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Blackout Fest is a long-standing tradition in Athens. The festival has been around for the better part of two decades, coming up on its 17th anniversary this weekend. This year, as in years past too, The Union will play host to all three nights of the punk-centered festival.
Doors for the second day of the fest open at The Union’s upstairs stage Friday night at 6 p.m. but that doesn’t mean that bands aren’t preparing for the event.
Minneapolis-based punk band and headliner of Friday night, Birthday Suits, planned a tour around the festival.
“We’re doing a little tour along the way,” said Hideo Takahashi, guitarist of the two-piece band.
Birthday Suits' music is sure to please the late-night crowd. Short songs mixed with excited bursts of shouting and harsh snare beats—Birthday Suits are the opposite of what anyone would call boring. Their debut album, Cherry Blue, clocks in around 15 minutes long, a testament to the band’s spontaneity and eccentricity. The follow-up to that, The Minnesota: Mouth to Mouth is only six minutes longer. As described by A.V. Club’s Lindsey Thomas, this “short-attention span music” is something that “gets you worked up and leaves you wanting more.”
Fortunate for Blackout Fest-ers, Birthday Suits plan on giving a hell of a punk-show.
“People should stick around for us,” said Takahashi.
His fondest memory of Athens is of Blackout Fest. “There’s always drinking after the show,” he said.
Takahashi admits that it wasn’t until he moved to the U.S. at age 17 that he really got into punk music. “I don’t know much about the punk-culture in Japan,” said Takahashi, “I got into punk more here [in the U.S.].”
He did mention, however, that his biggest influence in punk is the Japanese band The Blue Hearts.
Friday night will play host to Guinea Worms as well, a band playing midway through the night. Guinea Worms hail from Columbus, Ohio and are on the list of Takahashi’s bands to see.
“We like those guys and are looking forward to seeing them,” he said. Wheels On Fire will be playing the night after but were still mentioned by Takahashi as a band to see.
Among others opening the night, Athens-based rock group Hex Net are excited to play alongside bands the likes of Shilpa Ray And Her Happy Hookers and Psandwhich. Both bands are on Friday’s lineup and bring their own style of punk with them.
Shilpa Ray is based out of New York and combine the range and harshness of lead singer Ray’s vocals with the unique sound of a harmonium to give the female-fronted rock group an incomparable sound.
Guitarist/vocalist of Hex Net and Blackout Fest veteran Seth Riddlebarger is personally excited to catch the set of Shipla Ray.
Riddlebarger, who has performed in the past with Hex Net at Blackout Fest along with Dragline Brothers, said that people can expect new songs from his band.
“We just recorded a record and we’re getting ready to put it on vinyl. We also have a new set that will not be on the record,” said Riddlebarger. “We’re always writing new songs.”
Riddlebarger also hopes that the yet-to-be-named record will be available for download sometime at the end of this week, coinciding with their appearance at Blackout Fest.
The night will feature plenty of other talented bands and performers. Friday’s full line-up includes those mentioned above along with Sega Genocide, Zapaño, Psandwhich and Nick Tolford & Co.
Tickets are available at the door but can be pre-purchased at Haffa’s for $8 a night. $20 will buy a three-day pass to all nights at The Union. To look at a full lineup of the event, head over to Facebook.
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