AthFest makes its long-awaited return to downtown Athens | Arts & Culture

On Friday morning, AthFest Educates vendors, volunteers and staff worked to prepare for the first day of the AthFest 2022 music and arts festival. The popular Athens music festival features a variety of talented musicians from Athens on five different stages and locations over the course of three days.

AthFest has not taken place since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even so, it came back strong on Friday with people thronging Washington Street to see music, shop from vendors and partake in all that AthFest has to offer.

just started

By 4:30 p.m., most of the facility was fully prepared for attendees to begin arriving at the festival. 150 to 200 volunteers came to help this weekend at AthFest, according to an AthFest volunteer coordinator.

A long line of vendor tents stretched from North Lumpkin Street to North Hull Street, waiting in the shade for the start of the festival. Vendors sold all kinds of merchandise, including clothing, jewelry, art, and decor.

The first show started at 5 p.m. when alternative rock band AD Blanco kicked off the festival on the Wicked Weed stage by playing “Where Are You Now?” and one of their most popular songs, “Serotonin”. A crowd quickly formed on stage and continued to grow bigger and bigger throughout the night.

Indie rock band Lighthearted started the music on the Hull Street stage at 5.30pm and were followed by alternative rock band Convince The Kid at 6.20pm.

The crowd gradually grew and many attendees flocked to the shaded areas of the festival to see the performers. The evening weather was partly cloudy with a light breeze which refreshed attendees as they enjoyed the live music.

Musician Jeremy Trimmer attended AthFest this year for the first time in several years. Trimmer has played in bands several times at AthFest and was scheduled to perform last year before it was cancelled. Trimmer is playing saxophone for the Modern Skirts and Quiet Hounds this weekend and is happy to see AthFest return as a participant and performer.

“It’s Friday at 6 p.m. and there’s already a huge crowd of people missing this environment and this festival and what it means for Athens,” Trimmer said. “It’s a long tradition of great music and great bands here. We’ve been missing that for the past two years. »

KidsFest served as the evening’s third outdoor stage and featured performances by younger middle and high school bands. Performers were Smith Larrison at 6 p.m., Dry Season at 7 p.m., and Surrender Cobra at 8 p.m.

Booming

The first day of AthFest was made up of a wide variety of participants of all shapes, sizes and ages, including people and dogs. By 6:30 p.m., the vendor aisle was packed with onlookers browsing through what each tent had to offer.

The Wicked Weed stage continued with performances by pop-rock band Heffner at 5:50 p.m. and rock band GrandVille at 6:45 p.m. Both groups were outfitted in style and in their own way. Each member of Heffner’s five-piece band had their own distinct outfit, while the members of Grandville sported a more country style with cowboy hats and large belt buckles.

The sun began to set behind the buildings on Hull Street around 7 p.m. and a large crowd grew to see Elijah Johnston perform at 7:15 p.m. on the Hull Street stage. Johnston brought a group of seven on stage to perform songs from his latest album “Day Off” and his most popular song “Sultan of Schwinn”.

Many attendees lined up outside food trucks between musical breaks, with the longest lines being for barbecue, snow cones and popsicles to keep cool in the summer heat. The crowd seemed to peak around 8pm as alternative R&B artist Convict Julie took to the Wicked Weed stage at 7.50pm and indie-rock band Neighbor Lady performed on the Hull Street stage at 8.20pm .

Convict Julie was looking forward to performing on Friday and the performance marks the start of a national tour for the artist.

“I’m very excited because I’ve never been to AthFest. Since I’ve been in Athens, it’s been canceled,” Julie said. “Being able to perform on the main stage is exciting, so I’m thrilled.”

During AthFest, Athens-Clarke County police officers and AthFest security personnel monitored the festival throughout the evening as crowds came and went on the three outdoor stages. As the event progressed into the night, attendance continued to grow, but it was apparently just smiles from everyone in attendance.

drawing to a close

Most of the crowd that was originally spread throughout the festival turned out to see the last outdoor performance of the evening with popular local band Hotel Fiction performing on the Wicked Weed stage at 9 p.m. .

The entire space made for the stage was filled and spilled out onto the sidewalks and beyond as the crowd eagerly waited for Hotel Fiction to perform. People talked to each other while waiting, and after a slight delay, the band started their set.

The band played several of their songs, including “Think Twice”, “Out of My Head” and their biggest hit, “Astronaut Kids”. The band was thrilled to perform in front of such a large audience who danced, sang and clapped to every song.

“We’ve never performed to such a large crowd before,” said lead singer Jade Long.

The band finished their set, but returned to the stage to perform a cover of “All These Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers. Once the song was over, many attendees started heading to the late-night shows that were taking place at the Georgia Theater and the 40 Watt Club.

The outdoor part of AthFest packed out and vendors closed their tents for the evening as crowds lined up for late night venues.

Participant and Athenian Maggie Miller came to see her friends from Hotel Fiction perform and enjoyed seeing the community come together on the first day of the festival.

“I think it’s a great community-building event to get people out of the house, even if it’s really hot,” Miller said. “It’s nice to be here and see everyone.”

The Georgia Theater held indoor performances of Wiecua at 10:30 p.m., Linqua Franqa at 11:30 p.m., and indie rock band Monsoon at 12:30 a.m. Eight additional performances took place on the roof of the Georgia Theater.

The 40 Watt Club hosted performances of Palace Doctor at 10 p.m., Night Palace at 11 p.m., and Modern Skirts at midnight.

With the first day of AthFest in the books, most Athenians were happy to see Athens back to basics. AthFest continues through Saturday, the longest day of the festival, with music starting at noon.

David H. Henry