Matt Johnson | Contributor Jun 23, 2017 Updated Jun 26, 2017
Futurebirds, the headliner for 2017’s AthFest extravaganza, helped kick off the festival with a killer concert on the Main Stage.
Hailing from idyllic Athens itself, Futurebirds is likely to be compared to R.E.M., or the B-52s—but Futurebirds do stand out against the backdrop of Athenian acts with its soulful sound that gets crowds to stand up and two-step.
A serene rendition of “Only Here For Your Love” was its first song on Friday evening, followed by hits like “Rodeo” and even a brand new song that blew out one of the front stage speakers, much to the crowd’s delight.
Furthermore, some of the band members play afterwards at the 40 Watt Club in a Grateful Dead tribute band called Bobby’s Shorts.
A healthy dosage of reverb resonated throughout downtown Athens, perforated by slews of semi-intelligible lyrics softly-spoken with a Southern slur. In contrast with more energetic opening sets at AthFest, the Futurebirds’ slower set captured the down-tempo allure of a southern trance and kept the crowds swaying in the night.
Although Futurebirds is one of Athens’ most notable homegrown acts, they still exist somewhere in the psychedelic/jam band genre, and the crowd reflected this more relaxed inclination.
Closing its act shortly after around 10 p.m., Futurebirds guitarist Tommy Johnson announced the upcoming Bobby’s Shorts show and started playing markedly more upbeat songs to finish the show. The crowd seemingly responded as one by collectively lighting their joints all at once, judging by the ambient odor.
Shortly afterwards, the weather shifted and a smattering of rain began to fall upon the crowds. The previously-overheated masses now sought shelter from the elements in bars and restaurants, myself included—I enjoyed a BBQ pie from Pouch before hiding in the 40 Watt Club to wait out Bobby’s Shorts and New Madrid.
Overall, it was definitely a solid success for the festival and a fun concert to attend.