guitar, which checks out considering the captains’ hats they wore for the duration of their performance.
The Athens funk rock band faithfully guided by lead singer Stewie Brannam gave an electric performance during their time on stage. Their set was filled with strong vocals, great instruments, supportive booing from especially dedicated members of the crowd, and a cover of the Carrie Underwood classic “Before He Cheats” that served as both a powerful showcase of talent and an effective warning against adultery.
Red Mile Road
Closing out the evening was headliner Red Mile Road, an Athens based hard rock band with a versatile sound that seems to draw different pieces of inspiration from every decade spanning the last fifty years of music. One of their originals “Getaway” ,a rock number with a very subtle country twang, sounded like it could have easily had a sync placement in any movie released in the early 2000’s, but I am glad that I am able to experience it now. Towards the end of their set, they took a quick screaming-based survey from the audience to choose what song to cover and Green Day’s “Basket Case” seemed to win by a significant amount of decibels (maybe next time, Blink-182). Following this, they also gifted the audience with a cover of Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy”, a song that I have now heard covered at two of the last five concerts I’ve gone to and would love to see the trend continue. Overall, their performance was a solid display of talent and a fantastic way to end the evening.
Haley Gilbert is a student writer from Lawrenceville, Georgia. She currently attends the University of Georgia and is part of the Marketing and Music Business programs. After attending countless concerts throughout her life, Haley realized the only thing she enjoys more than listening to music is talking about listening to music, and she is excited to do just that with Vinyl Mag. While she gravitates towards folk and rock music, she is looking forward to expanding her tastes, immersing herself in the vibrant Athens music scene, and sharing her findings with all of you.