Sometimes the best moments in music go unseen in empty clubs on Monday nights. That’s what happened on May 21st, when Athel got booked for a last-minute show at The 321 Local in Cocoa, Florida before heading north to Atlanta for the next stop on their tour. The event of the night was “Mustache Monday”, and the bar was lined with many of the loyal regulars sporting a variety of colorful Crayola marker mustaches drawn on by head bartender Heather, in exchange for a free beer. I was hoping for a sweet Fu Manchu, and Heather read my mind. The guys in Athel got special treatment, and each received KISS-style marker makeup.
Shain Honkonen of local band Vilifi started out the night with an acoustic set, and seemed to breathe a sigh of relief after the first song. “The last time I played an acoustic set here,” he explained, “a car drove right through that wall over there.” The 321 Local now had a fresh coat of bright orange paint after a car travelling on the busy Florida Highway 520 swerved into the building to avoid another car. “So I guess it’s going pretty well this time.” Shain said, before finishing out an excellent set of music including some of his own original songs.
When Athel took the stage I didn’t know what to expect, as I didn’t do any research and had only seen at the last second that they were playing a show. After the first song I knew I had to take a video to blog about. These guys had so much energy that I couldn’t help getting into their songs. Their style is sort of a mix of alternative rock and punk rock instrumentation, with punk rock vocals and gang vocals. But with their stage presence, they probably could have been playing ragtime and I would have been into it. (Bad example…ragtime is awesome! But you know what I mean…) At one point during their first song, the bassist executed a perfect bass-flip before continuing to play like it was nothing. I’m pretty sure I was the only one that saw it. Looking around in disbelief, I was amazed at how many people were missing what I was seeing. A true diamond in the rough. This band may have only been playing to 15 people, but they could have just as easily been playing to 15,000. Luckily, by the time I pulled someone over to tell them about the perfect bass-flip, he did it again, but I’m not sure it had the same effect as the first one that I saw. It was just flawless and happened at the perfect point in the song.
The transition to their second song was almost seamless, but I managed to start recording just in time. Here’s their song, “These Are The Times”, as I saw it that night. Watch in 720p for best quality!
It’s ironic that I happened to record this song, because later while talking to Athel‘s lead vocalist and guitarist, Justin, I found out that they were about to release a new music video for this very song. It’s a simple but powerful video that starts off with the band performing in front of a big awesome flame for the crowd they’ve rallied up. It almost feels like a riot is going on, and I like how the video starts and ends inside of a TV screen – kind of going against the old Gil Scott-Heron poem that said “the revolution will not be televised.”
Check out Athel‘s new video for “These Are The Times” below. Again don’t forget to watch it in high quality if you can for the best audio and visual experience.
I was pretty impressed by Athel‘s set, so when I heard the first hint of an old classic they were covering, I knew they’d be able to do it justice. Keep in mind that this blog is going to be primarily focused on original music, so this will be a rare thing, but Athel completely deserve recognition for their awesome performance of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”. It may have been a slow Monday night at the 321 Local, but you can hear (and see) the crowd’s reaction in the video when they bust this one out. They nail every detail of the song right down to the intricate drum fills and Tony Iommi guitar solos, though Justin improvises one. While “War Pigs” may not be the most technically difficult song to play, it is definitely one that requires proper execution and tight coordination to play effectively, and these guys pulled it off very well. Check out their performance of “War Pigs” below.
Make sure to catch Athel on tour right now! Check their Facebook page for tour dates near you!