This past weekend was a whirlwind of music at The Union in Athens, Ohio, where Blackout Booking hosted this year’s Falloutfest on Ohio University’s campus.
Thursday, night one, was jam-packed with indie rock tunes. The Wastemen, clad in colorful jumpsuits and with a kick drum adorned with the words, “3 talented young men!” and a banter-filled set from hidden places opened the night with high-energy crowd pleasers. Although the audience was smaller than expected–likely due to the high ticket prices and the fact that it was a weekday–there was no lack of enthusiasm, especially when illuminati hotties and Diet Cig took the stage with their delicate punky sound.
“We’re a long way from home, but dang, it sure feels good,” illuminati hotties vocalist and guitarist Sarah Tudzin said with a gentle laugh. The theme of the night was tenderness, after all; later, Diet Cig vocalist Alex Luciano, who performed and danced despite having a leg brace from a torn ACL, instructed any lovers and best friends in the audience to make eye contact as she played a soft rendition of the band’s song “Apricots.”
Night two kicked off with Athens locals Slackluster and The Molice, whose bouncy, shouting rock musicians come all the way from Tokyo, Japan. The night then started to feel unearthly with DANA’s set. Accompanied by a garage-rock band, her theremin and a variety of vocal distortion and effects pedals, frontwoman Madeline Jackson stomped around the stage while howling into the microphone and cracking its cable like a whip. The crowd could not have been more enthusiastic; by the time DANA finished their set, there were more people and just as much energy as the end of the previous night.
The night did not end there, however. Lung took the stage next, and despite only having an electric cellist and a drummer, their set rocked the whole room. Cellist and vocalist Kate Wakefield swayed back and forth as if her cello was in charge, eyes wide with animated expressions as if she was telling a story. Daisy Caplan, the band’s drummer, was no less intense as he pounded away at the drum kit, adding to the high-energy performance.
Finally, the night ended with Guerilla Toss and their gnarly art rock. It was not only live music but rather a performance, and all of the varying textures lined up in a surprisingly pleasing manner. After shout-singing the first few tracks, singer Kassie Carlson brought out a violin, and although it shouldn’t have made the set even more grinding and heavy, it worked well with the punky music and psychedelic projections of a UFO, farm, and palm trees behind the band.
The final night of Falloutfest was a little different. Although Queer Kevin—a talented duo that switched between soft and haunting to punk in about a half-second—and Weird Science—an animated garage-rock band that invited audience participation through the use of maracas—maintained the rock theme of the previous two days, the final three acts of the festival switched it up in terms of genre.
Dominique Larue performed third with her cousin Tha Audio Unit, who produced all of the beats on her recently-released album, “IMSMILINGBECAUSEIHATEEVERYTHING.” Although it was their first time playing in Athens, the audience clearly loved Larue’s raps, dancing enthusiastically and encouraging her as she performed songs about depression and anxiety. Linqua Franqa played next along the same general lines of rap music, although she spoke about racism and feminism alongside her mental struggles. It seemed more like spoken word than rap when she strutted around onstage, spitting lyrics faster than the audience could keep up.
Finally, Mourning A BLKstar closed out the festival. With eight people—three vocalists, a trumpet player, a trombone player, two drummers and a synth and keyboard player—crammed onstage, the energy in the room was palpable when they performed their typical unique blend of punk and hip-hop.
All in all, the festival proved a resounding success. With plenty of enthusiasm and even more dancing, it’s safe to say that a good time was had by all, and those in Athens got to see a weekend of diverse and incredible music.
Originally published on In The Record Store on September 25, 2018.